Three hidden gems to explore over lockdown Bank Holiday in Blackley

  • It looks like it's going to be a sunny Bank Holiday weekend but we're being urged to stay away from beauty spots
  • Our reporter, Ethan Cooney, has picked three locations in his home area of Blackley where you can experience a tranquil walk or a scenic run wihtout the need to travel
  • These locations are big enough for you to keep two meters apart but not so lonely that you won't occasionally meet other ramblers along the way
  • Let us know your recommendations for lockdown Bank Holiday locations in Greater Manchester

1. Heaton Park












First off and not so ‘hidden’ is the largest municipal park in Europe, Heaton Park. Staying open during the pandemic, the park is only open to “locals” and signs outside warn people not to drive to the park and to keep 2 meters apart at all times.

The massive 600 acre park has been an iconic part of Manchester since it first opened to the public in 1912 and has become a huge outdoor venue for live shows and festivals. 

The playground, farm and golf course remain closed during the pandemic but the beautiful trail is reason enough to escape the home. 

The vast open greenery is the perfect place to let the dog off the leash, and bring a ball for the kids. With things to do being limited during the pandemic, a good kick about can be the perfect jolt of fun and exercise the whole family needs.

2. Sainsbury’s Pond











Next on the list is quite a strange one. Officially the location doesn’t have a name but locally it is known as “Sainsbury’s Pond”. It’s called this because it’s tucked away behind the massive Sainsbury’s supermarket and is an oasis of green behind the concrete car park. It features a gorgeous little pond which is often used by locals for fishing as it contains an abundance of carp.

The pond is also home to a few very shy herons which we managed to capture in the images above – if you look very closely. 

As well as the pond, there is a small but lovely little trial that leads you along the river Irk and out to the entrance of the supermarket. If you’re after a short but secluded stroll to escape the house during lock-down, this is the destination for you.

3. Blackley Forest












Finally, we have Blackley Forest – a beautiful stretch of forest maintained by the council and protected by “The Friends of Blackley Forest” action group. This small forest is loved by many locals for its dazzling trails that follow the River Irk and climb up to the cemetery.

Along with its beautiful scenery, the forest is home to a wide array of wildlife. Ducks are frequent in the Irk along with toads and sometimes carp. If you’re lucky, you may come across a deer grazing in the deep forest but this is quite rare, and is documented over on The Friends of Blackley Forest website.

You can also find more information over on the site about the different types of wildlife than can be found in the forest. You can even volunteer to be a friend of the forest and help with the upkeep that the council sometimes may neglect.

As well as the perfect place to walk your dog or simply take a lonely stroll, the forest houses a viewing screen for bird watchers to stay hidden and fill in their books. 

There is also a very rare kingfisher living in the forest making it a must visit for all bird-lovers.

If that already wasn’t enough, the forest is also home to at least 241 different species of plants which are often collected by local foragers to spice up their kitchens with locally-sourced natural ingredients.

For more information visit Blackley Forest.

The map below shows the locations of all 3 spots.