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Alexandra Park, Manchester

Ornamental lake in Alexandra Park, Whalley Range, Manchester

These days with the stressful lives we live and more people suffering from anxiety or being diagnosed with mental health problems, an afternoon or just a couple of hours in the park is vital for our emotional health. It is also good for providing precious free family time. If you are elderly, a walk in the park can be a lovely trip down Memory Lane, while getting gentle exercise.

Although, the third largest city in England, Manchester and surrounding areas incorporates some of the most beautiful parks in the North West, allowing us to enjoy the beauty of nature often within walking distance of our homes. Even parks that are not strictly speaking part of Greater Manchester are within a short drive, train or tram journey. If you are new to the area, just Google local parks with your post code to find the nearest one to you.
Today many inner city children only see animals on television or in packets on supermarket shelves. There’s nothing quite like seeing and stroking some cute animals to put a smile on the faces of children of all ages. There are farms and petting zoos across the region in parks farms such as Wythenshawe, where children can get up close to animals big and small and enjoy lots of other activities along the way. The animals include cows, sheep, goats, pigs, ducks and horses, as well as a prize-winning herd of Hereford Cattle.
The Manchester evening news recently highlighted the features of eleven of some of the best parks in Greater Manchester. Included is a park just over two and a half miles from Manchester City Centre, Alexandra Park, Whalley Range, where the Manchester Carnival has been held annually since 1970.

Recently I visited Alexandra Park and Chorlton Water Park with my eight year old grandson, Prince who is off school for the Easter Holidays.

Alexandra Park has a cafe, operated by the Tea Hive which is open during the summer from 10.00am to 4.30pm during the week and 9.30am to 5.30pm at the weekend. The cafe is family friendly with a collection of children’s books provided by Manchester Libraries and children’s toys. It also has toilets and baby changing facilities. There is also a lovely space available to hire for children’s parties.

There is new children’s play area between the lake and the cafe. It has cradle swings for younger children and a larger basket swing along with a toddler slide, a tea cup twister, a hedgehog springy and small see-saw. There’s also plenty of room for children to run around and a place for parents to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee while children ride their bikes, skateboards or feed the ducks.

The park which is very accessible for families with young children, the elderly or disabled, had most of its paths resurfaced during a recent park restoration. Other facilities in Alexandra Park include tennis courts, a cricket pitch, a multi use games area, an older children’s play area as well as a football pitch.

Alexandra Park has a small, free car park at the end of Russell Street but there is also plenty of parking spaces on the various streets around the park.

My grandson and I also visited the beautiful scenic, Chorlton Water Park off Maitland Avenue, Chorlton. The Local Nature Reserve stands on the site of Barlow Hall Farm and is open from dawn to dusk.

During the construction of the M60 motorway in the 1970s, gravel was excavated from the site. The gravel pit was subsequently flooded creating the lake that is in the middle of the Water Park today and is now surrounded by grasslands and woodlands. On the lake are all kinds of birds including swans and ducks and rare species. There is a car park and toilets, small playground for children under 12, picnic areas with benches to sit on, accessible paths and an ice cream van. There is a play area and toilets. Course fishing is available on the lake; day or season tickets must be obtained from the park office.

My grandson and I walked along the rough brown leaf-strewn path beside the Chorlton-Cum-Hardy Golf Club.

As we walked along the path with trees and bushes on either side, and branches creating a canopy overhead, we peered inquisitively through the bushes and the emotionless metal fence at the golfers.

Leaving the path, dry twigs breaking under our feet and dodging thorny bushes, we explored the woods, my grandson pretending to be a wild animal, growling and making scary faces at me. I really should have known better but my inner child came out and I had to join in the fun making faces and growling too, to my grandson’s amusement.

With the same satisfied grin on faces separated by decades and topped up vitamin D from the beautiful sunshine, eventually we made our way back to the main path around the huge picturesque lake. Along the path were occasional walkers, runners and bikers of all ages, alone and in groups. We passed people beside small tents and other camping equipment in the warm sunshine,

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fishing or just feeding the swans, ducks and other birds.

Finally we walked along the River Mersey listening to the soothing flow of water rippling over rocks before making our way to the children’s play ground, enjoying an ice cream and heading back to the car.


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