A Local Guide to Sheffield: From Beautiful Gardens to the Best Bakery Around | To travel

After more than 20 years in ththe city, the author of The floral solution knows a bunch of great places to eat and explore


Cafe Marmadukes has a sustainable and independent ethic, with food from the farm to the table. Its former sorting office is a converted Royal Mail depot, beautifully reinvented in a Scandinavian-inspired design. I usually walk there from my shop, along Sharrowvale Road and through Nether Edge. Her salads have been a longtime love for me: my current favorite is the Lime Mint Broccolini. It’s a great place to meet up with friends for lunch or ease the day’s administrative chores with a cup of coffee or three and sometimes even a huge slice of cheesecake.


I could not have dreamed of a more abundant source of natural inspiration than Sheffield Botanic Gardens, southwest of downtown. The gardens are home to magnificent Grade II listed Paxton glass pavilions, some of the first curvilinear glass structures ever built. An impressive 18,060 glass panels shape this beautiful 90-meter-long greenhouse.

Illustration: Hennie Haworth / The Guardian

The gardens are surrounded by old stone walls which absorb the clicking sounds of the outside world. There is a huge variety of plants and there is always something new to discover every season. I first visited the gardens when I was studying fine art and remember discovering the magic of hellebores. They really marked me because they bloom in winter.


Sourdough breads at Forge Bakehouse
Sourdough breads at Forge Bakehouse

Nether Edge is a spacious, leafy neighborhood with Victorian houses, independent shops and cafes. It’s the kind of place where you get lost while discovering vintage shops and restaurants in the streets lined with lime trees. Whether it’s Italian coffee, organic produce, natural wines, a rare record you’ve been looking for, or a friendly place to get a key, you’re likely to find what you are looking for here. Bench, a neighborhood bistro and bar, serves incredible combinations of locally sourced small plates and seasonal cocktails. Heading down to Abbeydale Road you’ll find the eclectic mix of shops and warehouses that make up the Antique District. Thrift stores in abundance, a herbarium, the best bakery in the area (Forge Furnace) and – shameless plug alert – a decent florist too: Swallows and damsons.

Green area

Sheffield is on the border of the Peak District and with no effort you can immerse yourself in its wild nature. Wyming Creek, at the west end of Sheffield, offers spectacular views of the Rivelin Reservoirs and the city beyond. It is a deeply tranquil forest filled with moss-covered trees, small waterfalls and magical wooden bridges that crisscross the valley. There are ancient and huge larches, pines and redwoods – watch out for crossbills, rockers and redstails. There are a lot of amazing walks and wild swimming to be done here.

Night life

You could accidentally miss the entrance to the Social House Photo if you didn’t know it was there, but hidden under a 1920s cinema is an underground world of fun. Go through the rainbow wall doors and down the spiral staircase and you’ll find a lively bar, set in dark wood, a spacious, dimly lit underground bar.

By exploring its maze of interconnected spaces, you will discover a more playful side. An Italian-inspired street food canteen, a game room filled with ping-pong tables and gigantic 70s-style shuffleboard games in the shuffle shack room – the game is supposed to be 15% skill and 85 % strategy. There is also a mini cinema.

To stay

Charming hotel Brocco on the park (doubles from £ 145 room only) sits on the edge of one of Sheffield’s most popular green spaces, Endcliffe Park. The eight-bedroom Edwardian villa has a magnificent kitchen serving seasonal “small plates” all day. It feels like home but also luxuriously designed.

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