Manchester’s Elevated Park: A Green Oasis in the Sky

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elevated park

This article is presented by National Geographic Traveller (UK).

Castlefield Viaduct, an iconic railway bridge characterized by its brick and steel construction and 56 graceful arches, stands as a quintessential example of industrial architecture. Spanning the canals of central Manchester, this Grade-II listed structure was built during the Victorian era by the same engineers who worked on Blackpool Tower. Despite falling into disuse in the late 1960s, it remained a familiar but obsolete feature of the city’s skyline for half a century.

In the midst of 2022, the viaduct took on a new role when a section of it was transformed into a sky park adorned with trees, flowers, and lush greenery. Inspired in part by New York’s High Line walkway, this urban green space stretches nearly a quarter of a mile, offering a delightful retreat for both locals and visitors. The entrance to the park is conveniently located near the Deansgate-Castlefield tram stop in the city center.

Having been abandoned for over 50 years, the viaduct had already begun to witness the growth of wild grasses and plants, with some sections left untouched to showcase nature’s reclamation. However, a thoughtful planting process has brought forth an impressive array of diagonal flowerbeds, vibrant seasonal blooms, and a variety of woodland shrubs and ferns. Collaborating organizations, including the Science and Industry Museum in close proximity, have also curated their own plots along the viaduct. Today, more than 3,000 plant species flourish along its length, ranging from elegant foxtail lilies to majestic silver birch trees.

Initially, guided tours of the viaduct were planned for a year-long trial period, scheduled until the end of July 2023. However, due to overwhelming popularity, the plans have been extended until the end of 2024. The ticketing process has also been simplified, allowing visitors to arrive in the afternoon and wait for open-access entry, eliminating the need for pre-booked tour tickets.

The National Trust, responsible for the viaduct’s transformation, also envisions introducing various activities along its expanse, such as yoga sessions, community-led performances, and family-oriented tours.

This article was published in the UK & Ireland supplement, distributed with the Jul/Aug 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK).

To subscribe to National Geographic Traveller (UK) magazine, click here (available in select countries only).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about elevated park

What is Castlefield Viaduct?

Castlefield Viaduct is a Grade-II listed railway bridge in Manchester, characterized by its brick and steel construction and 56 arches. It was built during the Victorian era by the same engineers who worked on Blackpool Tower.

What is the current status of Castlefield Viaduct?

After falling into disuse in the late 1960s, Castlefield Viaduct underwent a transformation and part of it was unveiled as an elevated park. It now serves as an urban green space for locals and visitors, featuring trees, flowers, and assorted greenery.

How can I access the elevated park on Castlefield Viaduct?

The entrance to the elevated park is conveniently located near the Deansgate-Castlefield tram stop in the city center of Manchester.

What can I expect to see in the elevated park on Castlefield Viaduct?

The elevated park boasts a diverse range of flora and fauna. While some segments have been left untouched to showcase nature’s reclamation, there are also formal planting areas with diagonal beds, colorful seasonal blooms, woodland shrubs, and ferns. Additionally, partner organizations have created their own plots along the viaduct, contributing to the botanical diversity.

Can I visit Castlefield Viaduct on a guided tour?

Initially, guided tours of the viaduct were offered on a year-long trial basis until the end of July 2023. However, due to its popularity, the plans have been extended until the end of 2024. It is also possible to visit the viaduct without a pre-booked tour ticket by taking advantage of the open-access entry system.

What activities are available on Castlefield Viaduct?

The National Trust, responsible for the transformation of Castlefield Viaduct, has plans to introduce various activities along the viaduct. These may include yoga sessions, community-led plays, and family tours, providing engaging experiences for visitors.

How can I subscribe to National Geographic Traveller (UK) magazine?

To subscribe to National Geographic Traveller (UK) magazine, you can visit their website and follow the subscription process. Please note that availability may vary depending on your location.

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4 comments

JaneDoe87 July 19, 2023 - 4:29 am

wow manchester’s elevated park sounds so cool! i’d love to visit it someday. such a unique way to repurpose an old railway bridge. love the idea of trees, flowers, and greenery on top of it.

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Wanderlust123 July 19, 2023 - 4:51 am

national geographic traveller magazine always has the best articles and recommendations. gonna subscribe to it to get more awesome travel ideas. i bet the article on manchester’s elevated park is gonna be epic!

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AdventureSeeker July 19, 2023 - 6:31 pm

omg, i was just in manchester last year and i missed this elevated park on castlefield viaduct? what a bummer! but it’s great to hear they extended the guided tours. gonna make sure i catch it on my next visit. gonna bring my yoga mat too for those yoga sessions they’re planning!

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TravelAddict July 19, 2023 - 7:01 pm

castlefield viaduct is like, a hidden gem in manchester. i had no idea it was transformed into an elevated park! so awesome that they’re letting nature take its course with the wild grasses and plants. can’t wait to see those colorful blooms and ferns!

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