Great Breaks In Greater ManchesterPosted on: 13 November 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves
There's a surprising amount to see on a city break in Salford and Trafford.
Planning a holiday? Salford may seem an unlikely suggestion, but together with Trafford, the Quays area of Greater Manchester can be an interesting short break destination, particularly for sports enthusiasts, although plenty of cultural and other pursuits are also on offer.
Trafford is certainly the perfect place for sporting fans, with the most famous football club in the world within walking distance of the cricket club that has boasted players from A. N. Hornby and Johnny Briggs to Mike Atherton and 'Freddie' Flintoff.
Yet there's much to appeal to arts and history lovers too, with attractions such as the Lowry and Imperial War Museum North. Most visitors would enjoy the waterside restaurants or a ferry trip. So a couple with different interests might both appreciate a visit to the Quays area, whether for a weekend, or a day out from Manchester or elsewhere in North West England.
If the weather is fine, you can catch a match at Old Trafford, home to Lancashire County Cricket Club, and watch top players like Flintoff when he's not on England duty. You can also visit the shop or take a look around the historic ground.
On non-match days, you can take a tour behind the scenes at the Theatre of Dreams, which must be booked in advance so call or check the website for details. Manchester United museum and tour follows the history of the football club from 1878 to the present day, from triumphs to tragedies, including the Hall of Fame and Trophy Room. Stand in Alex Ferguson's spot in the dug out, sit in the home changing room at your favourite player's peg and emerge from the players' tunnel to the roar of the crowd. There's also the Red Cafe, and a vast megastore which is open to the public to pick up a Red Devils souvenir.
It's not all about sport. The Quays area holds plenty of other attractions. It can seem as if the cream of the country's theatres, galleries and museums are concentrated in the capital, but a visit to The Lowry or Imperial War Museum North proves the UK's other big cities, particularly Manchester, have a lot to offer too.
The Lowry is the North West's waterfront home for the arts, wrought in steel and glass. Its three theatres present a varied programme of events including drama, comedy, music, opera, ballet, and West End transfer productions. Visitors can also browse the gift shops, and enjoy refreshment in one of the cafes or bars or the Lowry Restaurant with views of the waterfront.
Salford City Council owns the world's largest collection of L. S. Lowry's work, which comprises more than 300 paintings and drawings. The Lowry Galleries show this collection in changing, thematic exhibitions, examining all periods of his career and facets of his work. To complement the collection temporary exhibitions present themed displays of modern art featuring the urban or industrial landscape, empty landscapes or works by Lowry's contemporaries. With guided tours, daily talks and the Meet Mr Lowry film, visitors can gain a fascinating insight into this remarkable building and the life of one of Britain's most popular artists.
Imperial War Museum North is housed in an aluminium clad building, which complements the dramatic displays that illuminate how people's lives have been - and still are - shaped by war. The exhibits include a 220 metre Time Line, exploring the history of conflict throughout the twentieth and twenty first centuries; interactive Time Stacks, containing large trays of mini-exhibitions which visitors can select at the push of a button, and the Big Picture which transforms the main exhibition space into a massive auditorium where visitors are immersed in 360-degree audio-visual shows.
If you're visiting with the grandchildren, Action Stations around the gallery are activities for all the family that include exploring the smells and creatures of a First World War trench or trying to make and break codes to see how important these secret languages are in wartime. You can take a welcome break in the Watershard Cafe, overlooking the Lowry and the historic Manchester Ship Canal.
Those with an appetite for more history can experience the rather quirky delights of Ordsall Hall, an attractive Grade 1 listed mansion house which survives in the middle of a modern housing estate. The Great Hall and atmospheric Star Chamber are steeped in over 700 years of history, so remember to keep an eye out for the resident ghosts. Reputedly the place where Guy Fawkes hatched the infamous Gunpowder plot, today the hall is open to the public and offers a varied programme of exhibitions and activities.
Catch a Mersey Ferry and cruise along one of Britain's most historic waterways. The cruise provides ample opportunity to take in the sights and sounds of the spectacular urban and industrial waterfront scenery, leaving its passengers with a sense of how its construction shaped forever the city of Manchester and the North West of England. The six hour 35 mile journey includes a live commentary providing a revealing insight into the facts, history and dramas of this important waterway. Mersey Ferries depart from Salford Quays and Wirral on selected dates, the cruise costs £32 per person, and includes bus transportation to take passengers back to their starting point at the end of the cruise.
Other things to do include shopping at the Trafford Centre or Lowry Outlet Mall, or watch the construction of MediaCityUK, soon to be home to parts of the BBC.
The Quays area is easy to get to by car, tram, train and bus. It's less than fifteen minutes from Manchester city centre, and the Metrolink trams run frequently.
There's accommodation to suit a range of budgets. Adjoining Lancashire County Cricket Club is Old Trafford Lodge, where you can stay overlooking the pitch from a balcony in half of the rooms. It's handy for games at MUFC's stadium too. This and the Copthorne Hotel on the waterside are adjacent to Metrolink tram stops, Premier Inn is opposite Manchester United's stadium, and other dockside hotels include Ramada and the 5 Star Lowry Hotel.
The Quays: www.thequays.org.uk
Lancashire County Cricket Club: www.lccc.co.uk
Manchester United: www.manutd.com
The Lowry: www.thelowry.com
Imperial War Museum North: north.iwm.org.uk
Ordsall Hall: www.visitsalford.info/ordsallhall
See what you can spot on the live Ordsall Hall GhostCam: www.salford.gov.uk/leisure/museums/ordsallhall/ghostcam.htm
Mersey Ferries: www.merseyferries.co.uk
Old Trafford Lodge Hotel: www.oldtraffordlodgehotel.co.uk
Copthorne Hotel: www.millenniumhotels.co.uk/copthornemanchester
Premier Inn: www.premierinn.com
The Lowry Hotel: www.thelowryhotel.com
By Cherry Butler
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