Walk off your Christmas dinner and enjoy a great hike, forest walk, reservoir stroll, breathtaking landscapes and even waterfalls that are only a short distance away.
Contrary to its name, you won’t find a church in sight along this route on the outskirts of Buxton and Macclesfield – but you will step straight into a prehistoric landscape that wouldn’t feel out of place on the set of Jurassic Park. It may only be a short route, but the scenery is immense. Hidden high up in the moorland over an ancient, wooded valley, Lud’s Church offers a truly atmospheric day out. Sometimes known as Ludchurch, this charismatic chasm was created by a massive landslip on the hillside above Gradbach.
Castleton’s Shivering Mountain
Living in the city centre comes with about a million perks, the only one teeny tiny downside is the lack of green space in the city. But with the peaks less than an hour away, it’s nice and easy to get to a bit of manure smelling air, fill up your lungs before heading back to the flat a couple of hours later absolutely freezing and ready to get back to being a city bum.
More cheery stuff now, Pendle Hill is famous for its links to the notorious witch trials of 1612. Beautiful Pennine countryside is visible from Pendle Hill, including the mill towns of Nelson, Colne and Barrowford and Barnoldswick. The main attraction, though, is the sites of the Pendle Witches, where they were tried and sentenced to death over 400 years ago for acts of sorcery. The story can be followed throughout the walk.
Chorlton Water Park
A little easier one now. One of the most popular outdoorsy spots in South Manchester, the circular route around Chorlton Water Park’s nature reserve is a great undemanding stroll, perfect for families. There’s a small play park for the kids and plenty of wildlife to spot on your walk too.
If you find yourself in the city centre over Christmas, Mayfield Park is a great place to escape the chaos of the Boxing Day sales. Whilst it may be the smallest of the lot, there’s still lots to look at and serves as a peaceful spot to sit and enjoy a takeaway coffee.
Heaton Park is the biggest park in Greater Manchester, so there’s more than enough space to walk off those roast potatoes. Get some fresh air and take in the views of the city skyscrapers from afar. Kids (and adults) will love the on-site animal centre where you can meet the farm’s residents including chickens, goats, geese, pigs, turkeys, ducks, rabbits AND alpacas! There’s also a garden centre to browse, golf course, coffee shop and boating lake to explore.
Tegg’s Nose Country Park
Another located just outside of Macclesfield, Tegg’s Nose is a perfect place for walking, rock climbing and in winter a favoured place for sledging where exposed moorland is often snow-covered. Offering stunning views of the Cheshire plain, Tegg’s Nose is rife with history. Dating as far back as the Bronze Age, the area has a burial chamber and you can learn about how the area has been shaped by quarrying since the 16th Century.
The crossing between Glossop and Sheffield across the north Peaks is majority open moorland, a vast expanse of tonal browns and biting wind, but before you reach the brow on the Glossop side of Snake Rd is a Pine forest full of wonder.
Peel Tower, Holcombe Moor and Ramsbottom
You can take the East Lancashire Steam Rail to this area of beautiful woodland, heritage and riverside rambles. The walk begins at Ramsbottom station, passing Shoulder of Mutton Pub, Ox Hey Wood, Buckden Wood, site of Pilgrims’ Cross and Peel Tower. The tower is named after Sir Robert Peel, born in Bury, founder of the modern police force.
South Pennine Water Trail
Starting and ending at Hollingworth Lake in Littleborough, this stunning trail gives you views of not just the lake but also the ‘Everest’ of canals – Rochdale Canal. The canal rises over 55 locks at its highest point of 600ft above sea level on the west of the Pennines. For animal lovers, there’s also a nature reserve and bird hide near the lake. The trail distance is a short five miles, with a bit of a testing last stretch, better for those who don’t want to take on a massive hike.
Lantern Pike & Cown Edge
Just a short drive out of Glossop to the village of Rowarth, this walk in the surrounding area of Kinder, will give you a cracking view of Manchester on a clear day. Where most people will head on up Kinder, this walk will give you the great views without having to mingle with all the riff-raff.
In the Dark Peak (yes, really) of the Derbyshire Peak District, Kinder Scout is a moorland plateau and National Nature Reserve. On days where the weather is good and clear, views of the city are fantastic and you can even see as far out as Winter Hill near Bolton and on really good days, Snowdonia in North Wales. The most spectacular feature of Kinder Scout has to be ‘Kinder Downfall’, where the Kinder River flows off the plateau into an amazing waterfall.
Mam Tor Circular Walk
Near Castleton, this two-hour walk takes you to a viewpoint where you can see landscape stretching from Edale Valley to Kinder Scout and the Derwent Waters. Known as the ‘shivering mountain’, Mam Tor is said to be one of the best ridge walks in the country. For the more intrepid explorers, you can opt to extend the route to eight miles, which includes a walk along the river on your way back to Castleton.
Worsley Village Circular
Wander down the Bridgewater Canal, the birthplace of the transport revolution, as well as black and white timbered houses and woodlands through Worsley. Three miles in total, there are also a handful of picturesque pubs and restaurants on the canal side that you can enjoy after exploring all the heritage the Village has to offer.
Winter Hill is arguably one of the most jam-packed walks you could try, opt for the four mile or eight mile to take in the views and scenery of Bolton, Wigan and the West Pennines Moors. Highest Hill walk takes you around the medieval manor house Smithills Hall, Winter Hill and through Barrow Bride – an old, quaint mill village. At Winter Hill, you will reach heights of 1500 feet, the highest hill in the West Pennines Moors.
Not a typical walk or by any means for a light-hearted stroll, Eyam Walk provides regular reminders throughout about the atrocities endured by people in Eyam during the Plague. Views of Stoney Middleton are then surrounded by Boundary Stone where supplies were left during the events of 1665. Descend a path into Riley Grave where seven members of the Hancock family are buried, all of whom died within a week of each other and were buried by the mother who was the only survivor. Cheery, right? Towards the end of the walk, you will find a Mompesson’s well which was once ladened with vinegar-soaked coins to disinfect them after medicines and food were brought for plague sufferers.