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Things to do in Parsonage Gardens and Fletcher Moss Park


Volunteers have a range of reasons for supporting both The Parsonage and Fletcher Moss Park. Many are local and want to give a little back to their community; some just love the Friends and the talents and interests of those in the group; others come along to share or develop their skills or knowledge in plants, some to learn about plant life. And then there are those who just enjoy the benefits of being out in the fresh air and keeping fit! There is a huge amount of research that shows group gardening is great for physical and mental health. So if you’re feeling a bit low just turn up!

Our volunteering activities are all self-directed. Volunteers participate in activities in which they are interested and comfortable. Those who want to learn new skills will find one of the Friends to work with.  Volunteers are asked to come appropriately dressed for gardening work – sturdy shoes, clothes and gloves which are essential, sun-block (sometimes!), and insect repellent (again sometimes). If you would like to help, please come along any Tuesday morning or Wednesday afternoon; if you want to know more about volunteering at either The Parsonage Gardens or Fletcher Moss Park, please contact us.

As you would expect these days, all volunteering activities are subject to health and safety regulation. All volunteers are given ‘advice notes’ which have been drawn up following risk assessments of the activities within both locations. For your safety, there is always a trained first-aider in the group and a first-aid kit available.

Volunteering at the Parsonage Gardens

The Gardens, sometimes described by colleagues in the City Council’s Parks Department as ‘the jewel in the crown’, is almost totally maintained by volunteers who meet each Tuesday morning. We keep the gardens looking their best all year round: planting, pruning, propagating, tidying, weeding, working in the Alpine House (our pride and joy), and maintaining the paths.  As a result of the care and commitment of the Friends and volunteers,  the Gardens have won a number of Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and other awards in recent years, and it is always rewarding to have the positive comments of visitors.

Volunteers meet every Tuesday from around 9.30am at the Alpine House. All inputs are welcome, whether it is for a two or three hour session or just for a short time – whatever suits your interests and abilities. Refreshments and a good chat, often with new friends, are always part of the morning and the atmosphere is warm and friendly.

Volunteering at Fletcher Moss Park

Volunteering in Fletcher Moss Park, a much larger area of both natural parkland and managed areas, takes place every Wednesday afternoon, starting from 1.00pm and meeting at the Visitor Centre in The Croft, off Millgate Lane. Once again there is a range of activities on offer, sometimes on a larger scale, to suit the needs of the Park, and especially the long-established Alpine Garden/Rockery, and the interests and abilities of volunteers; and there are always free drinks and cake or biscuits and good conversation to sustain you!

Health Walks

There is a free health walk from Fletcher Moss Park every Monday afternoon commencing at 2 pm.  Meet at the Croft, just below the café for a relaxing but healthy walk around the many paths of Fletcher Moss Park and woods.

Every other week  there is a longer walk starting from various locations. The walks are just a little longer than the weekly walks and are led by members of the Friends group who are experienced walkers.  The current list of walks is available by clicking here.

Sorry, but there are no walks on Bank Holidays. 

Walking for Pleasure

There is an extensive network of paths within Fletcher Moss Park and beyond – around the Parsonage Gardens, through Stenner Woods, round Millgate Fields, and along the river Mersey. Much of the area is a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) and there is a wide variety of wildlife to observe and vistas to enjoy. At first, finding your way around can be a little challenging, and this map of the area will help.

Click here for a map of Fletcher Moss Park, Millgate Fields and the River Mersey.

Nature Trail

There is a Nature Trail through Stenner Woods, along Stenner Lane and around the Health Walk which circles the large ‘Hay Meadow’ between the woods and fields. More information about the Nature Trail can be found in the Visitor Centre in The Croft (off Millgate Lane).

For an update on what nature is to be seen and heard in Fletcher Moss go to the Wildlife pages.

Whatever your interest in nature, there are things to be found throughout the park. From many species of birds which differ according to the season, to a huge range of different plants, wildflowers, fungi and trees, to bats which fly along the river at dusk, with an abundance of small mammals, and summer dragonflies and butterflies, you really are spoilt for choice. However, the Fletcher Moss badger is proving understandably elusive!

We are always keen to note the more unusual sights, and we try our best to answer questions about the wildlife of the area. To report something you’ve seen, or to ask any questions you might have, please get in touch.

Dog Walking

The park is very popular with dog walkers, especially in the mornings. We would like to remind owners that there are Manchester City by-laws which cover this activity and that contravention may result in a £1000 fine.

  • A maximum of 4 dogs at a time can be walked.
  • All dog faeces must be placed in a bag then deposited in a bin. Some people have been known to throw bags into the branches of trees. This is unpleasant for other visitors and we would ask such owners to desist.
  • There are some areas in the park into which dogs are legally not l allowed – The Rockery, The Pergola Garden and the old tennis courts.
  • Owners are required to have their dogs on leads in the area around the café where there are small children playing and people eating. This also applies to the “beach” on the River Mersey.
  • In the Parsonage Gardens all dogs must be on leads.
  • All dogs must always be in the control of their owners. If requested by a person in authority, they must put a lead on their dog.


The park is open to cyclists although there are some areas where cyclists have to dismount, notably the area around the café and the boardwalk. Cycling is not allowed in the Rockery and can be subject to a fine. We request that cyclists are considerate towards pedestrians and large groups of people.

Cycling is not allowed in the Parsonage Garden.


The tennis courts in the Park are for public use and are all weather usage and floodlit.

There are regular sessions, with coaching if you wish. For more information and booking a court go to

Park Run

There is a 5K park run each Saturday morning. For more information go to or their Facebook page.

Have a Picnic

The park and gardens are delightful for picnics on a sunny day. There are a few picnic tables in the Pergola Garden, an area safe for small children and dog free. Please take your rubbish home with you if the bins are full.

Please note: Manchester City Council does NOT allow BBQs in any of its parks.

Meeting friends for coffee and food

The Alpine Tearoom has a long history in the Park and has stayed in the same family for many years. The pandemic lockdown brought a new style of outdoor venue. It is open from 9am to approx. 4pm.  

The cafe was first opened in 1983. For the last 40 years it has been in the same family, passing from mother to son, then to daughter Kylie and her business partner, Matt. During the Covid lockdown it moved from a small room inside the Croft to providing an extended service outside, one of the few places in Didsbury visitors could buy refreshments.

For more details go to

Activities for children

Children (of all ages!) love the Park as there is space to run around safely and spaces which are dog free for toddlers. They can climb trees in Stenner Woods, ride a bike or scooter, or play football when the surfaces are dry. Many adults have great memories of coming to the park with parents or grandparents when they were young. And no doubt “hanging out” when they were teenagers!

NB : We ask that parents do not allow their children to climb the rocks in the Alpine Garden/ Rockery. Not only is this not safe as the rocks can be slippery, it destroys planting paid and cared for by the volunteers and the enjoyment of older people.

Each school holiday the parents of a local primary school, Broad Oak, run a Hearts Trail in the park. This lets children explore and get to know the park and is always on a different theme. Trail sheets can be collected from the café and participants are asked to donate to the school parent/teacher fund. For more information go to

Tennis – see above.

Children love buying a delicious ice cream from the café. No doubt at their parents expense!

Have a family picnic at a picnic table or spread a blanket on the grass of the Pergola Garden (dog free area).

In the Parsonage Garden children can follow the hidden path to discover the names of the animals buried or commemorated there by Alderman Fletcher Moss

This Garden is more suited to quieter activities such as a picnic or admiring the flowers and we ask parents not to allow their children to clamber over the flower beds or climb the trees, some of which are very old and fragile.

Visitor Centre

The entrance to the Visitor Centre in Fletcher Moss Park.

This small room at the base of the Croft building contains further information on the history of the park, the work of the volunteers, the birds for whom the park is home and has a small library for children who are encouraged to draw pictures of their park.