Glossop by Gabriella Wieland

This article has been written by Gabriella Wieland, a Senior Features Editor from Manchester. You can find her online, and on Twitter.

Whether it’s a new spot to get in some post-lockdown reading, or a new jogging route to let off some steam, taking the time to get outdoors can bring a whole host of health benefits. But as the UK enters its 12th week of lockdown, we’ve all had to get a little creative when it comes to our recreational time.

Luckily for us, Greater Manchester has a plethora of hidden corners and stunning beauty spots untouched by modern development, just waiting to be explored.

Stretches of green space abundant in wildlife can be found in all parts of our glorious city, and these gorgeous beauty spots are the perfect place to escape back to nature as we all become acquainted with the ‘new normal’. Take a look at just some of the less-known beauty spots you can enjoy around Greater Manchester, while still being able to keep your distance from others.

The Secret Lake, Levenshulme

The first rule about The Secret Lake is to never talk about The Secret Lake – OK, so this gem isn’t so hidden now we’ve told you about it, but it makes for a great less-populated adventure nonetheless.

This beautiful stretch of nature is a slice of calm in an urban jungle. Found on the corners of Levenshulme, Reddish and Gorton, this hidden lake is perfect for those looking to venture off the beaten track – making it an ideal spot for those whose health requires strict social distancing as lockdown restrictions are eased.

There’s plenty of wooded hiking trails to explore nearby, including links to the Trans Pennine Trail and Manchester Cycle Way, which you can hop on and visit nearby Debdale Park in just 5 minutes if you’ve got your two-wheels with you.

Parking access to the lake is limited, but pedestrian and cycle access is seamless via the Fallowfield Loop or Longford Lane. If you get lucky, you may spot one of the family of swans who live on the lake – making for a serene spot to visit when you just need a little time out.

Location: Levenshulme, Stockport, SK6 6JN

Nearby attractions and facilities: Debdale Park

Mersey River Valley

Also close to the Trans Pennine Trail but on the other side of Manchester lies a large area of urban countryside, the Mersey River Valley. Covering many square miles of untouched greenspace, the countryside could be a lot closer than you think with this hidden gem.

Access to the natures-cape is vast, with the total area covering over 200 hectares of unpopulated countryside. Immediate access can be gained from nearby Chorlton Ees Nature Reserve, Chorlton Water Park and Ivy Green – amongst many others.

Planning your route before venturing upon this hidden path is worthwhile, with the space offering many picturesque rewards – you wouldn’t want to miss. Walkers can enjoy woodland paths and endless meadow pastures, while sun-seekers can bathe in the beauty of one of the many nearby parks. If you’re looking for a more fast-paced adventure, many cycling networks meet up with the Valley – and the riverside itself acts as a great means of transport on bike.

The options are limitless, so be sure to check out the possibilities before you set sail to this one.

Nearby attractions and facilities: Sale Water Park

Longdendale Trail, Glossop

Slap on some sunscreen and dig out your walking boots, because this trail covers a 7-mile long walking and cycling path. Its untouched natural beauty makes it hard to believe that freight trains once thundered up and down this peaceful stretch of countryside, taking form of an old railway line.

Today, the disused line blends comfortably into its natural surroundings with this traffic-free route taking in six reservoirs in its vast landscape: Woodhead, Torside, Rhodeswood, Valehouse, Bottoms and Arnfield.

Take in views of high moorland and the vastness of the picturesque valley – once the largest artificial expanses of water in the world.

Access can easily be gained at the trail’s starting point in Glossop, or try the route backwards by starting at the Woodhead Tunnels.

Location: Padfield, SK13 1DW

Nearby attractions and facilities: Pennine Way

Horrocks Wood, Bolton

Located at the foothills of Winter Hill, Horrocks Fold has it all. On a clear day, you can bask in panoramic views as far as Staffordshire and Wales as you’re spoilt for choice everywhere you look.

The dedicated paths, tracks and nature trails run through open grassland and young woodland, sloping up alongside the landscape of trees and back down again. Don’t forget to look up, and you could be one of the lucky ones to spot one of the resident hunting barn owls.

A carpark gives you road access to this less-populated beauty spot, but watch out for the potholes!

Location: Bolton, BL1 7BX

Nearby attractions and facilities: Rivington Pike, Haigh Woodland Park

Haughton Dale Nature Reserve, Hyde

Tucked away alongside the River Tame and Peak Forest Canal, this well-maintained but lesser-known woodland forms part of a larger landscape hidden in Tameside’s urban landscape. With wildlife in abundance, the 50-acre site features a thick forest of mixed deciduous trees and open heathland that is unique to the Manchester region.

A true survivor of the industrial revolution, Haughton Dale and its ancient woodlands are now connected by newer woodlands that have been planted on the footprint of textile mills, coal mining and early glass-making sites.

Despite its unpopulated appeal, the woodland connects with an extensive path network for walkers of all abilities, cyclists and horse riders to enjoy.

Wherever you decide to venture along this trail, idyllic respite from surrounding suburbs can be found at every corner.

Location: Hyde, M34 7PY

Nearby attractions: Peak Forest Canal, Middlewood Way (PDF)