A lie on the grass with a picnic and a book in Castlefield is one of my favourite ways to pass a summers’ day. In the winter, a walk across its bridges and among the boats is just as tranquil.
Castlefield is a well-loved, gentrified oasis intersected by canals on the more affluent outskirts of Manchester’s centre.
It’s also a popular setting for festivals, one-off concerts (Bjork, Kylie Minogue, Arcade Fire and Pixies have played here) and TV sets, playing host to Peaky Blinders on more than one occasion.
As well as doing very little and soaking up the peace, visitors can explore the area’s pockets of history. A Roman fort that allegedly gave its name to the city sits alongside the terminus of the Bridgewater Canal – a waterway that played a vital part in the city’s industrialisation in the 18th century.
The final stop on what was the world’s first intercity passenger railway also sits nearby and now forms part of the thriving Museum of Science and Industry.
Luckily, it’s less work and more play in 2021 as Castlefield is well-known for its al fresco relaxation.
Its upmarket bars provide good stop-off points for food, drinks and meeting friends. Albert’s Shed boasts a popular outdoor space, summer barbecue parties and live music, the Wharf serves stunning Sunday lunches and Barca Bar is always inviting with its chilled outdoor terrace.
However, it’s possible to do and spend nothing while wandering the basin and that’s always good enough for me.