Walks Near Manchester: The Saddleworth Cycle & Horse Trail

You don't need wheels OR hooves to enjoy this lovely walk through Saddleworth...

By Ben Brown | March 8th '22

Saddleworth Viaduct // Canal & River Trust

Growing up in the deepest, darkest parts of Oldham, Saddleworth was always a mythical land of £1m houses, quaint pubs and stunning scenery.

I mean, it still is exactly like that today, and Saddleworth is still considered to be the ‘posh end’ of the rest of Oldham, helped in part by it’s location right on the cusp of the Pennines – offering jaw-dropping landscapes, fierce nature and some world-class walks right on your doorstep.

Saddleworth Moors // Credit: Parrot of Doom CC 3.0

This particular walk takes in the Castlehaw Valley, including Delph, Dobcross and Diggle – a landscape filled with untamed hills and deep peat gullies. You’ll find Roman roads, pack horse trails and the ever-changing moorland colours of this dramatic landscape.

The walk itself is around 7 miles long, but you’re going to see a lot. The best place to start is at the Brownhill Countryside Centre on the little roundabout that links Uppermill, Dobcross and Diggle. From here you can take the ‘Delph Donkey Lane’ round the back til you get to the junction with Ladcaster Road. From here you can head on up into Dobcross and have a pint in the brilliant Swan Inn.

The Swan in Dobcross // Cracking boozer

Head on up Long Lane (say hello to the cows) and it’ll become a pathway about half the way up the hill. Carry on down here, take a left at Lark Hill Lane and then onto Harrop Edge Lane.

You’re in true God’s Country here, with the valley stretching all around you and a nice leisurely walk down Harrop Edge – broken by Huddersfield Road about a mile and a half along the way. The idea now is to continue over Standedge Foot Road up the hill until you get to the Cottage.

Brun Clough Reservoir on a rare sunny day // @TalkSaddleworth

From here, head on down the rough path and you’ll find yourself at Brun Clough Reservoir and Brun Clough Moor. There’s loads of space here in which to frolic (should that be your thing) before taking the little off-road down to Brun lane and back down into Diggle.

I highly recommend a walk down the canal in Diggle, and if they’re open – a visit to the excellent Grandpa Greene’s Luxury Ice Cream for a scoop or five.

It’s just a short walk back to the Brownhill Countryside Centre from here, passing the Navigation Inn if you’re getting thirsty.

There you go – the Saddleworth Cycle & Horse Trail – DONE.

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MAD Walkers are a hiking group for 20s and 30s for people who live in and around the Greater Manchester area. With over 400 members, they offer a variety of group walks to suit you and many other like-minded people.

Head to their website to find an upcoming walk…

MAD Walkers