Sheffield was The Outdoor City ‘long before council branding’

Pat Horscroft, 72, takes part in Steve Peats Steel City Downhill Race in Greno Woods.
Pat Horscroft, 72, takes part in Steve Peats Steel City Downhill Race in Greno Woods.
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Sheffield’s branding as The Outdoor City might be a new idea – but the passion for sports such as climbing and biking has been around for decades.

In fact, the people who have been promoting these varied activities believe it is the grassroots support that makes it possible for Sheffield Council to market the city in such a way.

John Horscroft is part of Ride Sheffield, a mountain biking advocacy group.

“Ride Sheffield immediately saw that this was something that needed support,” he said.

“We are not a club. We are an advocacy group. We campaign on behalf of mountain bikers for provision of one kind or another. But equally we want to try to encourage riders to bike responsibly.

“We could see that if the Outdoor City took off properly and was done in the correct way it could only benefit mountain bikers.”

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From John’s perspective, The Outdoor City idea will help promote a biking community that is already flourishing in Sheffield. It’s a community that came together to create one of the country’s few inner-city mountain bike trails at Parkwood Springs, and one that helps to attract riders such as Steve Peat, one of the most successful in history, to stay in the city and encourage others to take up the sport.

John said: “I took a councillor to show him the trail and he was astonished at what had been created with so little money.

“With the climbing walls we have got, with the huge number of climbers who live in the city, and the growing number of mountain bikers, but also the reputation that it’s getting for its mountain biking, it would be ridiculous if Sheffield didn’t adopt the Outdoor City title and try to build on it and capitalise on what it’s got already.”

Sheffield is also home to the Move More campaign. It does not focus solely on sport, encouraging people to make basic changes such as walking instead of driving, or taking stairs instead of a lift.

But the campaign is linked to grassroots participation and using Sheffield’s assets.

Professor Robert Copeland, from Sheffield Hallam University, said: “The key aim is to transform Sheffield into the most active city in the UK by 2020.

“One of the themes of that is focusing on improving the community and connecting people to physical activity opportunities.”