Flower beds beside a wide lawn
Image courtesy of Dunham Massey and the National Trust.

Parks and Gardens

Creative Tourist

Green space in the urban jungle can be hard to find – so we’ve rounded up some of our favourite secret gardens, city parks and patches of outdoor space in Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield and beyond. Go green: read our parks posts below.

Here are our picks

  • 1. Lyme Park

    Julie Anne Workman via Wikimedia Commons

    Lyme Park, Disley, Stockport, Cheshire, SK12 2NR - Visit now

    Lyme Park is a grand country house, gardens and estate close to Stockport – and something of a National Trust beauty. The Grade I-listed house dates back (in parts) to the 16th century, the formal gardens offer a pleasant meander, while the sprawling grounds include a 15-acre deer park and an odd tower-on-the-hill (called the Cage; it was once a hunting lodge but has also served as a prison). We recommend the courtyard cafe and, if you have kids, the excellent Crow Wood adventure playground. Two cafes and two shops round out the offer.

  • 2. Walkden Gardens

    Walkden Gardens, Derbyshire Road, Sale, Greater Manchester, M33 3EL - Visit now

    Set apart from the Manchester suburb of Sale’s more obvious distractions is a garden whose very unexpectedness is part of its charm. Known locally as The Secret Garden, Walkden Gardens echoes its counterparts in children’s novels: happened upon for the first time, it can feel at once too extensive and too unreal to be hidden by nondescript suburban streets. Fittingly, the gardens are a gift. Harry Walkden, a noted hybridist of golden rod and orchids, left them as a bequest to Sale Borough Council, with the stipulation that they be put to use for the public good. The current – entirely voluntary – Friends of Walkden Gardens and their predecessors have honoured this stipulation in ground and vision.

  • 3. Heaton Park

    Heaton Park, Middleton Road, Higher Blackley, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M25 2SW - Visit now

    Heaton Park’s Temple – a small circular structure with a breast-esque dome and Tuscan columns, designed in 1800 – was built on the highest point in Manchester. Scale the hill it sits on and you can see (and be seen) for quite a distance. It gives a unique view of the green fells that surround the city, as well as being an iconic spot: Heaton’s Temple was featured in none other than the 1981 TV series, Brideshead Revisited.

  • 4. Sheffield Botanical Gardens

    Photo of the interior of the glass pavilion, with many exotic plants

    Sheffield Botanical Gardens, Clarkehouse Road, Sheffield, Yorkshire, S10 2LN - Visit now

    Once an escape from the industrial smog of the city, Sheffield Botanical Gardens now offer a quiet retreat from the chaos of everyday life. Find a secluded spot to read a book, take a group of friends for a picnic – however you choose to visit, the Gardens’ 19 acres offer plenty of space to unwind. There’s also a 90-metre-long glass roofed pavilion, humid with exotic plants, and a lesser-spotted bear pit tucked away in one corner. Two live bears used to live here – now, a lone bronze statue stands in their stead; shinier, more moral and less likely to bite.

  • 5. Dunham Massey

    National Trust

    Dunham Massey, Altrincham, Greater Manchester, WA14 4SJ - Visit now

    For a slice of the country that’s close to home. The National Trust’s most popular property, Dunham Massey, is just a few miles outside Altrincham, set in beautiful parkland, and close to favourite pub The Swan with Two Nicks.