Today, as I’m feeling inspired, I thought I’d give you a little bit of a break from stories about our favourite form of transport and focus instead on the natural world!
Now the UK restrictions have been lifted somewhat and its deemed safe to take trips out to parks to meet family or friends (one at a time, ha ha), I was thinking how lucky we are here in Manchester to be surrounded by so many open spaces and areas of natural beauty.
Like many other people, I have been exploring the winding nature trails, toe paths and wooded walks nearest my home and this experience has really opened my eyes to how I ought to be spending my spare time, creating a new pastime for me which I hope will continue even when things are fully back to normality.
In honour of that, here is a little round up of some of those easily accessible places from Manchester. NB: A cost may apply to some of the parks I’ve chosen, and some in park attractions or venues may be closed due to Covid-19. Boo!
Heaton Park, nr Prestwich
Located in just a 10-minute drive from Manchester city centre, Heaton Park offers over 600 acres of rolling greenery along with an animal centre ideal for the little ones. Also featuring a neoclassical, Grade I listed Tudor hall, Heaton Park is a firm favourite amongst Mancunians and has a long history for hosting outdoor concert and events, including its the annual Parklife festival, which attracts huge crowds from across the UK. The park is also home to Treetop Manchester, an adventure park with high ropes, swings, slides and walkways suspended 15m from the ground. The park has a designated named stop on the Metrolink, making it doubly accessible.
Fletcher Moss Park and Gardens, Didsbury
Jump on a 42 bus from Manchester Piccadilly and take the 40-minute journey to Fletcher Moss, where you’ll find an abundance of pretty flowers, separate botanical gardens, tennis courts, picnic areas and access to the banks of the River Mersey and Stennar Woods. Meander along the toe paths, passing sports fields and find plenty of places to bed down with a good picnic. Next door you’ll find the tranquil oasis of Parsonage Gardens where you can enjoy a quiet sit down in lovely surroundings. Nearest tram stop is Didsbury Village.
Tatton Park, Knutsford
The wide-open spaces of Tatton Park are ideal for blowing away the cobwebs, taking the dog on an extended walk or sitting under a shaded tree with a good book. There’s historical intrigue in the Tudor hall with adjoining neo-classical mansion, get your camera out for the deer park and enjoy the children’s playground (once all have re-opened). Tatton Park hosts regular shows like its annual flower festival, dog show and a food and drink festival which attracts top names from the world of cookery. Tatton Park is best reached by car or on foot, if you happen to live nearby.
Sale Water Park, Trafford
Running in part alongside the M60 motorway, Sale Water Park is easy to find and offers walks around and alongside a large man-made lake – with a watersports centre available where you can hire jet skis and sailing boats. Fancy a quieter vibe? You can access Jackson’s Boat bridge where you’ll find a nice family friendly pub with gardens or visit the Boathouse restaurant open seven days a week. There are 50 free car parking spaces at Sale Water Park and there is a designated named stop on the Metrolink.
Bruntwood Park and BMX Track, Cheadle
Located just off the John Lewis roundabout on the A34 in Cheadle, Bruntwood Park is perfect for a stroll amongst its many woodland walks and open meadows. Bisected by the Micker Brook, Bruntwood offers a large children’s playground designated into areas by age, along with aerial slide and new sensory challenge zone. The old petting zoo is long gone, but you will find a brilliant 18-hole pitch and putt where you can just walk up and pay to play. And you might be lucky enough to catch the local archery team in a match or a practice session. Like a challenge? There’s an excellent BMX track here that provides fun to confident bike riders. Prefer something more sedate? There’s an ice cream hut, restaurant and café (connected to Oddfellows Hotel which occupies Bruntwood Hall) and lots of opportunity to feed the ducks.
Daisy Nook Country Park, Failsworth
Again located within a few minutes’ drive of the M60 is this beautiful park in the heart of the Medlock Valley. Think of a more sedate kind of vibe here, the park is a perfect for a walk along the canal toe paths over the old Aqueduct or the more active can challenge themselves with a jog around the permanently marked orienteering course. You can choose day pass in one of three fishing lakes, and once re-opened there are two fantastic children’s play areas separated by age including an adventure playscape with cradle swing and rock hill fort. Lots of nice spots for a picnic here too, as well as bridleways, lakes and nature trails.
Lyme Park, Disley
Ahh, the beautiful Lyme Park on the edge of the Peak District. It’s worth the drive across the border into Derbyshire for this one. Who can forget the famous scene in Pride and Prejudice, where Mr Darcy jumps into the lake for love? This very lake is located here along with its majestic hall (where children can dress up in period costume) and formal gardens. See the fallow deer in spring, enjoy rambles around the stunning grounds and the little ones will love the woodland play park which blends into the environment seamlessly. Naturally there’s a good café here and be sure to check out the attractions at Halloween and Christmas, including spooky events at ‘The Cage’ – eerie!
Alderley Edge, Cheshire
Something of a walker’s paradise next, Alderley Edge is the Cheshire village noted as the home to ‘the Cheshire set’ – the collective name given to local celebrities and sports people who reside in this leafy location. Drive through the village and out to the National Trust car park to experience ‘The Edge’ – a dramatic red sandstone escarpment with impressive views. There are 5 marked walks you can take from the car park which vary in duration and difficulty. Beautiful views adorn each one, and at the end you can visit the Wizard’s Team Room (for amazing home-made brunches and cakes) or the pub next door.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this little round up, and please don’t shoot me if I’ve missed off your favourite one!