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6 reasons to get outdoors in Calderdale

PUBLISHED: 00:00 02 March 2015 | UPDATED: 15:22 26 April 2017

The fully-restored Peoples Park in Halifax

The fully-restored Peoples Park in Halifax

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Parks hit the mark in West Yorkshire

A rare quiet moment of solitude for the birds on Shibden boating lakeA rare quiet moment of solitude for the birds on Shibden boating lake

Boating on the lake at Shibden

The Shibden Estate is one of West Yorkshire’s most important heritage sites and a jewel in the crown of Calderdale’s cultural resources.

This medieval timber-framed hall was a family home for more than 600 years and has been a public park since 1926. It’s a real green oasis less than a mile from Halifax and is the perfect place to while away a day.

Among its many highlights is the Shibden Mereside cafe and visitor centre, part of a recently completed restoration project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. But if you want your visit to be more than an excuse to eat cake (like you need an excuse), you can also experience the tranquillity of the Wilderness Garden with its cascade and pools, explore the restored and re-opened tunnels within the terrace walls, marvel at collection of heritage fruit trees, planted to reflect the varieties grown at Shibden more than 200 years ago, and row, row, row your boat across the Mere, designed to resemble a river flowing through the Shibden valley.

Shibden Mereside cafe and visitor centre, part of a recently completed restoration project funded by the Heritage Lottery FundShibden Mereside cafe and visitor centre, part of a recently completed restoration project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund

Skateboarding at Calder Holmes

Calder Holmes Park is a small but perfectly formed little place just off New Road, the main road through Hebden Bridge, alongside the Memorial Garden next to the canal.

Compared to the other parks in the Calderdale district, its garden is a bit on the tiddly side, but it more than makes up for it with its play and sports facilities, which include a well-equipped children’s play area, bowling greens, a football pitch, a tennis court and a basketball court.

It also boasts a skateboard park, which are pretty scarce in the district and is, therefore, well-used and much appreciated by the strong local skateboarding community.

Exploring the jungle at Manor Heath

This eight-acre, Yorkshire in Bloom Gold Award-winning park, just a mile from Halifax town centre, occupies the site of an old manor house that fell into terminal decline after the war and was demolished in 1959. Fortunately, the surrounding parkland was saved and has gone on to become one of the best in the region.

The area where the manor house once stood is now a sunken garden and its original walled garden has been split into ten smaller gardens featuring both traditional and modern designs of planting. Other key features include a woodland walk, park trail, wildflower area, an inclusive play area, Flutter-bites Café and last, but certainly not least, The Jungle Experience – a tropical oasis packed with fish, quail, terrapin and butterflies as well as a collection of plants from all over the world.

Stopping to smell the flowers at Wellholme Park

Wellholme Park, close to the centre of Brighouse, is famous for its spectacular floral displays, which provide the perfect backdrop for a stroll, picnicking or a ramble along the path of Clifton beck.

Areas of grassland have been left to develop into a more natural environment and positive woodland management is carried out to encourage and sustain wildlife. This also helps to increase diversity, benefiting birds such as tree-creepers and herons, and plants like bluebells and wild garlic. And when you’re fed up with the glories of nature, you can always whoop it up in the play area’s double web net, which stands over six metres high.

Delving into local heritage at People’s Park

People’s Park is one of the finest surviving examples of a Joseph Paxton Park (he was an early 19th century gardener, MP and designer of The Crystal Palace). Created in 1857, it was donated to the people of Halifax by Sir Francis Crossley, to be maintained by the then Halifax Corporation for all time.

Situated at the western edge of the town, the 12.5 acre site is in the heart of a conservation area and, although it was left to decline in the past, has now been fully restored

S-s-saying hello to the snakes at Centre Vale

Centre Vale Park, less than half a mile from Todmorden town centre, is famous for hosting popular outdoor events like the National Crown Green Bowling Club Championships (it launched its bowling greens exactly a century ago) and Todmorden Agricultural Show (one of the biggest in the north).

The 33-hectare park boasts mature oak and beech, woodland walks, sports pitches, formal memorial gardens, an all-weather five-a-side football pitch, an outdoor gym, table tennis, a children’s play area, skate park and a large conservatory that’s been transformed into an animal house complete with birds and – gulp - snakes.

And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s always Lucky the dog. In 2011, he gained a reputation for bringing luck to anyone who touched him after featuring in a Channel 4 programme hosted by mentalist Derren Brown. People now travel from far and wide to visit Lucky in the old Centre Vale Mansion to pat him on the head and hopefully receive good luck, rather than a swift nip, in return.

For full details of all Calderdale’s parks, visit calderdale.gov.uk and go to culture section

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