With summer here, we sent Samaya Reid on a mission to assess some of our green spaces for child friendliness. Here’s what she found….
When I first moved to The Heatons I didn’t quite realise the abundance of green, open spaces it had to offer. I soon started to explore with my dogs, but we always ended up at the same places. It wasn’t until I became a mum that I discovered just how many parks there actually are – we are definitely spoilt for choice.
My two-year-old son and I spend the majority of our days in one of our local parks. If we fancy an explorative day, looking for bugs, watching birds and hiding in dens, then we go to Heaton Moor Park, (where Elms, Peal Moat, Buckingham and Park roads meet) one of the prettiest parks I’ve been to. My husband and I often say we wish our garden looked as good as that! Carefully lift one of the rocks that line the flower beds and underneath you will find a secret world of insects, worms and snails. The nature trail area is a great place to sit and wait for squirrels to hop down onto the feeders: if you sit still they come really close and aren’t at all bothered by their curious audience. When there has been rain (which is pretty often) it’s brilliant for puddle-splashing. There is one pretty impressive puddle that can entertain a little one for ages – mine quite likes throwing sticks into it.
If your children are after more physical activity then Thornfield Park (boundaries this time are Thornfield, Balmoral and Mauldeth roads) has everything you require. Recently refurbished with brand new play equipment, it’s a fabulous, bright park that has something for children (and adults!) of all ages. You can play a spot of tennis and finish off with a picnic under one of the many lovely mature trees. Why not play a game of hide and seek? My personal favourite hiding spot is up one of the trees – no one ever thinks to look there!
Heaton Chapel has an amazing park right on Manchester Road (it’s on the left as you travel towards Stockport), one I didn’t even know existed until a friend told me about it. It has a huge green area with football goals and a path around the outside that’s perfect for scooters and bikes. A brilliant place to let your dog off as it’s secure and everyone is very mindful about closing the gates. Not only this, but there is also a large play area, complete with a wooden assault course for older children, a climbing wall, swings and of course a slide.
Or how about Heaton Mersey Park – another hidden gem. You feel like you’re in the middle of the countryside here. The walk to the entrance is quite wonderful and scenic, down the cobbled Vale Close (by the Crown Inn), home to some beautiful, quaint old cottages. It feels wild and free – a bit of an oasis from busy life. Every time I have been it has been quiet, with just a few fellow dog walkers. There’s plenty of lush green space for little ones to run around and play and it also has a little play area for them. If you fancy a full day out, it’s then only a short walk to the River Mersey which provides the perfect backdrop to a summer stroll.
Another gem nestled within Heaton Mersey is the common. A vast expanse of green space with a wooded area and duck pond where you will often find a heron fishing for its lunch. You can easily spend half a day exploring, munching on wild garlic and hawthorn blossom if you get a tad peckish! It offers many prime den-making areas and there’s even a rope swing that has been there since my husband was little – you’ll have to go and look for it the next time you’re there. The easiest way to get to the common is from the lane behind Priestnall school at the junction with Mersey Road.
Probably the biggest and most interactive park is Heaton Norris recreational ground, or ‘The Rec’ as locals call it. This is just off the A6, behind the ruin of the old Church. It is home to one of the most impressive slides I have ever seen, with multiple twists and turns. There are trampolines dug into the ground and there is even a music garden! Not only this, but there is a community orchard and an allocated wildlife conservation area. It really has so much to offer and is well worth a visit.
I think the conclusion is that we are very lucky to live in an urban area that offers us so much space to explore.