Described clockwise from the north. Three priority visits below might include, Rivington and Lever Park, Saddleworth and Dovestones and Alderley Edge.
There are a number of lovely country trails and parks within the areas. The list below is not exhaustive but highlights the best. Again take a map and discover some walks for yourself. The most impressive walking areas lie among the moors of the Pennine Hills curving from north to south east around the city. The area below conforms more or less to the Greater Manchester county boundary.
Eight miles due north of the city centre midway between Bury and Rochdale on the B622 lie the lovely woods of Ashworth Valley rising past the excellent Egerton Arms pub on School Lane, to Owd Betts on the A680. The walk along Cheesden Brook which leads off north west from the main valley is filled with an empty grandeur and the remnants of former industry made gentle by the passage of time. Knowl Moor and Hill, north again, provide wonderful viewpoints.
Two and a half miles north west of Rochdale where the B6377 meets the A671 is the romantic, rocky chasm of Healey Dell with its disused but spectacular railway viaduct along which you can walk. There is easy access to the open moors here and at the lonely Watergrove Reservoir above the old stone built village of Wardle, north east of Rochdale. Further round again and on the B6255 lies Hollingworth Lake, an extremely pleasant location. Almost a mini-resort with its boatyard and amusement arcade, this was formerly called the Weaver’s Seaport, as those who didn’t have the time to make it to Blackpool would spend their rare days off ‘at t’lake’.
Again there are marvellous walks to be taken up to Blackstone Edge. In between Rochdale and Royton off the A671, and only seven miles from the city centre is the excellent Tandle Hill Park with its obelisk dedicated to peace. The beech woods here are superb. They were planted to prevent Chartists from drilling on the previously open ground in the C19.
The whole area around Saddleworth and the villages of Delph, Denshaw, Dobcross and Uppermill are worth a close look. Delph and Dobcross are particularly pretty – the latter was used as a backdrop to the John Schlesinger film Yanks. The most dramatic area of Saddleworth, perhaps of the whole Greater Manchester area, are the high hills, cliffs and reservoirs at Dovestones on the A635, 16 miles from the city centre. A good walk starts from Saddleworth township up to Pots and Pans – the crags above. Almost due east of the city centre and six miles away is Daisy Nook Park, a good place to enjoy a peaceful walk amidst wildlife and varied countryside with woodland, lakes and a canal.
South east of Hyde are two attractive country parks, one upland, one lowland. Werneth Low Country Park off the A560 offers the views, Etherow Country Park off the B6104 offers the prettier woodland walk. The walk along the Peak Forest Canal at Marple Locks on either side of the A626 combines water and barges with woods and views. The walking country east of this point is marvellous but you will need a map.
Similarly the upland walks around the Lyme Park are beautiful. Something for the children is provided at Bruntwood Park off the A34 in Cheadle, with a big free adventure playground and a pets corner.
12 miles due south of the city off the B5087 through the village of Alderley Edge lies the Edge itself. With its legend of a wizard guarding the sleeping King Arthur and his knights this is almost literally a magical place. Two excellent children’s books are placed on the Edge: The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath. Both books are by Alan Garner and are recommended. There is a magnificent view north east from the red sandstone outcrop and interesting woodland walks. At Quarry Bank Mill, Styal, a mile from the airport off the B5166, there are fine woodland walks alongside the precipitous valley of the River Bollin. Just four or so miles south of the city, the line of the River Mersey from Didsbury, past Chorlton Water Park to Sale Water Park provides a pleasant green route along the river valley with a leisure centre for watersports at the latter.
There is fine lowland walking throughout the area of north Cheshire. This may not have the drama of the Pennine walks but it has a gentle grace. Due west of the city the landscape for many miles is extremely flat and was once part of Chat Moss, one of the most impenetrable swamps in all England.
Another five miles further on between Leigh and Wigan lies Pennington Flash, an unnatural lake. This was formerly coal-mining country, now the mines have gone, but the subsidence remains. The Flash, all 70 hectares of it, was created by the ground slowly slumping into the old workings. The lake and its surrounding area is the best place for bird watching in Greater Manchester. There is also sailing and a children’s play area. North east of Wigan town centre lies Haigh Country Park, which as well as providing excellent walks, contains a mini-railway, model village, walled gardens, craft centre, cafe, gift shop and children’s play area.
Rivington and Lever Park
Perhaps the most interesting of the country parks is Rivington and Lever Park, north west of Bolton off A673. These are the former gardens and estate of the Bolton entrepreneur William Hesketh Lever, Lord Leverhulme – his name is still commemorated in the company Unilever. At Rivington there is a reconstruction of Liverpool Castle, the Great House Barn with its huge medieval cruck beams, shop and art gallery and high on the moor, Rivington Pike Tower, built in 1773 and offering superb views. The nature of the landscape, wooded lakeside and gardens climbing the hill to the moors, provides great variety.
Barrow Bridge, further into Bolton, is a charming village through which access to the crest of Winter Hill can be gained. Three miles north of Bolton off the A676, Bradshaw Road, lies Jumbles Country Park, which comprises 250 acres of reservoir and countryside. Nearby is the very attractive moorland village of Edgworth with its stone cottages and cobbled streets.
If you would enjoyed this guide, why not take a look at some more Manchester attractions and events in our other Manchester tourism and travel information guides.