Whose doorstep?


In her second video for Slow Ways, Vi Assal walks Cheadle to Cheadle Hulme and observes how neighbourhoods differ in their access to the green spaces en route

This is the second Manchester route you’ve walked for Slow Ways; what new insights into the city has exploring the green spaces given you? Has this changed your relationship to the city or your sense of belonging?

I’ve lived in South Manchester for five years now, so I tend to travel to the Lake District or the Peak District. I also use my National Trust membership to access the outdoors, or walk twenty minutes to the closest park from my flat.

As shown in my last video, walking in South Manchester showed me that not all urban areas in the North of England have the same access to green spaces. I feel like the number of trees, street planters, people with gardens, the size of their gardens, and the number of public parks and trails, are all dependent on the overall wealth of the neighbourhood. This really demonstrates to me the need to increase:
– the number of green spaces in poorer neighbourhoods so they are just a few minutes away from housing,
– the provision of public transport from those neighbourhoods to existing green spaces,
– the amount of infrastructure in public green spaces such as benches, tables, playgrounds, and outdoor gym equipment.

I also feel like the city could do more to raise awareness about the existing green spaces as the majority of the smaller trails I walked seemed under-used: very few locals can be found there, save a few dog-walkers.

What are the key differences you’ve noticed in accessing green spaces in Manchester compared to Paris?

Overall, it showed me that Manchester can and should do better for its inhabitants, compared to cities of similar size in France, which have a wider choice of parks and gardens within walking distance from their flats. Those parks and gardens are not necessarily large, many of them only have a few trees, bushes and flower beds with benches every few meters, but they provide essential spaces to escape the noise and business of the city without actually leaving the city.

As the vast majority of people in Paris also live in a flat, those green spaces also provide key space for communities to meet, socialise and grow. They offer free and accessible areas and infrastructure to rest, play, eat, play music, watch performances, and exercise. They often have free Wi-Fi toilets, benches, tables, playgrounds, sport equipment, chess tables, covered areas protected from the rain, and a variety of trees, bushes and flowerbeds.

Take a look at Virginie’s latest video below:


Thanks to Slow Ways, I am discovering hidden paths in Manchester, and that made me reflect on the fact that access to nature is not just about the cost of train tickets to National Parks but also access to those local paths, a few minutes away from us, hidden in wealthier neighborhoods. #outdoors #nature #fyp #dayout #mentalhealth #righttoroam #wilderness #equality

♬ Guiding Light – Alexis Ffrench

Cover photo by Smabs Sputz (CC2.0)

Virginie Assal

I’m Vi, a French Black queer and disabled person living in Manchester.

During the week I’m a project manager in equality and diversity in the charity sector. But on the weekend, I put on my trainers and go hiking on adventures. Well, I call it slow hiking because I spend as much time walking as I do sitting down and enjoying the plants and wildlife around, rather than rushing to the summit. I’m also a member of Black Girls Hike UK, which provides a safe space for Black women to explore the outdoors.

You can follow my adventures on TikTok and you can follow Black Girls Hike on Instagram.

Looking for routes in Manchester to explore? Take a look at Vi’s last journey following the Mersey from Chorlton to Didsbury.

Why not sign up to walk and review your own Slow Ways. You can find and follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook