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Accommodation, restaurants and events in Manchester's countryside
North of the city - around the towns of Bury, Bolton, Wigan, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford and Tameside - you'll find more than 500 square miles of inspiring countryside, crisscrossed by historical waterways and dotted with picturesque towns and fascinating attractions that make for great days out of the city...
Visit the Manchester's Countryside website for a full guide on what to see and do in Manchester's Countryside.
Parks, woods and wildlife
For pure peaceful escape from the hurly burly of the city, dip into the region's country parks. In the heart of Wigan, Haigh Country Park offers 40 miles of secluded woodland trails and canal towpaths running through 250 acres of park and woodland. Entry is free, and there's a Golfing Centre and the Stables Art and Craft Gallery to enjoy too. For wilder scenery there's the Peak District National Park, which takes in Oldham. A walk round beautiful Dovestone Reservoir takes about an hour, and the picturesque Pennine village of Saddleworth is another highlight.The exhilarating South and West Pennine Moors run through the region too, offering miles of cycleways and bridleways for walkers and riders to recharge and unwind in the great outdoors. The area around Rochdale is more wild open country, the sort of breathtaking landscape that many visitors might not expect to find on Manchester's doorstep. Look out for, Hollingworth Lake, once a traditional destination for local mill workers, it sits in a popular country park and is an ideal gateway to the South Pennines.
North Manchester is crisscrossed by canals, a lasting reminder of Manchester's industrial heritage. Then they provided the booming city with a reliable and economic way to transport goods such as coal, iron ore and cotton in large quantities. Today they provide tranquil, traffic-free cycling routes, places of historical significance, havens for wildlife, heritage trails and peaceful picnic sites. The Leeds to Liverpool Canal is, at 127 miles long, the longest canal in Britain. It runs through Wigan and brims with history. The Rochdale Canal is the broad waterway that opened up the route through the valleys to the magnificent Pennine moors. The Huddersfield Narrow Canal, which flows through the villages of Oldham, has the unusual bonus of a canal-side sculpture trail for you to take in too.
Towns and Villages
North Manchester has many historic towns and villages that are well worth a visit. The picturesque Saddleworth villages of Diggle, Dobcross and Uppermill are surrounded by dramatic Pennine moorland. See the history of the Pennine community at the Saddleworth Museum and Art Gallery, Uppermill. Barrow Bridge, a worker's town on the outskirts of Bolton was also founded in the age of cotton. It's a small and picturesque village, a perfect stop-off for a relaxing walk and picnic.
Over Bolton way there's also lovely Smithills Hall, a restored fourteenth-century Lancashire manor house with formal gardens, and Hall I'th' Wood, a part-timbered Tudor merchant's house where Samuel Crompton invented the revolutionary "spinning mule" in 1779. To go even further back in history, take a wander around 16th-century St Wilfred's Church in the 12th-century village of Standish in the borough of Wigan. At Bury, besides historic steam trains at The East Lancashire Railway, you'll find northwest England's largest public art project, the 30-mile Irwell Sculpture Trail.
For the energetic, a climb from Ramsbottom, a town on the East Lancashire Railway, up to the Peel Tower on Holcombe Hill will leave you with spectacular views. Relax afterwards with a visit to the popular Shoulder of Mutton pub in Holcombe Village near Bury.