If you’re looking for a relaxing yet engaging day out with the kids near Manchester, look no further than the Royal Horticultural Society’s beautiful new garden – RHS Bridgewater. We most recently headed there this May 2023 Bank Holiday when we finally got some good weather. Before then we’d discovered it during the Easter Egg Hunt back in 2022. If you’re looking for somewhere that you can take the kids and relax a little knowing that they can safely run free, but at the same time aren’t at risk of damaging priceless artefacts like at a National Trust property then read on for a full review of our experience and tips for planning your own family friendly visit!
- Getting To RHS Bridgewater and Parking Up
- Layout of the Gardens
- Food and Drink Options
- Family Friendly Activities
- Reflection on Our Experience
- Plan Your Visit to RHS Bridgewater
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How Much Does Entry Cost?
Getting To RHS Bridgewater and Parking Up
RHS Bridgewater is conveniently located right off the M60, making it very easy to access from Manchester and the surrounding areas. Simply take junction 13 off the M60 and follow the easy to follow signs. It takes approximately 30 minutes drive to get to RHS Bridgewater from Manchester City Centre by car
Parking onsite is free with plenty of spaces. If it gets overly busy, there is also an overflow car park. We have visited at Easter and May Bank Holiday arriving late morning and on both ocassions had no problems parking up. Even though it was quite busy!
However, the car park is immense. On both visits we ended up parking far from the entrance, this meant we had a long walk before we even got to the entrance! Just bear this in mind
Location: RHS Bridgewater, Bentleys Way, Off Poplar Ave, Worsley, Manchester M27 5GQ
Parking: Free onsite parking
Layout of the Gardens
RHS Bridgewater has numerous garden areas spanning a total of 154 acres. Our favourite are perhaps the following three
- The Kitchen Garden – an evolving space that is still actively being developed designed by Charlotte Harris and Hugo Bugg (RHS Cheslea Flower Show Gold Medal winning designers) the garden was designed and inspired by a network of underground waterways, starting in nearby Worsley
- The Old Frameyard – once the ‘engine room’ for the walled garden, the boiler rooms and associated chimney produced energy to heat the glasshouses and allow exotic produce to flourish. It now houses old and established vines which had impressive grape yields when we visited in May
- The Weston Walled Garden – and did you know, The RHS Chelsea Flower Show site could fit into the Weston Walled Garden, they’re approximately the same size
The gardens are thoughtfully designed to transition smoothly between the different areas. We found it easy to navigate and made sure to pick up a map at the entrance. The site is also very wheelchair and stroller friendly.
You’re probably wondering why there are no photos of the gardens and that is because, our time is spent chasing kids around as they’re discovering unusual fruits and vegetables, insects and beautiful flowers. And of course, discovering the cafe and adventure playground.
What we love about RHS Bridgewater so much, is that it has something different to offer each time you visit, with huge differences between each season, and month! But given the lack of photos, if you want to find out why we love these gardens in particular so much, then you’ll have to head there yourself!
Food and Drink Options
RHS Bridgewater has several cafes and kiosks spread out across the site so you’re never too far from a snack or drink break!
We stopped for lunch at The Bridgewater Cafe next to the lake. It had a great selection of hot and cold dishes and kids meals. There are ample tables both indoor and outdoor. Prices are comparable to other tourist attractions. The cafe is self service and it was extremely busy. We went with granny and grandad and took turns queuing for food. In the end it probably took about 25 minutes to get the food.
Later in the afternoon we grabbed a drink and ice creams from the Garden Cottage Shepherds Hut.
Dining Options: Multiple cafes and kiosks across the gardens. Also picnic areas.
Family Friendly Activities
RHS Bridgewater is extremely family friendly, with activities and features to entertain kids of all ages. Here are some of the highlights:
Adventure Play Areas
If the kids haven’t burnt off sufficient energy in the grounds then there is one adventure play area of monumental proportions with various different sections. It has something for all children and all abilities, however some of them are quite advanced, so be sure to keep an eye on your child
My kids spent hours playing across the different areas and had an absolute blast! I felt comfortable letting them explore independently within the play zones, but that is on the basis that both are very comfortable with natural play and happy climbing trees.
RHS Bridgewater has a great plant centre and gift shop at the entrance where you can pick up gardening supplies and souvenirs from your visit. They also have visiting specialist stalls. When we went at Easter 2022 there was a specialist sale of succulents which offered the chance to purchase a range of plants, but also offered some free plants to the kids.
We then let the kids each pick a packet of seeds to take home and try planting in our garden. Caring for their own plants and flowers is a wonderful way to get kids engaged with nature.
Throughout the year RHS Bridgewater hosts a variety of family friendly workshops, concerts, seasonal events and more. Some examples we hope to catch on future visits include the summer Garden Glow festival with light installations, crafting workshops, and outdoor cinema screenings.
It’s worth checking their website in advance for any special events happening during your planned visit to make the most of your day!
For the last two years, they have run Easter Egg Hunts, which consists of a range of giant eggs dotted around the gardens. It sounded great, but in reality, we were a little underwhelmed. There is also a seasonal Christmas lights display. We haven’t checked this out yet so couldn’t comment, but online reviews aren’t overly enthusiastic.
Family Activities: Adventure play areas, plant sales, special events
Reflection on Our Experience
Overall we have had a couple of brilliant family day out at RHS Bridgewater! Here are some final thoughts and reflections from our May bank holiday visit:
Enjoyable and Relaxing Day Out
RHS Bridgewater proves to be both an engaging and relaxing experience for the whole family. There was enough to keep the kids entertained while also providing plenty of tranquil spots for us parents (and grandparents) to recharge. The gardens are expertly designed to strike this balance.
Weekdays Are Best
While we enjoyed our visit over the long weekend, I would recommend visiting RHS Bridgewater on a weekday if possible. It was quite crowded with long cafe queues. Visiting at off-peak times would provide a more leisurely experience.
Well Worth the Visit
RHS Bridgewater is a fantastic addition to the attractions and days out available to families in the North West. It’s educational, fun for kids, visually stunning, and accessible from across the conurbation. We’ll certainly be back to explore the different seasonal displays!
Top Family Friendly Attraction
Without a doubt, RHS Bridgewater ranks among the top family friendly days out within proximity of Manchester. Everything is thoughtfully designed to create a welcoming and engaging experience for all ages. Highly recommended!
Plan Your Visit to RHS Bridgewater
I hope this review has provided a helpful look inside everything RHS Bridgewater has to offer for families. Here are some key tips to help you plan your own visit:
- Look at their website in advance for opening times, tickets, and seasonal events
- Aim for a weekday visit if possible to avoid crowds
- Pick up a map to navigate between the different gardens
- Let the kids burn off energy in the adventure play areas
- Check the plant centre for gardening souvenirs to take home
RHS Bridgewater makes for a memorable and enjoyable day out for families near Manchester. The gardens are impressive yet welcoming, providing a relaxing retreat for parents and fun activities for kids. Add this attraction to your Manchester bucket list!
Let me know if you have any other questions as you plan your visit. I’m happy to provide more details or tips based on our experience. Wishing you a lovely time at RHS Bridgewater making family memories together!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Dogs Allowed at RHS Bridgewater?
No, dogs are not routinely allowed at RHS Bridgewater. The exception to this is guide dogs
How To Get To RHS Bridgewater by Public Transport
1. By Train:
- Stations to Consider: Manchester Piccadilly, Salford Crescent, and Walkden Stations. Walkden station is the closest to RHS Garden Bridgewater.
- Manchester Piccadilly: Direct trains run from various parts of the country including London Euston, Reading, Scarborough, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and south-west Wales.
- Walkden: Located approximately a 25-minute train journey from Wigan.
- Train Companies:
- Northern: Operating across the north of England.
- TransPennine Express: Serves northern areas.
- Avanti West Coast: Provides direct services into Manchester Piccadilly from London Euston in approximately two hours.
2. By Bus:
- Daily Shuttle Bus: Offers service from Manchester Piccadilly, Salford Crescent, and Walkden train stations to RHS Garden Bridgewater in under an hour. The bus stop at Bridgewater is conveniently located outside the garden entrance and café. This service operates every day from 1 April–1 October 2023 with adult ticket prices starting from £2.
3. On Foot or By Bike:
- RHS Garden Bridgewater is accessible via several walking and cycling routes.
- For traffic-free walking and cycling routes, visit the Salford City Council website.
- To determine the best cycle routes to Bridgewater, consider using Cycle Streets or visit the Transport for Greater Manchester website.
- Facilities for Cyclists: 50 open-air bike racks accommodating up to 100 bikes.
4. Electric Vehicles:
- Although not public transport, for those considering green transportation, RHS Garden Bridgewater provides three charging stations capable of charging six vehicles simultaneously. Charging is priced at 30p per KWH through EV Charge Online.
Additional Tip: If you opt for an eco-friendly mode of transportation such as public transport, cycling, or walking, you can enjoy a 30% discount on the garden entry fee. Keep a copy of your bus or train ticket and ask for the car-free discount at the welcome desk. For those who choose not to take the shuttle bus after arriving by train, Lynch Taxis offers a reliable local service and can be reached at 0161 661 77770.
For an effortless travel plan, consider using Good Journey. Safe travels and enjoy your visit to RHS Bridgewater!
How Much Does Entry Cost?
Incredibly, RHS Bridgewater offers £1 entry to a number of people, including those on various benefits to make the gardens more accessible. They also offer free entry to Salford residents on a Tuesday through to 18 May 2024.
We’re RHS members, so get free entry and can take the kids for free. However for those of you who aren’t eligible for either of the above schemes or RHS members, then the following charges apply:
|RHS members and guests (1 adult guest or up to 2 children)||Free||Free|
|Adults||£15.30* incl Gift Aid||£13.85 excl Gift Aid|
|Children 5–16 years||£7.70* incl Gift Aid||£6.95 excl Gift Aid|
|Family ticket (2 adults + 2 children)||£36.70* incl Gift Aid||£33.30 excl Gift Aid|
|Additional child (Family ticket)||£6.60* incl Gift Aid||£5.95 excl Gift Aid|
What Are the Opening Times?
It’s important to book your garden visit in advance of arriving. The Gardens are open Monday – Sunday 10:00 – 18:00 with the last entry at 17:00. The gardens are only closed on Christmas Day