People say Manchester is all rain and no sun, rubbish. Sometimes there is a whole week of unbroken sunshine. Should you be lucky enough to witness such a time, the abundance of parks that cover the city are a great place to take it all in.
Platt Fields: one of the biggest and perhaps best known parks is Platt Fields. Its close vicinity to University of Manchester and MMU halls of residence makes itan obvious attraction to students. As well as being a great place for runners, there is plenty of space to relax with friends, kick a ball around – or weather permitting – have a barbeque. The park includes a couple of basketball and tennis courts, a (private) BMX track, a well-equipped skatepark, and a large boating lake open in the summer. It also plays host to the annual June music-festival Parklife and an impressive fireworks display on Guy Fawkes Night.
Ladybarn Park: more of a hidden gem, Ladybarn Park is nestled between residential streets popular with 2nd and 3rd year students. Accessible off Ladybarn Road, a few hundred metres down from popular fish & chip shop The Battered Cod, Ladybarn Park is quieter and much smaller than nearby Platt Fields. This means the three basketball hoops and two tennis courts are often free. It’s also popular with Slackliners (where you tie a rope between two trees and bounce around on it) and Frisbee-ers, and is generally a perfect place to escape from the bustle of city life.
Whitworth Park: slap bang in the middle of the main student commuter route Oxford Road, Whitworth Park is a welcome break between the chaos of the Curry Mile and the main UofM and MMU campuses. The majority of the park is covered with large trees, so offers plenty of shade on a sunny day. The nearby universities on Oxford Road and UofM’s Victoria Campus and Whitworth Park Halls of Residence make it popular with students. The park gets its name from the famous 19th century engineer, entrepreneur, inventor and philanthropist Sir Joseph Whitworth. A statue commemorating him stands in the park and can often been seen with a traffic cone on his head or defiled in some other way.
Heaton Park: approximately 600 acres, Heaton Park is not only the biggest park in Manchester, but also one of the largest urban parks in Europe. It made headlines this summer as it hosted the Stones Roses reunion concert. Naturally, it is a great place to go when the sun is out and perfect for a game of football and even has a public golf course. However, Heaton is not the most easily accessible of Manchester’s parks being about a 30-minute bike ride from Salford Uni. So its location and family appeal mean Heaton Park is not the most popular student park. Nevertheless, on a sunny day, if you don’t mind lots of dogs, it makes for a good day trip.
Peel Park: adjacent to the University of Salford, Peel Park is a stone throw south of Castle Irwell Student Village. Despite its central location, enter Peel Park and you won’t feel as if you’re in a city environment – bordered by Salford University and the River Irwell and with the sound of the nearby dual carriageway muted, it makes for a beautiful park come summer or winter. Opened in 1846, as one of the first public parks in Manchester it now includes the David Lewis Sports Ground. Together, the two offer numerous football pitches and vast open areas for relaxing with friends and perhaps some casual sports (whatever they may be).
Queen’s Park: located a short walk north of University of Bolton’s Deane Campus is Queen’s Park. Spotted with trees and a picturesque pond it’s the nearest respite from the urban setting of Bolton University. Although relatively small, there is plenty of space for a kick around, to chat with friends, or to just sit back relax and read a book on a sunny day.
Leverhulme Park: To the east of Bolton proper, a short bus ride away from the Uni is Leverhulme Park, the largest area of public parkland in the Bolton area. With its vast open spaces and river running through it, Leverhulme is a stunning park with plenty of space for whatever you feel like doing, whether you fancy a bit of footy, ultimate Frisbee or some extreme kite flying. The park is also home to a number of unique leisure facilities, including a cycling-track and running track; and hosts many of the local annual fairs and festivals, such as the Leverhulme Park fireworks display and funfair on November 4.
These are just a sample of the multitude of public parks in Greater Manchester and just a few of the places you can relax and spend your time while at university in Manchester.