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Bethan, Manchester

A child walking on a field in Hyde, near Manchester
Walking in the green belt on the outskirts of Manchester Luke Pennystan / Unsplash

At the start of the year I moved to South Manchester. It was hard leaving home, moving away from family and friends but being able to access green space and the countryside by foot and bike has made the transition much easier.

I used to live in Bristol, which, for a city, had great access to both blue and green spaces. It felt easy to find big skies and clean air but Manchester is much bigger with tall buildings, so being on the edge where I can access green and rural areas has been really important for my mental and physical wellbeing.

'I am very lucky that within 15 minutes of cycling I can be away from the main roads and on the country lanes'

There are some great parks within walking distance from where I live now. The one closest is brilliantly maintained by a volunteer group (although can be brutally cut back by maintenance contractors now and again which can be sad to see). What makes the park so good is that it has variety; some planted areas, large trees, duck ponds, a play area, benches and football posts, so it encourages different ways of using the park – I think this is what makes it so popular. The park always feels safe because it is so well used at all times of day. On footpaths around the green belt area I still feel relatively safe but I prefer to cycle when I’m on my own. I am very lucky that within 15 minutes of cycling I can be away from the main roads and on the country lanes.

However, depending on the time of day the traffic can make it quite dangerous and the challenge now will be keeping it up over the winter now it’s dark before and after work!

A person standing in the middle of a beach on a cloudy day
Bethan believes that access to green space is important for everyone | Bethan Marriot

I think it’s rare to have good access to green space living in urban areas so I know I am lucky in this way – it makes a huge difference to me and I believe access to the countryside and quality green space is really important for everyone.