Posts

,

10 of the Best Walks and Hikes in the Cotswolds

Lockdown has meant that everyone has been walking more than usual lately, and I’ve certainly taken advantage of the big outdoors during the past year. Living in Oxfordshire means I am very close to lots of beautiful countryside and the surrounding Cotswolds, and I’m very lucky to be able to take lots of regular walks in my local area. If you’re planning a summer staycation or a Cotswolds Road Trip later on in the year you can be sure to find plenty of exciting local walks to enjoy. Whether you’re just looking for a gentle stroll with the kids or are up for a bit more of a challenging hike with friends, I’ve put together 10 of the best walks and hikes in the Cotswolds in this handy blog post. So grab your snacks, rucksacks and walking boots, fill up your water bottles and get out into the beautiful Cotswolds countryside for a whole lot of exploring…

Asthall Leigh to Swinbrook

 

 

First up on my list of 10 of the best walks and hikes in the Cotswolds starts in the tiny village of Asthall-Leigh, where you can park for free along any of the roads surrounding the Maytime Inn. This scenic 5 mile walk is perfect for all ages and abilities. There are some steep hills and inclines but most of the walk is on flat grassy/stony paths. There are some stunning views across the Windrush Valley as you pass through the tiny hamlet of Widford and this walk is particularly beautiful during April and May when the bluebells are out in full swing. This walk doesn’t get too muddy so waterproofs aren’t essential but that does depend on the unpredictable Great British weather! Finish up at either The Swan at Swinbrook or the Maytime at Asthall-Leigh for a delightful post walk dinner and drink.

 

Chipping Campden to Broadway Tower

 

I couldn’t write about 10 of the best walks and hikes in the Cotswolds without giving a special mention to the Cotswold Way, one of the most popular walking routes in England. Spanning 100 miles of quintessentially British countryside, the Cotswold Way is completed by thousands of keen walkers every year and offers truly stunning views from all angles. The starting point of the Cotswold Way is this walk from Chipping Campden to Broadway Tower, a steady six mile route which takes you between an ancient market town and a classic Cotswolds tower. Starting at Chipping Campden’s market square, where a plaque officially marks the start of the Cotswolds Way, this walk takes you to the top of Dover’s Hill, through enchanting woodland (which is covered in bluebells if you’re visiting in May) and then into the thriving village of Broadway. Finish up at Broadway Tower, where you’ll spot Bambi in the deer park and can admire magnificent countryside views from the top of the 65ft high tower.

 

Minster Lovell to Crawley

 


This gentle 3.5 mile walk starts at the wash meadow in Minster Lovell (free parking) and continues on to the next village of Crawley. Cut through the wash meadow or walk along the road past a row of the prettiest thatched cottages where you’ll cross farmland and follow a footpath which takes you all the way to Crawley. Be sure to take wellies or waterproof boots on this one if it’s recently rained as the river levels can get quite high and the pathways are extremely muddy after a lot of rainfall. After crossing the main road in Crawley (by the traffic lights) make your way back towards Minster Lovell by following the river Windrush as it runs alongside you. You’ll soon arrive at the Minster Lovell Hall and Ruins, an English Heritage site which dates back to the 12th century, and has its original Dovecot in tact. The Ruins sit right next to the river Windrush and are a lovely place to visit with a picnic at any time of year, making this walk perfect for families and children.

 

Leckhampton Loop

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Visit Cheltenham (@visitcheltenham)

 

Back to the Cotswold Way now which features twice on my list of 10 of the best walks and hikes in the Cotswolds, but this time its all about the Leckhampton Loop, a four mile circular walk which is moderately easy but offers stunning countryside views along the way. Starting and finishing at the layby opposite the Seven Springs pub just outside Cheltenham, this diverse walk passes through endless green fields, beautiful nature reserves and tranquil woodlands. Clamber up an Iron-Age hill fort to reach the top of Leckhampton Hill and take a moment to breathe in the far-reaching countryside views. If you want to tick off another classic Cotswolds landmark, follow the waymarkers and you’ll end up at Devil’s Chimney, a limestone rock formation which stands above a disused quarry. This walk is great for all ages with only a few steep sections and no annoying stiles to navigate – download this free map route for specific directions to make the walk even easier.

 

Charlbury to Finstock

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by The Cotswold Company (@cotswoldco)

 

Starting and ending in Charlbury’s village centre, this pleasant five mile walk crosses two pretty Cotswold villages and is easily accessible for all ages. Park the car down Church Street in Charlbury and walk through the village towards Cornbury Park, a stunning Cotswold country estate encompassing farmland, forest and a deer park. Follow the tree lined Cornbury Park all the way until you reach the village of Finstock, where you’ll need to take care whilst crossing a major B road. As you make your way back towards Charlbury from Finstock you’ll pass by rolling hills and glorious countryside views, the river Evenlode and the Cotswold Line railway. There are four excellent pubs dotted along this route – the only question is which one (or four) will you choose to stop off at during your walk?!

 

 

Shilton to Burford circular

 

 

Up next on my list of 10 of the best walks and hikes in the Cotswolds is one of my personal favourites and the walk that I do most often as it is closest to my home! Most of the time I start this one from my house and leave the car at home but to save a bit of time you can start from the tiny village of Shilton and park in the centre of the village right next to the ford. Take the footpath that runs alongside one of the houses opposite the war memorial and cut through the fields over towards Burford. You’ll be treated to rolling hills and miles of green countryside before reaching Burford Golf Club which you can walk behind to reach the A40. Cross the road carefully (the A40 is notoriously busy) and follow the hill down towards Burford high street where you can stop off in some of the shops or enjoy a pub lunch before heading back to your start point in Shilton. This walk is  moderately easy and fairly flat until you get to Burford hill, but it is quite a long one (7-8 miles in total) so just be prepared for that.

 

 

Bourton on the Water and The Slaughters

 

 

Another of my favourite local walks, this 7.5 mile loop starts and ends in pretty Bourton on the Water, also known as the Venice of the Cotswolds, and passes through the tiny  villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter too. Park in the chargeable public car park next to Birdland and from the village green in Bourton make your way towards the parish Church where you’ll walk alongside a clearly marked footpath. You’ll soon reach the picturesque village of Lower Slaughter, which is home to a 19th century mill with original water wheel, and two bridges criss-crossing their way over the little Eye stream. Continue on the footpath that runs alongside the mill and, after crossing three fields, you’ll find yourself in Upper Slaughter which is just a mile away. Residing on a grassy slope above the little Eye stream which connects the two villages, Upper Slaughter features the ruins of a Norman motte and bailey castle and a 15th century manor house which is now a hotel. After leaving Upper Slaughter you can make your way back to Bourton on the Water to end up right where you started.

 

 

Badbury Clump 

 

 

 

This walk is a new one for me as I only recently discovered it after meeting my friend Flo here for a New Year’s Eve stroll last December but I absolutely loved it! Start at the National Trust car park on the B4019 (£2 for 3 hours) and make your way around the pink route, which is a gentle 1.2 mile stroll covering endless woodland and taking in some stunning countryside views. Directly opposite the car park you’ll see the ancient Iron Age hillfort which is said to have been a battle site between the Celts and the Anglo-Saxons back in the Dark Ages. Badbury Clump does get extremely busy with hikers and dog walkers during peak times, and even more so in the month of May when the bluebells are out in full bloom and the hillfort is painted a gorgeous shade of purple.

 

 

Uffington White Horse Hill 

 

 

Another National Trust site nearby (£2 car parking for 3 hours) is Uffington White Horse Hill, an Iron Age hillfort which stands 860 feet above sea level and is the highest point in the whole of Oxfordshire. I have been visiting White Horse Hill for walks and picnics since I was a toddler but it’s only in my adult life that I’ve learnt to appreciate its sheer beauty. A series of burial mounds dating back to the Neolithic period can be found on White Horse Hill, and legend has it that nearby Dragon Hill was the site where St George slayed his famous dragon. White Horse Hill boasts my favourite view across the whole of Oxfordshire and, on a clear day, these stunning views even reach as far as six counties! There are a number of walking trails you can follow around the site all varying in length but I usually just walk a couple of miles and spend the rest of the time drinking in the scenery.

 

 

Blenheim Palace circulars

 

 

Last but not least on my list of 10 of the best walks and hikes in the Cotswolds is beautiful Blenheim Palace. If you haven’t got a Blenheim Palace annual pass you can only do part of this walk by using the side gate at Woodstock and entering part of the grounds, but please be aware that you can only get so far by using the public footpath. If you try to make your way towards the palace you’ll run into staff members who stop and search at certain parts throughout the grounds so if you haven’t got a pass be prepared to be asked to leave! If however you have got an annual pass you can enjoy several wonderful circular walks around the palace grounds and in the formal gardens themselves. I usually walk around the top and bottom lakes which each take a couple of hours in total to complete. Look out for lots of  birds and wildlife within the palace grounds and pass by the ‘finest view in England’ as described by Sir Winston Churchill, who was born at Blenheim and is buried at St Martin’s Church in nearby Bladon.

 

I hope some of these routes have given you some serious walking inspo that you can look forward to planning on your next visit to the glorious Cotswolds countryside. These are just a tiny handful of some of my favourite local walks and there are soooo many more that I could have picked but there is definitely not enough room for all of them on one single blog post! I could write for hours and hours about all of my favourite local walks but my pick of 10 of the best walks and hikes in the Cotswolds will have to do for now. Have you ever been walking in the Cotswolds before? I’d love to hear where your favourite place was!

 

,

Climbing Mount Snowdon: The Highest Mountain in Wales

Perfectly positioned in the north of Snowdonia National Park, Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales, and the third highest in the UK. Standing 3560 feet tall, Snowdon towers above the village of Llanberis and, on a clear day, commands views over Pembrokeshire, Anglesey and Snowdonia. Of course many people choose to hop on the very convenient tourist train and enjoy the stunning scenery from the comfort of their train window, but by far the best way to get to know Mount Snowdon is to climb it, so that’s exactly what I did. Back in June 2018 I joined a team of 55 walkers and spent the day climbing Mount Snowdon for charity. Along with my parents, their friends and one of my best friends, we joined The Pituitary Foundation on their annual fundraising event and were looking forward to climbing Mount Snowdon for the first time. If you’ve read my previous post about hiking the Four Falls Trail in Wales you’ll know that I have taken part in many fundraising events for the Foundation over the past few years, and climbing Mount Snowdon was one of the first ones I ever did.

Me and my team mates were staying in nearby Betsw-Y-Coed which is a gorgeous Welsh village approximately 20 minutes away by car from one of the starting points for Mount Snowdon. We parked the car near the Electric Mountain Visitors Centre (postcode LL55 4UR) and met up with everyone in our group for our safety briefing before setting off on our climb. There are six different paths to take when climbing Mount Snowdon, some of which are detailed on the image below.  We took the Llanberis Path which is the easiest one as it catered for our large group of mixed ages and abilities. We were split into two groups and each assigned team leaders who would be able to keep an eye on everyone in the group and offer help to those who needed it.

 

Image credit: https://www.visitsnowdonia.info/snowdon-walking-routes

 

After a difficult ascent from the village of Llanberis – arguably one of the hardest parts of the entire climb as that first part of the terrain is incredibly steep! – we were well and truly on our way to climbing Mount Snowdon. We split off into smaller groups during the climb but were all within easy reach of the guides who were checking on us every 10mins or so. It was a boiling hot summers day and the Llanberis path was extremely busy with other climbers, so it was difficult to gain momentum and we had to keep stopping every few hundred metres for water/to remove layers/to let people pass. The scenery whilst climbing Mount Snowdon is lovely at any time of year but even more so on a clear sunny day, with green grass and blue skies as far as the eye can see.

When we reached the Halfway House, which is indeed the halfway point for the climb, we all had an hours break to eat our packed lunches, use the toilet facilities and stop and chat to our fellow walkers. I really enjoyed being able to climb at my own pace and take it slowly as this really helped me to catch my breath and refuel whilst remaining on the go. I met so many like minded people who had similar pituitary conditions to me and it was so lovely to hear their stories too. After our lunch stop, and several stops for various people to take wild wees – sorry kids, there are no toilets between the halfway point and the summit – we slowly made our way to the top.

 

 

The train passed us several times back and forth during our ascent, and at times I was really struggling with the climb. The change in altitude and temperature made it hard for me to continue as I had at the start, and the onset of one of my pituitary related headaches was causing me a considerable amount of pain. After some painkillers and a motivational heart to heart with my mum, dad and friend Tiff, I decided to carry on and get the climb done. One of our guides kindly let me borrow his walking poles and these were an absolute godsend when I needed a bit of a push to get me up that mountain! Finally, after what seemed like forever, both of our groups reached the summit and were treated to spectacular panoramic views over Snowdonia below.

We all stopped for group pictures, hugs and snacks as we congratulated each other on reaching the summit, and made use of the excellent toilet and cafe facilities!  After around 30 minutes, we made our descent down the Llanberis path and the walking began once more. I found the descent much easier than the ascent, although I was beginning to tire again by the time I reached the halfway point. An ice cream and yet more photo opportunities soon cheered me up though and I was well on my way to reaching the end and touching down on flat ground again with the rest of the group within a couple of hours or so.

 

 

 

I think it usually takes around six hours there and back to climb Mount Snowdon, but I would say our group did it in around 8-9 hours because a) there were so many of us, b) it was a boiling hot day, and c) the path was extremely busy with other walkers. I absolutely loved climbing Mount Snowdon and it is definitely one of the hardest treks I have ever done. Our group of 55 walkers raised over £25,000 collectively for The Pituitary Foundation which was absolutely phenomenal and made everything so worthwhile.

I would highly recommend climbing Mount Snowdon who anyone who enjoys walking, hiking and climbing, or those who want to explore more of beautiful Snowdonia, one of the most visited areas in Wales. We were extremely lucky to have such good weather and a clear sunny day but the conditions can change quickly on Mount Snowdon, and cloud and fog can descend fast. To ensure you are fully prepared for your climb, be sure to take equipment for all weathers, such as thick fleeces, thermal vests, waterproof jackets and trousers etc. Tough walking boots are essential, as is a sturdy backpack to carry all your equipment. Walking poles are optional, but I found them super useful and have used them in all of my mountain treks since climbing Mount Snowdon.

Some of you may know that I attempted to climb Ben Nevis the year after climbing Mount Snowdon, but it didn’t go quite to plan! Unfortunately I didn’t take the right waterproof equipment so was struggling massively and at a very real risk of developing hypothermia, so we decided to turn back at the halfway point. The weather was torrential, with rain and wind which was getting worse by the minute, and after four hours of getting soaked to my skin I didn’t fancy another four in even worse weather. On the descent, my dad slipped and hurt his wrist and little finger, so we headed straight to Fort William A&E where he was very well looked after and diagnosed with a broken wrist and a fractured pinky. We were due to attempt Ben Nevis again this year, but of course Covid-19 put a stop to that when the world shut down and the UK went into lockdown for three months.

At some point in my life I would like to attempt Ben Nevis again, but I am not sure when that may be. Have you ever climbed climbed Mount Snowdon or Ben Nevis before? I’d love to hear your experiences too!

 

,

My UK Travel Wishlist: 10 Places for a UK Staycation

As we enter the 13th week of lockdown here in the UK, I’ve slowly started thinking about the idea of travelling again. Don’t worry, I’m not going to be jumping on a plane anytime soon, but I am hoping to travel to a few places in the UK whenever we are able to. At the time of writing, we are currently not allowed to stay overnight anywhere in Britain, and we’re encouraged not to take any day trips or make any ‘non-essential journeys’. When lockdown is over and we are able to roam around the country again, I can’t wait to spend time exploring places I’ve never been to in our British isles. I’m grateful to have visited a huge portion of the UK over the past 27 years, but there are still so many places I’ve yet to discover. With that in mind, I thought I’d put together my ultimate UK travel wishlist so I can plan some day trips and staycations closer to home, post-lockdown of course. Here are 10 places in the UK that I’m just itching to visit whenever we are able to…

 

Stonehenge, England

 

 

This one feels pretty fitting as it was the Stonehenge Summer Solstice this weekend, celebrating the longest day of the year. I have driven past Stonehenge many times before on the way down to Cornwall and Devon but never actually stopped off and visited for the day. I would love to visit whilst en route to Southampton or Bournemouth and use it as a handy place to stop off and break up the journey. At over 4000 years old, Stonehenge is the world’s most famous pre-historic monument, and one of the most impressive landmarks in England. I can’t believe I still haven’t been yet!

 

Brecon Beacons, Wales

 

 

Apart from heading to Cardiff last year to see the Spice Girls on tour (yep, they were amazing) and climbing Mount Snowdon the year before, I haven’t actually spent a lot of time in Wales in recent years. Growing up as kids we would visit the likes of Tenby, Cardigan Bay, Newquay, Caernarfon and Pembrokeshire on our annual summer holidays, but I have never explored the Brecon Beacons before. Climbing Pen Y Fan is definitely on my UK travel wishlist, and I’d love to spend a few days getting well and truly lost in the mountains during an epic Welsh staycation.

 

Dublin, Ireland

 

 

Ok so don’t judge me but I have NEVER been to Ireland before!! I know, I know, it’s crazy that I haven’t visited yet. I think the problem I have is that I travel so much and often overlook places closer to home in favour of destinations that are further away or more exciting. Dublin, however, is somewhere I definitely want to visit as soon as possible. I’d love to explore the cobbled streets and the ancient castle, as well as have a good old night out in Temple Bar – it’s got to be done, right? As soon as we are able to fly again, I am 100% heading over to the Irish capital. Although I won’t be indulging in any Guinness, sorry to disappoint 😉

 

Edinburgh, Scotland

 

Despite only being to Scotland once before (last year, aged 26!) I still haven’t ticked Edinburgh off my UK travel wishlist. I I have NO IDEA why or how I have not yet visited this stunning city, but I am really hoping to go towards the end of this year if we are able to travel around the UK – fingers crossed! Everything about Edinburgh oozes charm, history and culture. From it’s striking castle to its cobbled streets, Edinburgh has something to offer all year round. As much as it’d be great to visit in summer, I’ve always thought December would be a great time to go as I am a sucker for a Christmas market and I know theirs are supposed to be amazing!

 

Windsor, England

 

View this post on Instagram

What's your favourite castle in Britain? 🏰 Edinburgh Castle? Conwy? Warwick? Leeds? Bodiam? For me, it's hard to beat the beauty of this incredible place – the near 1,000 year old Windsor Castle. Love this view of the “Long Walk” – swipe for a close up! Both shots by @_beans_on_toast_ Let's tuck into a large slab of delicious history: In 1066, when William the Conqueror claimed victory at the Battle of Hastings, the Forest of Windsor was already established – serving as a vital resource for the people who lived in the area. But it was William the Conqueror who was the first monarch to be inspired by the grasslands of Windsor Great Park as a place to build a residence In fact, the outer walls of Windsor Castle as they stand today are the same walls which were constructed by William the Conqueror in 1070AD – and some of the original oaks planted during his reign can still be seen standing tall within the Park now. Just amazing Ahh to be a King. Still, I'm the king of my garden shed and there is a slab of half nibbled fruit cake waiting for me there 🤓 This is @timholt wishing you a wonderful Thursday! Super photos by @_beans_on_toast_ 🇬🇧 To be featured, follow and tag us! ‘Ta! 🇬🇧

A post shared by Photos Of Britain 🇬🇧 (@photosofbritain) on

 

Technically I’ve been to Windsor before as I went to Legoland on a school trip when I was 8 (what a day that was), but I was supposed to visit Windsor again properly back in April. Me and two of my besties were so excited for a fun filled girls day out and a little bit of sightseeing, but obviously Corona meant lockdown which meant our day out was cancelled. I am however still planning a little day trip to see the Queen’s Castle (and my best pal) as soon as we are able to travel safely again. Aside from seeing Queen Liz’s digs, I’d love to visit St George’s Chapel (where Harry & Meghan got married) and am sure we would enjoy a little river walk along the Thames too.

Newcastle, England

 

 

Up next on my UK travel wishlist is Newcastle. I have fancied a ‘night out on the Toon’ since I was 18 but I’ve never got round to visiting because a) it is very far away from me and b) it’s bloody cold up there! I think I’d like to do a stopover in Newcastle on the way up to Scotland and would enjoy a wander around the shopping district and a walk along the river Tyne. I definitely want to visit Durham and the famous Angel of the North statue too so would probably try to cram as much in as I could during my short stopover. Also, what are the chances of me meeting Ant and Dec?!…

 

Loch Ness, Scotland

 

 

I travelled to Loch Lomond and Glencoe last year whilst en route to Ben Nevis, but sadly I didn’t have time to visit the famous Loch Ness. A boat trip around the loch is something I have wanted to do for as long as I can remember, especially as I would be on the lookout for Nessie the whole time! There are so many beautiful parts of Scotland I am yet to visit, and I would love to dedicate a week or two to the North Coast 500 road trip which would allow me to tick off plenty of famous sights along the way. If anyone has any tips for doing this, or knows of any companies who offer group tours, please let me know as I really want to do this road trip but definitely don’t want to drive it solo!

 

Gower Peninsula, Wales

 

 

Not far from Swansea, the Gower Peninsula was the first place in the UK to be awarded the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty status back in 1956. Stretching across 19 miles of fantastic coastline, the Gower Peninsula offers 25 fantastic beaches to enjoy. If I were to book a Welsh staycation I would spend my days taking cliff walks, going on countryside hikes and sunbathing on the beach (if the weather was good). I definitely think the Gower would make a great base for exploring some of the best areas in Wales and would really love to tick it off my UK travel wishlist sometime soon!

 

Belfast, Ireland

 

 

As if I needed another reason to visit Ireland… Belfast is just perfect for a weekend city break staycation. The birthplace of the Titanic, and Northern Ireland’s capital, Belfast is steeped in maritime history. Top of my Belfast bucketlist is the castle, city hall and botanic gardens, all of which are right up my street! If I had time I would love to do a week long road trip in Ireland so that I could visit Dublin and Belfast in one go, but I am also desperate to do the Giants Causeway too as the scenery looks totally breathtaking! Does anyone know of any good companies who do Ireland road trips? Again, I’d love to do this on a group tour instead of travelling on my own!

 

Cambridge, England

 

 

Another place I was supposed to visit at the end of March right before lockdown hit was beautiful Cambridge! My cousin Katie goes to uni there so me and my sisters were going to hop on the train to meet up with her for the day and enjoy a lovely lunch and a bit of sightseeing. Being from Oxford I think most people assume I will have visited Cambridge at some point in my life, but nope, I am still yet to tick it off my UK travel wishlist! I’d love to wander around the college buildings, see the Bridge of Sighs and go punting down the river – it sounds sooo similar to Oxford doesn’t it?!

 

These are all popular places to visit in Britain, some more well known than others, and I can’t believe I haven’t visited any of them yet! In terms of immediate travel plans, I’m hoping to go to Scotland to attempt to climb Ben Nevis again for The Pituitary Foundation in 2021, so I’m definitely looking at having a few extra days up there to explore some of the surrounding highlands. And as I’ve never been to Ireland before, I’d love to do a week long road trip and visit Dublin, Belfast and the Giants Causeway one after the other. How many of these places have you ticked off your British bucket list? And where are you planning your next UK staycation? Send over allllll your travel plans please!

Love Jess x

,

How to Spend 24 Hours in Manchester

 

Last weekend I stayed overnight in Manchester for a fab travel blogger conference, Blog at the Beach, hosted by Ice Lolly Holiday and Visit Barbados. I had an amazing time catching up with all my fave blogger friends and meeting loads of new ones, and was excited to explore Manchester properly for the first time in YEARS. In the past I’ve usually just headed straight to the Trafford Centre from Liverpool as I spend a lot of time with my family up there, but this time I was determined to see all that Manchester had to offer, so when Hotels.com asked me to create a guide on how to do a budget break to the city, I was more than up for the challenge! They offer some fantastic accommodation options including luxury hotels, budget B&B’s and the serviced apartments Manchester are a great choice too. Here’s what I got up to during my 24 hours in Manchester, and what I recommend you do there during your northern getaway…

 

Check out Exchange Square & the Northern Quarter

 

exchange square manchester

The Exchange Square

 

Located slap bang in the middle of the city, Exchange Square is home to the shopping district and is right behind the popular Arndale Centre. You’ll find street performers and live music in the square, with the Corn Exchange building as the impressive backdrop. There’s also the Printworks, which has now been converted to a food court with the likes of Five Guys & the Hard Rock Cafe dominating the skyline. The Northern Quarter is another quirky area of the city which is home to an abundance of bars, cafes, shops and restaurants as well as some fantastic street art too. Situated between the Ancoats and Piccadilly, the Northern Quarter is the retro part of Manchester and has plenty of character, with record shops, vintage stores and places where bands gather to play live music.

 

Shop til you drop on the high street  

 

the arndale centre

The Arndale Centre

 

Manchester has got some fantastic shopping, and the high street is one of the best places to go for this. You’ll find every kind of high street, designer and department store you can think of, and the enormous Primark is also home to the newly opened Central Perk Friends Cafe which is hugely popular with locals and tourists alike. Located five miles west of Manchester city centre, The Trafford Centre is of course another obvious choice for shopping, and boasts a fantastic range of shops, bars, cafes and restaurants. There’s also plenty of leisure options for those that don’t fancy shopping or eating, with an Odeon cinema, laser quest, mini golf course, escape room and even a Sealife aquarium offering a fantastic day out for all the family.

 

Visit one of the many museums

 

The National Football Museum

The National Football Museum

 

Manchester has some great museums, many of which are free to enter and are suitable for people of all ages. From football and music to art and fashion, you’ll be spoilt for choice. The National Football Museum, just a stones throw from Victoria station, is one of the city’s most popular attractions, detailing the successful history of the beautiful game. The Science and Industry Museum and the Manchester Art Gallery are well worth a visit, as is the Imperial War Museum located right on the waterfront at The Quays. For those of you who are soap lovers, Coronation Street The Tour at MediaCityUK in Salford is a great day out for all the family. You can explore the historic cobbles, wander through Weatherfield and even see where the pints are pulled in the Rovers Return.

 

Have a night out in Deansgate

 

 

One of the liveliest parts of Manchester, the Deansgate area is a great night out and is brimming with bars, clubs and restaurants. We had cocktails in the All Star Lanes bar, which is complete with a full bowling alley at the back, and then headed to Rudy’s for pizza. We passed the Peaky Blinders bar, a popular new hangout right in the centre of Deansgate, and also passed tonnes of other clubs and bars too. This area of the city is the place to be for a great northern night out, with the mile long road home to trendy eateries such as The Living Room, MOJO and The Botanist.

 

Getting around

a Manchester tram

The trams in Manchester

 

Manchester is quite a big city, so you may need to use public transport or taxis to get around, but the central area is best discovered on foot. You can walk from the high street up to Exchange Square in around 10 minutes, and head to the Victoria or Piccadilly train stations which are either a 5 or 15 minute walk away too. For a proper Mancunian experience, hop on a tram to get around like a local and explore everything much more quickly.

 

Where to stay

 

quad room at the macdonald manchester hotel

Macdonald Manchester Hotel & Spa

 

We stayed at the 4* Manchester Macdonald Hotel & Spa which was located a little out of the city centre, but was just a 3 minute walk from Picadilly train station. The hotel was in a perfect location for our Ice Lolly event as the office building was right around the corner, but we did have to get Uber’s/ taxis in and out of the city centre as the 25 min walk was a little too much for some of us who were wearing heels in the evening! The hotel had plenty of facilities including a tecnho-gym, swimming pool and spa with infra-red sauna, sensation shower, eucalyptus steam room and even an ice igloo. Please note that the spa was only accessible by paying a £10 supplement per person. I was in a room of 4 and we had 2 double beds between us which were super comfy and the bathroom was amazing. I’d definitely stay here again on my next visit as it was the perfect place from which to base ourselves during our 24 hours in Manchester.

 

Where to eat 

 

yard and coop manchester

Yard & Coop Manchester

 

Manchester has a great foodie scene, and we spent most of our time having lunch or eating dinner around the Deansgate area where we were going out on the Saturday night. There are some brilliant restaurants to choose from, with popular chains including Bella Italia, Nandos and Wagamama, but we opted to eat at Rudy’s which has been voted as one of the UK’s best pizza restaurants. For lunch the next day we headed to the Northern Quarter and ate at Yard & Coop, a speciality chicken restaurant serving every kind of chicken dish you could think of! Other great foodie areas include Peter Street and the Ancoats.

I had a great 24 hours in Manchester exploring all that the city had to offer, but I know there’s lots more that I didn’t see during my short time there. If I had longer I definitely would have spent more time seeing some of the museums and exploring the older buildings, as well as venturing out to the Trafford Centre too, but I definitely got a good feel for the city during my 24 hours in Manchester. Have you been to Manchester before? I’d love to know your top tips!

NB. My spending money during my time in Manchester was gifted by Hotels.com but all views, words and photos are of course my own.