We recently did the gangs of Manchester tour. Starting at the Barton Arcade on Deansgate, Emma Fox, the tour guide takes you round sites relevant to the stories of The Victorian Scuttler Gangs and tells you tales of violence, poverty and squalor. She manages to recreate a sense of the time through her accounts, tales and poetry and having been resident in Manchester for 18 years, I ended up in areas just a few miles from home that i would never had known about. The tour finishes in the wonderful Marble pub just right for a thirst quenching beer!
+44(0)161 431 7030
Castlefield in Manchester is a great starting point for waterside walks in Manchester. It’s across the road from Manchester Science and Industry Museum, an exciting place to visit even before you start walking! Follow the Bridgewater Canal south west as far as Old Trafford (where a stadium tour is available), and then walk across to the Manchester Ship Canal. On the Trafford side there is the Imperial War Museum, or cross the footbridge to visit the Lowry Gallery and theatre complex (and outlet shopping mall). If you don’t want to walk back, you can always take the tram. In the other direction from Castlefield, follow the Rochdale Canal to walk under central Manchester’s busiest streets whilst watching barges negotiate locks. There is plenty of choice for refreshment with the bars and restaurants at Deansgate Locks and along Canal Street. At Piccadilly Basin you can either return to Castlefield by walking through the city centre, visiting museums, art galleries (or shops) along the way – or continue walking along the towpaths of either the Rochdale Canal or the Manchester and Ashton Under Lyne Canal. The latter leads to Manchester’s other football stadium.
Museum of Science and Industry:
Liverpool Road, Castlefield, Manchester, M3 4FP
+44(0)161 832 2244
Google map: bit.ly/qiM1Hu
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, M50 3AZ
+44(0)843 208 6000
Google map: bit.ly/oTOCEe
Imperial War Museum North
The Quays, Trafford Wharf Road, Manchester M17 1TZ
+ 44 (0) 161 836 4000
Google map: bit.ly/pDppEq
A city within a city. Salford is well worth exploring, if only for the great ale pubs and architectural delights off Chapel Street (a three-minute walk from Deansgate). Salford Quays is just the gentrified (read: largely dull) part of a very characterful city.
Chapel Street and elsewhere, Salford
These are some nice districts to explore. Not far from the city centre, the high streets of the following areas are nice to walk about with good shops, bars and restaurants. Chorlton, Fallowfield, West Didsbury, Didsbury.
All within 3 or 4 miles of the centre. Chorlton high street spreads out from the junction of Wilbraham Road and Manchester Road. Fallowfield from Junction of Wilbraham Road and Wlmslow Road. West Didsbury highstreet is on Burton road, from junction with Lapwing lane southwards and also along Lapwing lane. Didsbury from junction of Barlow Moor Road and Wilmslow road.
This is a new free portal for mp3 downloadable audio walks, trails and tours. Currently covering the UK, they will soon be expanding to worldwide coverage. There are some great town, city and nature walks and trails as well as historic properties.
If you want a two-hour-long, food/beer-sozzled route to see a Manchester City game, as well as a chance to feed some geese, this is my dream route to my seat in the East Stand lower tier from Piccadilly Square: from Piccadilly, with your back to 1960s megalith, Piccadilly Plaza, you head up Tib Street to the YADGAR curry house. If you're veggie, you can get rice and three curries for £3.00 - same price as a pint in some of the Northern Quarter bars. £3.90 and you get lamb or chicken toppings too. Best tarka dhal in Manchester.
After that, you could go further up Tib Street and drink in Centro and then have another pint in the Copper Kettle, a pub whose restoration ran out of money - look at the ceiling on one side of the pub, and then the other. One side was restored, the other remains as it was when the building was almost derelict. However, if you choose to hit Great Ancoats Street at this stage, all there is from there is street and no canal. Instead, after Yadgar, I suggest you go back towards Piccadilly and locate the Mother Mac pub, on a side street off Oldham Street. This, I imagine, will remain like something out of Victorian times even long into another era in which Manchester aspires to make its eastern central section resemble a damper, rainier New York.
From Mother Mac's, you could stock up on samosas at Marhaba, one of the other remaining low-price curry houses in the city centre, or maybe buy some bread and head towards the canal - there's an entrance on to the towpath on Ducie Street, which is the road bearing left as you reach the ramp leading towards Piccadilly Station. Once on the canal, the geese are very 'people-friendly' - in other words, mind your fingers.
Continuing up the canal, you'll reach steps at Great Ancoats Street. Following crowds towards the ground, my final stop is the Bank Of England pub. It's not just a no-frills pub - it's a no-stitching-at-all pub. The toilets are signposted by a male and female pointing figure silhouette shapes, but the male silhouette says 'women' on it and the female one 'male' - everyone turns the wrong direction the first time, like one of those psychological tests where they write 'blue' on a red-coloured board. Once you've survived this delightful obstacle course, remember, you've still got a football match to watch, and the return leg into town afterwards to negotiate. As is often said of Manchester City, it's the 90 minutes in the middle that ruins the experience.
Between Manchester Piccadilly and Sportcity.
It's an easygoing exploration of the architectural sights of Manchester city centre. Will also take you past some very nice bars, restaurants and shops.
Be spontaneous if you can and pick a sunny day, start at about 11am. Manchester doesn't get much more rain than most of the Southern English cities (and certainly less than Wales, Scotland and South West England) so there should be plenty of opportunities!
Start at Sackville Street and explore that area first. There are some magnificent buildings and if you are new to the city you will find yourself confused - it often reminds me of continental European cities (particularly northern Europe) with its mix of rich Victorian and gothic styles. Walk through Canal Street (Gay Village) as well, not far from Sackville Street and make your way towards Oxford Road.
Take a look at the magnificent Palace Hotel and have a drink at the Cornerhouse bar (on the first floor) which also gives a good view of the surrounding hustle and bustle. Then head towards the Central Library (the round pantheon-like building next to the Town Hall) and have a good look at the surroundings. You will be stunned by the variety of styles and ages of the architecture. Explore the various side streets around there and the Town Hall.
Then head to Cross Street and walk down towards Victoria Station from the top of Cross Street (where it crosses Princess Street/John Dalton Street). You will go past the various shops and bars. But when you first get to Cross Street, have a coffee at Caffe Nero near the start: to me it feels like Milan in Manchester!
Once you get to the end of Cross Street you are at the heart of the city centre main shops: Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, all that is in that area. Have a look at Urbis and Victoria Station, which you can spot from the area behind Selfridges (it has a big screen across a shopping centre called the Triangle). If you are hungry by then, try a late lunch at Wagamama (outside the Printworks, across the road from Urbis). From there walk past Harvey Nichols which is by the Manchester Cathedral and head towards St Anne's Square to take in the continuing varied architecture. You have a medieval looking church (St Anne's I think) in the middle of a Victorian architecture shopping centre.
Just before the church is the Royal Exchange Theatre in the middle of the square to the left. Go in and have a look. When you are inside the main building and look up at the very tall ceiling, you will be stunned! I won't spoil the surprise though. Anyway, go up to King Street past the Church, explore the boutiques and then take a right and head to Deansgate (a few yards’ walk) and then turn left and head towards the new Beetham Tower skyscraper.
Once you get there, there is a nice restaurant called Dimitri's that does Spanish and Greek Food. If it's summer sit outside at the back. It's lovely. And then finally finish your architectural walking tour by transporting yourself thousands of years back to Roman times at the Roman ruins and remains of the old wall just off Liverpool Road (which is where the Museum of Science and Industry is). From Deansgate, if you are tired of walking, you can get the number 2 free bus that takes you back to just outside the Cornerhouse - not far from where you started at 11 am!
There are loads of really interesting guided walks and tours that can be booked from the Tourist Information Centre in St Peter's Square.
As yet not too tarted up. Home to Asian rag trade wholesalers, new media entrepreneurs, a craft centre in an old market and the cool Chinese Arts Centre. And all the clothes, crystals and junk you could want in Affleck’s Palace.
Walk with eyes raised to take in the Victorian confidence of the buildings of the world’s first industrial city. Italian Renaissance palaces, Dutch gables, Greek temples, Gothic pinnacles – they’re all here. End up open-mouthed in Alfred Waterhouse’s town hall in Albert Square.
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