Exploring a park with a map and navigating round a course or trail is a great way to take yourself off the beaten track, find new routes and hidden corners to enjoy.  Across Greater Manchester, there's a huge variety to discover from formal gardens and small Victorian boating lakes, to meadows, waterways and historic estates.

The best way to start exploring is to have a go at one of the many Permanent Orienteering Courses that have been set up across Greater Manchester in over 50 parks and open spaces. The 'Get Out & Go' video series, filmed in some of Greater Manchester's parks will show you how to tackle these courses with trails ranging from 1 or 2K to 6K or more. With orienteering courses there is no set route, rather you find your own way round the course using the map to decide the best way to go between marker posts.

By trying courses that are set up with permanent markers, you can do as much or as little as you like, at a time and pace to suit you.  It's also a chance to learn something new, get some exercise and have the satisfaction of completing a challenge. While Covid restrictions are in force, in the outdoors it's very easy to keep your distance and there is no equipment to share.

Key to all orienteering is the specially drawn maps and the ones that orienteers use show a great deal of detail.   Use the videos to see how the map works, the way the symbols are drawn and how to find the marker posts on the course. Other than having the map, you need little else to get going. A compass isn't necessary on simple courses, just be dressed ready for the outdoors whether you are planning to run or walk.

Once you have had a try at doing some of the Permanent Orienteering courses and enjoyed the challenge, you could try competitive orienteering events as these are also organised several times a year in Greater Manchester's open spaces.

Parks and Open Spaces with Permanent Orienteering Courses in Greater Manchester  

Bolton - Leverhulme Park, Moses Gate Crompton’s Lodges, Moses Gate Darcy Lever, Moss Bank Park, Queen’s Park.

Bury - Burrs Country Park, Chesham Woods, Hoyles Park, Nuttall Park, Philips Park (Prestwich)

Manchester - Boggart Hole Clough, Brookdale Park, Chorlton Water Park, Debdale Park, Heaton Park, Hough End, Philips Park (Clayton), Wythenshawe Park

Oldham - Alexandra Park, Chadderton Hall Park, Crompton Moor, Daisy Nook Country Park, Dove Stone, Strinesdale, Tandle Hill Country Park.

Rochdale - Queens Park (Heywood), Springfield Park

Salford - Blackleach Country Park, Clifton Country Park, Dukes Drive (Monton), Kersal Dale, Kersal Moor, Princes Park (Irlam), Worsley Woods,

Stockport - Brabyns Park, Bramhall Park, Bruntwood Park, Burnage Rugby Club (Lyme), Mirrlees Fields, Reddish Vale, Woodbank Park

Tameside - Etherow Lodge Park, Gorse Hall, Silver Springs

Trafford - Longford Park, Sale Water Park, Urmston Meadows

Wigan – Amberswood, Haigh Hall and Country Park, Three Sisters Recreation Area

Peripheral - Alderley Edge, Brereton Heath (Congleton), Clowbridge (Lancashire), Macclesfield Forest, Teggs Nose (Macclesfield).

Maps and Permanent Orienteering Courses

All the maps showing Permanent Orienteering Courses can be found at Greater Manchester Orienteering Activities (GMOA)

Maps can be downloaded and come with instructions and tips.

Orienteering Clubs and Events

Two clubs cover the Greater Manchester district:

Manchester and District Orienteering Club (MDOC)

South East Lancashire Orienteering Club (SELOC)

The videos were made with a grant from Sport England