How I discovered walking across Sheffield during lockdown

Being born and bred in the city, you can forgive James Wardley for taking the diverse and green hills of Sheffield a little bit for granted.

Thursday, 15th July 2021, 6:00 am
James Wardley with husband Ashley after climbing Mam Tor in the Peak District
James Wardley with husband Ashley after climbing Mam Tor in the Peak District

But during the numerous Covid-29 lockdowns, James discovered hidden parts of Sheffield and fell in love with his career all over again.Like so many others, the restrictions prevented James from working at his hairdressing job at Volt Salon in Sheffield – and he was only able to work 22 weeks out of a year.

During the time he was off he honed his skills and entered numerous competitions, like Wella Trendvision 2021, one of the highest accolades in hairdressing, managing to get through to the semi-finals in two categories.

Here he shares how the past year has made him re-evaluate his favourite things about Sheffield.

The Furnace is one of Sheffield's newest restaurants

Valuing my job

I was unable to work for a total of nine months over three lockdowns this last year and a half. This has showed me how loved the hairdressing profession really is.

The amount of support from my lovely clients and even other hairdressers really humbled me as they all came together to offer support and advice during the lockdowns.

The salon I work at, Volt next to the cathedral in the city centre, was inundated with messages from clients offering support throughout the lockdowns and then, once re opened, we were rushed off our feet with our clients who we had all missed.

I was fortunate enough to be financially stable throughout and managed to enter a few competitions.

I entered Wella Trendvision, which receives thousands of entries every year and is renowned in the hairdressing sector, and managed to get two entries through into the semi-finals which are being held remotely in August.We are now busier than ever and appreciate each other even more which makes for an even happier workplace. It also taught me about a work/life balance and how you should love what you do but also to make more time to have a personal life and friendships.Due to restrictions, our hours have changed and we get every other day off, including weekends which is practically unheard of for the profession.

Sheffield walks and runs

During lockdown . with very little else to do as a self-employed hairdresser, I took to the streets and sampled Sheffield’s various walks. My favourites included ‘The Five Weirs’ walk and a round trip from Parson Cross to The Botanical Gardens. The history and industrial views of the Five Weirs Walk along the canal showed me a different side of Sheffield and its history. The many graffitied walls created almost surreal surroundings.My own walk from one side of Sheffield to the other to see friends showed me the many different areas and diverse residents and housing styles Sheffield has to offer. I also took up running and yoga, something I never would’ve done before as I felt I was too busy!One day, I walked 12 miles, almost a half marathon.

Sheffield’s food scene

Once lockdown was lifted, I got into eating out and trying new places. Sheffield has some amazing eateries. The Furnace near the Moor which has only just recently opened is a new favourite of mine.

The refurbishment of The Moor in the city centre is amazing and

has breathed life into what I have always known as a rundown area.

Kelham Island is also an amazing location to eat out in. A mix of modern architecture and industrial buildings, it is a perfect blend. The Grind Cafe always serves amazing breakfasts and it is a lovely area to walk around again.

Sheffield theatre

Obviously, due to Covid the Lyceum and all businesses in the theatre industry had to close. I never knew how much I’d miss it.

The Crucible and The Lyceum have been very much missed by the whole of Sheffield. They put on amazing productions.I saw the emotions first hand as one of my best friends, Martha Lamb, works there. The passion the whole staff have is amazing to see and I’m so glad it will be reopening soon.