I can see for miles from here.
In the distance, jutting up from the horizon are the sharp, spiky, silhouettes of the city skyscrapers. They are few and dot the horizon reminding me of the closeness of the city.
A glance to the left reveals a route to freedom. To the hills. To a world full of unknown adventures. Red fairy-like lights rush along the grey river that snakes through the valley towards those hills. Soon I will join them, I hope.
I come here often.
Sometimes to think, the fresh air and ability to see the horizon do surprising things to my clarity of thought.
Sometimes it’s to capture a moment. I haven’t yet managed to capture the ‘perfect’ image from this vantage point yet, perhaps I never will.
Sometimes, however, it’s simply for the view.
There are countless people that have come before me that have enjoyed this view as I do now. Evidenced by the several memorial benches that are dotted around this particular spot.
At pretty much the highest point in Manchester you would hope that there would be a decent view to be had. Especially since the people that once owned this place saw fit to build a temple here.
Here, is, of course, Heaton Park.
Situated on the northern outskirts of the city and around the corner from the place I call home, this place holds a special place in my heart.
You see, it’s not just a view. It’s not even just a park. It’s a place of memories, of adventure, of love.
I grew up here.
From its swings, to its football pitches (which I have played cricket on several occasions), to its farm, the Hall with its lion statues that you have to climb on (it’s like the law) and even it’s golf course whose 18th hole provides a perfect sledging hill on the very rare occasion we get some snow. To me, this place is home, my extended back garden if you will.
That’s all well and good, I hear you say, but why should I bother to visit?
Well, my friends (we are friends right? I mean let me know if we aren’t and I will stop bothering you with my aimless wanderings) here are a few things that my back garden offers in terms of amusement.
OK, so I guess it’s not technically a lake, and it has got nothing on those vast expanses of water up in the actual lake district. However, it is still a decent sized puddle which you can, in fact, hire a good, old-fashioned rowing boat.
Or perhaps your more of a pedalo kind-of-person and fancy getting your Freddie Flintoff on?(possible niche joke so see here if you don’t get it)
Yep, Heaton Park has animals (and not just the wild ones).
You can see the highland cattle and horses grazing in the various fields throughout the park but that is not it. Tucked behind the stables is the little farmyard complete with pigs and goats and a few other little surprises. You can even get up close and personal with a few of them.
Once actual stables (yeah who knew?) these buildings are now home to one of Heaton park’s 3 cafes. One of the more popular spots on a summer’s day, it also acts as a cosy retreat on a cold, winter’s day.
The Lakeside cafe can be found by the lake I mentioned earlier and the 3rd of the cafes and my favourite, the hidden gem cafe. Well, I’m going to keep that a secret because it’s the quietest and the prettiest and I want to keep it that way. However, if you do find it then let me know what you think.
Just a stone’s throw from the stables you will find the hall of Heaton Park.
It’s under a slow refurbishment but every now and again the friends of Heaton hall open it up for tours or for small theatre productions. While obviously in need of the repair, it is easy to see the grandeur that once inhabited this building and that hopefully will again.
The Orangery, sometimes used for weddings is the best well-kept part of the building but the real gems can be found sitting on the steps of the hall facing out towards the city. I’m talking of course about the lions.
I challenge you to walk past these statues and not stop to take a picture having climbed all over them.
Golf, Tree-top adventures and more
If a wander around Heaton Park with stops at any of the above doesn’t take your fancy then don’t worry there are still a few other options to get your adventure on.
There’s the golf course for those that are into that kind of thing.
More recently Tree-top trek has moved into Heaton Park and you can now go trampolining in the trees. Or for those more adventurous there the high ropes course.
Then there is the Tram museum. Yes, a little strange but during the summer months, you can catch a ride on one of the old-style trams that reside here. Many of which, once graced the promenade of Blackpool itself!
Not forgetting all the events that happen throughout the year, from the fun runs, the bonfire night extravaganza and Parklife music festival (you can find more info here).
You don’t always have to go running off to another place for a little adventure.
Sometimes there’s one waiting to happen right in your back garden (or extended back garden). You just have to go and find it because that’s the thing about adventures. They won’t come and find you. You have to go chase them down and hang on for the ride!
Until next time
for more little adventures around Manchester check out these posts;