Invite Others - Five Things to Do In Manchester

Blog by Ian Watson

Invite Others – Five Things to Do In Manchester


April has come, the easing off of restrictions are here and who knew leaving the house would be such a novelty?


At Christ Church Manchester we love our city and because of this, I’m infatuated daily by stories of the history here and the people in our communities who help me have a depth in my love for Jesus. To see others understand and accept Him can truly be an amazing experience. There are small pockets of various cultures, food I’ve never even heard of and places I’m still yet to visit… Of course a holiday by the beach would always be my first thought when wanting a break or to explore somewhere new. I realise I’m still discovering places on my doorstep after 12 years of living here. Realising this, challenged me a bit since during a nation-wide lock down basically forced me to venture around our parks and do some walking, which if you know me, I moan… a lot!


I’ve been thinking about the theme for our Mission Series this week, Invite Others, and while we’re reconnecting with friends or family, could we possibly connect with colleagues or housemates/neighbours in a much deeper way? Perhaps even those who have been living alone or need some interaction? If you’re going out somewhere as a family or household, why not invite another household to join with you or invite them to your outside spaces and consider sharing your faith with them? Tom O’Toole inspired me on Sunday as he read out some stats that 67% of family members would consider coming to Church if they were invited and 63% of neighbours/work colleagues/friends would also consider coming to Church.


So here are some fun things I’ve personally experienced in Manchester, that might help you spark conversations or get to know people better. Please feel free to PM me over on instagram, if you want to find out more information or have any other ideas you want to share and we can add them in the comments. (@ianjgwatson)


1. BBQ in your garden – It might be the most obvious but since socialising is finally here, we’ll be meeting up for some sizzling food and chats in our outdoor spaces. We can’t guarantee the weather will be sizzling but we can guarantee it’ll be an experience if anything, especially if like me, you might need to invite someone to light it for you! As we know, having meals together is a great way to share your story and show hospitality.

2. Werneth Low – If you love Manchester and love a view, head south east to Werneth Low for a decent stroll and a highland view of the city centre. There’s also a nice pub (Hare & Hounds Inn) you can check out although you might want to check it’s open first… Meet up when you get there and enjoy a perfect view of our rapidly-growing city skyline. It could be a great opportunity to share your story with someone (it’s also one of the most visual spots on Bonfire Night).

3. Drive-in Cinema – No, seriously, Manchester has been doing them for a few years now and there’s a few dotted all over the city and surrounding areas. A simple google search will help you find one closest to you and it’s an experience if anything. Plus there’s usually some classic films for all the family to enjoy! Why not serve practically and pay for another person/household if you can.

4. Escape to Freight Island – If you like independent food businesses, stalls and markets, this is a charming changeable market with unique bars, restaurants and events from all over Manchester in the heart of the city centre (opposite Piccadilly train station). It lies outside in the old Mayfield Depot and the businesses come together, park up and serve some delicious socially distanced goodies, all outdoors! Booking is easy and it’s not too pricey either. It’s also great if you all fancy something different to eat or drink as there’s a selection of various food trucks based on whatever theme they’ll be doing – There are also outdoor heaters when it gets a bit chilly. I’ve popped some similar honourable mentions below.

5. Manchester Canal Walks – The spring weather will eventually pick up (I’m praying for a 2018 summer y’all, don’t worry) and we can take advantage of some of the most underrated places, right on our doorsteps. The canal network spans throughout the region and you don’t have to travel too far to experience it. I’d HIGHLY recommend experiencing Manchester this way.


– Castlefield (The Wharf) – is about a 2 mile stroll and mainly in the city centre if you fancied a bite or brew as well. You can experience the city in a way that puts you back in time. This is probably one of the shortest canal walks, but seeing the city from this perspective is incredible!! If you love Manchester history like I do, you can see where some of the city’s oldest streets once lay. It’s one of my favourite walks in town!

– Saddleworth – This canal walk showcases some of the Pennines and there’s a mix of industrial charm, historic mills and it’ll rack up your steps too!

– Ashton Canal – Beginning at the New Islington tram stop, veering off through Fairfield and ending at Ashton-under-Lyne or head out more towards the north, which will take you through Ancoats. This route might suit cyclists better but you can stop and turn back at any point or get a tram.

– Macclesfield Canal – This was the very first walk I discovered when I moved here. If you want to get away from the busy vibes around the towns or the city, this walk is perfect. Like a few country parks in Manchester, this truly feels like you’re at least 100 miles away from a bustling A6 or a Magic Bus. A bit more south of Greater Manchester, you could end up at Lyme Park if you start from the Higher Poynton connection (Anson Road). If you start from Lyme Park though, there’s a decent pub called The Boar’s Head with outdoor facilities in Poynton that you might want to end up at. There’s also an adjacent path on the route for horse riders who might trot past you which could be fun for the kids to see. 🐎 Overrall it’s one of my favourites. I’d recommend getting a train to Disley and cutting through Lyme Park through the canal route and to Higher Poynton (which is super posh) and you can get a train back from Middlewood Station.

Some honourable mentions I’ve recently discovered is Heaton Park is huge and there is so much to do there, even with the restrictions. It can be busy though. I’d recommend taking the tram straight there from the city centre. It’s a beautiful space and you can also see the city skyline too which I’m a total fan of. There is a 9-hole pitch and putt if you fancy playing some informal golf with a great view. Another big park is Vernon Park & Woodbank Country Park in Stockport. I didn’t even know about these until recently and slightly gutted I hadn’t been before. It’s quite big but enjoyable if you’re not a massive walker like me. If you are a big walker, you can go all the way round towards Romiley. There’s a nice coffee shop in Vernon Park too and it sits high above the Stockport historic mills if you fancy a chat in a really posh garden. The grounds are well kept and there are some rivers that rush through both of the parks. I’d recommend going to see the horses at the farm throughout the Woodbank walk.


There are other notable food market places like Hatch on Oxford Road, Grub (which has now moved towards the Green Quarter) and Mackie Mayor which is on the outskirts of the Northern Quarter. These places are great, especially if you’re on a budget and don’t want to share the bill… but you can also treat others to various types of independent restaurant businesses from all over the county.

There are many free things to do in Manchester and lots to see and experience with others, especially if you’re on a budget. There are some fantastic indoor places too but we’re obviously not quite there yet. Your story is important and inviting others to hear it is definitely worth doing, but hearing someone else’s story can be just as encouraging. I hope this gives you some practical solutions to potentially being quite vulnerable. Again, please feel free to PM me on instagram for more details or if you have any other ideas we can share together in the comments section on the post. ✌️ @ianjgwatson.
Ian Watson

Ian Watson

Ian is part of the CCM team and is based at our Fallowfield site. He is a regular worship leader at CCM as well as taking a lead on CCM graphic design and social media.