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Manchester Free Cycle Guide

Cyclists are to being encouraged to journey out and explore the 500 square miles of wonderful landscapes and rural attractions that make up Manchester’s Countryside with a new 20 page cycle guide.

From the grandeur of National Trust estates like Dunham Massey in Trafford to historic houses such as Smithills Hall in Bolton, to the quaintly named, picture postcard villages of Delph, Dobcross and Diggle in Oldham - a new cycling guide is out to prove there's more to Manchester than meets the eye.

It's been launched as part of a project called 'Manchester's Countryside' which looks to promote the area as a rural tourism destination worthy of national acclaim. The guide contains family friendly rides, more challenging mountain bike routes and longer distance road bike rides taking in mile-upon-mile of picturesque countryside.

The eight cycle routes featured in the guide take in trails, tracks, tow paths and rural roads cutting through hidden gems of villages, up over moorland, along canal-sides with stop offs at attractions, vistas, points of interest and food and drink establishments.

The routes include: 'Halls and Heather', 'The Littleborough Lake to Lake', 'The Saddleworth Rail Trail', 'The Monton Green Loop', 'The Flatlands of Dunham', 'The Diggle Jiggle', 'Halls Route' and 'The Bury Circular'.

'Halls and Heather' is a 25 mile road route starting at Haigh Hall, Wigan and rising up over Rivington Pike in Bolton. For those who fancy their rides slightly less "hilly" the Monton Green Loop is an eight mile tow-path and bridle path ride through lovely Worsley Village near Salford. Whilst more adventurous bikers can opt for challenging treks including the mountain bike loop, 'The Diggle Jiggle'!

The Wigan ride….

Environment Minister Richard Benyon said:

"The rural areas around Manchester have hundreds of miles of cycle routes and lots of places to visit on a day trip or short break. Our £226,000 investment will help bring many more visitors in to enjoy the countryside and help rural communities make the most of new business prospects. The tourism industry is a real opportunity for economic growth in rural areas, and we're investing £25 million to promote rural tourism across the country."

Manchester Countryside Project Manager, Sarah Challender said:

"Cycling is a fantastic way to see the countryside. It can be rewarding, challenging, relaxing and exciting, so it's little wonder cycling is the third most popular reason for visiting the countryside."

"Cycle tourism is big business and can make a very positive contribution to the GM regional economy."

Stuart Johnson of 'Cycle Stockport', a small group of enthusiastic cyclists (and walkers) working behind the scenes for better cycling facilities in the borough said:

"The Hall's route featured in the guide is a project that the group has been working on for over ten years and it's fantastic this is now going to be published so that more people will know about it."

"Manchester's Countryside is a haven for sports enthusiasts with hundreds of miles of walking and cycle routes for people to explore and enjoy. It's time to get on your bike!"

Manchester's Countryside was officially re-launched in May 2011. The project has been re-introduced following a successful application for Rural Development Programme for England Funding (RDPE).

The £226,000 financial injection will be added to private sector and local authority support to enable the development of Greater Manchester rural short breaks, countryside activities, events, major marketing activity and industry support.

Rural tourism in Greater Manchester is currently valued at more than £120m. The Manchester's Countryside initiative will look to increase this by attracting an additional 70,000 visitors and pushing total visitor numbers to approximately 5.9 million by December 2012.

The new cycle guide is available to download at, at Tourism Information Centres or to order 0161 253 5111.

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