Climb it, bike it, run it, do it – Sheffield’s biggest outdoor event, for outdoor people, is back at Millhouses Park on the weekend of June 21 and 22.
And today organiser Matt Heason tells us all about the thrills, spills and family fun on offer.
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch a preview teaser trailer for Cliffhanger
Sheffield is developing a well-deserved reputation for being the outdoor adventure capital of the UK, writes Matt.
Nearly a decade ago I set up the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival to showcase the world’s best extreme and action sports talent. A year later I teamed up with Sheffield City Council to create an outdoors event to inspire ordinary people of all ages and abilities to try adventure sports.
ShAFF now attracts more than 3,000 visitors a year and has become a magnet for some of the top adventure sports filmmakers and Cliffhanger has become the UK’s biggest outdoors event for outdoors enthusiasts with around 15,000 visitors. Writer John Horscroft from the mountain bike campaign group Ride Sheffield says: “Cliffhanger admirably demonstrates just why Sheffield is the outdoor capital of the UK. It showcases all the adventure sports in one place and provides inspiration for young and old alike. Sheffield has a huge population of outdoor pursuits enthusiasts who not only flock to Cliffhanger but take advantage of all the city has to offer.”
A recent survey of 1,200 mountain bikers by Ride Sheffield showed that each spends, on average, £768 a year in the Peak District alone. Ride Sheffield managed to get turnover figures from a number of businesses that are directly or indirectly related to outdoor pursuits and found that 13 firms contribute just shy of £40m to Sheffield’s economy each year. Those results are now feeding into a city-wide study by Sheffield City Council to determine the significance of outdoor pursuits on the region’s economy.
What makes Sheffield so special? John Horscroft says it’s a combination of facilities and natural resources. “How many great cities can boast city centre mountain bike trails, artificial climbing boulders, numerous indoor climbing walls and the almost infinite possibilities of the nearby Peak District? It’s no wonder that so many top class climbers and cyclists live here and that effective campaign groups like Ride Sheffield were formed here. Sheffield, with the help of events like Cliffhanger, is the UK’s outdoor capital.”
Cliffhanger is one giant taster session stretched over a whole weekend. It’s great value for money with 90 per cent of outdoor activities free of charge once you have paid your entry fee. We’re conscious that budgets are tight so we’ve cut the entry price for adults to £6 and kept it free for accompanied under 16s.
This year we’re back at Millhouses Park on Abbeydale Road South. We make use of every element of the venue from the river and woods to the tennis courts, bowling greens and state-of-the-art water play area and pool with kayaks and water Zorbing.
As the name suggests, climbing is always central to Cliffhanger. We’ll have a live big screen feed from the Senior British Bouldering Championships which are being held on the world’s biggest indoor bouldering wall at the Climbing Works, just 10 minutes away at Woodseats Road. Spectators watching in the park can have a go on the climbing towers and bouldering walls provided by local climbing walls like The Foundry and the Sheffield’s newest climbing centre, Awesome Walls, and test their upper body strength on the Crag X pull-up machine. Thrill seekers will once again be able to experience being airborne by jumping (or even front flipping) five metres from the top of the FreeDrop tower, used to train World Cup mountain bikers and Olympian snowboarders.
With the Tour de France rolling into town three weeks later, it’s only natural that we’re celebrating cycling in a big way. You can Cycle To The Cinema and watch an hour long loop of the Best of the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival’s extreme sports films on the big plasma screen in the Tour de Cinema marquee featuring mountain biking and running, surfing, skiing and free-diving. The Epic Urban One Shot was filmed right here in Sheffield by local producers Josh Holdsworth and Nathan Morris in the abandoned Stanley Tools factory.
Whether you’re a lycra-loving roadie or more singletrack minded, there’s plenty on offer in our free bike try-out area with local stores the Edinburgh Bike Cooperative and Decathlon. Younger riders can test out our Pump Track, try out Isla Bikes’ specialist, lightweight designs and have a go on our toddler-friendly bike balance course with Early Rider bikes.
Danny Butler and his team of world record-breaking stunt trial bike riders will be in action with their Extreme Mountain Bike Show. Sign up for a free coaching session then head over to the Watt Bike racing stand to test your power. If you’re in need of liquid refreshment, and still have the energy, you can whisk up your own smoothies at our pedal powered Edinburgh Bike Coop stall. Or chill out and head for the beer and wine tent.
Imagine tightrope walking on a trampoline and you’ll get some idea of the art of slacklining. You can take the ultimate balance test with Trislacklining and also try the Woodseats Venture Scouts Rope Course. Little ones with a head for heights, like my two boys, can never resist the lure of the rope ladder climb up to the bag of sweeties hung in the treetops. Or perfect your potholing technique in Derbyshire Caving Association’s artificial caving system – guaranteed to bring claustrophobes out in a sweat.
For teenagers with a taste for adventure wondering what’s next after exams, it’s well worth heading over to the University of Derby’s stand to find out more about courses at their Buxton campus’s School of Sports Performance and Outdoor Leadership – the ultimate proof, if you still need it, that Cliffhanger may be just one big weekend of fun in the city but the outdoor pursuits industry means serious, year-round business for Sheffield and the Peak District.
* For more details see the official web site at www.cliff-hanger.co.uk.
THE LONGEST DAY IN FOCUS - HELP US TO SHOOT CLIFFHANGER 2014
Cliffhanger begins on the longest day – Saturday, June 21 – and The Star is setting the longest challenge...to help us film a unique video report on the day.
We want Cliffhanger fans to send us short video clips taken at the event, so we can capture the longest day through the eyes of visitors and exhibitors.
The finished film will be shown on a big screen at the event on the Sunday and on The Star’s web site at thestar.co.uk.
So you can be a star of the show, behind or in front of the camera.
And there will be a cash prize for the short clip we judge to be the best.
Bring along your video cameras, head cams, mobile phones or even your web tablets and get snapping.
The Star will have an editing desk at the event where you can bring your device for us to download your short video clip. We just want your best shots, up to a maximum of 15 seconds.
Cliffhanger visitors can also upload clips to YouTube or Instagram and alert us by email, or share on social network, using hashtag #thestarlongestday – which we will also be using to give updates on the day,
There will be more details closer to the event and on our social media accounts, so please ‘like’ our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sheffieldstar, follow us on Twitter @SheffieldStar and on Instagram at thesheffieldstar.