Monday 22 December 2014

It’s official – Sheffield is the best city in the UK for those who love the outdoors.

With a huge 71 per cent of the overall vote, Sheffield beat cities including London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Bristol in a BBC Countryfile poll to find the Best UK City for Countryside Lovers.

More than 7,000 people voted in the online poll, the result of which was revealed today (Monday 22 December), and Sheffield gained more than 5,500 of those votes.

Edinburgh finished in a very distant second place, with 21 per cent of the vote.

Councillor Isobel Bowler, cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure at Sheffield City Council, said: “I am extremely pleased that this poll has confirmed something we in Sheffield know already – that the city really is the best in the UK for people who love the outdoors.

“With a third of our city within the boundaries of the Peak District National Park, as well as stunning countryside which was showcased to the world during the spectacular Tour de France Grand Depart this summer, there really is no other major UK city as in touch with the outdoors as Sheffield is.

“We’re home to runners, climbers, mountain bikers and hikers, many of whom come to Sheffield to study at university and never leave, after falling in love with the city’s hills, valleys, rivers and moors.

“I am also pleased that this result further confirms that we are indeed the Outdoor Capital City of the UK.”

In October this year, research by the Sport Industry Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University confirmed that Sheffield is the undisputed Outdoor Capital City of the UK.

The independent study found that outdoor recreation in Sheffield generates more than £53m in economic output a year, in addition to engaging people in outdoor activity and generating significant health benefits.

It also revealed that Sheffield’s passion for the outdoors generates a higher than average expenditure on trips and outdoor gear, with total consumer spending on the outdoors estimated at being around £93m a year.

Sheffield-based businesses doing well in the outdoors industry include Go Outdoors, the UK’s largest specialist retailer of camping equipment, tents, outdoor clothing and footwear, and Planet X, which sells more than 10,000 bicycle products worldwide and is currently the second-biggest bike assembler in the UK.

At the same time, Sheffield’s reputation as a centre for outdoor adventure has won the attention of the Outdoor Industries Association (OIA), which has selected Sheffield to host the 2015 European Outdoor Summit (EOS).

The EOS 2015 will be run by the UK’s Outdoor Industries Association in 2015 and will bring the biggest outdoor brands in the world to Sheffield. Previous venues have included Annecy in France and Stockholm in Sweden.

Sheffield has also been selected to host the International Adventure Conference 2015, in further recognition of the city’s reputation for excellence in the outdoors.

Councillor Leigh Bramall, cabinet member for business, skills and development at Sheffield City Council, said: “We are building ambitious plans to use our status as the Uk’s Outdoor Capital City to go out there and sell Sheffield to the world.

“We have already been doing this successfully, as our hosting of the European Outdoor Summit and the International Adventure Conference next year proves.

“The result of the Countryfile poll demonstrates that our status is recognised beyond Sheffield. We have a huge opportunity to build on this unique selling point.

“We need to ensure our fantastic combination of urban living and outdoor recreation is maximised to market the city nationally and internationally, grow visitor numbers and drive inward investment.”

An online survey carried out as part of the Sport Industry Research Centre study found that the best thing about living in Sheffield is that it is the “best of both worlds” – a combination of urban living and access to the outdoors.

A huge 66 per cent of people in Sheffield take part in outdoor recreation overall – more than six per cent above the national average of 59 per cent.  An audit showed that in terms of participation rates and economic importance, Sheffield is synonymous with climbing, cycling, walking and running.

In addition to being the climbing capital of the UK, with more than 10,000 Sheffield-based climbers and the highest number of climbing businesses compared to neighbouring major UK cities, Sheffield has more than 1,200 members in the Sheffield Ramblers and 26 running clubs, has a strong fell running scene, is nationally renowned for mountain biking and is home to the country’s only city centre mountain biking facility, at Parkwood Springs.