Industrial Kelham Island is a place where contrasts sit harmoniously side by side. Warehouses, factories and workshops left vacant following the demise of the steel industry are now being taken over by residential developments, small businesses and artists. And amidst all that, is the best real ale trail in the city – if not the world.
The fascinating Kelham Island Museum sits on the original "island" – a piece of land with the River Don on one side and a manmade goit, which once powered a mill, on the other. The museum peeks into Sheffield’s industrial heritage and is well worth a look, with plenty for kids as well as adults. In October, hop down to Sheffield’s Annual Beer and Cider festival, which is held at the museum.
Now, on to the pubs. You don’t have to take our word for it; Kelham Island was mentioned in the New York Times’ 52 Places to Go in 2014, and again in the paper's Tasting Tour of Yorkshire's beers and Ales article. For a guide to the area's ale offerings, pick up Our Favourite Places' Sheffield Ale Trail – £1 from their online shop or the Millennium Gallery.
On the north side of the Don you’ll find The Riverside, home to good beer and pies, as well as a brilliant mural by Phlegm. The Fat Cat on Alma Street is bursting with character; much of the beer is brewed across the car park at Kelham Island Brewery and, in summer, the beer garden is a heavenly place. Round the corner is the Kelham Island Tavern, a place with countless real ale awards clinging to its walls. A little off the beaten track, the Gardeners Rest has a great beer garden overlooking the river, and is the tap for the nearby Sheffield Brewery Company. On the other side of the dual carriageway to all that, there's The Harlequin in one direction and Shakespeares in another.
By day, fill up on snap at The Grind cafe, famous for its sausage rolls and its ever-changing array of salads and cakes, or The Depot Bakery, responsible for the best doughnuts in town. In the evening, there's the unbeatable Milestone gastropub, top pizza place Craft & Dough, and Indian street food specialists The Bhaji Shop.
Kelham Island really isn't far from the bustle of Sheffield's high street – but the character of its ale gems couldn't be more distinct from the city centre chains.