If you regularly follow along with my Instagram stories you’ll know that I recently took a job in Manchester. Part of the reason for me taking this job was to finally take more time exploring my home country. Sometimes we become so focused on all the amazing places there are to visit around the world that we forget what’s in our own backyard. So when Visit England asked me to be apart of their #MyMicrogap campaign I jumped at the chance.
What Is A Microgap?
Microgap trips are for those that want the adventure and excitement from a gap year without having to take the time off work. Whether you’re interesting in switching off, giving back, learning something new or just escaping into the wild, a Microgap trip is the perfect way to do it around your routine.
Microgap trips are perfect for people like me who work shifts. While I’m now a freelancer in my industry and have, to a certain extent, flexibility on when I work, most of my days off are weekdays. Great for missing the crowds but it does leave you spending many days off not doing anything. In fact, my last day off was spend in bed with my laptop! Microgaps are the perfect motivation to get out and make the most of your days off.
Getting to Sheffield
With East Midlands Railway it couldn’t be easier to get to Sheffield from London. Just two hours after departing London St Pancras station you’ll find yourself in the heart of Sheffield.
You can also get direct trains to Sheffield from Nottingham (55 minutes), Manchester (1 hour), Leeds (1 hour) and Birmingham (1 hour 15 minutes).
TIP: If you can prebook your ticket. The further in advance you book, the better the saving!
Sheffield Canal Basin, more commonly known as Victoria Quays, is at the head of the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal and is just a short 15 minute walk from Sheffield train station. I never would have thought of going to Sheffield for a day of water activities but with Victoria Quays so close to the city centre, it really is a great place for adventure seekers to visit.
Our trip was just a day trip from London but if you’re thinking of spending longer in Sheffield there is a Hilton Hotel right by the Quays. The Hilton also has a spa so if you’re looking for a bit of rest and relaxation after a day of water sports it’s the perfect hotel. Other accommodation options along the Quays are Houseboat Hotels and Luxury Loft Apartments.
Getting Adventurous with DC Outdoors
DC Outdoors are a Sheffield based adventure company specialising in outdoor activities. They have nearly 20 years experience delivering high quality outdoor adventure so we knew we were in for a good day. While we were only going canoeing and stand up paddle boarding, DC Outdoors also offer rock climbing, abseiling, kayaking, weaselling, stream scrambling and hiking.
The great thing about DC Outdoors is they cater the experience around you. If you’re looking to improve your skills or looking to try something new they’ll base the experience around your needs. This was great for us as it meant the more experience stand up paddle boarders got to do more and the beginners had a chance to learn the basics.
Canoeing Down the Sheffield Canal
We were split into two teams based on our stand up paddle boarding skills and as I’ve only done it once (and badly!) I went into the beginners group. First up for our group was canoeing. I’ve been kayaking/canoeing many times and love it so I was really excited to be starting the day with canoeing.
Once we had a brief demonstration it was time to pair up and get in our canoes. Once we were all in it was time to start our journey down the Sheffield canal. As we set off I was amazed how quickly the city views transformed into beautiful greenery. Within 5 minutes it felt like we were miles away from the city. It was so peaceful paddling down the canal. I can only imagine how beautiful the views are on their peak district canoe trips!
Lunch at The Dorothy Pax
After 90 minutes of paddling down the canal we had certainly worked up an appetite. Lucky for us we had a delicious meal planned at The Dorothy Pax.
The Dorothy Pax is a charming little bar located in Salford Quays making it the perfect lunch spot for us. They are named after a 1914 Sheffield Keel known as The Dorothy Pax. In fact the bar itself is made from the famous boat! What’s also impressive about the bar is that it is both the oldest and tallest bar in Sheffield.
For lunch we treated to an incredible vegan feast. To start there was homemade soup served with crusty bread. Then we were served up a beautiful vegan thali of rice, chutney, salad, vegetables and onion bhajis. Everything was bursting with flavours so we were all very happy with our lunch. Although after filling my belly up with all the incredible food I was not starting to wonder how I was ever going to balance on a paddle board!
Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP)
Once we started to awake from our food comas, it was time to head back out to the water. While I have tried SUP in Thailand this was a long time ago and I wasn’t very good so I was nervous about giving it another go. I knew this time when I fell in I wouldn’t be falling into warm Thai water but slightly chilly English water. However, this was not enough to stop me giving it my all so I was ready to get started and (hopefully) improve from last time.
We started off with a demonstration before it was our turn to get in the water. As we were the beginners group we spent the start of the session kneeling on our boards to get used to controlling them. While this was the preferred method for most of our group, for me and my weak knees this was actually harder.
Once we were told it was time to stand I was the first one up and thankfully made it up without falling in. Although after being on my knees for a bit too long there were shaking like crazy making it very hard to keep my balance!
After paddling around for a while I was feeling pretty confident on the board and that’s when it all went wrong. As I said, we were the beginners group, so when Alice started crossing into my path I couldn’t steer away quick enough so we collided and then suddenly I found myself in water.
Drinks at The Dorothy Pax
After taking a swim in the cold water I was definitely feeling the need for a drink! Thankfully the staff at the Dorothy Pax were ready for our return. As we walked in we were greeted to the amazing sight of glasses lined up filled with some bubbles. They also let us try some locally brewed Sheffield beer.
Once I had a drink to warm myself up it was time to get changed as I was desperate to get out of my wet clothes! Once I was dry again it was time to enjoy a treat. The Dorothy Pax truly spoilt us as we had a delicious indian spiced carrot cake. I was seriously impressed with the amazing food we had been served throughout the day. I even took a little slice home with me for later. After the fall in the water I felt like I deserved it!
Lost Industry Tap Room
I’ve actually been to Sheffield before coming for our Microgap trip as I have a friend who lives in the city. When I last went to see her she took me to the grand opening of the newly opened Lost Industry Tap Room. After we had finished with our incredible microgap activities I couldn’t resist visiting Lost Industry before taking the train back to Manchester.
Will I Take Another Microgap Trip?
Absolutely! These microgap trips are perfect for people like me who want adventure and excitement but need to earn money in the country. I’m in that weird position of both loving my day job but wanting to constantly explore and have adventures. Microgaps are the perfect way for me to do both.
Please note that while this day trip was organised by Visit England and Traverse Events, the reviews and experiences written about in this post are 100% genuine. I value you guys too much to lie to you. This blog would be nothing without you and your continued support!
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