10 of the Most Scenic Bike Rides around Greater Manchester

From rolling hills to secluded lakes, via an old railway line loop, the region is home to some truly wonderful bike rides and routes...

By Ben Brown | June 9th '22

Cycling in the UK has increased a whopping 200% since lockdown, meaning the cycle lanes and routes of the region are no longer the sole terrain of lycra-clad purists.

More and more of us are taking to the streets on two wheels on the weekend, looking to get some exercise and see the region’s most beautiful spots – with the added benefit of reducing your carbon footprint and not having to spend an arm and a leg on fuel.

So, here are ten of the region’s best and most popular bike routes – from rolling moorland to stunning lakes – there’s something for all abilities and levels. So don’t forget your helmet and maybe buy one of those bells…

Saddleworth Viaduct // Canal & River Trust

Saddleworth Rail Trail

A relatively easy 6-mile ride down Roman roads and packhorse trails through the lovely villages and countryside of Saddleworth, taking in Delph, Dobcross, Uppermill and Greenfield, all on the cusp of the dramatic Pennine moors. You can start off on the Delph Donkey Trail – so named after the white horse which first pulled the carriages, before getting onto the Saddleworth Linear trail, part of the Pennine Bridleway.

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Prestwich Forest Park

In and around the Irwell Valley, Prestwich Forest Park offers over 200 hectares of woodland and open space to explore, including Philips Park, Drinkwater Park, Waterdale and Prestwich Clough. There’s a ton of nature and wildlife to discover and Philips Park even has its very own Mountain Bike Trail should you want to grab a Pepsi Max and go ‘off road’. You’ll also find parts of the Irwell Sculpture Trail and the 230-year-old Clifton Aqueduct.

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Pennine Bridleway

One of the most stunning and iconic long-distance trails in the UK, this route can take up to five days – taking in everything from the Derbyshire Dales right up to the Yorkshire Dales and Cumbria. You don’t need to go that far with it though, you can just join the trail up near Saddleworth and the village of Diggle. From there you can head down towards Hollingworth Lake, or go south through Saddleworth and down towards Glossop.

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Trans Pennine Trail

Mostly off-road, the Trans Pennine Trail is largely purpose-built using canals, riversides, disused railway lines, minor roads and urban cycle paths – with 60% of the route completely free of traffic. The trail snakes through villages, castles, abbeys, canals and rail heritage, as well as some of the UK’s most stunning countryside. It extends from the Irish Coast to the North Sea, with all manner of experience and fitness levels available. Head on over to their dedicated website where you can look at a map of the trail and create your own route.

Trans Pennine Trail

 

Stalybridge Country Park

An ideal spot for walking, horse riding and cycling, Stalybridge Country Park features wooded valleys, reservoirs and heather-covered moorland, all crisscrossed by footpaths, tracks and Bridleways. The best way to get here is via a route starting from Huddersfield Road in Stalybridge, which takes you along an old railway line into the Country park itself.

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The Monton Green Loopline

A 7.3km traffic-free walking and cycling route that starts in Monton and runs all the way to the border with Bolton. This is a very popular route with cyclists and has seen some considerable improvements over the years. It’s well surfaced, exceptionally well signed and is therefore stress-free and a truly pleasant ride through some lovely sights and serious heritage. Be sure to pop into the Wandering Palate in Monton for picnic supplies first.

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Dovestone Reservoir

A scenic route that will take you past Dovestone reservoir, Yeoman Hey reservoir and finally Greenfield reservoir, with a few climbs and descents along the way. Expect plenty of nature in the surrounding hills and woodland, as well as streams and waterfalls in case you want to re-create a Timotei advert. If you want to go a bit further, there’s a route down to Chew reservoir too.

 

Credit: Crime Lake

Daisy Nook Country Park

40 hectares of varied landscape in the heart of the Medlock Valley, Daisy nook is home to a lake, canal, woodlands, waterways and wildflower meadows – perfect for wildlife and bird spotting. The whole area is littered with footpaths and bridleways, linking all of the main stops and sights of interest. You’ll also find a couple of great Mountain Bike Trails around here, should you want to get all muddy.

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Rochdale to Todmorden

Taking in some of the most dramatic and stunning countryside in the entire North West, this cycling route also benefits from a spell at Hollingworth Lake, which you can ride around, stop off for a pint and do a bit of watersports (if that’s yer thing). The route then continues through Littleborough and Walsden, following the canal as you go. You’ll end up at the railway station in Todmorden which is a great place to explore, and also the perfect base for some wonderful walks.

 

Jodrell Bank

Set in the stunning Cheshire countryside, Jodrell Bank is surrounded by four National Cycling Network routes. There are some great loops and routes in and around the area, which can include visits to Knutsford, Mobberley, Capesthorne Hall and, of course, Tatton Park – which is big enough to warrant its own set of bike trails and routes.

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