Spending a day in Wilmslow
PUBLISHED: 00:00 16 March 2020
24 hours in Wilmslow
Wilmslow's a curious soul. Too often it has been defined by footballers and fleets of Range Rovers, WAGs and wannabes and, in contrast, Cheshire's 'old money' traditionalists. And whilst it's a town that's unashamedly glam with a penchant for fast cars and fast money, there is genuine integrity and the spirit of local enterprise burns brightly.
It's always been a people place, attracting scores of newcomers to dig deep and buy into its property scene, to mooch around its centre, and to revel in a place with a thriving community feel. Some say it's a bubble. And they're probably right. But it's also a town with ready bursts of wit, where the welcome's warm, independent retailers bring their own style to the streetscape, the restaurants fizz with fun, and the locals are always up for a giggle.
Here's our guide to some of its top spots.
In the Morning
Wilmslow's a compact creature so it's easy to aimlessly stroll and tick off the good stuff. If it's dry, park up at the Carrs - the town's treasured green sprawl - for an early morning walk, snaking along paths that fork out from the kid's playground and its bijou café. Grab a coffee here and pad towards the River Bollin's banks where locals stretch out on blankets and paddle in the shallows during long hot summer days. If you're feeling energetic, you can walk all the way through the park to Twinnie's Bridge and onwards to Quarry Bank Mill and back; though even short strolls around this alluring green space are a breath of fresh air - and once you're in a happy rhythm, you won't even notice the cold.
Outdoorsy needs sated, walk up the hill towards the town centre. Off the beaten track, on a tiny industrial estate, is design store Neptune by Allen & Allen, where browsers admire the showroom kitchens with serious home envy and flick through bright textiles. It's pricey but worth a visit for interior inspo alone. An interior store that's not as hard on the wallet is Homebird - a superb spot to rummage for home accessories, test out squashy sofas and gift hunt. If you're after bikinis, pop into Rumpus Resort - usually patronised by intimidatingly attractive locals delving through its swimwear ranges. And then there's always the shiny grande dame of Hoopers, whose stiff upper lip has relaxed in recent years. You'll find it stacked with designer womenswear, lingerie and make-up.
If it's the third Saturday of the month, the strip here is filled with the stalls of the Wilmslow Artisan Market - think giant cakes, gravy-filled pies and locally-brewed gin. There are all sorts of crafty bits and bobs you can buy too, but it's a charming spot for a grab-and-perch coffee and to gaze at the buskers and the bustling crowds.
All that staring and shopping might warrant some respite - take time out with a matinee at the retro-inspired Rex Cinema. It was a Facebook campaign by local residents that spearheaded the cinema's reopening after its last curtain fell in 1995. After a transformational makeover at the back end of 2018, it finally reopened and the space has unsurprisingly been a runaway success with blockbusters, indie films and live screenings of West-End theatre productions played out to locals sipping wine and cosied up on sofas. As the closing credits roll, slip back outside and take a left out of its doors towards the Coach and Four - one of those spruced-up, warm and intimate boozers with a reassuringly lengthy drinks menu, fun ambiance and service that keeps the crowd smiling. You might end up staying for hours; fortuitous then that it has a clutch of rooms out the back, so when the last orders bell rings out, you won't have to go far to roll into bed.
Day On A Plate
If you're looking to keep things simple, kick off at Rise - an indie cafe on Water Lane, where daily papers are stacked for the reading and locals gather to enjoy some of the best coffee in town. Feel peckish? Cross the road and nab a window-side table at Smoke, the swish all-day dining spot from the crew behind the wildly popular Cheshire Smokehouse farm shop. The kitchen dishes up sharing platters and small plates come evening, but the menu really shines with its build-a-brunch - citrus-smashed avocado, Stornaway black pudding, Smokehouse bacon - served until 3pm on weekends. Stomp around the corner to Alderley Road and there's the new La Fabrica, a cycling store-cum-café that majors in bright, bold brekkies and bowls full of fusion flavours. Unico is your best bet with kids in tow - an eclectic space dishing up back-to-basic breakfasts, burgers and tapas. For long lunches, try The Old Garages, hiding on Hawthorn Street, where chefs put a sophisticated spin on seasonal produce and diners catch up in the cavernous space over excellent wine. For spot-on stonebaked pizza and BYOB, there's Wood Fire Smoke - a buzzy crowd-pleasing joint - or for some spice, make tracks to Eastern Revive, Wilmslow's beloved Indian.
For exceptional seafood in sedate surroundings, there's the Easy Fish Co, but if you're looking for somewhere with a rollicking atmosphere, give Suburban Green a go - they'll whip you up a strong cocktail and the small plates menu always delivers.
Why the locals love it
Owner of signedsealeddelivered.shop
I'm a small business owner and love the fact the community always strives to support local businesses - there's such a good network of people who genuinely want to help others out.
Freelance graphic designer
Wilmslow has an enviable mix of bars, restaurants and shops with an authentic sense of community. And we're surrounded by gorgeous and tranquil countryside that's a short stroll away - this is one of the main reasons I love living here.
Owner of TG Ski Chalet Holidays
We're spoilt for choice with dining options, friendly locals and great country walks - the perfect place to base our UK office.