Gabriella Wieland is a freelance writer and editor. Residing in Manchester, she spends much of her time liaising with scientists to find a geographical cure for eternally-grey skies and finding adventures of the ‘free’ variety. You can find her online, and on Instagram.

With Manchester finally being able to wave goodbye to over-sized rain coats and the occasional snow shovel, the weather has certainly been teasing the district with days of sunshine in preparation for a glorious summer. The change in season offers an ideal time to to get outdoors and discover some of Manchester’s hidden idyllic locations and, with the summer holidays looming, here are a handful of family-friendly locations that will do little to dent your wallet:

Peak Forest Canal

A hidden beauty spot ideally located for those living close to the border of Tameside and Stockport, but a rather scenic and quiet route which is worth a trip out to nonetheless. Running adjacent to the River Goyt, there are plenty of recluse and picturesque landscapes to explore just off this 15-mile stretch.

If the trail itself isn’t long enough to satisfy those hiking cravings, the Peak Forest Canal connects to the Ashton and Macclesfield canals – offering plenty of opportunities to explore. But with two historic monuments to see and ample places to explore woodlands or stop off for lunch at a canal-side pub, the trail already has everything you need for a local outdoorsy day-out. Whether you choose Peak Forest Canal or a canal-way closer to your doorstep, checking out Manchester’s local canal routes and waterways is a cost-effective way to get outdoors during the holidays.

Starts: Ashton, Tameside 

Ends: Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire

Find your best access point to the trail here:

The Monsal Trail

While Manchester’s canal-ways offer great traffic-free cycle routes fit for an activity-packed day out, the Monsal Trail is a must for walkers and cyclists alike. With a 9 mile stretch offering picturesque views and many places to detour, Monsal Trail is perfect for cycling-lovers who prefer off-road trails.

Situated on the outskirts of the Peak District National Park, the trail begins in the old spa town of Buxton, you can cycle the full 9 miles and back to the neighbouring village of Bakewell (and grab yourself a Bakewell tart, obvs) or simply ride along the trail to one of the many tranquil locations in the area.

For those without cycling equipment or if you simply don’t fancy to trudging your kit to Derbyshire with you, bikes are available to hire from the two cycling shops situated at the beginning and end of the trail. The Derbyshire area is a perfect destination for Mancunians wishing to recharge their scenic batteries and this trail is certainly high on the list.

Click the link below to find out more about the trail or visit The Peak District website to find further inspiration.

Monsal Trail, Buxton, SK17 9UQ /

Reddish Vale Country Park

For those feeling especially energised over the summer, Reddish Vale Country Park can be accessed via the Peak Forest Canal trail. While this country park is not so hidden in terms of discoverability, its location makes it difficult for you to believe that you’re only 6 miles from the bustling streets of Manchester and just 2 miles from the centre of Stockport. In fact, if it wasn’t for the impressive stature of the viaduct cutting through the woodland’s skyline, it will be hard to believe you’re close to a bustling town at all during your visit.

For wildlife lovers, Reddish Vale Country Park is home to a diverse array of ecology. The River Tame is habitat to a wide range of plant and animal species and, with five ponds in Reddish Vale, you can discover many species of birds, mammals and insects on your visit.

If you’re more of a furry animal lover, Reddish Vale Farm is just a few strides away from Reddish Vale’s visitor centre and is home to many four-legged friends.


  • Toilets

  • Café

  • Carparking

Reddish Vale Road, Reddish, Stockport, SK5 7HE /

Goyt Valley

Another countryside gem bursting with places to adventure that our neighbouring borough Derbyshire has to offer. Lying within the Peak District National Park on the outskirts of Buxton and Whalley Bridge, Goyt Valley is a wonderful mix of moorland, forests, reservoirs and enchanting pathways which offer a network of trails and bridleways.

Simply stroll along the banks of the River Goyt as it meanders over picturesque woodland and limestone terrain or plan your perfect trek to recharge and reconnect with the outdoors. If the many networks of trails don’t offer enough choice to choose from, a walk around the two large reservoirs offers a wonderfully quiet place for a picnic and down-time.


  • Toilets

  • Picnic Sites

  • Carparking

With many options to choose from, you can select a walk before your visit here: Goyt Valley, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK17 6GJ

Etherow Country Park

As one of Britain’s first country parks, Etherow is a perfect destination for a stroll on a sunny day, reading a book by one of the many open waters or having a picnic in one of the many idyllic picnic sites. Etherow Country Park lies within the Greater Manchester borough of Stockport, not too far out from city centre Manchester by public transport or car.

If you’re feeling especially uninhibited, why not check out one of the festivals which are situated on the park’s grounds this summer? Additional information about the park and events can be found here:


  • Toilet

  • Café

  • Carparking

George Street, Compstall, Romiley, SK6 5JD