The Manchester & Salford skyline as seen from the green banks of the River Irwell.

The best way to enjoy Salford is to leave the city, apparently. But you don't have to go far to find green spaces and wildlife.

There is a borough of Greater Manchester that has been named as the ‘greenest place to live’ by the Centre for Thriving Places. This accolade is attributed not only to energy efficient development but also the preservation and improvement of existing green spaces within the borough.

This borough is Salford. A walk along the River Irwell, that defines the southern boundary of the borough before dividing the cities of Manchester and Salford as it heads north, helps explain the claims for the area’s green credentials.

In the areas that bisect Salford Quays, Cornbrook and Manchester city itself, developmental encroachment is slowly eroding the green patches. But even here small oases of green offer shelter for aquatic birdlife which, for now, are holding on. Kingfishers and herons, as well as swans and Canada geese, can be spotted alongside the towering new-build blocks of apartments.

However, where the Irwell departs Manchester city centre, just past the AO Arena, the banks of the river reach a whole different magnitude of wildlife haven.

By the time you have reached the Old Pint Pot pub and passed the Adelphi weir you will be viewing a dense tree-lined waterway which is a far cry from its industrial ‘sewage canal’ days.

Walk further, following the river beside Peel Park , you will soon find yourself in wide wetlands with the tree-lined river heading towards the northern boundary of the borough.

Patrick Whelan, who has lived all his 74 years in the borough, walking his dog Sam by the River Irwell, gave his thoughts on the area.

“They’ve lowered a lot of the area to reduce flooding from the Irwell and they have only really developed small areas for housing. It’s really a hidden gem. You can walk at least five miles and not see any traffic and the woods extend beyond that all the way up to Kersal.”

Patrick explains the area is a haven for wildlife.

“There is trout in the river. Otters and even deer have been seen. People always associate Salford with high rises but this area is brilliant”.

There is often talk of an economic ‘trickle down’ effect from investment in the city centre but maybe a trickle down of wildlife and green spaces from the Irwell’s higher reaches would benefit all of the cities’ (Manchester as well as Salford) inhabitants.

Sign up to The Meteor mailing list – click here

The Meteor is a media co-operative on a mission to democratise the media in Manchester. To find out more – click here

All images: Gary Roberts

Share this article

  • Gary Roberts

    A photojournalist and writer who covers conservation and social issues worldwide. Founder of Education background includes BSc Zoology at Leeds University and an MSc at The University of Manchester in International development poverty, conflict and reconstruction. Gary studied and later taught photojournalism at Speos Photographic institute. His work has involved numerous conservation and social justice groups including The Fairtrade foundation, Oxfam, ABRU Animal Behaviour Research Unit, SOS Lynx, Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, TANAPA, and APOPO. Publications include UK National and International Press.

Reader Interactions


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *