Do You Have A Favourite Park?


Today’s prompt is brought to you courtesy of Plinky:

Do you have a favourite park?

I have been lucky to have lived quite close to Heaton Park in North Manchester for all of my life and I have spent more time in there than any other park.

Papal Monument

I love it there. It has got everything a municipal park should have: woodland, a boating lake, a cycling track, a Papal monument (commemorating the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1982), a farm, a stables, a baronial hall, an observatory, a golf course, a pitch and putt course, a bandstand, a paddling pool, Japanese ornamental gardens, tennis courts, a tram that runs throughout the Summer, an orangery, play parks, the original portico from the old Manchester town hall…. Yes, Heaton Park is varied and absolutely brilliant. It has regular funfairs and has hosted quite a few gigs in its time, including an Oasis concert a couple of years ago.

When I was a child I used to spend hours and hours in there on my bike and with my mates. We covered every inch of that park and it totally became ours. We owned it because we knew all the pathways, all the “secret” short cuts, all the bits we weren’t supposed to see…

I remember once watching the council gardeners having a game of football in their lunch break on one of the playing fields, which was brilliant fun because they were all cheating and got puffed out running after the ball. As a 10 year old it was amazing that grown men would find it so amusing to play football when they didn’t have to!

Originally built as an observatory by Lord Egerton, I knew this as the “bell-tower” when I was a kid and we’d convinced each other that it was haunted…

 

I have fallen into the river off a rope swing, been on an underground walk through the tunnels and water ducts in the woods, been sledging down the slopes of the golf course (and been chased off by the groundskeeper…!), fell off my bike countless times trying to beat my own record of flying down the big hill none-handed (not holding the handlebars), have pinched the odd golf-ball from the hapless golfers when they’ve pitched up into the rough, scared myself silly by telling ghost stories to my mates about the “haunted” bell tower, played Pooh-sticks off the bridge near the Japanese gardens, taken my own kids to play on the swings, camped out overnight to watch the Pope celebrating Mass, taken photographs at dawn with Kevin and Ben the dog (where we got stopped by the police for being out and about so early), visited the Hall, paddled in the fountain (and got told off….), sat astride the lions outside the Hall and so much more in that park I can’t possibly relate it all!

Every child in Manchester has sat on this lion…!

When I think back now to the firework displays I’ve seen, being terrified walking through the trees in the dark in the crowds and all the times we have walked round the lake (fallen in the lake…), taken photographs, cycled up and down the pathways, flown kites in its fields, roller skated down the hills (ooer, not for the faint-hearted!), watched concerts, played concerts, been on nature walks, been on the tram-ride, climbed the trees, watched the horses, fed the chicks in the hatchery…good grief I have spent a lot of time in that place as both an adult and a child!

The parkland itself used to belong to the Egerton family, as did Heaton Hall, and they used it as a pleasure park in the days when the family occupied it. They even had horse races in the park – can you imagine having a back garden big enough to fit a racecourse in it??! It was given to Manchester Corporation in 1902 and they have developed it into the fantastic place it is today.

If ever you are in the area why not drop in and give it a look? I’m sure you will be happy there. I know I am.

 

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11 thoughts on “Do You Have A Favourite Park?

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  1. Love the photo of the Papal Monument; Pope John Paul II is my favorite Pope of all time.

    Makes me smile to read about Heaton Park, that you and your mates “owned it.”

    Blessings – Maxi

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  2. Silver Falls State Park outside Silverton, Oregon, USA. This fantastic park is for nature lovers who like hiking. In one day, you can easily hike to 11 waterfalls. You can do it as one long eight-mile hike or drive to turn-outs and hike to one or two falls individually, continue on to another turn out, etc.

    The time of year changes the park: springtime look for waterfalls at their peak with trees leafing out in their brilliant new growth; fall is the time to see the autumn leaves, but the waterfalls are not as full.

    There are group picnic areas and horseback riding trails. A rustic conference center with cabins is also in the park.

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    1. It sounds such a wonderful place Susan, I wish I could go and visit (or even live) there!

      Profiteroles are to die for….little blobs of choux pastry filled with cream with chocolate on top. You’d probably eat three or four in a serving and there’d be chocolate sauce drizzled over the top too. I LOVE ’em!

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  3. Lovely memories, Pam Thanks for sharing. You are very lucky to have such a beautiful Park close by. It’s amazing how many different things fit into this park. It must be huge! I understasnd it is within North Manchester.
    Susan Alton describes this beautiful park in Oregon. However it is outside the town. It is a marvellous exasmples of a park outside of a town. It seems to me that Heaton Park is rather special because it is withing the town and you could easily reach it as a kid and use it as your playground. Lots of kids would envy you because of this!

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    1. I love that park! The park Susan described is more like our National parks, such as Snowdonia or the Peak District, which are really spectacular places that need to be respected before they are “played” in!

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  4. I found your blog in the process of looking for the Heaton Park lion! I am not sure what triggered this off or why I suddenly remembered him!!
    I lived in Prestwich and my sister and I went to the park frequently – more than 50 years later I can still feel the smooth, sun-warmed bronze when I was allowed to sit on the lion! I remember a pen with a fox which padded back and forth which I wanted to set free and the wallabies which seemed much happier. We used to go to church at St Margaret’s and the park gate was nearby so on sunny summer evenings we would wander there with friends… I smoked my first cigarette here! The rhododendrons in full flower, the boating lake, playing tennis – wonderful memories!
    Thank you for helping me recapture this part of a happy youth.

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    1. Ahhh the lions! Thank you for your stories about sitting on them. I think those lions have had more kids sitting on them than possibly anything else in the world! I loved my time growing up in that park too. It’s amazing how something as simple as an open space can unite people from all over the place. Thank you for dropping by to share your memories.

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