We might be Manchester’s Finest but once in a while we like to get out of the city and explore a bit. That’s one of the reasons why we have started the From MCR To section of the site – because we know that Manchester has a lot going for it; but it doesn’t have everything.
Here we have a selection of some of the best places to take a day trip from the city – places not too far away so you can get enough time there. I’m sure I’ve missed loads but I’m tired and don’t want to do any more…
Blackpool tends to get a fair whack of bad press which I think is a little unfair – there’s still plenty of things to do and enough of a good time in the town to truly enjoy yourself. Sure, it’s not the Victorian times any more, and the beach is a cold, desolate place – but head to one of the many boozers, or some of the fantastic attractions and you’ve got yourself a cracking day out.
Top of the list has to be Blackpool Pleasure Beach, which still pleases thousands of people every year with its rickety old rollercoasters and the Pepsi Max. A big shout out also goes to the Wild Mouse ride – which manages to be both completely safe and also able to provide you with instant whiplash and a severe case of piles if you happen to be sat too far back on the cart.
I think all that visit would agree that Chester is a stunner, with its huge Tudor-style half-timber buildings stretching as far as the eyes can see. Famed for the quality of its shopping area, it’s not the mid-90’s now so I won’t bother talking about their selection of Clockhouse tops in C&A or the shoes in Debenhams.
No, what you have is a beautiful, compact centre, surrounded by the ancient city walls, providing the perfect path to explore a little further – be it the Roman Coliseum, the River Dee or even the race track if you’re about for the gee gee’s.
There’s also plenty of cracking boozers around here too, including The Old Boot Inn on Eastgate which I rather ashamedly got kicked out of last year. It’s also a short bus ride from the centre to Chester Zoo where you can gawp at some elephants and kick some meerkats.
Located right on the edge of the Peak District, Buxton is a perfect distance away from Manchester and a great place to spend the day. If you’re into caves there’s the Pooles Cavern, with Go Ape! next door if you fancy putting on a harness and showing off your camel toe.
Down in the town centre, not only is there a little fountain where you can fill up your water bottle with pure, spring Buxton’y goodness – there’s the stunning Pavilion Gardens which are prefect for a romantic stroll and frolicking picnic, as well as some great boozers nearby. I once spent a couple of hours in the beer garden of the Old Sun Inn, and although I got burnt, I had a great time.
I feel I should be obliged to also mention the Opera House even though I hate opera, and Maggie May’s Antique shop which I must admit is really good and the kind of shop where you could just browse and waste an hour of your life, infuriating Maggie by not actually buying anything.
I may be a little biased when it comes to this one but I’ve included the area near Saddleworth in Oldham to this list because it’s near where I’m from and I enjoy heading down whenever it’s sunny. Not that I ever lived in Saddleworth – I’m nowhere near posh enough for that.
Get the train from Victoria to Greenfield and you will find yourself in a lovely area of the world, with rolling hills, loads of grass and plenty of sheep. There’s Uppermill, Delph, Denshaw and Dobcross in the area too where you’ll be greeted with some cracking old school boozers, some great walks and the odd fantastic restaurant.
I’m a big fan of the Spanish restaurant in Uppermill called Rioja Tapas Bar, who have some rather strange ‘pods’ round the back to eat your food when the weather is shite. Oh, and you can’t forget to visit The Old Bell Inn, Delph with its collection of over 600 gins! Perfect for a day in the sun.
I once spent a drizzly Sunday morning in Hebden Bridge and didn’t particularly like it, but under severe pressure from my girlfriend, and indeed everyone else who has been – I’ve added it to this list.
You can get there on the train from Manchester Victoria, and when you arrive you are instantly transported to an episode of Last of the Summer Wine in 1992 except with all the old people replaced by younger, middle class alternatives. To be fair though, the village is bloody beautiful and there’s usually loads going on.
Fans of crafts and candles will be happy with the many, many shops that sell them, but if you’re looking for some proper stuff to spend your money on, there’s always an Antique Market on somewhere selling weird stuff. There’s a fair whack of decent pubs about too in case you get bored. Which I did. But I’m sure you won’t. Oh, and there’s also Todmorden nearby if you fancy a bit more of the same kind of stuff.
Jodrell Bank & Tatton Park
I’ve lumped these two together here because they are pretty close and you can make a full day out of giving both of them half a day. That’s not to say you can’t spend a full day at each one, but nobody is getting younger so I thought it best to be efficient when it comes to your time.
Once the largest radio telescope in the world, Jodrell Bank was the perfect school trip when I was a lad; it was far enough away to seem like a big deal, and there was enough education to justify the excursion to parents. There’s plenty of science here for kids, as well as grown-ups, all under the imposing 90m high Lovell Telescope – jutting its face into the stars millions of miles beyond. On top of this there’s the fantastic Planet Pavilion Cafe offering freshly prepared and sustainable food and drink.
Head on over to Tatton Park for what is quite obviously a massive park. Like all parks there’s grass, some soil, a few flowers and some benches. Nah, there’s not just that, there’s loads more – I’m just going to list them here though because I’m getting bored now. There’s the massive Neo-Classical stately home, the award-winning gardens, a deer park with real deer and an actual working farm.
A massive, huge forest over in Cheshire, Delamere is great for a day trip so you can truly be at one with nature without having to sleep in a tent and wee in a bucket all night. The landscape is stunning and there are plenty of things to do and activities to keep you entertained. There’s loads of walking routes, cycling routes and places to take your horse, should you have one of them.
There’s also Go Ape! too, in case one mention of that particular attraction isn’t enough for one article. If you’ve got a dog, this is a top place to take it – just make sure you bring enough of them little bags and don’t let it get angry and bite a child.
Close by the town of Frodsham, home of everyone’s most hated Take That member, and a great place for some lunch and some pints. Head to the Bears Paw because it’s pretty good in there and the place I’ve visited most around that area. Oh yeah, and there’s a Llama place in Frodsham – I bloody love those fellas!
This might be slightly blasphemous – mentioning, and indeed bigging up Liverpool on Manchester’s Finest but who cares – I’ve got a certain amount of fondness for the city, not least because not only are the people there proper nice, but the city is brilliant too!
Loads of bunce has been shovelled into Liverpool over the past 10 years, and it definitely shows around the Liverpool One and Albert Dock areas. There’s loads of attractions and stuff for you to do including The Beatles Story (hello Charlie!) as well as the brilliant Yellow Duckmarine tour around the city and into the water. If you’re feeling especially nostalgic about the opening titles of Brookside you can also take a trip on the Mersey on a boat and walk the short distance to the Liver building and it’s equally famous mates.
Where Liverpool stands out though is in the influx of excellent bars and restaurants over the last few years, as well as some brilliant indie shops. Head on over to Bold Street and take a waltz around there, or get your drinking hat on and head to Mathew Street for a pretty enjoyable session. There’s loads more to do, but I just don’t have the space.
Cruise on down to Rochdale and you can get involved in loads of water sports. No, this isn’t the tagline for a card I found in a phone box in Milnrow – it’s me introducing Hollingworth Lake – another childhood favourite of mine and a great place to spend the day.
Take a nice lovely stroll around this rather large lake and you will get the chance to nod or say “Morning” to loads of people, not least plenty of ramblers and blokes in Lycra on £2,000 bicycles.
You can also partake in some water sports if you like, including windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing, sailing and rowing. There’s a couple of decent pubs on the shoreline of the lake, with plenty of outdoor seating for ultimate sun catching.
Knowsley Safari Park
Most people probably remember this Safari Park from going as a kid and buzzing off the monkeys ripping your dad’s wing mirror off while he calculated the amount of Turtle Wax he would need in order to get all the scratches out of the paintwork of his Ford Escort.
It’s still pretty much the same nowadays too – monkeys are still little buggers and people will still try and feed them and lose fingers when one gets too close. It’s a lot of fun though, and driving your car past lions and rhinos is still quite exciting, even though the likelihood of them even acknowledging your presence is about as likely as one of them putting on a dress and singing Ricky Martin’s most recent song in E minor.
If it’s raining or cold and you don’t feel like wasting calories walking around Chester Zoo, this is perfect. And you can eat your own butties and listen to your own tunes too.
It might only be tiny, but there is quite a lot to do in Haworth is such as small space. Famous for being the home of the Brontë sisters, anyone with a love for the bleak landscapes and cruel beauty of Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre should definitely give this place a try.
At the top of the hill is the Brontë Parsonage Museum, where the absolutely brilliant staff will take pleasure in showing you around their house and giving you all the information you could ever need on these literary legends.
On top of that, there’s some corking pubs and food establishments, of which I found that some sort of elaborate ‘crawl’ is the best way to get the most out of the town. There’s also some great little antique shops too, which sell some proper random goodies – including a possibly priceless Ian Dowie footy sticker from 1994 I found once.
If I’m being honest the Lake District might be a bit too far for a proper full day trip, especially if someone has crashed their caravan on the motorway on the way to Flamingo Land. Once you’re there though you will be in one of the most beautiful places in England, with plenty of stuff to do.
Personally I would head on over to Bowness-on-Windermere, right on the banks of the lake where you can get a nice lovely boat which will take you on the water and over to other imaginatively named towns such as Ambleside or Lakeside.
In Bowness itself, there is a stunning Garden Terrace at The Belsfield Hotel which overlooks the lake, perfect for a few drinks and some excellent food in the sun. I would also highly recommend The Albert Pub, run by Stockport’s Robinsons Brewery – top boozer and they sell Ginger Tom which is amazing.
Word of warning though, I wouldn’t bother going to The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction unless you’ve got kids or seriously love the books. It’s a collection of models and diorama’s of key characters and scenes from the Beatrix Potter books, which are pretty nice but rather niche.