Over the past year, I have made it my mission to get to know my surroundings a little better. I’ll be the first to hold my hands up and admit that I’m usually dreaming of travelling to far off places, but I have slowly come to realise that Manchester is the perfect jump off point to a number of truly beautiful locations.
What surprised me most, was how close these places were to my very own doorstep. In the blink of an eye, I could be transported from the busy, noisy streets of the city to charming villages, rolling hills and herds of deer, grazing before me.
This is by no means an exhaustive list and simply names some of my more recent trips. However, I intend to add to it as time goes on, so watch this space!
Situated in the Upper Calder Valley in West Yorkshire, Hebden Bridge is a quaint, yet quirky little market town. On the outside, it has that quintessentially northern post-industrial mill town feel to it; stone buildings, tall chimneys and a popular canal; however, on closer inspection, you find yourself in some sort of bohemian paradise, surrounded by art, culture, vegan cafes and ‘more lesbian women per square foot than London or Brighton’.
I adored the stone buildings against the backdrop of the green hillsides. And who can’t love a town with a bridge dating back to the 1500s?!
Narrowboats lined the tranquil canal, keeping their inhabitants toasty-warm from the bitterly cold January air.
Hebden is the perfect place to visit for an amble, some lovely lunch and to browse the independent shops for arts and crafts, handmade soaps and organic whole foods. There are also a number of picturesque walking routes from the town.
Getting there: You can get to Hebden Bridge direct from Manchester Victoria in just 35-45 minutes.
The Peak District
Making up the southern end of the Pennines, I knew the Peak District would steal my heart as soon as I stepped off the train. Whether you are craving a village stroll and pub lunch, or something a little more strenuous, such as hiking, cycling, climbing or horse riding; the Peak District has everything you could possibly need to help clear out those clogged city lungs.
The stone cottages in Castleton look like they have come straight off a postcard.
The views from the Mam Tor ridge walk left me breathless; partly due to the stunning scenery surrounding me, and partly because I am grossly unfit.
Edale also offers some beautiful hiking country; rolling hills, old farmyards and crumbling barns, wildflowers. If you’re feeling really fit, hike up Jacobs Ladder for the most incredible views over the valley.
If you’d like to read about my hikes in the Peak District in more detail, check out 5 Beautiful Day Hikes in the Peak District.
Getting there: Trains from Manchester Piccadilly stop at Edale and Hope Station via the Hope Valley line and take around 40-50 minutes.
Based in Altrincham, Cheshire, Dunham Massey is a National Trust Georgian house with an all-season garden and 192.7 acre deer park. Dunham Park itself dates back to the Middle Ages and some 31,000 trees were planted in the pasture-woodland in the early 18th century.
The park is the perfect place for a stroll (or cycle, in my case) and to spot wildlife. A herd of fallow deer have been present on the grounds for hundreds of years.
Getting there: You can catch buses from Altrincham and Warrington, which stop at the main gates. By car it will take roughly 40 minutes. I opted to cycle from Manchester to Dunham Massey along the Bridgewater Canal, which was a lovely alternative.
‘The Edge’, Alderley Edge
Part of the ‘Golden Triangle’, Alderley Edge is one of the most expensive places to live in the UK, outside of London. There are a number of woodland walks around Alderley Edge, making it a great place to come for a refreshing country ramble, followed by some posh nosh in the village (or be a cheapskate and take a packed lunch, like me).
The Edge itself is a dramatic escarpment, which overlooks the beautiful Cheshire countryside, with the city of Manchester gleaming in the distance against the far hills of the Peak District.
Getting there: You can get to Alderley Edge station in just half an hour from Manchester Piccadilly.
Chatsworth House is a stately home in Derbyshire. There are over 30 rooms to explore in the house, some of which showcase works of art that span 4000 years!
The 105 acre garden dates back almost 500 years. As you stroll around the grounds, you’ll find the famous Canal Pond and Cascade, a Victorian rock garden, a maze, sculptures, greenhouses and even a working farmyard!
Getting there: Chatsworth House is 38 miles from Manchester, taking the A6 and A623.
Dovestone Reservoir is located on the very edge of the Peak District, just a few miles from Oldham. It’s a truly picturesque spot, perfect for dog walkers, hikers and climbers.
You can simply walk around the 2.5 mile circumference of the reservoir or take it one step further and hike up onto the surrounding moorland.
Getting there: Dovestone Reservoir is approx 13.6 miles from Manchester and will take around 50 minutes to reach by car.
Have you travelled to many of these places? Do you have any more to add to the list? I’d love to hear your recommendations!