One place you that probably isn’t renowned for its walking routes is Manchester. People are well aware of the city’s sports teams, shops and nightlife but are less clued up about the walking routes in the city.
Manchester however has plenty quality of trails to enjoy and there are many walking routes in the area which have been developed and are well maintained by the city of Manchester and other agencies.
5 miles out from the city centre, Stretford Ees is an area of grassland featuring mature trees and countryside views. It is also a great place to see wildlife (particularly bird-spotting) and the large green meadow itself is also used for grazing cattle.
Here you will find yellow markers which allow you to guide yourself around walks from 3-5 miles that cater for a range of fitness levels. Parking is available at Hawthorne Lane, Stretford and there is wheelchair access and plenty of benches should you wish to rest during your walk.
Access to the site is gained from Barfoot Bridge or Hawthorne Lane and although there are no facilities on site, there are toilets and a restaurant nearby.
The Pennine Bridleway
The Pennine Bridleway is in the process of being fully opened and is a new National Trail. Planned to run from Derbyshire to North Yorkshire and covering an impressive 140 miles, this is an exciting and important north England walking route.
12 miles north of Manchester is Mary Towneley Loop, one of the starting points and routes along the whole area are designed to suit cyclists, walkers and horse riders alike. It is possible to hire cycles around the area and also horses, so ask locally for further details.
This walk does involve hills, stiles and parts of it are quite tough so a reasonable fitness level is probably required to take on the route. Places along the walk of particular interest include Chee Dale Nature Reserve and Roych Clough. The trails also go through and around 6 reservoirs, which offer many peaceful spots to picnic and enjoy the views.
Another Mersey Valley walk is Priory Gardens, a charming, small area of mature woodland with excellent opportunities for bird watching and lots of fungi species to spot.
Priory Gardens is a fairly easy walk with a self guided route. There is onsite parking for 20 cars but bear in mind access is restricted by 6’6″ barrier, so taller vehicles may have to park elsewhere.
Found along the canal in Manchester is the Bridgewater Way. This is a regeneration project designed to create a 39 mile route for cyclists and walkers along the historic Bridgewater Canal.
Offering many original architectural features and bridges to see, this is a pretty, easy walk accessible to all levels of fitness and ability.
The Trans Pennine Trail
The Trans Pennine Trail runs through Manchester and covers a total area of 8-9 miles. This exciting route passes through the Pennines and alongside rivers and canals.
The trail is mapped out and signs can be found regularly along the way. Easy gradients and well laid paths make many sections suitable for wheelchairs, pushchairs, families and gentle exercise.
Along the route you will find the Lavendar barn, where visitors between June and August can pick their very own lavender fresh from the fields. The sight of the vast swathes of lavender is breathtaking and the smell is just fantastic.
Dogs are generally welcome along all of the routes mentioned, on the understanding that you keep them controlled and clean up any mess.
All in all, the Manchester area has a great deal of walking routes to suit all levels of fitness. What’s more, these routes are surprisingly green with lush countryside meaning the bustling city of Manchester seems a million miles away.