Forecast mixed. That’s the cover-all-bases weather forecast for Bank Holiday weekend in the North West (at least as it stands today).
So if you’re after fresh air and greenery on your extra day off, you’d be wise to head somewhere with the option of shelter, just in case ‘light showers’ turns into ’apocalyptic downpour’ as it has been known to do in these parts.
Here we’ve brought together our favourite ‘outdoor’ days out in Manchester and Liverpool that have the reassuring option of ‘indoors’ should you need it. From the domed botanical gardens at Sefton Park, to the thundering Victorian cotton mill at Quarry Bank Mill, to the elegant stately homes of Tatton Park and Speke Hall, they’re all all-weather type places. And they’re especially beautiful right now when the spring bulbs are blossoming and the first leaves are unfurling on the trees.
Take a picnic (and your waterproofs) and if you end up sheltering in the cafe with a carrot cake and coffee, it’s not such a disaster is it?
Speke Hall is a National Trust property on the outskirts of Liverpool. You could say it’s an old Tudor dame of a house dressed up like a young Victorian whippersnapper.
The house itself is a wood-framed wattle-and-daub manor house dating from the 1530s. There’s even a priest hole. So far, so Tudor.
However, after 400 years of a rather turbulent history including riches made on the back of the slave trade, the house fell into decay and was literally falling down. At one point it was used as perhaps the world’s grandest cowshed until it was brought back to life in the Victorian times.
Sefton Park is larger than most parks, although it’s still not Liverpool’s biggest – that award goes to Croxteth Country Park. There’s something for everyone with suburban pleasures and a chance to feel closer to nature.
Woodland trails, carpets of bluebells and an abundance of daffodils in the springtime as well as plenty of wildlife – watch out for the kingfishers near the lake – mean that Sefton Park often doesn’t feel like a city park at all.
Lyme Park is a huge estate with a Medieval herd of red deer, stunning views and a handsome Regency house.
Now a National Trust property, Lyme Park has something for visitors of all ages. Jane Austen fans may know it best as Pemberley, the home of Mr Darcy, where he emerges dripping wet from the lake in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.