Spending a day in Stockton Heath
PUBLISHED: 00:00 18 February 2020
Stockton Heath is a little jewel of an enclave
Should it not be separated from sprawling Warrington by the Manchester Ship Canal, Stockton Heath may well be in danger of being reduced to little more than a desirable suburb.
But the rusting swing bridge, which halts the traffic as it yields for large ships that can't squeeze beneath it, also serves to - symbolically at least - keep Stockton Heath as a little jewel of an enclave.
Bigger than a village, smaller than your average town, it has transformed over the last decade into a modern high street in microcosm with the kind of functional shops that serve locals, sitting alongside the bars, boutiques and cafés that make a visit from further afield worthwhile. Distinctly Cheshire with grand Victorian architecture dotted throughout the centre and suburban streets beyond, red bricks glowing as they catch the low winter sunlight, it's a pretty, pleasant and increasingly popular place to be.
In the Morning
Given you can whizz around Stockton Heath's centre in around seven minutes, you don't need to worry about missing out. Employ what we like to call, the stroll-shop-sip strategy, pottering between its boutiques, stopping for coffee-and-cake at your leisure. Let's start with womenswear. There's a clutch of affordable boutiques to choose from. The original branch of Laundry B - the Cheshire-centric chain (there are also outlets in Altrincham, Chester and Northwich) - offers a range of stylish and sophisticated casualwear; the kind of jeans-and-jumper combo you'd sport to a nice gastropub lunch. On the same stretch of London Road you'll also find Lemon Tree; a well-curated fashion boutique stocking respected clothing and accessory brands as well as some fantastic costume jewellery. Around the corner on Walton Road Sorelle Style appeals to a slightly different set with fun, affordable fashion at its heart. From there cross the road and you'll find Riva Menswear catering to the other side of the gender divide, stocking branded menswear from Paul and Shark to Paul Smith. Other places we find ourselves flexing the credit card include Living Colour flower shop with its elegant hand-tied bouquets and selection of on-trend vases and the like and All That Jazz, a bazaar of a place in the Forge Shopping Centre which stocks rather nice interiors pieces alongside life's necessities like batteries and cleaning products. One of those places that's full of pleasant surprises.
Okay, let's schedule in some relaxation time. More of a walk-and-breathe type? Then head for the pretty-as-a-picture Bridgewater Canal. A tranquil oasis, the canal leads to the villages of Walton and Daresbury in one direction, and Grappenhall and Lymm in the other. If you're lucky you may spot the turquoise flash of a kingfisher as you take in the air. Canal boats regularly pootle past with smiling occupants offering a cheery wave.
If you venture in the direction of Walton you'll reach fields where horses graze as well as the Walton Sports Club, where the thwack of cricket balls hitting willow can be heard on spring and summer days. For a green space closer to town Alexandra Park not only offers space to run, should that appeal, but has a lovely sense of community, not least thanks to the active Friends of Alexandra Park who, come spring, open its café on Saturday afternoons serving cups of tea and home-baked cakes. If your form of relaxation is better delivered via scented oils than fresh air, then there are a couple of great salon/spa destinations offering a range of treatments including soporific massages and sit-back-back-and-fall-asleep facials. We rate both the Beauty Gallery on London Road as well as The Secret Spa nearby.
Day On A Plate
There are so many places to eat in Stockton Heath that you will be spoilt for choice. Decent breakfasts or lunch are aplenty at the enduringly popular Zalos, on London Road, a Greek café with fry ups first thing, and salads and sandwiches later in the day.
Step across the road to the independently-run LD24 for the finest cup of coffee for miles around, and the friendliest staff, in a café that is stripped-back, yet cosy. They offer cake, sandwiches and bagels, too. The Bus Stop opposite is similar, with delicious brunch-style dishes served throughout the day.
Village resident Marc Smith opened Terrace Bistro on London Road last spring and it thrives with its rich blue velvet booths and pared-down menu lovingly cooked by chef Phil. It's open for breakfast and brunch through to dinner and the Eggs Royale are to die for.
Cardamon nearby is an enduringly popular modern Indian restaurant, bustling no matter what day of the week it is, while the small chains of Ego restaurant and Piccolino are both mainstays along with the independently-run Turkish A La Turka for the best one-pot meals, laced with cream and spices.
The village's old post office has variously been a toy shop, a burger joint and an Indian restaurant, and is now Dough and Liquor, serving good pizza and drinks, with Stockyard on the first floor above it, an American diner with ribs and meat aplenty. For drinks, try Gin Alley and Expedition, both recent additions to the bar scene.
Why the locals love it
Owner of Cheshire Business Events
I love how, as a local, everything is on your doorstep. There's a great community spirit and lovely countryside. The Bridgewater Canal feels part of the village. I love a beetroot latte in LD24.
I love to visit Ego restaurant, as the menu is varied and it has a great atmosphere. For family meals out, we enjoy the French cuisine of Bistrot Pierre. Shopping is great here too; the Lemon Tree is a firm favourite for stylish and affordable clothes.
I love that there are new places popping up - there's a vibrancy to the town but it's still friendly. I go to LD24 for coffee most days and Expédition bar is great on a night out.