Manchester is a buzzing city, pretty much considered the capital of the North right? You might know it for the high-rise buildings, brick built Northern Quarter and bustling shopping centre but not too far away you will find wonderful nature spots.
That’s exactly why I love living in the city. I get the best of both worlds.
I’m within 1 hours driving distance to dozens, if not hundreds, of incredible outdoor spaces. The council definitely need to plan for more green areas within the growing city, but honestly it would still never rival the National Parks and protected grounds nearby.
So, in this ever-evolving list, you will find my favourite places to enjoy a bit of mother nature herself. These 10 walks are within an hour’s drive of Manchester and are listed in no particular order.
Looking for more walks in the UK? Make sure you read my about my top 3 walks in North Yorkshire.
10 walks near Manchester
1. Dunham Massey
One of the more popular walks near the thriving city of Manchester is to be had at Dunham Massey. A formal gardens and deer park with over 400 years of history!
It’s grown into a 200-acre estate and house with more than just deer roaming around. It’s also home to owls, bats, buzzards, woodpeckers and one of the rarest beetles in the UK. It’s so varied in wildlife that in 1978 it gained the status ‘site of special scientific interest’.
We love slowly strolling around the gardens, which are magical in every season. Especially at Christmas when they usually host an illumination trail. Seeing the deer up close is always such a memorable experience. And as with most National Trust properties, there’s also a restaurant, cafe and shop to enjoy.
Drive: 35 minutes
Address: Altrincham, Greater Manchester, WA14 4SJ
2. Lyme Park
Lyme Park is made up of wild moorland, parkland, a country house and sculpted gardens. Within the mansion, the gardens have an orangery, rose garden and a former mill pond.
This gigantic 1400-acre National Trust property is also home to around 500 deer and is a real sanctuary for the gentle creatures. They have lived there for over 600 years and you’ll spot them grazing in the heather.
We hiked through the hills and beside resting cattle to find The Cage and The Lantern. The Cage sits on the hilltop and was once a hunting lodge, then park keeper’s cottage and even a prison. Further into the woods is The Lantern, a fairy-tale like, spire topped building.
There is a small cafe and shop for treats.
Drive: 50 mins
Address: Disley, Stockport, SK12 2NR
Price: £8 parking
3. Tatton Park
There’s apparently evidence of people living in Tatton Park dating all the way back to the Stone Age. So cool! It is known for its Tudor Hall, mansion, landscaped gardens, farm and 1000 acres of wild parkland. It is a ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’ like Dunham Massey.
And you may or may not be pleased to see it’s the final deer park on this list. We enjoyed a stroll through the woodlands and across sweeping landscapes. All whilst passing Red and Fellow deer, calmly resting under the trees.
You can walk, cycle, picnic and play in the park for free. There’s also a Stable yard with a hub of shops, restaurants and cycle hire station. Entry to the house, farm and garden is at additional cost.
Drive: 45 minutes
Address: Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 6QN
Price: £7 Parking with free parkland access. £8 Garden entry.
4. Rivington Pike
No walks in Manchester are complete without sweeping views of the surrounding landscape and Rivington Pike offers just that. It’s dubbed as one of the best viewpoints in North West, sitting 1200ft high.
On a clear day, from the summit, you can see the Lake District, Blackpool Tower and the Isle of Man. We took the walk on a summers day and could see all of those places clearly.
We walked up into the wooded hillside, through a relaxing Japanese Garden and then made the ascent to Pike Tower. It’s a fairly easy walk, with a final steep climb, which will reward you with magnificent views.
Drive: 55 minutes
Address: Rivington Pike, Bolton BL6 6RU
Don’t forget to read my guide on the best way to spend one day in Manchester!
5. Peel Tower
High above Ramsbottom on top of Holcombe hill, you will find Peel Tower. In 1852 it was built in honour of Bury born Sir Robert Peel, our former Prime minister.
It stands at 128 feet tall and is built from stone taken from the hillside itself. There is an immediate steep climb to the top, which we found very tiring. But once up there, the views were gorgeous.
We carried on our walk across the moors, past the military firing range and down through Buckden woods. This is the trail we used but we cut our walk short and returned to the car via Helmshore Road.
Drive: 40 minutes
Address: Peel Monument, Holcombe, Bury BL8 4NR
Dovestones will always hold a special place in my heart, as I took a mammoth walk here on the eve of my 30th birthday.
The reservoir was created in 1968 to collect water from the moorland to use as drinking water for the local towns. It’s nested in between several hills and sits on the edge of the Peak District National Park.
The walking route included a flat and easy walk along the water’s edge, including beside Yeoman Hay Reservoir. That was until we needed to scramble up the very rocky Greenfield waterfall. I found this challenging.
We then crossed the water, hiked up the mountain and walked along its edge. I was super nervy. There were cool rock formations along the way and the valley views are, in a word, EPIC. The descent had my legs burning.
It’s a difficult and long trek so bring the right clothing, footwear, water and snacks.
Drive: 50 minutes
Address: Greenfield, Oldham, Greater Manchester, OL3 7NE
Why not enjoy a cultural day out at Yorkshire Sculpture Park!
7. Etheroe Country Park
Etheroe was one of the first country parks in England. It’s a lovely nature reserve that is the perfect place for a relaxing walk. Thanks to it’s wildlife, it’s another ‘site of special scientific interest’.
You will find over 200 species of plants and more than 100 species of bird. There is an area of woodland with bird feeders so you can just sit and watch the birds snacking. We saw dozens of Blue Tits.
The trail we took helped us to explore the whole park as it took us through the various woodlands, marshes, weir and waterways.
There is a small visitor centre and cafe. The car park gets very busy and is £3 for the day.
Drive: 35 minutes
Address: Etherow Country Park, George St, Compstall, Romiley, Stockport SK6 5JD
8. Tandle Hill
Tandle Hill is where I spent a lot of my childhood. My parents would regularly take us for a walk through the woodlands with our dog running ahead. My favourite season was always Autumn as you could practically swim in the orange ocean of leaves.
It’s a designated Site of Biological Importance for its fungi and bird populations and there are various trails you can take. Make sure you visit the war memorial at the highest point in the park for panoramic views of the surrounding towns and villages.
There is a children’s play area and cafe. I love buying the indulgent hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day.
Drive: 35 minutes
Address: Tandle Hill Rd, Royton, Oldham OL2 5UX
9. Worsley Village
This was one of the first walks we took when we moved to Manchester. Worsley is a small town in Salford that was actually a huge part of the industrial revolution thanks to the building of the Bridgewater canal.
There is a well-marked, mostly flat, circular trail, that will take you along the canal and past the bobbing boats, through the sleeping village and into the woods.
There’s a number of pubs and cafes in the village and a small car park by the Court House. Parking is a couple of pounds.
Drive: 25 minutes
Address: Worsley Woods, Worsley, Manchester M28 2GD
Ok, this this one is cheating a little. It’s not one of the walks within an hour’s drive of Manchester, but it’s pretty darn close.
Formby Beach is utterly magnificent and sits on the Irish Sea. It has dramatic sand dunes, so big we saw kids sledging down them, and sweeping coastal woodlands.
The woods are home to a very special native animal. In fact, there’s only around 120,000 estimated to be left in the UK, the red squirrel. They need protection after being pushed to extinction due to their invading grey squirrel cousins.
They are rare to see but we were lucky enough to spot several racing up the and along the trees. A real pinch me moment. Formby is a fantastic day out for everyone.
It’s around £7.50 to park at this National Trust location.
Drive: 1 hour 15
Address: Formby Beach, Formby, Liverpool L37 1YD
A handy map
I’m trying to explore more and more of the city I call home, so I will continue to add to this as I find more walks near Manchester that I enjoy.
Even on the wettest and greyest Manchester day, taking brisk walks outside can do wonders to your mood. So save this post and choose some of these spots for your next day outdoors.