22 things to do in Cheshire and Manchester after lockdown

White Nancy at Bollington Photo: Getty

White Nancy at Bollington Photo: Getty - Credit: Archant

From wild swimming to gazing at the sunset there’s a world of wonder in and around Cheshire to explore in future months

White Nancy at Bollington Photo: Getty

White Nancy at Bollington Photo: Getty - Credit: Archant

Wake up for sunrise

Set your alarm and stride towards the renowned beacon of White Nancy – the lofty structure on the pinnacle of Kerridge Hill. As the sun breaks out, the haze of the Cheshire Plain, the peaks of North Wales and the Pennines in the east and south will comes into focus. We promise it’ll be worth the early get-up.


BeWilderwood - Credit: Archant

Things to come

Cheshire’s festival calendar is usually buzzing year-round. And although most of 2020’s juggernaut festivals are off-limits, that doesn’t mean to say you can’t start pencilling in the big-budget parties for next year. For music and science in the shadow of Jodrell Bank, Bluedot is one of the UK’s kookiest festivals attracting scores of starry-eyed campers to its scientific workshops and top band performances. Elsewhere, at Rode Hall, Just So is a family-themed wonderland from the Cheshire-based events team Wild Rumpus – storytelling, bonkers performances, woodland adventures, and all. The opening of BeWILDerwood, a £5million woodland adventure, has been delayed until next year but keep the children looking to a bright new future with the promise of aerial and ground walkways with treehouses, rope bridges and story-telling pitstops, inspired by children’s author Tom Blofeld. discoverthebluedot.com justsofestival.org.uk bewilderwood.co.uk

Chester Cathedral

Chester Cathedral - Credit: Archant

Chester Cathedral at Height

As the walled city fizzes back to life, what better way to tune into its revival than from on high? This behind-the-scenes tour aims to transport punters to the cathedral’s hidden curiosities, where you’ll slip away from its cavernous main atrium and into its bell-ringing chamber, peer closely at the stained glass windows, and walk along the galleries away from the crowds mulling below. At the climax is a 200-step staircase taking you to the lookout tower, where you can scan the city and the distant hills of Wales – with the sort of view and atmosphere you’ll wish you could bottle. chestercathedral.com

Forest Gin

Forest Gin - Credit: Archant

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Distillery tour

Hands up whose quarantini cocktail hour revolved around gin? We’d wager a fair few of you, especially given the rising number of gin distilleries that have cropped up in Cheshire in recent years. When the doors are open once more, head straight to the source and to the Macc-based Forest Distillery for a tour and tastings of its award-winning mother’s ruin.theforestdistillery.com

Take a wild swim - but preferably in the great outdoors Photo: Getty

Take a wild swim - but preferably in the great outdoors Photo: Getty - Credit: Archant

Cruise down hills

Delamere’s wiry wilderness has been off limits, but as soon as its woodlands and webs of forest reopen, head there with a bike and burn buns of steel along its trailheads. There are mud-spattered dips and steep climbs for an adrenalin-inducing blast of the outdoors; and let’s face it, you’ve got to make use of that bike you panic bought during lockdown. forestryengland.uk/delamere-forest

Delamere Forest at its most beautiful Photo: Getty

Delamere Forest at its most beautiful Photo: Getty - Credit: Archant

Chetham’s Library

Founded in 1653, this remarkable library is the oldest in the English-speaking world and is a darkly atmospheric place to pore over ancient manuscripts. While you’re here and in the mood for dusting off timeworn materials, walk on over to Manchester University’s John Ryland Library, where readers flick through books beneath its magnificent gothic arches.library.chethams.com library.manchester.ac.uk/rylands

Manchester's John Ryland Library

Manchester's John Ryland Library - Credit: Archant

Seek out a supperclub

The Cheshire foodie scene is abloom with supperclubs, but they’re notoriously difficult to track down online. At the time of writing, events remain on hold, but as the months tick along, some of our favourite cooks are sure to be back in the kitchen. There’s At the Kitchen in Cheadle Hulme, where food writer and stylist Angela Boggiano teaches masterclasses and hosts supperclubs; there’s Feast Supper Club at Gather in Congleton, where globe-trotting menus have darted from Irish-themed nights to full-blown brunch cook-ups; and natural wines and organic food emporium Isca Wines, hosts one-off collabs with chefs from all over the world. atthekitchen.co.uk feastsupperclub.co.uk iscawines.com

Supperclub At The Kitchen Photo: Craig Richardson

Supperclub At The Kitchen Photo: Craig Richardson - Credit: Archant

The Picturedrome

When this former cinema opened as a food-lovers’ bazaar back in October, the culinary spotlight zoned in on Macclesfield. Once a town deserted of gourmet credentials, it’s now very much on the foodie map, with the game-changing market hall from the Altrincham Market and Mackie Mayor team partly responsible for the shake-up. Go as soon as it’s back in business for popcorn mussels, as-good-as-Naples pizzas, and knock-your-socks-off coffee. picturedromemacc.co.uk

The Picturedrome at Macclesfield Photo: Claire Harrison

The Picturedrome at Macclesfield Photo: Claire Harrison - Credit: Archant

How much do you know about Cheshire have a go at our 50 question quiz - with another 50 questions in the June issue out now.

Learn to dive

Landlocked Cheshire might not have the clear-as-glass waters of the Maldives or the Med, but it is home to the East Cheshire Sub Aqua Club, which has been teaching diving courses since the 1960s in its pools and the flinty waters of the UK, where creaking wrecks lie, silent and forgotten, and rock gardens teem with life. ecsac.org.uk

Caves of Alderley Edge

For a different perspective, strike out on a subterranean tour of the village’s ancient copper mines, squeezing through tights gaps and crawling beneath rocky tunnels thought to date to around 1900 BC. Tours are run by the Derbyshire Caving Club, descending into the murky depths from the crooked white building, opposite the Wizard Inn. derbyscc.org.uk

Lymm Water Tower

Looking for a quirky bolthole for a romance-reviving weekend break or a fabulous family reunion? This re-imagined architectural gem, which is a family home, has the Grand Designs seal of approval and guests can check into two luxury suites through Airbnb – the Penthouse Suite, crowned with a private roof garden and hot tub with rolling rural views in every direction, and the Master Suite,

lymmwatertower.com; airbnb.co.uk/rooms/5532075; airbnb.co.uk/rooms/31920152


For a blast of culture, head to Manchester’s pioneering multi-arts hub, HOME, with an impressive line-up of global artists and progressive film, music and performing arts. homemcr.org

Learn to trapeze

Now is not the time for procrastination. If you’ve ever harboured ambitions to try something out-there and test your head for heights, Barnton Circus teaches aerial circus and trapeze fitness at the Life Church Barnton in Northwich through a daredevil squad used to performing fire-breathing, stilt-walking and hoop acrobatics. barntoncircus.co.uk

Wild swim

Dipping your toe into untamed stretches of lakes and rivers for gentle laps is a dead cert for invigoration and might just be the way forward in our new social distancing culture: try Hatchmere Lake in Frodsham or Pickmere Lake for solitary swims that’ll make you feel as alive as the thrilling depths below you.

Hire a private chef and throw a dinner party

There have to be perks to lockdown and if that means all-out reunion bashes with your favourite pals on the other side, you might want to think about calling in a cook to create mouth-watering tables-full, while you hobnob with your guests. With his globe-spanning repertoire, Pete Cooks has been rustling up weekly menus for clients during lockdown, while Stephanie Sowden of Black Butter Catering will be back at the helm of her series of dining events at her private space in Cheadle. Another newbie on the scene is Around the Table – a private cheffing and bespoke foodie business that’ll design the whole shebang around you. Blackbuttercatering.com petecooks.com aroundthe-table.com

Learn to sail

Landlubbers can get a feel for racing on the water or a casual tinker around the boats at Redesmere – where sailors conquer its tame waters and sign up to its Saturday socials. If you’re feeling adventurous, there’s always SUP (stand-up paddle boarding) sessions too. redesmere.org.uk

Seven Sisters Farm

If there’s something we’ve learnt from the solitude of quarantine it can be the little things and the simple pleasures that really count. And ordering ice cream from this rural space is one of those cheery moments we’ve been yearning for. Make up for lost time, bag a table outside and order the raw cookie dough with a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream. sevensistersfarm.co.uk

Head to a spa

Feeling all knotty after those hunched-up reading sessions? Eyebrows as wild as Boris’s barnet? Good thing Cheshire is brimming with places to give you a top-to-toe spruce-up. On the cards for a champagne-fuelled flash day is the spa at Carden Park. Having been launched at the beginning of the year, the paint had barely dried before the doors were swiftly slammed shut with the arrival of COVID-19. But this £10million shining beacon of wellness is guaranteed to put a spring in your step post-lockdown with its enviable menu of body treatments and its spa garden to huddle in hot tubs and lounge on days beds. Elsewhere, the revamped Champneys spa at Mottram Hall is slated to open in the summer for glamorous pampering in its slick new treatment rooms. cardenpark.co.uk mottramhall.com

Bungee jump

Having been cooped up for months, the post-COVID-19 era is a time for freedom and fun. And that means exploring with fresh eyes and hell, bungee jumping in Tatton Park (yes, it’s a thing), and hurtling down 300ft, just because you can. ukbungee.co.uk

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