Not quite sure I made the right choice this afternoon, opting for a walk with the dog while my better half sampled the Golden Apple at Adam Reid's The French in Manchester. Normally we head west to Dunham Massey or Tatton Park whilst she has a day out in a Manchester but today, with heavy rain forecast, I decided to head north and pay a visit to Heaton Park.
The reviews of Heaton Park were good. Trip Advisor is full of stories about ice cream, drinking tea by the lake and visiting the animal farm. We will have to return to experience those things. Our visit was pretty much as wet as it could be, with mainly hardy dog walkers, and (admirably) a cheerful saxophonist busker under his umbrella who told me he was avoiding doing the decorating. I didn't tell him I was avoiding a Michelin starred restaurant!
Although the weather was grim it wasn't hard to see why so many love Heaton Park. We arrived at the North Car Park (parking was unexpectedly free) and wandered past a super looking kids play area to Heaton Hall. The Hall is a lovely grand building, with a wonderful view over the park and towards the Pennines. It has of course seen better days but a restoration project is ongoing which I hope restores it to former glory. Beyond the Hall lies huge open spaces where we had a game of fetch, before following the wide and well maintained footpaths down to the boating lake. Not a boat in sight today but plenty of ducks and swans. I could imagine on a summers day it would be very different.
We passed an empty lakeside cafe and pretty much deserted funfair before heading back up the hill to the Hall and pleasure gardens and strolling rather aimlessly just soaking up the rain but also the views over the park.
I did actually enjoy our visit here and it's definitely somewhere I would return to. Given its urban setting it has a very rural feel. What surprised me most was that it was spotlessly clean (mud excepted). Through our entire walk I saw no discarded poo bags, no dog dirt, no smashed glass and no rusting cans. It's an absolute credit to Manchester City Council and I assume a small army of volunteers that it is kept this way.
Oh, and the Golden Apple was apparently wonderful, as was the rest of the meal. There's always a next time!