Sheffield’s real steal: a cutting edge city break

November 3, 2015

An industrial city famed for snooker finals might make for an unlikely getaway, but its vibrant arts scene won comedian and writer Jon Holmes over

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Sheffield is famous for its cutlery, in which my interest is fleeting, usually around mealtimes. But it has also just been awarded the accolade of Best Value City Break in the UK by TripAdvisor, which annually rates the most affordable British cities for an overnight stay. In other words, Sheffield probably has a lot more to offer than spoons. I gave myself two days to find out what, and in that time I discovered boutique hotels, open spaces, excellent pub trails, art and culture. The first thing I found, however, was a bear pit.

If you’re the kind of person who takes a mini-break in order to wind down, a walk through the Sheffield Botanical Gardens is a perfect start to your visit. Quiet, contemplative and packed with plants from all over the world, meandering paths lead you through Asian, Mediterranean and Himalayan herbaria… until you chance upon a fully restored bear pit. It dates from 1836, but has been resolutely bear-free since the 1870s, when local legend has it that a child fell in to it and was eaten by a cross one.

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