Stockport is the best place ever because…
…OK, so that’s a sentence I never thought I’d write. From the age of 18 (bar a couple of years spent in that there London) my postcode began with an M. A proud plastic Manc, I’ve lived all over – city centre, Burnage, Levenshulme, Fallowfield and a stint in a dodgy part of Longsight – and it felt wrong to have my post addressed to an SK area.
But, as I set up home in Housemate’s Edgeley redbrick, I started to appreciate all the brilliant stuff right on my doorstep. I’ll always be a city centre girl, but Stockport is seriously starting to grow on me.
So, here’s my Stockport Top Ten.
1. Best Pub: The Bakers Vaults
A gem of a pub, situated in Stockport’s old town (and at the top of a very steep concrete hill – a bit dangerous if you’ve had a few), The Bakers Vaults is a haven for music lovers. With a great jukebox playing anything and everything from Bowie to Aretha Franklin, there’s something for everyone. There’s regular live music on a Sunday, a tasty menu (including the best veggie hot dogs I’ve ever eaten) craft beer, boutique spirits and reasonably priced wine. It’s also family-friendly. Housemate and I spent a cracking Christmas Eve here getting very festive with Old J rum. Other pubs to check out are The Boar’s Head, Remedy Bar & Brewhouse, The Cocked Hat, The Arden Arms and Blossoms.
2. Best Market: Foodie Friday
Foodie Friday takes place between 6pm and 9pm on the last Friday of every month. It attracts hundreds of revellers for street food, craft ales and live entertainment from local talent in the beautiful surroundings of the historic Old Town. Situated in and around the iconic Grade II listed Victorian Market Hall, the market features acoustic singer-songwriters and bands.
3. Best Architecture: Stockport Viaduct
I’d not paid much attention to the architecture in Stockport until a taxi driver took the long way back from Manchester to my house and I was the beneficiary of an impromptu tour. From Stockport’s Old Town to the Town Hall and Underbank Hall, through to the cobbled streets and red-brick arches of the viaduct, there’s loads to feast your peepers on.
4. Best Historical Attraction: Air Raid Shelters
Stockport has more history than you can shake a textbook at. There’s the Hat Works Museum of Hatting (its chimney looms high above the town), and the industrial past of the North is evident everywhere you turn. The best thing? The Air Raid Shelters. Carved into the natural sandstone cliffs, this network of underground tunnels offers visitors a glimpse at life in wartime Britain during the 1940s.
5. Best Café: Rhode Island Coffee
For me, there are two top cafés, and they’re opposites. First up there’s Rhode Island Coffee with its homemade food, decent coffee, and chilled atmosphere. Then there’s The Cozy Café, a greasy spoon on Edgeley High Street that does the best takeaway fried eggs barms (Housemate loves the full English that comes in a little polystyrene container) and, on a Sunday morning, it’s full of characters.
So, this isn’t the most ‘scenic’ of places but it’s one of my favourite routes to walk the dog or go for a run. As you meander through the park, high above the main road and playing fields, and the sun is setting, you can see for miles. Lights shine in the distance and there’s something comforting about looking out over everyone milling about below. There’s also a random slide that appears to go nowhere.
7. Best walk: Stockport Stories
If you walk around the streets of Stockport, particularly the suburb of Edgeley, there are lots of signpost stories dotted around. On one side there’s a photograph or drawing depicting the history of the area and, on the reverse, is a personal tale written by a local. I keep stumbling upon them and it feels like a treasure hunt.
8. Best Park: Alexandra Park
Again, not the most beautiful park I’ve ever lived near (hard to beat St James’s in London with its views of Buckingham Palace) but it’s full of atmosphere. If like me you’re a dog-lover, then it’s a great place to take the pooch as it’s dog-friendly, clean and full of pups having a good time. If your dog is a bit of a character – Housemate’s is a rescue dog so can sometimes be a bit wary of other canines – there are penned-in tennis courts where you can let your pet off the lead and watch them run riot. On sunny days it’s a wonderful place to catch a few rays with a magazine or a good book.
9. Best theatre: The Plaza Super Cinema and Variety Theatre
The Plaza Super Cinema and Variety Theatre is one of those buildings that immediately transports me back in time. I feel like I should be rocking up in a fancy car, wearing a sparkly dress and attending a premiere, rather than walking by in my joggers and trainers as I head to do the big shop at ASDA. It’s an art-deco gem, lit up like an old-style cinema (it always puts me in mind of Radio City Music Hall) and hosts big stage presentations like musicals, panto, comedians, concerts and cinema, and the theatre café boasts an air of glamour – and a fab afternoon tea.
10. Best Day Out: Robinsons Brewery Experience
Based in the heart of Stockport for almost two centuries, Robinsons is one of oldest names in British brewing history. It’s a family-run business, and the Visit England accredited tour is a must-see for beer lovers. There are different types of ticket to choose from – and varying amounts of ale to neck. So don’t worry if booze goes to your head, you can opt for just a few samples – and can tailor your trip to suit you.
Main image: The Bakers Vaults
Freerange Comedy Festival at Brewery Arts Centre Kendal
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