I’ve lived in Reddish, Stockport, for nearly 5 years. I moved here when Tim and I got married, and was fairly happy with the area: it was a reasonable commute, close to the train station with a fast and cheap train into Manchester. I missed the bars and trendiness of my former residence, Chorlton, but Tim had a bigger house than I did, and a garden.
Fast forward 3 years to August 2012 when Ben was born. We were still living in Reddish, but now I was on maternity leave, complete with baby. Not to mention, without a car. In that year, and the following year, I discovered some of the treasures of Reddish.
So, without further ado, here are my Top Ten Things to do in Reddish with a Baby or Toddler.
1. Reddish Vale
We have spent many happy hours here feeding the ducks.
There is also a lovely playgroup in the visitor centre on a Thursday morning, and if you happen to get caught in a downpour, you can wait it out inside. The staff will even give you a cup of tea and a biscuit.
2. Reddish Vale Farm
This deserves a separate entry, because it is an entirely separate event. We’ve been several times, and it is absolutely lovely for young children. Buy a bucket of carrots on entry for 50p, and you can feed the cows, llamas, alpacas, pigs, goats, donkeys and sheep. If you can reach high enough, you can also feed Kylie the shire horse. There’s also an area with rabbits, guinea pigs, ducks and birds, where staff will help you to hold the animals safely.
Around the corner in the barn is a soft play area – beware, the ball pool is deep! – and a concreted area with ride-along tractors and trucks. A current favourite for Ben is the climbing frame and slide, which is just the right height for him.
We’ve also been to a birthday party at the farm, which was excellent, although Ben really didn’t want to have a pony ride as part of it!
3. Swimming at Levenshulme Baths
If, like me, you are car-less, there’s an excellent bus service to Levenshulme run by Manchester Community Transport. We relied on this bus quite a lot last year, as it went into Fallowfield and Withington.
In Levenshulme, there are the Victorian Swimming Baths. On a Thursday morning, they do baby and toddler swimming lessons, which are excellent. They get fairly busy, but never too over-crowded (the earlier and later sessions are quieter), and the instructor is excellent. We also go to the family swim sessions and casual swim sessions, as the baths are clean, warm and the people are friendly. The only downside is that the changing cubicles are pool-side, which can be tricky with a baby, but I have discovered that the ones in the corner are double-sized, so grab one if they’re free!
4. Debdale and North Reddish Parks
From around the time Ben was 8 months old, and the weather eventually started to warm up (the winter of 2012-13 was a long one), we started taking him to the park. First he loved the swings, and would shriek with laughter when we pushed him.
Considering how much he loved the swings, we have hardly any photos of him on them.
He’s now big enough to climb up the ladder on the small climbing frame, crawl through the tunnel and slide down the slide.
Both Debdale Park (which is huge) and Reddish North Park have excellent children’s play equipment. As a bonus, the park is always free!
5. Levenshulme Market and Heaton Moor Market
Levenshulme Market is a fairly recent discovery, although I have been following them on twitter for ages. Ben and I toddled down there a couple of weeks ago, and it’s brilliant. A really vibrant, exciting community market, with handmade goods, vintage finds and amazing food. I tried some Spiced Bun Ice Cream from Ginger’s Comfort Emporium and was not disappointed.
The day we went was absolutely beautiful – yes, the sun does shine in Manchester – and Ben was more than happy to spot the trains arriving at the station while I perused the stalls. The market has a fantastic array of food, craft and vintage stalls, which changes every week. I highly recommend it.
6. Manchester Gymnastics
Behind Gorton Tesco, off the A57, is a large, one-storey building. It always looks closed up, and the metal spikes around the roof are less than inviting. But get yourself buzzed through the door and you will discover a huge, clean, professional gymnasium. On one side is the proper equipment, and on the other side is a layout of crash mats, trampolines, beams, ramps, slides, bars and all sorts. You can even dive into the foam-filled pit if you choose. On weekday mornings (check the website for details), you can attend an ‘Under 4s’ session, where toddlers can run around and try out the equipment in complete safety. It’s a really excellent session, and, as it’s a bit low profile, usually very quiet. My only issue with this is that it’s quite pricey: £4.00 for a 45 minute session, plus a drink and biscuit afterwards. That’s a bit more than soft play, but I think it’s worth it – Ben is always exhausted when he’s finished!
7. Reddish North Children’s Centre
When I was on maternity leave, Ben and I did three courses at our local children’s centre. All were excellent, and I would highly recommend them.
The first was when Ben was around 3 months old, and was Baby Massage. Then, at around 6 months, we did Baby Moves, which was a sensory course. Then, at around 9 months, Little Explorers, another sensory course but with a focus on encouraging crawling and co-ordination.
All were free.
All courses gave me ideas for what to do with Ben, and connected me to other mums in the area.
8. Anchors Away
Soft play at Anchors Away is probably the reason most parents come to Reddish. I have to admit, for a toddler, it’s not the best – their little Under 4s area is quite limited, and often over-run by bigger children. But I did come here quite often when Ben was a baby. There’s space for the children to crawl around, and quite a wide range of Jumperoo-style toys for non-crawlers.
We’re giving it a bit of a break for a while, as Ben’s not big enough for the really good soft play section, but I’m sure we’ll be back at some point.
9. Trains at Reddish North
I don’t know what happens, but sometime before the age of 2, little boys seem to become obsessed with trains. For Ben, a visit to Reddish North Train Station is heaven. Trains go in, trains go out. If he gets to go on a train, that’s even better!
Catching the train from Reddish North into Manchester is easy and cheap. On the way back you’ll need someone to help you with the pushchair over the footbridge, but I’ve never had to do it on my own. Another good trip is to Marple, and then a wander along the canal.
Ben looking for trains at the station!
10. Reddish Library
I’m a big fan of our local library, and it has an excellent children’s section. They have a very popular after-school homework club, and there are always reading programmes advertised in the school holidays.
Ben has been a member since he was about 3 months old – I’m an English teacher, it was a major priority – and we’ve made the most of the books. There’s also a good Sing and Rhyme session on a Monday morning.
I didn’t really appreciate living in Reddish until I had Ben. It’s been a great place to have a child, and I’ll be a bit sad to leave his first home.
But I’ll be more excited about moving on… More to come on that prospect!