Think of Manchester, and a leisurely stroll might not be what first springs to mind. However, with woodland, hills and lakes to be found less than an hour away, it’s well worth escaping the city – and with Manchester’s excellent public transport links, it’s surprisingly easy to do just that. These are the most beautiful spots around Manchester to enjoy the peace and quiet of a bracing country walk.
Chorlton – Manchester’s most bohemian suburb – boasts an area of woodland that will make you momentarily forget you’re in a city. Follow the meandering tree-lined paths of the Chorlton Ees Nature Reserve and you’ll discover secret meadows and lakes perfect for summer picnics. Or walk along the banks of the River Mersey and stop off at traditional English pub Jackson’s Boat for an al fresco pint. Its close proximity to Manchester’s city centre makes Chorlton Ees perfect for lazy weekend outings, frosty winter walks or even a post-work jog.
Fletcher Moss in South Manchester is a beautiful place to explore in any season. The botanical gardens play host to a jungle of interesting trees, flowers and shrubs. If you really want to feel as though you’ve left the city streets behind, take a wander through Stenner Woods and the flat meadows, which lie between the gardens and the River Mersey. For a post-walk tipple, or a delicious Sunday roast, don’t miss out on the nearby Didsbury pub, a former coach house that still has many of its original 18th-century features.
Just a short car or train journey south of Manchester, the affluent village of Alderley Edge is a favourite haunt for city dwellers seeking the great outdoors. Snake through the woodland’s winding paths and you’ll emerge onto a sandstone ridge. Here you’ll discover the main attraction of Alderley Edge: jaw-dropping views over the Cheshire Plain. This is where to head if you’re looking to add an impressive outdoorsy selfie to your Instagram feed.
Just a short walk from Littleborough train station, Hollingworth Lake is ideal for less experienced ramblers. A simple circuit of the lake at a gentle walking pace can be completed in less than an hour, but if you’re looking for a challenge, head uphill shortly after passing the turnoff for the Country Park. Your efforts will be rewarded with dramatic views of the lake below, and you can cross the M62 if you fancy taking your walk further into the hills.
This hilly area north of Manchester is easily accessible by car and offers walking routes to suit all levels of fitness. The walk up to the Pike is best suited to those seeking a longer hike, but there are plenty of shorter and easier trails in the area. The two reservoirs at the foot of the hill are especially scenic options for a country walk with the dog.
The Peak District National Park is right on Manchester’s doorstep, providing the perfect destination for hikers looking to challenge themselves. For those interested in a slightly more relaxing stroll, try the Torside Reservoir, which is nestled on the edge of the Peak. A walk around the water’s edge takes less than two hours and offers beautiful views of the surrounding hills. Visit in autumn to admire the scenery at its best, when red and yellow foliage scatters the horizon.