It’s hard to know where to start. It’s been eight months since I’ve posted on my blog and I feel very sad that I’ve not been able to keep it going during 2021. Work has been relentless for so long now I’ve not been able to prioritise writing. And despite our year being quieter than normal due to the pandemic, the backlog of photos and stories has begun to feel overwhelming.
But as the end of 2021 nears, I don’t want to forget how we spend the second year of Covid-19 so I’m going to try and share some of our adventures – from our roadtrip around the Scottish Highlands in the summer, to my ongoing love affair with the Peak District with plenty of London fun in between.
First stop, our recent half term trip to Sheffield! Perhaps not the most glamorous destination you might think (and indeed friends of ours who live there observed that we were quite unusual booking a city break to the Steel City!) – but I’d highly recommend it. I confess, it was part of an ongoing campaign I’m waging to try and persuade Matt and the kids to move out of London to the Peak District, hoping to show them that we could continue to enjoy the benefits of the proximity to a city while living somewhere with hikes and hills on the doorstep. While I haven’t yet convinced them, we had a truly brilliant break.
We managed the entire trip using public transport, travelling up to Sheffield by train (just 2 hours from London) and staying in an gorgeous apartment about 15-20 mins walk from the station near Kelham Island. We arrived in the late afternoon and immediately set off to explore the area where we were based. Kelham Island was the heart of Sheffield’s industrial past, home to former cutlery and steelworks, factories and workshops. Now these industrial sites have become trendy apartments, microbreweries, museums and bars, with murals and historical plaques decorating the brick. It was a fun place to wander around with the kids, and we spotted several places to revisit during our stay.
We spent our first evening at the Cutlery Works, a vibrant foodhall with stands from around the world. It was ideal for us as we could each order the cuisine we preferred, and despite it being a busy Friday night they were so welcoming of the kids.
Back in the apartment, we snuggled up to read and relax.
After our very urban Friday night, we found ourselves in muddy hiking boots travelling into the Peak District by train early on Saturday morning. Just 15 minutes from Sheffield by train is Hathersage, a Peak District town with an unusual feature – a heated outdoor swimming pool! I’d been organised enough to book us a slot so we enjoyed an hour enjoying the 30m pool surrounded by the beautiful Peaks.
We warmed up afterwards with a delicious lunch in the pool cafe before heading out into the landscape for an afternoon walk. We decided to visit the Hathersage stepping stones, following this lovely route. It wasn’t long before we were alone in the gorgeous countryside. Hard to believe this is so close to Sheffield and Manchester!
We were thrilled to find the stepping stones deserted, so the kids could jump around to their heart’s content!
Further down the river, we enjoyed a stone-skimming contest!
It was the perfect easy family walk, and as were travelling back to Sheffield I felt sorry to be heading back to urban life.
But I needn’t have felt sad for long as there were plenty more walks ahead in our trip. The next day, we hopped on a bus and travelled through Sheffield and into its family friendly suburbs to visit our friends, Anita and Christian, in Dore. We had such fun catching up and introducing our children, who loved exploring their beautiful garden – complete with chickens, tree-house and zip wire! They took us out on a lovely walk from their front door, showing us just how close the Peak District beauty is to the city. Back at our apartment, we enjoyed another wander around Kelham Island and a tapas dinner at the Kelham Island Kitchen.
With the weather forecast the next day clear and bright, we decided to make one more trip out to the Peaks – this time travelling a little further to Edale (still just 25 mins from Sheffield by train). We’d done a long hike from Edale up to Kinder Scout back in May and so decided to go back and climb Mam Tor. We followed this route which was ideal for a hike without needing a car.
Just look at these views!
I had a huge smile on my face all day and I felt calmer than I’ve felt in weeks.
It was fun bagging another cairn as a family – it really is such a joy now that the kids are big enough to enjoy hiking (and not old enough to resent having to walk with their parents!)
We were so lucky with the weather – we could see for miles.
Back in Edale, we ate an enormous pub lunch at the Rambler Inn, before jumping back on the train to Sheffield for an afternoon that couldn’t have contrasted more with our morning!
The fact that the National Videogames Museum is based in Sheffield hadn’t escaped Alex, so Matt was persuaded to take him and Sophie there for the afternoon! The three of them managed to spend hours playing retro consoles and arcade games! I’m not sure if they learned much about the history of games design, but it was a real highlight of the trip for the kids (and I enjoyed a few hours of peace and quiet to catch up on some work!).
Our final day in Sheffield was a particularly exciting one because it was Sophie’s 9th birthday!
She enjoyed the most brilliant (and delicious) Halloween themed pancake breakfast at the nearby Grind Cafe. You can imagine how thrilled she was to be allowed lollies and love hearts for breakfast!
After breakfast we walked back through Kelham Island enjoying more of the stunning murals – I just love the colours in this one (and how well Sophie matched it!)
We headed straight to the Kelham Island Museum to learn more about Sheffield’s history.
It was a fascinating museum which was great for the children. They were free to roam around, trying out the hands on activities and complete a Halloween treasure hunt around the exhibits, leaving us free to read about the city’s history in more depth. As someone who did a history degree and who loved learning about the industrial revolution, I absolutely loved it.
From the museum we hopped on a bus out to the Sheffield Botanical Garden where we wandered around the greenhouses and pretty borders.
Just love this picture of our smiling birthday girl – it’s hard to believe she’s nine year’s old!
From the Botanical Gardens, we spent the rest of the day walking along the green band of parks that head out from the city into the Peaks – starting in Endcliffe Park, through Bingham Park, Whiteley Woods and along to the Forge Dam. Having promised Sophie a day with a little less walking, we ended up going for miles! But there were plenty of places to stop to play along the way (and pick up cakes!) – and best of all, we bumped into my friend Anita again so the kids got to have one more play together!
We loved exploring Sheffield, and it hasn’t diminished my desire to move up North one day. But until then, I’ll keep planning outdoor adventures (and try and make the most of living in the capital too!)