I live 5 minutes from one of the gates to Heaton Park. I used to tell people it was the largest public park in Europe. It turns out I was wrong, but it is definitely the largest one in England. Over 600 acres, at one time this was all somebody’s garden but the council bought it in 1902and it was then when it became a park.
I went to an event there last year commemorating the fact that during World War I, the park was used as a training camp for the Pals battalion of the Manchester Regiment, and the hall became a military hospital. The park now regularly hosts events and fun fairs – they still have an animal corner and cafes and you can take a boat out on the lake.
The place I wanted to write about is called The Hidden Gem, a cafe in the grounds of a garden centre. You might not know any of it was there the first few times you visit. It’s very near the St Margaret’s entrance, away from the play parks and attractions.
The garden centre has several large greenhouses filled with plants. The cafe used to be in one of them with a ginormous grapevine twining overhead. They recently moved into a separate building but it’s still very light and greenhouse-esque.
It’s the kind of place where you get a lot of dog walkers having a cup of tea before they head back out into the cold.