When the bank holiday (or any weekend or day off for that matter) we love to get out and about exploring places. That and getting the train to somewhere which is surprisingly exciting for us. The past bank holiday weekend gave us the luxury of four days to explore and one of those was filled with a day trip to Sheffield.
Bank Holiday Friday
Although we did visit Sheffield fairly regularly (say a few times a year) we are constantly finding new things to look at, explore and discover. Plus, it is a great city for art so there is always something new to be seen.
Unusually, we ended up spending a lot of time up in Yorkshire over the weekend as we were fleeing from the rain in Manchester. Who would have thought a short journey would take us to glorious sunshine? (No comments on that one please, Yorkshire friends!) To be honest, one of the reasons that Sheffield came up was because it is close, a pleasant train ride through Edale (somewhere else on the day holiday list) and pretty cheap too with our Two Together card.
You would think that a day trip to Sheffeld wouldn’t be enough time to see much, but you would be surprised. We managed to check out the Millennium Gallery, The Winter Garden (where they were setting up for the Snooker something-or-other), have lunch in the Peace Garden, explore the city streets and back alleys of our choosing, check out the high street, visit the Weston Park Museum and explore a small portion of the huge city park as well as browse the arcades. It sounds jam-packed, but we had more than enough time to wander, meander and enjoy the sunshine.
Of course though we still managed a small detour through our own streets of Manchester to collect some photos of the ever-changing street art.
For as many years as I can remember we have enjoyed taking ‘day holidays’ to visit new places. You have to choose your destination, plan your journey and prepare refreshments to enjoy on the way. It is kind of our way of exploring more local places and making the most of our time off together really. Saying that we do near to home places isn’t strictly true. We have also been known to do day trips down to London, so never say never to anywhere in the country.
Anyway, Sheffield is one of the fun places we like to go. We enjoy the urban feel of the city, with the varied architecture and culture, but also the green spaces that are in abundance there. Did you know that Sheffield was once described as the greenest city in Europe? With over 170 woodland areas in the city, I can totally see why. If we come to think about vacating Manchester, Sheffield would be a good contender.
On our arrival, without hesitation we headed straight up the hill to the Millennim Gallery. I’m not sure why we were so excited to get there, but we bee lined straight to the exhibitions. I am pleased that we did though as it was something of a curiosity which is perfect for us. (have you checked out our new Instagram insta_curiosity_cabinet)
The exhibition is called ‘What Can Be Seen’ and included objects found in the archives, notes and records as well as collections of objects displayed together. It is a fantastic array of eclectic pieces that work well together to tell the story of items that are often overlooked. It is very similar to the direction my own artwork takes and my approach to exploring too – look for the forgotten, overlooked and misplaced to find out something new about where you are. Urban Wandering and curiosity.
I’ll post more about the exhibition in another post as I want to share with you the other things that we managed to fit into a day trip to Sheffield. I’ll obviously include more of the other stuff too.
The Winter Garden
The great thing about the Millennium Gallery is that you exit straight into the Winter Garden, so it offers the perfect excuse for a brew and a wander in the tropical plants. Unfortunately on this occasion it was slightly interrupted by the snooker table, cameras and barriers set up for what I think might have been the snooker world cup or something. We still managed to spot s few of our favourite plants though and grab a tea which made everything all right.
Time for lunch
Unfortunately, due to Bank Holiday opening times (or should that be closing?) our favourite place Blue Moon. Feeling rather peckish, I swiftly consulted Happy Cow (a veggie/vegan app which is invaluable for travelling about) and found Fatoush. Within a short walk we were ordering our freshly prepared wraps which we enjoyed in the Peace Gardens.
Of course no trip of mine would be complete without a bit of urban wandering so we made sure to pack that into the day before heading off to check out the parks and museums on the other side of town. I love discovering new and quirky things and this Police box has to be one of my all time favourites.
And of course some street art too…
A percentage of purpose
Our wandering wasn’t too random though, despite the detours to check out street art or unusual architecture en route as we were making our way over to Weston Park Museum and the park surrounding it. Admittedly, we did have a little bit of a time constrain on us so we only got to explore part of the gigantic park, but a sample was more than enough to spur us on for more of a park visit next time.
It is always surprising to find such large parks so centrally placed in cities – especially ones that are so well-tended. I find it rather sad that the first garden visitors to Manchester experience is Piccadilly Gardens. No matter how much they try to get it ‘there’, they just constantly seem to miss.
We were greeted in Weston park by glorious spring bulbs and blossom as well as lush freshly mowed lawns. It was certainly a springtime welcome and I would suggest you make a trip there quickly to enjoy it at it’s best. The museum is a large building towards the far end of the park. It is slightly deceptive though as the exhibition inside seem a lot smaller than you would expect from such a large-scale building. Excellent interpretations of the history though, so that was a bonus. They also have lockers so you can shed some of your load too.
Weston Park Museum
The museum has a vast array of information about the local history and steel manufacturing that Sheffield is famous for. I enjoyed learning more about the people on a personal level rather than the industry as a whole and it has a feel to it of the Manchester People’s History Museum, which is one of my favourites. You are then invited through to learn more about the prehistory of the area and lives of those who lived there in previous decades. There was a dressing up area too which we enjoyed, but I forgot to take pictures of!
And although I enjoyed the rest, for me the highlight was the automaton of the occupations of the people in the area. The level of detail was fantastic and you always found something else moving on each press of the button.
As the time grew ever closer to our train back to Manchester, we decided on a final wander back towards the University and the station. A good choice I might add as there are plenty of alleys to discover, unusual buildings to spot and sculptures to explore. We were surprised at every turn and surely found the weirdest and most wonderful route back down the hill.
There is something quite special about doors on forgotten buildings. I seem to be collecting a lot of them and this one in particular is a lovely one. It might be the flaking blue paint or the bottle of milk. Either way it has a cosy space in my memories of the day.
After wandering the back streets we headed back down the hill to the station just in time for our train to pull in. Time for a tea from the flask which we carefully preserved for the occasion and back to our city to plan the next day’s adventures – whatever they would be.
I love cities like Sheffield and Manchester as they have this industrial heritage, kind of forgotten areas as well as great new developments making them a rich patchwork of historical stories, some that will never be recounted. Each time I visit I find something new, somewhere else to check out and something to bank in my mind.
Even though my day trip to Sheffield was just a few days ago, I am looking forward to my next trip already!
Have you visited Sheffield? Do you have any hidden gems to share with me?
What is your favourite thing about visiting cities?
Let me know in the comments below 🙂