Outdoors weekend is a path to success

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We’ve heard plenty in recent years about Sheffield’s drive to become the nation’s Outdoor City - a premier destination for lovers of the countryside.

The idea has always made perfect sense. Sheffield’s position - a large urban area, but with the beautiful Peak District national park on its doorstep - is unique, and capitalising on it by attracting tourism could be a pathway to economic success.

So the new Outdoor City Weekender Festival can only help with this aim.

The celebration, led by Sheffield Council, is running over three days from March 11, and will feature a gruelling cycle ride called The Magnificent Seven, the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival, the Grindleford Gallop race and a special guided walk around Stanage Edge.

Orienteering, fell running, a bouldering tournament and mountain bike coaching will also be on offer.

It is undoubtedly a clever piece of marketing - but pulling together a host of events, some of which have been in existence for several years, under a single banner will create a sense of cohesion.

Indeed, glancing at the programme is something of an eye-opener when the realisation hits that all of these activities are set to happen in the space of a single weekend.

There’s potential for more to be done, too.

Understandably, the council’s financial resources are constrained amid the annual round of funding cuts, so the notion of spending money on millions of pounds worth of new facilities in the immediate future is perhaps unrealistic.

But various schemes could do with a boost. There has been little news recently about progress on regenerating the old Ski Village - a haven for outdoor sports until it was ruined by repeated fires - while the Ride Sheffield group deserves support for its efforts to raise £45,000 for a new cycling trail at Redmires, following the success of a similar track at Lady Canning’s Plantation in Ringinglow.

Tackling the concerns of campaigners opposed to the felling of street trees around Sheffield once and for all would also be welcomed.

Similar calls were made in this column yesterday, but the saga has now reached the High Court.

It seems deeply regrettable, and unnecessary, that an issue which should have been nipped in the bud months ago has now started to incur expensive legal bills. If both sides agree they are committed to protecting our tree-lined streets, then surely an agreement can be reached which would be true to the ideal of Sheffield as the Outdoor City.