Growing up my mum did not drive but that never stopped us gallivanting all over the country for day trips. Those were the days when bus and train tables meant something and set your watch by them, well almost. One of the trips we made was to Haigh Hall, in fact we went a number of times. I remember the little train, the hall itself and rolling down a big hill, on purpose I hadn’t fallen. Well then time moved on and I grew up, grew older and forgot all about it, I forgot about Haigh Hall. Then many years later my good friend moved to a house not far from it and we decided to exploit one of the 5 days of actual summer we got this year and went to explore the woods. I was no longer a little girl running towards the little train I now have a 3 year old and a new baby. We walked through the woods all the way past the Hall to a fantastic new playground and renovated courtyard where we enjoyed a very fine ice cream indeed.
In a stroke of genius in my opinion Wigan Council decided to invest in Haigh Woodland Park and it has certainly paid off. It is such a positive move to realise that it is only through investment in our local assets that communities grow and prosper and despite this summer being so wet the number of visitors to the park has substantially risen and it is not hard to see why.
The Hall itself has been renovated and turned into a hotel and although I am only an hours drive away from the park I cannot help thinking how lovely it would be to sleep in an historic building and wake up in such beautiful surroundings. The playground is lovely and suitable for all ages, even non walkers. We did not visit it as Sebastian is too small but they do have a high ropes course, perhaps when he is older and if I can calm down being such a helicopter mum! The little train is still there on weekends and Bank Holidays and is very sweet.
Behind the Hall the old stable block has been revamped into a ‘Kitchen Courtyard’, there is a really nice mix of local owners and producers. A bakery named, wait for it, All You Knead, those who know me know I love a great pun almost as much as I love cheese and I love cheese more than the air I breathe. The courtyard also houses a micro brewery and pub, a chocolate shop, a florist, a farm shop and a very nice cafe.
Cook & Forager, the farm shop are quite special. They began life by placing rare breed pigs into woodlands, one of those woodlands is the Haigh Woodland Park, when a space became available in the courtyard they created a farm shop where they not only sell woodland bred pork but a range of meat and produce that is souced from a 25mile radius. The tenants of the Kitchen Courtyard have pioneered Foodie Friday. Foodie Friday invites local street food vendors to join them for an evening of eating and music in the lovely courtyard. On the Friday the we went even the constant rain did not dampen the spirits of the vendors or the foodies who had flocked to the event.
It always amazes me that even in the cold and wet Sebastian found it the ideal time to enjoy an ice cream, before settling down to a sausage on a stick. I managed to eat my fill from Ruby’s Kitchen whilst Joe sampled a burrito and nachos. I was very tempted by the Poutine a French Canadian dish – for those fellow Yorkshire folk it is cheesy chips and gravy. Pretty fancy cheesy chips and gravy, they did look amazing but my stomach could only take so much, next time!
Everyone was so friendly and all of the food vendors were happy to talk about their food and really engaged with the little ones. We left very full and happy despite being a trifle damp, Sebastian said; “I had lots of fun at the party Mummy”. He did not fall asleep in the car on the way home as planned but you can only have so many parenting wins I suppose.
Speaking of next time there are a number of events between now and Christmas so you can go and see for yourself how great the park, grounds and food is for yourselves.
Oktoberfest – Friday 29 September to Sunday 1 October
Haigh Artisan Market & Grow Your Own Sunday – Sunday 15 October
Haigh Foodie Friday – Friday 27 October
Haigh Foodie Sunday – Sunday 26 November
Christmas Artisan Market – Sunday 3 December
Festive Foodie Sunday – Sunday 17 December
They also have some other events coming up, including some great family days out.
Halloween Pig Tail Trail – Saturday 28 October – 10.00am and 12.00pm slots (Jack from Cook and Foragers leads a walk down to the pig pen within the woodland to learn all about the Conservation Pigs on site)
Boomin’ Family Firework Spectacular – Sunday 5 November (includes Trolls children’s show and National Fireworks Champions SM ART Pyro)
Urban Revolution Obstacle Course Race – Saturday 11 November (includes 5km, 10km and kids races)
Haigh Cyclo-Cross Cycling – Saturday 18 November
Children’s Christmas Shows – Sunday 10 December
Christmas Family Drive In (Elf) – Friday 22 December How great would this be a drive in!
Disclaimer – I was invited to Haigh Hall as their guest to experience Foodie Friday however all of the words and opinions are my own.