Pursuit of outdoor ‘capital’ status

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Sheffield is aiming to sell itself as the UK’s outdoor ‘capital’.

It is a looking to create and market a brand based on its growing reputation for climbing, mountain biking, fell running and other outdoor activities.

The ambition is to attract more visitors, students, spin-off companies and businesses with employees wanting a better quality of life.

Led by the council, it’s an attempt to maximise the economic potential of Sheffield’s topography and the fact that one-third of the city is within the Peak District National Park.

Council leaders believe it is a unique selling point, and one that chimes with the stamp of quality and authenticity associated with the brand of ‘Made in Sheffield’.

Cabinet member for business, skills and development Coun Leigh Bramall said: “It’s about building on your strengths in a very competitive environment.”

He added: “We are in a global climate and we need to start thinking about how we can project Sheffield on the international stage and how we can get people to invest and work in the city.”

The declaration comes as the Cliffhanger festival - “the UK’s biggest outdoor event for outdoor people” - is staged in Graves Park on Saturday and Sunday.

Already Sheffield prides itself on the wealth of outdoor activities within the city and on its borders. Climbers who flock to the Peak have a growing choice on indoor climbing walls.

Greno Woods has a reputation for mountain biking, a trail is being developed at Ringinglow and one at Parkwood Springs, designed by world mountain bike champion Steve Peat, is proving a major success. Proposals are being firmed up to turn Parkwood Springs into an ‘urban country park’.

Individual and commercial success stories will be tied into a cohesive package that is designed to help give Sheffield a clean and dynamic image, one that appeals especially to younger people.

The arrival of the Tour de France next summer can only be a bonus.

At the same time, it is accepted that the strategy will have to be rolled out on a very limited budget.

Sam Whittaker, co-founder of the Climbing Works, off Little London Road, which has been extended to include a section for younger enthusiasts, said people travelled from across the world to climb in and around Sheffield. “There is a really vibrant and friendly scene, and it is highly regarded.”

l Cliffhanger, which includes the British Bouldering Championships, is open from 10.30am to 6.30pm.