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Gap Year? Nah! Take a Microgap With The Outdoor Activities Sheffield Has

By Alice Teacake

This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see my affiliate disclaimer here.

Whether you’ve just finished school, or you’re well into your professional career and just need a blimin’ break, you may have the idea of taking an epic gap year for yourself! But hold up. Gap years cost money and time. So why not change the rules a bit and opt for a Microgap? Why not experience a gap year exactly how you want to in just a couple of days, with the time and money that you have! Even better – opt for the adventure outdoor activities Sheffield has to offer.

Take a Microgap with the Outdoor Activities Sheffield has to offer

You can have any adventure that you want to if you put your mind to it. Which is exactly why I went searching for the adventurous best things to do in Sheffield England with Visit England and Visit Sheffield. As a result, I managed to pack in an action-packed day of stand up paddle boarding and canoeing with awesome people, and still got back home that night to take care of my washing and sleep in my own bed.

We are ready for our outdoor activities Sheffield has to offer in our Microgap. Let's Go Wild!

We are ready for the outdoor activities Sheffield has to offer on our day Microgap experience! Photo courtesy of Charlie from Pocket Trailblazer

Sounds good? It’s the best of both worlds for sure! Read on to find out how you can get into microgapping, what different microgap styles are possible and unearth what to do in Sheffield.

What is a Microgap?

A microgap is everything you want from a Gap Year, but instead experienced in just a couple of days in the UK.

Alice Teacake and Jessica in Your Ear canoeing along Victoria Quays Sheffield on a microgap

Me and Jessica in Your Ear trying canoeing on our Microgap experience along Victoria Quays Sheffield. Photo courtesy of Claire from Tales of a Backpacker

What are the benefits of a Microgap?

I’ve realised that there are many benefits in taking a Microgap instead of a whole Gap Year.

  • A Microgap is less exhausting
  • Microgapping costs less than a year of travel
  • Taking a short break allows you to still work on your career and business
  • You’ll start to become more acquainted with the UK!
  • A Microgap gives you everything that we’re seeking through travel: adventure, new cool friends, challenge and a time and place to recharge
Victoria Quays Sheffield during my Microgap adventure day

Canoeing in my Microgap adventure experience along Victoria Quays Sheffield! Photo courtesy of Nina from Visit England.

For the last 10 years I generally had it in my mind that I needed to travel to the other side of the world in order to have adventures and self-development. But if you’ve been keeping an eye on my Instagram and blog posts, you’ll see that the hiking and adventure activities here in the UK are out of this world! I’m really enjoying having a base in the UK for now!

So why not consider a shorter period of exploration? Taking a year out doesn’t have to be the only way to ‘find yourself’ these days. Opt for a Microgap instead.

What different Microgaps can I take?

Essentially, you can do whatever you want! Consider what spurs you on to travel and explore, then start thinking about how you can plan a day or a couple of days to get the best of a Gap Year in just a few days.

To help you with your travel planning, I highly recommend that you search for the #MyMicrogap hashtag online. Visit Britain have been showing us all how to Go Wild, Switch Off, Give Back and Learn More. Me and my blogging buddies have been creating amazing content for you, so do check it out.

I love challenging myself in an attempt to reach my full potential, so I just had to choose the Go Wild option in Sheffield England. Here’s what I got up to, and how you can get stuck in yourself in this glorious part of North England.

What to do in Sheffield England on a Microgap

Yearning for riveting adventures in the English ‘Shire? Sheffield in South Yorkshire is known as ‘The Outdoor City’ and will therefore certainly sort you out! Named after the River Sheath flowing through the very heart of this metropolitan and historically industrial city, Sheffield is a true adventurer’s gem.

61% of the city is officially green space and a third of it is in the Peak District National Park; which makes this one of the best places to hike in the UK! Looking for a park? You’re spoilt for choice. There’s 13 City Parks, 20 District Parks and 50 Local Parks.

Man standing in Winnats Pass in the Peak District in Sheffield England

Sheffield is right next to the Peak District which is perfect for more Microgap adventures!

Known as ‘Steel City’ because of its vital role in the Industrial Revolution, Sheffield has come out the other end as a thriving cultural hotspot with plenty to keep you entertained. There’s plenty of things to do in Sheffield today. There’s foodie havens, plenty of street art, cool vintage shopping opportunities and one of my favourite things: beer! But today we’re focusing on adventure for your Microgap, and one of the best places to come for that in Sheffield is Victoria Quays.

Don’t leave home without travel insurance!

Don’t leave for your adventure without travel insurance. However careful you are, things can still go wrong. I’ve ended up in hospital in Russia, had stuff cut out of my arm in Vietnam and even when I thought eating that chicken in Poland was safe…turns out it wasn’t.

Do the right thing. Protect your health and valuables.

Yes, give me my travel insurance quote!

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Head for Victoria Quays Sheffield

There are lots of fun places to visit in Sheffield. Victoria Quays is one of them. Victoria Quays is a large canal basin in Sheffield that was constructed between 1816 – 1819 as a terminus for the Sheffield Canal.

Mosaic of Victoria Quays in Sheffield England

A lovely mosaic mural of Victoria Quays Sheffield

It was unfortunately neglected for quite some time when it shut down in 1970 but a restoration project in the early 90s has now made this an awesome place for canal boats, businesses, watering holes and adventure activities in Sheffield today.

Start and finish at the Dorothy Pax

The Dorothy Pax used to be a dentist, but it has now established itself as a very cool and quirky bar nestled within the arches right next to the canal. The staff are lovely, and embrace Sheffield through and through. Their playlist was belting out the Arctic Monkeys, Pulp, Def Leppard and Moloko to name a few – all from Sheffield don’t you know! And their events in the evening really do revolve around live music, so do stay in the evening if you can.

Inside The Dorothy Pax in Victoria Quays Sheffield with the bar made from the famous boat

I just love the quirky and unique interior of The Dorothy Pax bar in Victoria Quays Sheffield

Coffee milk and biscuits in The Dorothy Pax in Victoria Quays Sheffield during my Microgap adventure day Coffee milk and biscuits in The Dorothy Pax in Victoria Quays Sheffield during my Microgap adventure day

Milk jugs in Dorothy Pax in Victoria Quays Sheffield Milk jugs in Dorothy Pax in Victoria Quays Sheffield

With local ales and all the other international drinks that may tickle your fancy, this is definitely one of the places to go in Sheffield to start and finish your Sheffield adventure activities. Their cook is the absolute best too. If curry is particularly, your choice of cuisine, she whips up a mean one.

Find out more about the Dorothy Pax here

Try Outdoor Activities in Sheffield with DC Outdoors

Looking for adventure activities to do in Sheffield with the right people? Dan Crawford is your man. When it comes to fun activities in Sheffield which are going to push you out of your comfort zone a little, Dan knows what to do.

Regardless of whether you’re completely new to all of this, or want to learn, you’re in good hands. Dan and his team are patient, caring and enthusiastic about sporty stuff to do in Sheffield.

Victoria Quays encompasses the spirit of outdoor Sheffield, and is the spot to meet Dan and his team to start your Microgap.

What Sheffield Outdoor Activities can you try?

With 20 years of experience, DC Outdoors offer climbing, abseiling, weaselling, stand up paddleboarding (SUP), canoeing, hillwalking, orienteering and steam scrambling. Their activities reach far beyond Victoria Quays into the Peak District and beyond. This means you can have a great adventure regardless of whether you have one day or one week on your Microgap. Speak to Dan and his team to create the perfect trip for your needs.

I tried canoeing and stand up paddleboarding on my Microgap adventure! Read on to find out what went down. Because believe me…a lot went down mentally and physically.

Read reviews of DC Outdoors here

Canoeing along Victoria Quays

Perfect for beginners to watersports, I highly recommend canoeing to begin your adventure Microgap experience.

Sheffield’s canal has plenty of interesting sights to admire along the way. There’s some popping graffiti and street art that you’ll see along your journey. There is of course the old architecture which includes Grade II listed buildings. Then there’s this very unusual skeleton party going on with a Buddha head and a British lion statue thrown in there for good measure. Someone’s taken the time to put this whole art scene together for passers by along the waterway and I love it. I hope you find it too!

Street art of a crow along Victoria Quays Sheffield during outdoor activities in Sheffield Street art of a crow along Victoria Quays Sheffield during outdoor activities in Sheffield

An interesting garden with skeleton and lion statues along the canal in Victoria Quays Sheffield An interesting garden with skeleton and lion statues along the canal in Victoria Quays Sheffield

Canoeing is relatively easy and is a lot of fun to do with the new friends you’ll meet when you join DC Outdoors for the day. It’s an opportunity to work together, remember the joy of teamwork and put your mind to something other than the stress of work and whatever else is going on in your life (because we’ve always got something going on right).

Alice Teacake canoeing as part of the adventure outfoor activities Sheffield has to offer Alice Teacake canoeing as part of the adventure outfoor activities Sheffield has to offer

Standing on the edge of the canal with my KEEN shoes ready to go canoeing in Sheffield England Standing on the edge of the canal with my KEEN shoes ready to go canoeing in Sheffield England

Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) in Victoria Quays

After a cracking lunch at The Victoria Pax, I was revved up and ready for round 2 of my Microgap. At this point I’ve never had the pleasure of attempting Stand Up Paddleboarding before. I was totally ready to embrace DC Outdoor’s introduction to it and give it a whirl.

Me and the girls got suited and booted and took to the waters.

I have to say that the board surprisingly feels rock solid the minute you get on it. No major wobbles here.

The board will stay stable depending on how much you’re holding on to it. Me and the girls were feeling pretty chuffed with ourselves after 10 minutes and were doing swimmingly well. But we quickly discovered that what goes on, can very much go off.

Me and Curious Claire decided to start doing some glorious laps up and down the waters and just as I was babbling on about Yorkshire Tea or something, we clipped each other and she went right in.

Ooh er.

Jessica in your ear getting ready to go stand up paddleboarding

Jessica in your ear getting ready to go stand up paddleboarding. Photo credit: Tales of a Backpacker

When SUP goes wrong…

Not gonna lie; Claire was clearly fuming at me as the water started to get into her knickers. And I started to panic. I was wearing some pretty nice underwear myself and as much as I do love Sheffield, I didn’t fancy getting that close to it.

As Dan’s teammate came over and started telling Claire that I could easily find myself in the water too if she so wished, I hopped to it and dug my paddle into the surface of the Sheath. Which did absolutely nothing but bring upon chaos. I dug deep so well, that I successfully propelled myself face first into Sheffield itself with the grace of a startled hippo.

It was all giggles and glee from me and Claire until we realised my GoPro was sinking deeper and deeper into the depths of no return. We had just passed a couple of boys trying to get metal out of the canal with their makeshift magnets – and they’d gone and lost the magnet itself – so things were really looking good!

We’re looking at each other bamboozled for a split second until *cue fanfare*, Jessica In Your Ear glides along like the true superheroine she is and proclaims that she’s gonna jump in for it. Whilst DC Outdoors remind Jessica that they cannot take any responsibility for her bravery going wrong, I’m looking up at the skies asking the Universe for GoPro returns.

Jessica actually is a professional swimmer, so if anyone is gonna get my action camera back, it’s Jess.

Did she get it back?

Me and Claire wait above the surface whilst Jess repeatedly throws her bottom and feet up into the air to dive down and up again. After the third attempt we acknowledge tahat the GoPro has well and truly gone. Jess, you were a trooper for getting in and trying your best. I owe you a beer.

Staying the night in Sheffield?

Here’s the best places in stay in Sheffield for budget, midrange and luxury travellers.

How to get to Sheffield England

With very easy access by plane, train, bus or car, you can get to Sheffield in a jiffy.

Plane

There are 4 nearby airports which include Manchester Airport, Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield Airport, Leeds Bradford Airport and Nottingham East Midlands.

Download the Skyscanner app to find the best flights

Seeing as this is a particular Microgap adventure however, there’s a good chance you’ll be coming by train, bus or car.

Train

You can get to Sheffield from London in around 2 hours Trains leave from London St Pancras International and Kings Cross. Trains also leave hourly from Manchester City Centre and are direct from Manchester International Airport.

Find the best times and prices with Omio

Bus

Buses from London to Sheffield take around 3.5 to 4 hours. From Manchester, it takes 1.5 hours. You can easily buy your ticket online with Omio.

Book your bus to Sheffield with Omio

Car

It takes around 3.5 hours to drive from London to Sheffield and 1.5 hours from Manchester to Sheffield. I personally got to Sheffield by driving from Leeds. It only took 55 minutes.

Need to hire a car? Book here

What’s on in Sheffield this weekend and beyond for you?

Which type of Microgap experience entices you?
Do you like the idea of taking a Microgap instead of a Gap Year?
Which part of England or the UK would you like to explore more of?

My sponsored Microgap experience was made possible by Visit England and Visit Sheffield. Opinions, as always, remain my own = honest and straight to the point. 

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I’d love to hear about what you’ve been exploring in England. Make sure to discover what else there is to explore on my Destinations page.

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About Alice Teacake

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I'm a feminist British kickass solo female traveller who believes in women facing their fears, pushing their boundaries and reaching their full potential through solo adventure travel! I have been featured in Nat Geo Traveller UK, Lonely Planet, the Daily Mail and Buzzfeed and spoken about solo female travel safety on BBC One, whilst working with a bunch of awesome brands. Follow me for travel advice and inspiration, so you can go forth and challenge yourself to reach your own personal goals!

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