In part ten of the series, Carolyn Yates heads to the four Heatons (that's 'high settlements' in Old English)
The so-called Four Heatons (or “high settlements” in the Old English of the Anglo-Saxon times from which they date) are found in the south-east of Greater Manchester, overlooking the Cheshire Plain and Mersey River Valley. The suburban area comprises Heaton Mersey, Heaton Norris, Heaton Moor and Heaton Chapel, and its proximity to the A6 makes it popular with commuters to both Manchester and Stockport.
Although Heaton Mersey is bordered by Didsbury and Burnage and Heaton Chapel adjoins Levenshulme, the Heatons are actually suburbs of Stockport; Heaton Norris is closest to Stockport proper. Heaton Moor, with its small but lively village, is arguably the centre of the Heatons and has a similar feel to West Didsbury (but with slightly lower average house prices).
From the “Millionaire’s Row” of desirable Victorian homes along Clifton and Mauldeth roads to the historic buildings and green spaces of the Heaton Mersey Conservation Area, these Stockport suburbs have a lot going for them – including independent shops, award-winning bars and restaurants and a vintage cinema. There’s plenty in the Heatons to fill a weekend – why not collect the set and pay a visit to all four?
FRIDAY NIGHT: Dinner and drinks in Heaton Chapel
Reward yourself for getting through the week with dinner at Feed at Night – the evening guise of Feed General Store, a popular eatery that opened in Heaton Chapel last year. On Friday and Saturday evenings the menu transforms from café classics into sophisticated dishes such as confit duck leg with crispy puy lentils, charred chicory and plum and port sauce (which comes highly recommended). Make sure you leave some room for dessert; the cakes here are top-notch.
Just around the corner, visit the award-winning Heaton Hops tap house to sample keg and cask ales worthy of its many titles (including Best Pub at the 2015 MEN CityLife Awards, Best Craft Ale Bar at the 2016 Manchester Food and Drink Awards and Best Bar at the 2017 Greater Manchester Beer Awards). This small bar is big on atmosphere but if you can’t find somewhere to sit or stand, you could power-walk to The Magnet Freehouse in Heaton Norris instead; there must be something in the water in The Heatons as The Magnet, a former coaching inn dating back to the 1800s, has also won a raft of public house awards.
SATURDAY: Explore the best of Heaton Moor
Start the day with breakfast at Nook, which (as its name suggests) is a homely place to enjoy a coffee and a bite to eat. Everything on the menu is locally sourced and free from additives, with gluten-free, low-carb, vegan and peanut-safe options – but it’s not all healthy stuff, as you’ll find out if you decide to return for a slice of cake later. Once you’ve fuelled up, you can hit the shops on Heaton Moor Road – from ladies fashion at Moo Boutique and gifts at Belly Button Designs to foodie treats at Back’s Deli and craft beers/ciders at The Epicurean (which also has wine and gin sections).
Stop for lunch at Pokusevski on Shaw Road (which offers a range of delicious soups, sandwiches, salads and sharing platters inspired by different countries) then enjoy an afternoon wine tasting at Cork of the North; book in advance to sample six wines and accompanying snacks with an in-house wine expert or a guest winemaker, then buy a bottle (or two) from their extensive selection as a souvenir.
Depending on whether you prefer seafood or poultry, have dinner at either Easy Fish Co or Roost. As their names suggest, they specialise in fish and chicken respectively; the former is also a fishmonger, so everything on the menu is catch-of-the-day fresh and cooked to perfection, and the latter offers everything from pulled chicken pizzas to whole rotisserie birds, with all the sides and sauces you could wish for.
Nightlife-wise, you’re spoiled for choice in Heaton Moor. In the village, there’s Eats and Beats at Nook (with pop-up street food and local DJs), live music at Rock Salt, cocktails at La Cantina and pints and more at The Moortop. Further down Heaton Moor Road, you can go dancing at Hula, enjoy craft ales and cocktails at Pale or Bottle, relax with a glass at Thom’s Wine Bar or have a pint at The Elizabethan or The Plough on the Moor. There are so many places to choose from that you could easily make a night of it here.
SUNDAY: Events and exercise in Moor and Mersey
The first Sunday of the month is a great time to be in Heaton Moor, when over 100 local traders set out their stalls at the Heaton Moor Market and the Heatons Comedy Evening brings circuit comedians and touring shows to The Heatons Sports Club (compered by Justin Moorhouse, of Phoenix Nights and local radio fame). Any other Sunday, enjoy a beautiful roast dinner at Brassica (the proud owner of one of Manchester’s two Michelin Bib Gourmands) then walk it off at Heaton Mersey Park and Bowl.
You can download and follow the Heaton Mersey Heritage Walk to see sights including a war memorial, a weir on the River Mersey, the site of a former bleachworks from the Industrial Revolution and a charming row of workers’ houses built in the 1800s. Active types will enjoy Mersey Vale Nature Park, which incorporates a section of the Trans Pennine Trail and offers opportunities for cycling, canoeing and horse riding, but a gentle walk and some wildlife-spotting is just fine too; after all, the area is a Local Nature Reserve and Site of Biological Importance.
Back on Didsbury Road, pick up a healthy snack from The Good Life; an independent, waste-free “weigh and pay” mini market where you can fill your own containers with dried fruit, nuts and seeds from wall-mounted dispensers and cooking/baking ingredients from large covered bins. There’s also a selection of tea and coffee, plus a range of eco-friendly toiletries and household products.
Round the day off with a drink at The Crown Inn (a stop on the heritage walk) or a visit to The Savoy cinema, a privately owned picture house with velvet seats and sofas. It might only have one screen but the boutique cinema, which dates back to the 1920s, boasts 4K digital projection and surround sound – plus an adult ticket will only set you back £8.50, which is quite a bargain compared to the prices at the nearby Cineworld in the Parrs Wood centre.
Getting there: The Four Heatons are all located near the A6, which connects the area to Manchester city centre within about 25 minutes and Stockport within about 10 minutes by car. The 192 bus passes through regularly, there’s a train station in Heaton Chapel (which is walking distance from Heaton Moor) and Heaton Mersey is walking distance from the East Didsbury Metrolink stop.
- Heaton Moor Market (first Sunday of the month)
- The Heatons Comedy Evening (first Sunday of the month)
- Wine tastings at Cork of the North (Wednesdays and Saturdays)
- Heaton Mersey Artisan Market (quarterly)
- Heatons Open Gardens (May)
- The Heatons Summer Festival (July)
- Heart of The Heatons (October) Heatons Christmas Festival (December)