2021 is set to be the year of the STAYCATION and we here in the Finest office couldn’t be any more excited to get out and explore the UK and all the wonderful things it can offer.
With travel restrictions still in place, and set to stay for a long while, there’s no better time to get out and explore our country.
In response, with trains being SO expensive nowadays, we’ve all been looking at the best ways to get around, and we’ve found Virtuo, a company who have turned to making hiring a car 10x easier than ever before.
It’s much, much easier than any other car hiring experience that I’ve ever had, and this is coming from someone who used to have a business account at Enterprise for a few years. Virtuo have revolutionised the whole process so now there’s no queues, no counters and no paperwork – everything is done through their app!
In an attempt to see just how easy and convenient it is, as well as getting the chance to get behind the wheel of a brand-new Mercedes A-Class, I ordered myself a Virtuo car for one of our famous Weekend Walks – hitting up the stunning Peak District town of Hartington on a drizzly Saturday.
The whole process was easy – all I did was download the app onto my phone, go through the verification process and then book the car. Virtuo’s cars are based at Piccadilly Train Station – I just turned up, fired up my app and unlocked the car in seconds.
It took me a little while to get to grips with such a new car (I’m used to driving a 1993 VW Camper) but once I got my head around it – we were off – exploring the delights of the UK and getting a bit of much needed fresh air.
So I present here a selection of our most favourite Weekend Walks which are easily more accessible by car than train – and, one of the best things about Virtuo – the longer you book for the cheaper per day it is – so there’s some destinations here which are perfect for 2-4 days away…
Less than 1 Hour Drive
Mam Tor Circular Walk
Driving time: 59 minutes
Near Castleton, this 2-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 Tour 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 8 miles, which includes a walk along the river on your way back to Castleton.
Driving time: 59 minutes
Famous for its links to the notorious witch trials of 1612, Pendle Hill provides views of the beautiful Pennine countryside 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. Their story can be followed throughout the walk.
Castleton’s Shivering Mountain
Driving time: 1 hour
Living in the city centre comes with about a million perks, the only one teeny tiny downside that has well and truly been enhanced in the lockdown 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.
Driving time: 38 minutes
This little old reservoir tucked away in Bolton will give you plenty of walks and whenever I’ve seen pictures it pretty much always seems sunny. I dunno the science behind that. Full of trees you’ll be able to fill your lungs with the freshest air ever.
Driving time: 51 minutes
A pine forest full of wonder on the crossing between Glossop and Sheffield. 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.
Tegg’s Nose Country Park
Driving time: 53 minutes
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.
Driving time: 56 minutes
Arguably one of the most jam-packed walks you could try, opt for the 4 mile or 8 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 Bridge – an old, quaint mill village. At Winter Hill, you will reach heights of 1500 feet, the highest hill in the West Pennines Moors.
1-2 Hour Drive
Driving time: 1 hr 22 minutes
This lovely little village near Bakewell in the south of the Peak District is home to a long list of scenic and stunning walks – most of which kick things off in the centre of town and take you down past the Dove River and along the valley. There’s also a fantastic Farm Shop here which is great for picking up supplies and has some amazing local cheeses.
Driving time: 2 hours
This peak walk has been voted as the nation’s favourite walk for years and it’s not hard to see why. The Lake District’s third highest peak is home to some truly spectacular landscapes, and features the famous ‘Striding Edge’ – a (nearly) death-defying scramble along a narrow bridge. If you’ve got time, a visit to Aira Force and the massive 65ft waterfall is a must.
Driving time: 1 hr 11 minutes
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.
Driving time: 2 hr 15 mins
Back in the olden days, this trail was used by Welsh farmers, transporting their sheep, cattle and geese to the markets of England – and it’s absolutely stunning. On a clear day you can see as far as Snowdonia and even the Shropshire hills – almost 70 miles away. Start the walk at Cider House Farm near the village of Kerry, and take it all the way to Bishops Castle right on the border in Shropshire.
Driving time: 2 hours
The Coniston Round is the perfect Lake District walk, one which encapsulates all of the varied terrain and breath-taking scenery that the area has to offer – all in one handy circular route. Kicking things off in the village of Coniston, the route takes in Coniston Fells, the remote peak of Grey Friar and a beautiful ascent up Dow Crag.
Full Weekend Away
Snowdon National Park
Driving time: 2 hours
With six official paths to the summit of Mt Snowdon, you’ve got plenty of options available – no matter what your experience. The drive to Snowdon is only about 2 miles, but this area is so full of things to do and see, only a weekend away would do it justice. There’s not just walks here but a wealth of activities, beautiful villages to visit and world-class landscapes.
Hawes, North Yorkshire Dales
Driving time: 2 hours
Now, we’ve chosen Hawes here as a destination in the North Yorkshire Dales but there’s SO much here that you could head to any one of the area’s villages and towns and you’ll have stunning walks right on your doorstep. The area’s history under a huge glacier has created ancient river courses, craggy, rugged plateaus and tonnes of enchanting waterfalls. From Hawes there’s an excellent 7-mile circular that will show you all of this and more.
St Cuthbert’s Way
Driving time: 4 hours
It’s a fair long drive up to the Northumberland Coast but this rugged end of England is one of the most stunning places in the entire world, and perfect for a few days away from the city. There’s a load of ancient castles up here, many of which provide the perfect spot for starting a walk down the coast. One of the best is a visit to Holy Island and the sublime Lindisfarne Castle – a massive fortress perched on top of a mountain providing gorgeous views as far as the eyes can see.
The West Highland Way
Driving time: 6 hours
It’s a fair old way to Fort William in the Highlands, so this would have to be at least 4 days away from Manchester. Once you’re up here though, you’re truly in God’s Country – easily one of the most beautiful parts of the world and with a wealth of walks and activities to keep you entertained for months. Fort William provides the perfect place in which to explore the area, and you can even give the Scotland 500 a try – the country’s answer to Route 66 and quite possibly the best road trip in the world at the moment.
Virtuo Car Hire is available in Manchester right now. To hire yourself a car in minutes – download their app here…