The Most Beautiful Country Walks Around Manchester, UK

The woods in Alderley Edge provide an escape into nature close to Manchester
The woods in Alderley Edge provide an escape into nature close to Manchester | © Purepix / Alamy Stock Photo
Emma Lavelle

Manchester is an exciting, vibrant city, but if you need a break from the hectic urban vibe, you needn’t travel far to find some fresh country air.

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 Ees

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

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.

Alderley Edge

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.

Hollingworth Lake

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.

Rivington

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.

Torside Reservoir

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.

Mam Tor

For Peak District views to blow your mind, head up the stony footpath from the Mam Tor car park and prepare to be dazzled. The circular route takes between one and two hours to the top depending on snack and photo stops and suits any family with slightly older children. Standing at 517m (1,696ft) above sea level, the summit promises Iron Age fortifications and sweeping 360-degree views over the Edale Valley, Stanage Edge and the Derwent Moors. Peek into the Blue John Cavern on the way down, home to the rare Blue John mineral first discovered by the Romans.

Kinder Scout

Kinder Scout is the highest point in the Peak District, so this hike is one for more experienced walkers craving knockout views. At 636m (2,087ft) above sea level, the plateau was the site of the 1932 Mass Trespass which eventually helped give ramblers the right to walk on access land so we could all enjoy the countryside today. Starting in Edale, the route now takes in rocky inclines, paths across peat moorland, fields blanketed in heather and Kinder Downfall, the tallest waterfall in the National Park. Remember to wear sturdy boots and check the weather before heading out.

Padley Gorge

Discover a fairytale land of ancient trees, gurgling brooks, springtime bluebells and rare birds in this wooded ravine designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Close to the border of Derbyshire and Yorkshire, it is at the eastern edge of the Peak District National Park near the Longshaw Estate and is popular for family picnics and gentle rambles past waterfalls and wooden footbridges. Park at the Longshaw Estate, and follow the path past the pond, or take the rocky route from Surprise View car park near Hathersage.

Hardcastle Crags

Get away from it all at Hardcastle Crags, where 24km (15mi) of picture-perfect footpaths weave past rivers flecked with stepping stones, tangled upland meadows, imposing ravines and centuries-old woods. Families can scramble across streams and build dens, hikers can spot wildlife as they climb the steep valley, and anyone hoping for alone time can head into the woods and discover this wildly beautiful area in blissful silence.

Siobhan Grogan contributed additional reporting.

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