Sprawling metropolis it might be, but Manchester isn’t short of places to enjoy the great outdoors. The Pennines and the Peak District National Park are within easy reach – but there are plenty of parks and reservoirs that are near the city centre to explore. We asked our local insiders for their top tips – all within the Greater Manchester area.
Chorlton Water Park is a city centre nature reserve that’s a favourite among local families and dog walkers. With a central lake, wildlife spotting opportunities and an ice-cream van permanently onsite, it’s a perfect spot for enjoying life’s simpler pleasures without having to traipse miles out into the countryside. Fishing is allowed with a permit, and there’s a small pond-dipping platform for curious little ones. Come for an early-morning walk to set yourself up for the day. Recommended by local insider Natalie Hetherington
Outside the city centre (but conveniently right next to a tram stop for ease of access), Sale Park in Cheshire is an extensive outdoor space that’s perfect for walks and watersports – kayak and canoe hire and instruction is available through Trafford Watersports. As well as a café for all your snacking needs, there’s a well-heeled restaurant with panoramic views over the lake that’s an absolutely spot-on date-night location for anyone you’re trying to impress. Recommended by local insider Natalie Hetherington
Stretford’s Longford Park is a perfect little green oasis for a quick breath of fresh air. You’ll find gardens, a play area and football and basketball courts, plus a disc golf course. Best of all, it’s free and frisbee hire costs just a single pound of your hard-earned cash. You won’t find a better value activity in all of Manchester. Recommended by local insider Natalie Hetherington
Heaton Park is one of Manchester’s biggest and most famous outdoor spaces. There’s no shortage of things to do here, but the more adventurous will enjoy the challenges posed by Treetop Trek, Manchester’s high-ropes course. Prepare to swing, climb and even fly over obstacles including rope swings, balance beams and zip wires – take your family or get a group of friends together for an afternoon of adrenaline-packed enjoyment. Recommended by local insider Alexandra Jones
On the top of Holcombe Hill, just north of Bury, stands Peel Tower. Built as a tribute to former prime minister and founder of the modern police force Robert Peel. At 39m (128ft) tall it’s a striking tribute to a popular local hero, and there’s an enjoyable walking trail up to it. On a good day, you’ll be able to see over Manchester all the way to North Wales from the top of the hill; visit when the tower is open for the public to climb it yourself. Recommended by local insider Alexandra Jones
Dovestone reservoir is the ultimate Manchester day out for anyone who likes to keep active. Next to the Peak District National Park, it offers brilliant views over the countryside, as well as excellent walking routes – keep an eye out for mountain hares and peregrine falcons. There is also a permanent orienteering course, a sailing club, open-water swimming, cycling trails and numerous nearby rock-climbing opportunities. Bring a picnic and make a day of it, but remember to bring comfortable shoes and something waterproof for the famously wild northern weather. Recommended by local insider Alexandra Jones