Manchester, the resurrected city

Manchester is known for its industrial past, but did you also know that the city is leading the way in Britain when it comes to an eco-friendly lifestyle too? Thanks to its new sustainable policies, such as increasing the bicycle network, adding bike rentals to its public transport offering and encouraging recycling in homes, the city is taking giant steps to make the future greener than ever, making it a top spot for an eco-friendly break.

 

Healthy city activities

Rochdale Canal, waterway near Manchester with canal boats moored to bank.

Travelling does not necessarily mean giving up the routines that make us feel better. If you’re a fan of meditation, Manchester has the Buddhist Centre. A fantastic place to practice, it organises daily classes in addition to longer courses and workshops. 

If you prefer to start the day in a healthy way by running, GoRunningTours organises guided runs, giving you a different way to discover the city. Some of the most iconic go through the centre, along the Rochdale Canal, but there are other routes along Ashton Canal and the Bridgewater Way (which has the distinction of being the first canal in the country).

 

Industrial heritage and modern innovation

Manchester’s role as the first truly industrial city in the world is reflected in its architecture and heritage, and a fantastic way of exploring this legacy is with Artchitectours, which offers tours guided by architects. You could also discover the Museum of Science and Industrywhich hosts an array of exhibitions focusing on innovation and ideas that changed the world.

If the industrial past isn’t a subject that interests you, don’t worry: Manchester has all types of museums, from the National Football Museum to the Pankhurst Centre. Housed in the former home of Emmeline Pankhurst and her family, it was here that the women who fought for the right to vote – and who would later be known as the “suffragettes” – first met, with the Centre celebrating their history and that of feminist activism. If you’re a lover of nature-focused art, a visit to the Manchester Art Gallery, with its fabulous Victorian and pre-Raphaelite Art collection, is a must-see, while The Whitworth art gallery will also provide you with a good dose of culture and greenery. Housed within Whitworth Park, this cultural space aims to create positive social change through art and has a range of different activities on offer, including yoga mornings and free concerts on Sundays by students from the Royal College of Music.

If you’re looking to explore all the centre of Manchester has to offer, one good accommodation option is the Kimpton Clocktower Hotel. Accredited as an eco-friendly establishment by the Green Tourism Business Programme, this hotel is in the heart of the city, in a fantastic protected Victorian-style building (Grade-II). 

 

The Northern Quarter 

Mackie Mayor, Manchester

One cannot speak of Manchester without mentioning the Northern Quarter. Its narrow streets are lined with new cafés and restaurants which represent that “northern cool” and which often have a slow food philosophy. Located between Piccadilly Station and the Arndale Centre, it’s worth spending a few hours discovering the area’s second-hand record shops – remember, this city was home to some of Britain’s most legendary bands, including The Smiths, Joy Division and Oasis. You can also explore Afflecks, an indoor market place filled with independent boutiques ranging from piercing studios to second-hand stores giving a new life to used clothing and records. At lunch time, head to Mackie Mayor. This 19th-century meat market has been completely refurbished and has long communal tables in the centre and food stalls to suit all tastes, including vegetarian and vegan options. There you will find the Tender Cow, which allows its customers to discover new cuts of meat in order to eat all the parts of the animals, while Picos Tacos serves some of the best Mexican tacos this side of the Atlantic and is famous for its homemade corn tortillas.  If you prefer elegant venues, Erst is the place for you. With an excellent list of wines by the glass and a seasonal menu, it offers small European-inspired dishes and natural wine.

The fusion nature of British gastronomy is well known, with restaurants across the country adopting and adapting cuisines from other parts of the world and making them their own.  This is the case with “rice ‘n’ three”, a local speciality based on rice and three curries. Rooted in Indian gastronomy, since the 80s it has become one of the most representative dishes of this northern city. It’s a classic in fast food restaurants and they now serve a vegan option at Little Aladdin.

 

A city break close to nature 

The Peak District, Northern England. Stately home.

If you’re keen to combine city and country, head to the Peak District National Park. One of the most accessible National Parks in the country due to its proximity to Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester, it is located just 90 minutes from Manchester city centre on public transport. Having been declared a National Park in 1951, since then its 1,400 square kilometres have welcomed more than 13 million visitors a year, with the Park celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.  

Although the Peak District National Park sounds mountainous, its highest point is actually just 636 metres. It is believed that its name actually comes from the word “Pecsaetan”, the name of an Anglo-Saxon tribe from the region. Home to 2,500 kilometres of public paths, the Park has 100 routes that are accessible to people with reduced mobility. If you’re looking for a relaxed stroll, a short walk is enough to immerse yourself in the colours of its moors and hills, with their brownish and ochre autumn tones, but there are a host of additional must-see sights. These include the beautiful village of Bakewell and its famous Peak Cavern market, a cave that also houses an amphitheatre where music concerts are held. There’s also the Nine Ladies Stone Circle, which dates from the Bronze Age and is thought to represent nine women who were turned to stone as a punishment for daring to dance on a Sunday.

To regain your strength, there’s nothing better than stopping at the Devonshire Arms pub in the small village of Beeley. There you can enjoy a pint of craft beer or savour a traditional Sunday lunch, with the weekend lunch menu usually including meat from animals raised on the farm, which is as local as it gets! If you want to extend your stay, there’s no need to worry - the pub is located on the Chatsworth Estate and has very cosy rooms decorated in charming English rural style. If you have time, you can also visit the mansion, which has belonged to the Cavendish family since the 16th century, and see the marvellous art within the Devonshire Collections. Another interesting option for enjoying a pint is to visit The Old Hall Inn, with its abundance of rural charm and a list of local craft beers.