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Something the little ones can get excited about, our play area is one of the most exciting additions to our park.
Our play area (with picnic tables nearby) has sand diggers, a hexagon climbing frame and a zip wire, as well as a slide, swings and see saw.
We have collaborated closely with the University of Salford Sustainability team to create a tree trail for staff, students and the local community.
There are three routes which you can complete individually or altogether, which will take you to 25 trees across the University campus, Peel Park, David Lewis Playing Fields and The Meadow.
The map shows the three routes and a photo of the leaves from each of the trees. You'll also find out information about each of the trees, as well as the WhatThreeWords location.
Landmarks in the park
Peel Park was created on the slopes leading down to the River Irwell. Over the years the land was terraced so that the park is now a fairly flat riverside area flanked by steep banks. At the top of the slope are the buildings of Salford University and Salford Museum and Art Gallery.
Interpretation panels in the park give more information about key features.
A flight of stone steps from the back of the museum sweeps down to the iconic circular flower beds. Beyond are large areas of grass lawn and wildflower meadow, interspersed with avenues and small groups of trees. In spring the northern part of the park is swathed in daffodils, planted as a Marie Curie ‘Field of Hope’ some years ago.
A monument in the park demonstrates the significance of the nearby river. The Irwell carries water from a huge area and has flooded the park and other areas of Salford many times. The flood marker shows the height reached by the flood of 1866.
A small hillock near the play area is a curious arrangement of curving earthworks, topped with a curved brick seating area. This is ‘Fabric of Nature’, created in 2000 as part of the Irwell Sculpture Trail.
A footbridge crosses over the River Irwell and will lead you out of the park to the Meadows where nature has been allowed to take over a former industrial area within a broad curve of the river.
Steps to the west side of the park lead up to the University campus where you may see a curious statue of Engels Beard which commemorates Friedrich Engels and also serves as a climbing wall. Walking through the campus will bring you back to the Museum or to public transport links.
Conveniently placed next to our play area you’ll find a picnic area with tables and benches, ideal for young families. Alternatively you could spread out a picnic rug (you can borrow one from the Salford Museum and Art Gallery) on the lawns and have a relaxing afternoon enjoying the park’s tranquil surroundings – just focus on enjoying the peace and quiet in a bustling city.
Plants and wildlife to see
The park has a formally planted core which echoes the plan of beds and pathways set down over the years by the park superintendents. Within and around this our native wildlife has moved in and made itself at home. We do our best to make sure there is space for as wide a range of plants and animals as possible. The area suffered greatly during the industrial revolution as coal fired factories polluted the air and industrial waste was poured into the river. Since then thankfully things have recovered and the valley is once again full of greenery and life.
With its mix of mature trees, shrubs and open grass the park provides habitat for many species of birds. Resident species nest in the canopy of the trees and visiting migrants drop in for refuelling. The river is also home to some interesting birds and as the water quality has recovered in recent years we have welcomed back kingfishers, little grebes and cormorants. These birds are catching fish and aquatic invertebrates, proof that the river is thriving.
Swallows and Sand Martins return each year from their African winter homes and feed on the abundant insects along the river and across the grass.
Several species of bats have been spotted in the area. Mature trees provide roosting sites and the flying insects that are common around the woodland and river are the favoured food of Pipistrelles and Daubentons bats. On mild summer evenings bats can be seen skimming over the river beneath the footbridge from the park.
Other, less often seen mammals that we know are here include hedgehogs and small rodents such as woodmice. The occasional fox has been seen strolling across the park at night.
By far the largest group of animals you’ll find here are the invertebrates. In amongst the woods, grasslands, and scattered trees you’ll find snails, slugs, earthworms, butterflies, moths, beetles and bees.
You can get involved in maintaining and improving the park for wildlife. The events programme includes volunteer days when you can help to maintain the formal and informal planting in the park. A gardening groups helps with planting and weeding the beds while conservation volunteers can help with woodland and wildflower meadow management.
We also arrange wildlife watching activities including bat walks, fungi finding, wild food forages and bird song identification walks.
Helped by the students and members of the public there are regular Bioblitz days to see just how many species of wildlife live in the park. The answers can be staggering. Whether you enjoy a quiet stroll in the park or want to get involved and find out more there is always something to see and do.
Newly planted saplings have been added to the park to supplement the many mature trees and replace any that may have to be removed due to disease. Many of our trees are of familiar native species but there are also examples of trees from around the world. Shrubberies also include a range of species which provide a colourful display as well as being refuge for wildlife.
Flower beds are managed for colour but the plants and their blooms are a food source for native species including bees, butterflies and beetles. Colourful bedding plants and traditional cottage garden varieties fill the circular beds that form the iconic ‘roundel’ pattern of planting. These are best viewed from the steps behind the museum. Our volunteer gardeners help to maintain and add to the display.
Much of the grass area has to be kept mowed for recreational uses but there is plenty of room for wildflower rich meadows where taller grasses and wildflowers can grow allowing small mammals and invertebrates to find homes. Together with the Meadow which can be reached across the footbridge, there is a wealth of wildlife habitat.
Sport and leisure activities
The park offers some great opportunities for you to exercise in the ten hectares of luscious green space.
You’re free to take advantage of all this room by bringing games like badminton or frisbee, there’s also an area of completely flat grass (it used to be the old bowling green), perfect for a game of football or cricket.
You can exercise alongside the nearby River Irwell, and there’s also a path that covers the perimeter of the park that can be used for cycling, running and walking. If you need more of a challenge Peel Park is on the newly established Salford Trail, a 50 mile route which takes in many of Salford’s best greenspaces and heritage features.
If you prefer a more relaxed activity you will find the park has quiet corners ideal for mindfulness, yoga or Tai Chi.
Since the 1840s, the park has been a centre for learning. Generations of students and school children have used the park for study and recreation.
Our park keepers are part of Salford Ranger Team and have been providing a popular curriculum based programme for schools at Salford’s Country Park for many years. Now those opportunities are available at Peel Park.
Primary and secondary classes can study topics from science, geography, art and local history. Half day or whole day visits can be accommodated. A day could include an activity at the museum as well as an outdoor session in the park.
Just a five minute walk from the park, Salford Museum and Art Gallery, is a wonderful place to learn more about the history of Salford, whilst appreciating the Victorian art and architecture. Inside the museum is also a cafe, where you’ll find affordable food and drink.
Forest school sessions are also available to book.
Schools wishing to book an education or recreation visit to the park should contact the park keepers.
Salford University students frequently use the park for self-led activities. A few recent examples:
The park keepers also welcome students for carrying out wildlife surveys.
A home to learning
A passion for learning and self-improvement was an ethos of Victorian society. Peel Park was one of few places this devotion could be seen, and is still seen to this day.
Find it in the park game
There are lots of things to see in the park, see if you can find them all.