Don’t believe the rumours - Manchester’s not always covered by big grey clouds, you know. And when the sun does put in an appearance, there’s lots of outdoorsy things to do to make the most of the rays - and all just a frisbee toss from one of our Manchester hotels.
Take Chorlton Water Park, for instance. Manchester's first designated local nature reserve, this 170-acre haven for wildlife is just a ten-minute walk from our West Didsbury hotel. And, with its beautiful man-made lake, meandering paths and wild grasslands, it makes a beautiful spot to blow off the winter cobwebs or for finding some shade in summer.
One of the most popular spots of the Mersey Valley, a superb green belt that runs through Stockport and Trafford, Chorlton is considered regionally important for its wildlife. Nature lovers may get the chance to spot northern pochards, ring-necked parakeets and kingfishers - and maybe even an otter if you’re really lucky.
While smaller than the adjoining Sale Water Park (and, unlike its neighbour, you can’t hire boats) Chorlton is still very pretty and family friendly. Popular with hikers tackling the Trans-Pennine trail which runs right through it, you’ll also find anglers, horse riders and mountain bikers out in force.
Chorlton Water Park holds the Civic Trust's Green Flag Award and the UK Man and the Biosphere Urban Wildlife Award for Excellence - and we’ve got all the information you need to make your day here into an award-winner in its own right.
You may not be able to hire boats, but there are still ways to enjoy the lake at Chorlton Water Park. Keen fisherman can take advantage of the Coarse fishing. You’ll need to buy a day or season ticket - these can be obtained from the park office by calling 0161 881 5639.
Chorlton Water Park is excellent for wildlife watching. Look out for waterfowl and small birds in the scrub around the lake. There’s plenty to see all year round - watch out for sand martins and swallows, along with warblers such as the blackcap, willow warbler and chiffchaff.
There are five Health Walks available in the Mersey Valley, and one of these is in Chorlton Water Park. Follow the signs, which take you on a circular, one-mile route around the lake. There are benches along the route should you need to take a rest offering lovely views of the countryside.
With wide paths that are perfect for bikes, scooters and rollerblades Chorlton Water Park is great for family activities. There’s also a playground that’s aimed at kids aged 12. Take a jam jar because the lake has its own pond-dipping platforms, and toddler-only adventure sessions are held each Friday morning.
The RSPB hold frequent bird-spotting walks in Chorlton Water Park which meet at the car park. Grab a map and join one of the park’s many orienteering sessions, normally held at weekends. You’ll also find groups offering everything from gentle rambles to walks of the Nordic kind.
This varied park includes woods and meadows, but the highlight has to be the picturesque lake. The path around the water is only about a mile-long, making it great if you just fancied stretching your legs.
Open from dawn to dusk, you’ll find Chorlton Water Park at 74 Maitland Ave, Manchester M21 7WH. The toilets near the playground are open during the day and the information point opens at weekends.
The park’s well-surfaced paths are accessible to both wheelchairs and pushchairs. The pond-dipping platform over the lake is also wheelchair accessible, and there is a car park with disabled bays.
While you’re in the area, take one of the paths through the woods until you get to the adjoining Sale Water Park. It too has woodland, meadows and riverside walks to enjoy, but you’ll also find water sports on offer. Hire a boat by the hour - canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and rowing boats are all available at weekends, bank holidays and school holidays from the watersport centre called Peak Pursuits.
Also nearby is the gorgeous suburb of West Didsbury, one of Manchester’s most picturesque suburbs, known for its buzzing independent scene of shops, bars and restaurants. At the heart of it all is Burton Road - a bustling street with a hipster vibe where you can shop for flowers or furniture, or find a one-off vintage dress.
With a plethora of picnic benches. Chorlton Water Park is a great place to bring your sarnies - and there are plenty of hungry ducks who’ll gladly take the crusts off your hands. Just watch out for the greedy geese who have a tendency to snatch.
Extend your walk a little further by heading in the direction of Sale Water Park and you’ll get to Jackson’s Boat, a lovely traditional pub with a history as large as its beer garden. There's been a building on the site since the 16th century and legend has it that Bonnie Prince Charlie once visited! These days, you’ll find great pub grub from fish and chips to steak pie, as well as real ale from Bearton Brewers.
Head back to leafy West Didsbury and you’ll find a range of restaurants. Chain-wise there’s a McDonald’s, a Pizza Express and a popular Beefeater next door to the West Didsbury Premier Inn. One of the best independents is Pinchjo’s, a relaxed tapas known for its great tunes, and a range of options for veggies and meat-eaters. Try a sharing plate washed down with a sangria, Cava or cerveza.
Chorlton Water Park is about five miles south of Manchester city and easy to access by car, tram or bus.
Take the A5103 from Manchester city centre to Nell Lane. The park can be accessed from Maitland Avenue and there is a car park with disabled bays.
The parks is on the 23, 23A, 86 and 276 bus routes. Hop on at Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester airport or the intu Trafford Centre.
The park is close to the Barlow Moor Road Metrolink station where you can get trams to and from Victoria train station and Manchester airport.
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