Surrounded by stunning Pennine countryside and dipping its toes into the Peak District National Park, it’s not surprising that walks around Greater Manchester trump those found around just about any other metropolitan county in Britain.
The city and its satellite towns and villages are the products of a glorious landscape, their growth powered by the water that tumbles down off its stark moors and the raw materials that lay buried deep within.
Today, Manchester is a proud, global city, chock full of culture and an exciting place to explore. However, for hikers, the countryside that surrounds it is even better. There’s interest on every point of the compass: to the east is the magnificent gritstone of the Peak District; while the picturesque valleys of the Rivers Mersey and Goyt are found in the south; to the west are half-timbered villages, vibrant nature reserves and grand country parks; and the glorious West Pennine Moors dominate matters to the north. It’s easy to find superb hikes around Greater Manchester.
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A metropolis liberally sprinkled with greenspaces
Walks in Greater Manchester explore some beautiful greenspaces and the city is a marvellous base for adventure. Public transport makes getting to many of the region’s most beautiful spots very straightforward; you can even access the heart of the Peak District in less than an hour by train.
To the east of Stockport, the Goyt Valley is a delight to explore. Highlights include Etherow Country Park, a sanctuary for wildlife where you can amble alongside mill ponds, rivers and streams, with colourful views of the valley. In the west, Wigan’s Greenheart region is a beguiling area of greenspaces born from former industrial sites.
Moor fun in the Dark Peak
Some of the wildest hikes around Greater Manchester take you into the Peak District National Park and its atmospheric Dark Peak region. The trails along the high plateau and gritstone escarpments of Saddleworth Moor have been firm favourites with generations of Mancunians. Reaching a height of 1,778 feet (542 m), Black Chew Head is a popular objective, being both the Moor’s and Great Manchester’s highest point. The summit is crossed by the Pennine Way and offers huge views on a clear day.
Wonderful walking in the West Pennines
Many of the best hiking trails around Greater Manchester are found in the north. This is where the urban sprawls of Bolton, Bury and Rochdale make way for the grandeur of the West Pennine Moors. You’ll find yet more country parks, reservoir loops and glorious hillwalking amidst spellbinding, wild-feeling landscapes.
It’s a region where charming former mill towns and picturesque lakes jostle for space in steep-sided valleys. Brooks cascade from windswept heights peppered with the remnants of industry and criss-crossed by trails. Grand monuments adorn the highest summits, boasting wonderful panoramas across the city and the wider North.
Moorland walking can be challenging in adverse weather conditions, so make sure you are prepared with quality hiking shoes, warm layers and waterproofs. However, unlike in many hillwalking regions, in Greater Manchester you are never far from civilisation, a hot beverage or a cosy hostelry.
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