OPINION: Why it’s time for us to shout loud about our outdoor city

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The parks and green spaces around Sheffield are always beautiful, but autumn is a particularly stunning time of year.

When the seasons are changing and the weather becomes crisper and cooler, pull on some boots and head out into one of the 800 green spaces – and 95 parks – across the city.

Looking for free and fun things to do, this weekend the toddler and I managed to squeeze in a walk in Meersbrook Park (looking for animal sculptures along the way), a picnic in Ecclesall Woods, and a ramble around Graves Park, incorporating a lengthy trip to the animal farm.

As we played in the woods, searching for all the different types of leaf (helped out by the information boards, I have to admit – I’m no botanist), I thought about how lucky I am to have such stunning open spaces on my doorstep. No other city I’ve lived in – and I’ve lived in several – has such a variety of woodland, parks, hills and valleys, and indeed a fun fact I often love to trot out is that Sheffield is the only major city to have a national park within its boundary.

This is why it seems such a good idea to me Sheffield Council has announced it will be repositioning Sheffield as ‘The Outdoor City’. When you speak to people from elsewhere – particularly those from the other side of the Pennines – they still seem to think Sheffield is a grimy place populated with knife and fork factories and not much else.

It’s frustrating when you find yourself explaining for the umpteenth time that yes, the fabulous views that populate your Instagram feed were actually taken just a few seconds’ walk from your front door and, wherever you are in the city, from Wincobank to Walkley, Dore to Darnall, you’re not far from a hill, a park, or ancient woodland.

If the rebranding exercise works, Sheffield will become synonymous with the great outdoors - not just to those who’ve already been here and seen it for themselves, but those who haven’t.

More than 200 delegates are in Sheffield this week for the European Outdoor Summit, when The Outdoor City drive will officially be launched.

Let’s hope, after three days seeing all the city has to offer, delegates from the major brands and organisations attending will return home with tales about the splendour of Stanage or the excitement of running from Endcliffe Park to Forge Dam and beyond.

The combination of the outdoors and the urban is what makes Sheffield so unique and so special.

In my view, it’s great that we’re now in a place to shout about it to the world.

* Jenny Harvey