From tranquil country parks on the lip of the M60 to world-famous coastal installations, a diverse and engaging variety of free sculpture trails around Greater Manchester offer an engaging, family-friendly day of outdoor exploration packed with thought-provoking art and unrivalled natural landscapes.

Here are some of the best sculpture trails around the region.

Peel Park | Salford

Open since 1846, Peel Park lies adjacent to the University of Salford in the heart of the city, stretching along the western flood plains of the River Irwell.

One of the country’s first ever public green spaces, Peel Park has recently undergone a radical regenerative transformation to become Salford’s civic hub of nature and recreation. Alongside a wide range of facilities including a children’s play area, a tree trail and an enormous expanse of flat grass for casual sports and games, the park features a fascinating sculpture trail which celebrate significant moments in its storied history across a series of radically different monuments and formations, including The Flood Obelisk, the environment-inspired Monument to the Third Millennium and a statue of Salford’s first elected MP, Joseph Brotherton.

The Crescent, Salford M5 4WU
Irwell Valley Sculpture Trail | Clifton Country Park

Part of the 33-mile network which runs from Bacup to Salford Quays, the Clifton Country Park Cluster of the sprawling Irwell Valley Sculpture Trail offers an engaging, accessible day out exploring the artistic delights of the suburban yet secluded grassland nestled on the edge of the M60.

Whether it’s a steel-panelled trainer-wearing leopard, a wood-lined lookout formation or a pair of charming wet earth sculptures, the North Manchester idyll’s sculpture selection provides a serene and blissfully diverting day of exploration for kids of all ages.

Clifton House Rd, Clifton, Salford M27 6NG
Irwell Valley Sculpture Trail | Ordsall

Forming the urban terminus of the Irwell Valley trail, the Ordsall Cluster features a selection of sculptures rendered in metal, clay and wood dotted around Salford Quays and the immaculately preserved Ordsall Hall, easily accessible by car or several stops along the Metrolink Eccles and MediaCityUK lines.

Manchester M50 3UB
Anthony Gormley: Another Place | Crosby Beach

Now a permanent fixture on Crosby Beach after appearing in Germany, Norway and Belgium, Anthony Gormley’s inimitable coastline installation Another Place comprises a hundred life-sized iron figures, spread out across three kilometres of foreshore and over a kilometre out to sea, casting a haunting, inexpressibly poignant silhouette against the horizon.

Expounding on his choice of location and the visceral message of the sculptures themselves, Gormley says: “Here time is tested by tide, architecture by the elements and the prevalence of sky seems to question the earth’s substance. In this work human life is tested against planetary time. This sculpture exposes to light and time the nakedness of a particular and peculiar body. It is no hero, no ideal, just the industrially reproduced body of a middle-aged man trying to remain standing and trying to breathe, facing a horizon busy with ships moving materials and manufactured things around the planet.”

Another Place is free to visit and easily accessible via frequent Merseyrail routes from Liverpool city centre.

Crosby, Merseyside
Ribble Valley Sculpture Trail | Clitheroe

Launched in 1993, Clitheroe’s beloved Ribble Valley trail now hosts over twenty permanent artworks sitting amongst some of the most beautiful scenery in the country, from flora-filled grassland and ancient woods to the River Ribble and Cross Hill Quarry, with viewpoints offering overlooking dramatic vistas of the Forest of Bowland.

Designed with an ethos of making art accessible to all, the trail showcases selected pieces from artists working with local community groups and drawing inspiration from the rich heritage of the surrounding natural landscape.

103 Waddington Rd, Clitheroe BB7 2HN
Wolf McFarlane
Published on:
Mon 8 Apr 2024