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10 things to do with kids this autumn in The Outdoor City

From the golden leaves and rich coloured conkers, to the wide range of themed activities, autumn is an amazing time to get out and about with kids in Sheffield – just wrap up warm and take your waterproofs if rain is forecast!

The beauty of living in a city with over 80 parks and 1000 green and open spaces is that you’re never far from the great outdoors, and much of it is easy to reach by public transport. All the places listed here are easily accessible by public transport, so check out route and ticket options online.

1. Go on a wildwood adventure
Sheffield has more woodland than you can shake an autumnal stick at, and the leaves are beautiful at this time of year. From exploring the Boggart houses and trails at National Trust Longshaw to kicking leaves or orienteering in Greno Woods via chestnut hunting or the weekly Grow Theatre drama classes in Ecclesall Woods, there’s a woodland activity for everyone.

2. Try a new park
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when your local park is as good as many of our Sheffield parks are, but another great one is never far away. Graves Park, Millhouses Park, Rivelin Valley Park, Norfolk Park, Endcliffe Park and Hillsborough Park all have great facilities for children, not forgetting the all important cafes for a snack after all that running around.

3. Get on your bike
Sheffield is built on seven hills, but there are still plenty of parts that are flat enough for a family bike ride. Endcliffe Park and the Porter Valley through Whiteley Woods to Forge Dam is always a favourite, or if you’re made of sterner stuff Sheffield has an excellent mountain bike trail suitable for competent children at Lady Cannings, and more challenging trails for skilled riders at Parkwood Springs and Greno Woods.

4. Set your kids a challenge
If your kids find walks boring, set them a challenge. Sheffield’s new marked Run Routes across the city are great for family runs, or you could walk them and get the kids to write their own scavenger hunts or trails for friends to do. A photo challenge always goes down well too – fungi, wildlife and brightly coloured berries make brilliant photographic subjects.

5. Get creative
Fabulously coloured autumn leaves and conkers offer a whole host of opportunities for craft projects, from the quick five minute picture or photo collage to more detailed works of art. We love these cute hedgehogs, but the internet has a multitude of ideas. If you'd prefer someone else to sort out the mess, Manor Lodge has regular craft sessions.

6. Climb the walls
Sheffield has arguably the best climbing opportunities for children (as well as adults) in the country. See our article on climbing for kids for some of the options both indoors and outdoors.

Photo by Gemma Thorpe.

Photo courtesy of Climbing Works.

7. Get your smart phone out
The Pokemon Go craze might be slightly less frenzied than it was in the summer, but it’s still a great way to get even the most reluctant kids out of the house and walking about. Great places to hunt for Pokemon include Hillsborough Park, Endcliffe Park, Weston Park, Clifton Park and Birley Golf Course. If finding virtual creatures isn’t your thing, geocaching might be: there are over 11,000 geocaches (treasure boxes) hidden in Sheffield, all you need is a smart phone and a geocaching app.

8. Find your own food
Foraging is the stuff of childhood memories, as well as giving the chance for a free and healthy snack. The bilberries are long gone, but there are still options for finding your own food outdoors. If you’re very lucky you might find a few very late blackberries or sloes (try shady woodland and high land for late ripening) and chestnuts are just starting to drop in the woods. If you don’t know where your local foraging haunts are, why not ask an older neighbour or family member. Always be careful to make sure you know what you’re picking though, and be particularly careful not to eat wild fungi unless you really know what you’re doing – mushrooms can be very toxic and there are a lot of lookalikes out there.

9. Meet a creature
If looking after, or looking at, furry (and not so furry) creatures gets your kids excited, why not visit one of the city’s farms. Out in the wild, the Wildlife Trusts helps you to plan a wild walk and walkers are encouraged to spot and report sightings of wildlife.

Photo by Elliot Smith, courtesy of SRWT.

10. Muck in and help out
Kids often love a job (as long as it’s not tidying their room) so how about helping out in the outdoors. A lot of places rely on volunteers to help keep them at their best, and you can come along as a family to help out or sometimes even drop older kids off while you enjoy a walk (check with the organisation). The Eastern Moors Partnership run monthly muck in days at Longshaw which are suitable for the whole family as well as junior and youth ranger sessions suitable for 11-18 year olds, while Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust run regular work days which are suitable for families with teenagers.

Written by Victoria Penman


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