Living in Manchester City Centre has it’s perks, but a nice sizeable park to get lost in every weekend is not one of them. Luckily, the tram links and trains make the stunning Peak District National Park just a thirty minute journey away, and there are plenty of other places in Greater Manchester to enjoy a Sunday stroll. We had to do a fair amount of research to find these walks, so I thought it would be useful if I shared them all in one place, here. I’ve put together some of our favourite walks around Greater Manchester, or that are easily accessible from the City Centre. I’ve included a note on how to get there using public transport since we don’t have a car, but if you have any other tips or walks to recommend then please leave them in the comments below.
Dovestone Reservoir and Saddleworth Moor
One of my favourite walks as it’s so diverse and stunning in any weather. It’s worth the short trip out of the city centre to experience the beauty of Dovestone Reservoir and Saddleworth Moor. If you stick to the paths, the circuit around the main reservoir is relatively flat and short but if you like a bit of a challenge, you can leave the track and head up into the moors for something a bit tougher. We found an excellent 10km route which took in all 3 reservoirs and even climbed a waterfall. The views over the water from the top of the moors are beautiful and it’s a great place for picnic in good weather.
Walk type: Easy (around the reservoir) Hard (to get up on down on the moors)
Distance: Around 2.5 miles if you just take in the main reservoir.
How to get there: Train from Manchester Victoria to Greenfield, takes 23 minutes and then a 35 min walk to the reservoir.
Littleborough and Hollingworth Lake
Easy to get to from Manchester City Centre and not too strenuous, this is a perfect walk for a bright winter’s day. You can get to the lake on foot from Littleborough train station and there are paths all the way around, meaning that it’s suitable for all ages and four legged friends. It’ll take you under an hour to go all the way around (there’s a pub handily placed at the far end and toilets near the visitors centre) but if you fancy something a bit more intensive, head up into the hills within the Country Park. Earlier this year we managed an 8 mile walk through the park, going off-road along farm tracks and public footpaths, finishing with a lap around the lake – and a well deserved drink.
Walk type: Easy, perfect for walking with little ones.
Distance: A circuit around the lake is about 2 miles.
How to get there: Train from Manchester Victoria to Littleborough, 30 min walk from there to the lake.
Kinder Scout from Edale
This one is a tougher challenge than some of the others in this list, much more of a hike and quite a bit of rock climbing to be done, but you will be rewarded with some incredible views once you reach the top. The Kinder Scout plateau is the highest point in the Peak District, Derbyshire and the East Midlands at an elevation of over 600 metres. The most accessible way to tackle it from Manchester is to arrive by train into Edale station, walk through the cute little village and follow the Pennine Way until you reach the waterfall, then head directly up to the top. It IS tough and you will probably need hiking boots (although you’ll see from my photo that I just about managed it in my trainers on a dry spring day) and you should check the weather forecast before heading out in winter. There isn’t a finer spot to enjoy a well deserved packed lunch and flask of tea once you reach the top.
Walk type: Challenging – although there are plenty of lovely, lower lying routes around without going right up to the summit.
Distance: The entire loop from Edale station to the top and back around is approximately 8 miles
How to get there: Train from Manchester Piccadilly to Edale, takes 45 minutes and the trail starts from Edale station.
The peaceful, meandering walk up through terraced gardens to the top of Rivington Pike was one of my favourite walks this year. There are numerous routes to reach Pike Tower at the top and we chose to start from Adlington Station. We walked past the Lower Rivington Reservoir, through the Japanese and Terrace Gardens and across the grounds of Rivington Hall Barn. For an easier start, you can park at the car park at Rivington Hall Barn and take it from there. It’s a fairly gentle, gradual ascent until you reach the final path to the top where it does get pretty steep. Once at the top, you’ll be rewarded with views across, Bolton, Chorley and Cheshire. It was a bit gloomy on the day we visited and there was a lot of cloud around but I’m told you can see as far as the Lake District and even the Isle of Man on a clear day.
Walk type: Medium (only the final ascent is tough)
Distance: 2/3 miles depending on your route from the car park at Rivington Hall Barn
How to get there: Train from Manchester Victoria to Adlington (Lancashire not Cheshire) which takes 35 minutes and then a 45 min walk to Rivington from there. Truth be told, it would be easier to drive if that’s an option for you.
Broadbottom Circular Walk, Broadbottom
Another great walk which starts at the train station – is it obvious that we don’t have a car at the moment? This is an easy, varied walk taking in the gorgeous little town of Broadbottom, near Glossop. The route we followed actually started by accident at the garden centre where there happened to be a mini food and drink festival taking place. Of course we ended up filling our bags with some excellent picnic supplies (the best part of any walk for me) to enjoy later. The walk then takes you along a very picturesque river stretch where there are some beautiful little cottages and through a lovely wooded area. If you time it right, you’ll have time to pop into the Harewood Arms before catching your train back to Manchester.
Walk type: Easy
Distance: The route is 4 miles but you could miss a bit out and loop back round about half way.
How to get there: Train from Manchester Piccadilly to Broadbottom, takes 20 minutes and the route starts from the train station.
Marsden Moor, Marsden
This is a beautiful varied walk which takes in fantastic views across the Pennines, the pretty little Yorkshire town of Marsden, the March Haigh Reservoir and the vast Marsden Moors. Whilst it’s a gentle start, it can get tougher when you get up on the moors and as it’s extremely exposed across the tops, it’s best to check to make sure the weather is going to play ball before you set off. On a clear day though, it’s absolutely stunning and there is a great lunch spot overlooking the reservoir at about half way. The gentle descent back to Marsden past pretty farmhouses and cottages is lovely too.
Walk type: Medium
Distance: 8 miles if you follow the route in the link below.
How to get there: Train from Manchester Victoria to Marsden, takes 30 mins and the route starts from the train station.
Alderley Edge Woodland Walk, Alderley Edge
Another easy walk with fantastic views is around the woodlands surrounding Alderley Edge. A leisurely walk which begins at the train station, it’ll take around 3 hours to cover the 5 miles but it’s well worth it, with loads to see along the way. Top spots include a magnificent view across Cheshire from Stormy Point part of the ‘Wizards Walk’ – given the name after author Alan Garner’s fantasy novels, which were set in and around ‘The Edge’. The highlight for me is the slightly stomach churning drop and view point at Castle Rock – don’t get too close.
Walk type: Easy
Distance: Around 5 miles
How to get there: Train from Manchester Piccadilly to Alderley Edge, takes 30 minutes.
Tatton Mere Loop, Tatton Park
This is a nice flat, easy walk on mostly solid pathways which means it’s an ideal one to take the kids, pets and grandparents (or all three) on. Whether you are in the mood for a quick stretch of the legs or a power-walk workout, the paths at Tatton Park are all nicely marked so you can really be flexible with the distance. Start with an easy stretch from the car park down to Tatton Mere, where you’re likely to see plenty of birdlife and fisherman enjoying the peacefulness of the vast lake. You can either loop round here and head back, or continue along one of the other routes taking you further into the park. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see some of the famous Tatton Park red and fallow deer which roam free on the open parklands.
Walk type: Easy
Distance: Around 2 miles for the short route around The Mere.
Smithhills and Horrocks Moor, Bolton
One of the highlights of this walk for me was discovering the gorgeous picturesque little town of Barrow Bridge, once home to an 18th century cotton spinning mill. The town is made up of the lovely little workers cottages, built alongside a gentle brook with quaint footbridges leading to the houses. The walk begins at Smithfield Hall and takes you on a circuit around to Barrow Bridge, via Horrocks Wood and Horrocks Fold Quarry. It’s quite a varied route and you’ll definitely need some sturdy shoes, especially if it’s wet when you come down the 63 steps into Barrow Bridge.
Walk type: Medium
Distance: Around 5 miles.