Whether it’s a woozily picturesque Sunday village amble or a heart-thumping schlep to some of the UK’s most awe-inspiring overlooks, Greater Manchester offers incredible access to the best rural walking routes in the country – that is, when the routes aren’t within fifteen minutes of the city centre.

Here are some of the best walks around the area:

Stalybridge Country Park | Stalybridge

Consisting of the Brushes Valley and Carrbrook, this delightful Tameside sanctuary lies just a mile north-east of the town centre, with footpaths marbling into dozens of unique routes across open moors, cloaked woodlands and riverside trails in loops around four reservoirs and a 12th century stronghold.

Heaton Park | Prestwich

Spanning 600 acres, the North West’s biggest park needs little elaboration as Manchester’s most popular green space. Offering walks of surprising rural solitude alongside the suburban comfort of cafes, tennis courts, an animal centre, a boating lake and Heaton Hall itself, the park hosts 80,000 visitors a year yet maintains an air of tranquil seclusion due to its sheer size.

Holcombe Moor to Peel Tower | Ramsbottom

Beginning in the centre of the idyllic Lancashire village at Ramsbottom Station, this lightly challenging circular ramble takes walkers along riverbanks and over flatlands to the famous Bury monument, Peel Tower, from which visitors can enjoy unrivalled views of Greater Manchester and, on a clear day, North Wales.

Worsley Village | Salford | Sun 20 Mar

Seemingly scraped from a John Constable painting and rearranged inside the folds of the M60, Salford’s ludicrously scenic time-locked enclave is the perfect village stroll, just twenty minutes from Manchester City Centre. A popular route is a 3-mile loop of the area, stopping by the Packet House, Worsley Wood and the Bridgewater Canal’s original starting point.

Prestwich Forest Park | Prestwich

Combining four distinct parks – Waterdale, Prestwich Clough, Drinkwater Park and the beloved Philip’s Park – the air of lush solitude amidst the endless selection of unfrequented routes around ponds, lakes, meadows and along the River Irwell almost jars with the sparklingly clear views of Manchester’s skyline just five miles south.

Castleton | Peak District

Arguably the North West’s most well-regarded spot among hikers and cavers, Castleton’s boundless rambling options send walkers across the Peak District in every direction, with routes ranging from 2 to 8 miles. Featuring trails up Mam Tor, walks passing the UK’s largest natural cave entrance, gentle village-to-village strolls, jaw-dropping views over Edale and Hope Valley and much, much more, Castleton is the perfect base camp from which to discover Britain’s most beautiful landscapes.

Sun 20 Mar
Wolf McFarlane
Published on:
Thu 7 Dec 2023