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 lockdown measures changing by the day, there’s never been a better time to get outdoors and enjoy your downtime. Whether you’re looking to go for a relaxing stroll on your own or with your household, Greater Manchester is home to breath-taking peaks at every corner, making up plenty of places to get outdoors and unplug as the hustle and bustle continues to build.

Just a 40-minute drive from the city centre on the outskirts of Oldham and Tameside lies a popular route among many Mancunians. Dove Stone Reservoir is a picturesque spot with an extensive network of footpaths and links available to access across the open moorland surrounding. But should the popularity of the trail make a trip to the beauty stop out of the question due to overcapacity – or maybe you’re simply seeking somewhere a little more remote – the day doesn’t have to be a write-off.

A picturesque area itself, there are many beauty spots in the surrounding towns close to Dove Stones just waiting to be explored. To start you off, below are just a few nearby suggestions that allow you to reconnect with nature and enjoy the great outdoors.

Pots and Pans (Uppermill, Saddleworth)

If you were planning a day out to Dove Stones via car and arrive only to find that the carpark is at full capacity, fear not – for this walk means you can still take in the beauty that Dove Stones has to offer without actually having to visit.

Located just a couple of miles west of Dove Stones is a relatively challenging-yet-rewarding route that takes you high up in the moors overlooking the reservoir. The name of the walk refers to the stone obelisk located at the of the hill above Uppermill and Greenfield, commissioned in 1923 to honour the 259 people from the villages of Saddleworth who died during the first world war. Each year on Remembrance Sunday, the surrounding communities take on the climb to commemorate those who lost their lives in the futility of the two world wars and later conflicts.

On any other day of the year, the walk up to Pots and Pans is worth it for the panorama alone. Not only will you be able to enjoy an aerial view of Doves Stones at the end of your ascent, but you’ll also be rewarded with stunning panoramic views stretching across Manchester’s cityscape as well as its surrounding reservoirs.

Although this is a fairy moderate walk, an 800-foot ascension may not be for the faint-hearted. If you do manage to take on the climb, you may want to stop off in the village of Greenfield for a well-earned refuel.

There are plenty of walking routes to follow online – or if you’re more ‘get up and go’, simply head for the cenotaph from the starting point and you won’t be able to go wrong.

Starting point: OL3 6LW (approx.)

Length: 4.5 miles with a 800-foot ascension

Amenities: Greenfield Village

Swineshaw Reservoirs (Stalybridge)

There’s nothing quite like open water set upon a windswept moor to take your mind off lockdown and into the now. Located just a few miles from Dove Stones lies another idyllic spot nestled within one of Tameside’s metropolitan towns. With a much more gradual ascent than Pots and Pans, you will still be able to take in spectacular views across Manchester’s City Centre when you climb to reach the Swineshaw Reservoirs on this walk.

The route is wonderful for taking in the many habitats surrounding, leading you alongside Higher and Lower Swineshaw Reservoir – the walk’s vantage point from which you can look down over the Cheshire Plain. But first, you’ll ascend through farmland and up wooded cloughs before emerging high atop the moors, rewarded with panoramic views of Manchester and some surrounding counties. In one direction you can take in the beauty of the Cheshire and Welsh mountains, in another you can spot the Lancashire hills, and as you turn again you’ll be able to peer down on the uplands of the Peak District.

For those shielding or looking to escape the hustle and bustle, this route isn’t typically populated – but you may be able to spot highland cattle along your way.

Start the route from the carpark at Walkerwood Reservoir on Brushes Road and head for the hills, following the signs for Pennine Bridleway to the Higher and Lower Swineshaw Reservoirs.

Starting point: SK15 3QP (approx.)

Length: 4 miles / 2 hours

Amenities: Stalybridge Country Park

Daisy Nook Country Park (Oldham)

A little further afield is route popular among families, Daisy Nook Country Park. Situated on the border of Oldham and Tameside, the country park offers a wide-range of child-friendly activities amongst its picturesque backdrop of woodland and canals, making it a perfect day out for the whole family.

There’s plenty to be seen on a walk through Daisy Nook, with pitstops at one of the two play areas across its 40 hectares of woodland, meadows and waterways making it a great day for the little ones as well as the big kids at heart.

If you have a literary buff in the family, Daisy Nook was originally known as the Village of Warehouses until Ben Brierley, the famous Lancashire poet and dialect writer, wrote his first major work ‘A Day Out’, and described a ramble to a fictional beauty spot, Daisy Nook.

Many transport networks make this perhaps the most accessible walk on the list if you’re not planning to arrive by car, with direct bus services available from both the city centre and Ashton-under-Lyne.

There are many walking routes available to download on both the Tameside and Oldham council websites, or should you choose to venture alone, the paths are well sign posted and wheel-chair accessible.

Starting point: Daisy Nook Country Park Carpark, M35 9WJ

Length: Optional routes varying from 1-8 miles

Amenities: toilets, café, children’s playground

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