Manchester city centre in the heat: the Arndale's pulsing crowds, the sun going so full-tilt that Market St.'s cobbles are beginning to look shiny and soft. Beer garden's at capacity, like at capacity. Like Sinclair's Oyster bar on a bank holiday at capacity.
Northern Quarter side streets hurriedly crammed with rickety chairs and tables that can't be trusted to support drinks, processions of taxis lumbering up and down Peter St., ejecting passengers into the laps of already crammed bars.
This, in a way, is all wonderful. But it can become overbearing, even for the most seasoned urbanites. Thankfully, the city centre is surrounded by many a deep valley, breezy coastline and sun-dappled woodland – perfect for long, scenic hikes filled with plenty of fresh air.
We've compiled 12 spots to stretch you legs, take a breather and enjoy the expanse of the great outdoors.
Note: Always plan your route ahead of travel. Be sure to wear appropriate walking clothes and carry appropriate equipment.
Tandle Hill View Point
Explore the 110 acres of parkland plus surrounding woodland and grassland at Tandle Hill Country Park in Royton, Oldham. From here you can see spectacular and contrasting views across Manchester, Rochdale and the Pennine Hills – and even as far as Wales on a clear day.
There's plenty of great walks through the park – an easier path for those hoping for a gentler stroll, or a steeper trail up to the highest point of the park where you'll find a World War I memorial and some amazing views.
Tandle Hill Road, Oldham OL2 5UX
A popular spot with keen walkers, Blackstone Edge is a great place to stretch your legs, whether you want a short walk or a long hike.
With gorgeous views across Littleborough and Rochdale, it's not the most taxing of hikes, but it is littered with gritstone in all shapes and sizes so care needs to be taken along the way.
The Aiggin Stone, a gritstone pillar, stands alongside the route and marks the county boundary. You'll also find a trig pillar – a landmark used to determine the shape of the country – at the highest point. Start at the White House Pub on Halifax Road near the Blackstone Reservoir and head up towards the Pennine Way and up to the summit.
Or if you really want to put yourself through your paces, start at Hollingworth Lake and use the footpaths from the town across the moors to the Blackstone Edge.
Blackstone Edge, OL15 0LG
Holcombe Moor to Peel Tower
This sometimes-strenuous circular walk that gives a pleasant combination of spectacular views, ancient woodland, riverside rambling and a whole host of local heritage.
Head upwards towards the imposing Peel Tower and be rewarded with magnificent and uninterrupted views across Manchester and the North West.
The walk starts at Ramsbottom station, so time it right and you can leave the car behind and arrive in style on a steam locomotive.
Parts of the walk crosses farmland and so walkers need to keep to the footpath and make sure any accompanying dogs are on a lead. You can download a map of the route here – you're looking at around 2-3 hours to complete it.
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Ramsbottom Station, Railway Street, Ramsbottom, BL0 9AL
Take a trip to beautiful Riverton and discover the secrets of the Roddlesworth Woods. Walk through the thick forest and you'll discover what was once Hollinshead Hall – a manor house owned by the wealthy Hollinshead family.
Just fragments of the former mansion remain, but explore further into the site and you'll find a well-house containing what used to be a holy healing well. If you follow the river through the woods you might even spot some waterfalls along the way.
But if you want a more challenging trek, head past the ruins, through the wood and uphill on the flank of Cartridge Hill following the signs for Lyon's Den.
Carry straight on up to Darwen Tower, taking the spiral staircase to the peak and enjoy the phenomenal views that await you.
Chorley BB3 0PD
Ruins of Errwood Hall
Take in some of the most historic sites in the Goyt Valley on this three-mile circular walk. Head to the Errwood Hall carpark and walk up the slopes following the signage pointing towards the ruins of the once magnificent Errwood Hall.
You'll see all that remains of this country house along the way – including the traces of the ornamental gardens and stone archways.
Follow the path past Errwood and up the stone steps through the trees towards the ruins of Castedge Cottage – just a pile of stones resembling the outline of the former farmhouse.
Take the path upwards past the ruins up to the hilltop graves of the Grimshawe family – the resting place of the family that once lived in Errwood Hall.
Head back down the same path, over the footbridge and follow the sign to Pym Chair where you'll eventually pass the small stone building known as St Joseph's Shrine – a memorial to a Spanish school teacher who once resided at the hall.
Follow the path to the summit of the incline along Follow Edge and enjoy the views before heading back down to the car park.
Buxton SK17 6GJ
It's probably one of the most difficult hikes in the Peak District and definitely not for the inexperienced. A hike up Kinder Scout is not only challenging, it has some pretty difficult ascents and descents in places. There's no easy way to scale this mountain, but conquering its peak is an achievement in itself.
The route and paths are generally in good condition but hill walking attire and equipment is essential, as is a decent level of fitness.
The most popular route is the one that starts at Edale village. Follow the signage, take the scrambly ascent up Grindsbrook Clough.
Once at the top most of the walk uses the paved and well-maintained Pennine Way and you can enjoy a number of the peculiar rock formations which scatter the mountainside.
The way down via Jacobs Ladder is fairly steep but what follows is a gentle descent down paths through farmland and back to Edale.
Start from Edale Car Park S33 7ZL
Perhaps one of the best-known walks in the Peak District, this takes in the spectacular scenery of the Edale Valley.
Starting in Castleton below Peveril Castle you walk towards the distinctively rugged Winnats Pass before turning right and making your way uphill towards Blue John Cavern.
From here it is a short climb along a footpath up to the summit of Mam Tor where you are greeted with stunning views of the long ridge and the Peak District.
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Carry on along the ridge and after Loose Hill start heading south-west back towards Castleton by using paths and roads. You're looking at around a six-hour hike to complete the route.
Take a day rambling through this stunning wooded Peak District valley. Pick up the trail at Grindleford Station – which you can reach direct from Manchester. The trail is well signposted and runs through oak-birch Yarncliff woodland and then into the neighbouring countryside.
Follow the Burbage Brook through the trees and discover waterfalls, rocky boulders, rockpools and wooden bridges.
If you want to extend your walk, the Padley Gorge trail runs close to Stanage Edge, a gritstone escarpment with views over Hallam Moors and the Hope Valley.
You could always check out the National Trust's Longshaw estate while you're there too, with its with quiet landscapes of ancient woods, meadows, parkland and heather moorland – and a visitors centre housed in an old shooting lodge.
Grindleford Station, Hope Valley, S32 2HY
Dove Stone Reservoir
This straightforward walk begins at a small car park off Holmfirth Road.
After walking down to the reservoir edge and along the dam you begin a small climb up a grass-covered hill towards Dovestones Edge which is easily recognisable.
Once at the top you are greeted with stunning views of Oldham and Manchester. Follow the path south along the ridge and descend back towards the reservoir before retracing your steps back to the car park.
Dove Stone Reservoir, Bank Lane, Saddleworth, OL3 7NE
Walkerwood, Brushes and the Swineshaw reservoirs
To the east of Stalybridge you can find the four reservoirs of Walkerwood, Brushes and Swineshaw and Higher Swineshaw.
These tranquil and Instagramable reservoirs are the perfect place to spend a few hours exploring the countryside.
Access is via a footpath that runs from the end of Brushes Road, adjacent to Stalybridge Country Park.
From the bottom Walkerwood Reservoir you can walk up the well-paved road and explore the rest.
It is a bit of a steep climb up but the views at the top of Manchester and beyond are well worth it.
And at the top you can easily continue to explore with many paths scattered across the picturesque fields and moorland, or just follow the way you came back down.
There is no parking on site.
Sitting above Walkerwood, Brushes and the Swineshaw reservoirs is Hobson Moor.
Walkers who get to the top are treated with stunning views – and on a clear day can see the Merseyside coast, mountains in North Wales and the hills in the Peak District.
To get to the top walkers can do the above walk, and walk from Brushes Road to Higher Swinshaw reservoir. From there follow the bridleway towards Tintwistle before coming to a footpath on the right which will lead up hill towards cattle fields.
Follow this path through the fields for around 2km. You will then come to a smaller hill on the moor. Make your way up that along the footpath and you will then be at the Hobson Moor trig point. From here you can go back on yourself, or turn left and travel along the gravel path back down the moor. This footpath will then folk into three ways. Take the right path which doubles back on the way you came.
This will become a Bridleway and lead back to Walkerwood reservoir.
Surrounded by rolling hills and rugged moorland, Greenbooth reservoir feels as if it’s a world away from the urban sprawl of Greater Manchester.
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A 15 minute drive from the centre of Rochdale, Greenbooth is one of four linked reservoirs – which also include Naden Higher, Naden Middle and Naden Lower, in the Naden Valley. It’s the largest of the four and has an interesting history to it.
Hidden in the depths of the reservoir is the remains of the village of Greenbooth, which was submerged during the 1960s.
There are paths you can follow around Greenbooth and the other three reservoirs.
For a more challenging walk you can circle all four of them, which takes around two hours. You can enjoy the gorgeous scenery along the way and you may even spot some sheep roaming around.
There is parking at the reservoir although it can get busy on weekends. It’s also important to wear suitable clothing and footwear as it can be windy on the moors, and muddy underfoot after recent rainfall.
Bridestones, Crosscliff and Blakely Topping all make up part of a nature reserve that's looked after by the National Trust and the wealth of unusual features make it a great place for a hike. It's home to some unusual and unique rock formations known as the Bridestones, a Jurassic sedimentary rock deposited some 150 million years ago.
Climb to the top of these boulders and get a view of the surrounding countryside. Or stretch your legs with a steep climb up Jonathan Gill.
There's also 300 acres of nature reserve to explore, which is a blend of wooded hillsides and grassy moorland. Bridestones Griff separates the two groups of stones, leading to the grassy valley of Dovedale and its ancient woodland.
There are marked footpaths throughout which take you through the various landscapes on the site. Just remember that road access is via Dalby Forest, toll payable to Forestry Commission.
Staindale, Dalby, Pickering, North Yorkshire, YO18 7LR
The ravine itself was formed by glacial water carving through the limestone, creating the deep valley that stands today. And overlooked by the imposing Norman fortress, Peveril Castle, this route could easily be the backdrop to Game of Thrones.
Cave Dale is also the filming location of the famous “as you wish” hill-falling scene from the cult classic movie The Princess Bride.
There's also little caves and mines left from the previous industrial era to discover along the way, too. A dramatic but rewarding walk – push through the steep pass and be rewarded by magnificent views across the surrounding area.
Start at Castleton, following the route waymarked from the shop.
Castleton S33 8WJ
Blow off the cobwebs with a walk through this beautiful wooded valley with a 19th-century mill at its heart.
There are miles of walking trails that take you through the different areas of this stunning gorge taking in the numerous streams, waterfalls, and wildlife, plus the Gibson Mill – which houses interactive displays that showcase the history of the valley over the past 200 years.
The trails are different lengths and varying levels of difficulty but all are well way-marked throughout.
The National Trust look after the area, and often host guided walks throughout the woodland, or you can explore the hidden corners of Hardcastle Crags yourself.
Gibson Mill, Midgehole Road, Hebden Bridge HX7 7AW
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