Last Sunday, the sun was shining and it seemed too nice to sit in a city centre flat. Normally, I would be straight down to a beer garden quicker that you can say ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ but on this occasion, we opted for a more civilised outing - to Styal.
A beautiful part of Cheshire, Styal is less than 30 minutes on the train from Manchester city centre, costing a mere £4.80! We did have to change trains at Wilmslow but there was only a few minutes wait which was fine. We really didn’t know what to expect from Styal and I must admit, I was a little disappointed to discover that they don’t really have a village centre :-( However, what it lacked in ‘village centre-ness’ in made up for in ‘quaint countryside-ness’!
The main thing (and probably the only thing!) to do is to visit Quarry Bank Mill - one of the best preserved textile mills of the Industrial Revolution, it is now a museum of the cotton industry and is a beautiful Grade II listed building. But the weather was too nice to be indoors so we just explored the ‘Northern Woods’….
….before heading for a pub lunch :-) This is a winner if you are a dog-walker or you want to breathe the country air and feel at one with nature but make sure you wear sensible footwear!
This weekend, my friends and I went for a day out to see some monkeys about an hours drive away from Manchester. Generally a family day out, we went for a 28th birthday but we did have one child with us which meant we could all be ridiculously childlike and immature for a whole day!
The monkeys are free to roam around and can be found swinging from the trees, grooming themselves or getting up close and personal with the humans.
Apparently, the park has 140 monkeys and there were also 7 baby monkeys too! The staff are really knowledgable when in comes to explaining the monkey’s behaviour which was reassuring when a monkey war almost broke out! It was slightly unnerving at first but fascinating to watch and never once did the visitors feel threatened or at risk.
There is also a snack bar with plenty of seating and a children’s play area so, once you have finished walking around the forest (which is shorter than you might expect) there is the option to chill out and have a bite to eat or bring along a picnic if you prefer. You aren’t allowed to eat in the actual monkey forest and, much to my disappointment, you aren’t allowed to blow bubbles in there either…
All in all, for £7.50 entrance fee (adult) and with children under 3 going free, this is a pleasant day out for all ages, including the big kids too :-)
What better way to start my blog than with a sunny, family-friendly day out to the countryside? Not what you would expect when thinking of Manchester? Then read on…
Basically, a 30 minute direct train from Manchester Piccadilly cost us £6.50 return and before you could say ‘pass me the antihistamines’ we were in Tatton Park, skipping through trees, skimming stones across the lake and quietly observing deer grazing.
And after a considerable hike through the lush green surroundings, we arrived at the annual Food Festival where we sampled an artery-clogging amount of cheese, spent a small fortune on the finest produce from across the country and consumed enough Pimms to drink Wimbledon dry.Needless to say the walk back took us a lot longer!
Having lived in Bournemouth for a couple of years, I have seen my fair share of British seaside resorts and Scarborough will give the rest a run for their money. To be fair, we managed to time our visit during an unseasonably pleasant September weekend which made our trip even more enjoyable.
Scarborough beach is golden and sandy and although there was a brisk chill in the wind and I wouldn’t be in a hurry to swim in the sea, there were donkey rides and boat trips and we saw a porpoise! Just remember to wrap up warm! Scarborough castle is perched on top of a hill for those wanting to explore and learn about the history of the town.
The Scarborough seafront is full of arcades, sweet shops and places to buy souvenirs and tacky mementos. Whether you fancy fish & chips, doughnuts or ice creams, you won’t have to search for long and, whilst it seems a little tired and old fashioned, it is safe to say that it is a typical seaside town - nothing more, nothing less. What you see is what you get!
If you wake up to nice weather one weekend and find yourself at a loose end, get yourself over to Hebden Bridge for a little day out. Thats exactly what we did one pleasant Spring day.
About a 30 minute train journey from Manchester city centre, this quirky little town is full of creative types, independent bars and cafes and quaint little craft shops.
A true gem of the North, you can go for a leisurely stroll by the canal, rummage around the vintage shops or enjoy some locally-sourced lunch or a cheeky cider or two, depending on what floats your boat!
A friend recommended visiting this little village to do some caving, something which I had never done before. In Castleton there are two caves (Speedwell Cavern and The Devils Arse) and you can get a discounted deal to go in both which I would recommend if you can.
We did Speedwell Cavern first. You are given a hardhat and then you have to walk down what seems like about 200 steps in the dark and it’s cold and slippery under foot. Once at the bottom, theres a narrow stream of water flowing gently into the darkness and a rickety little boat which would probably carry about 25 people at a push. Once in the boat, you go down a narrow passage (not for the clostophobic - at points you have no choice than to put your head between your knees!) and about 10 minutes later, you arrive in the cavern which is well worth the wait and fascinating to think how it was formed and continues to exists.
The Devils Arse is a short walk down the road and is much different. It is bigger with a number of separate areas in the cavern and you walk around with a guide who tells you all about the history. This is more informative and definitely more comfortable for those who are spatially challenged!
Whilst the caves are the most obvious tourist attraction in Castleton, its beautiful scenery, quaint tea rooms and independent gift shops mean there is so much more to discover. And they have a petting zoo which isn’t only a hit with the kids, let me tell you!
The only thing to mention is that you really need to drive to get to Castleton as it is really remote. It is about an hours drive from Manchester but you really can’t do it if you rely on public transport.