North of the city - around the towns of Bury, Bolton, Wigan, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford and Tameside - you'll find more than 500 square miles of inspiring countryside, crisscrossed by historical waterways and dotted with picturesque towns and fascinating attractions that make for great days out of the city.
For pure peaceful escape from the hurly burly of the city, dip into the region's country parks. In the heart of Wigan, Haigh Hall and Country Park offers 40 miles of secluded woodland trails and canal towpaths running through 250 acres of park and woodland. A walk round beautiful Dovestone Reservoir takes about an hour, and the picturesque Pennine village of Saddleworth is another highlight.
The exhilarating South and West Pennine Moors run through the region too, offering miles of cycleways and bridleways for walkers and riders to recharge and unwind in the great outdoors. Look out for, Hollingworth Lake in Rochdale, once a traditional destination for local mill workers, it sits in a popular country park and is an ideal gateway to the South Pennines.
North Manchester is crisscrossed by canals, a lasting reminder of Manchester's industrial heritage. Today they provide tranquil, traffic-free cycling routes, places of historical significance, havens for wildlife, heritage trails and peaceful picnic sites. The Rochdale Canal is the broad waterway that opened up the route through the valleys to the magnificent Pennine moors. The Huddersfield Narrow Canal, which flows through the villages of Oldham, has the unusual bonus of a canal-side sculpture trail for you to take in too.
North Manchester has many historic towns and villages that are well worth a visit. The picturesque Saddleworth villages of Diggle, Dobcross and Uppermill are surrounded by dramatic Pennine moorland. Over in Bolton there's also lovely Smithills Hall, a restored fourteenth-century Lancashire manor house with formal gardens, and Hall I'th' Wood, a part-timbered Tudor merchant's house where Samuel Crompton invented the revolutionary "spinning mule" in 1779.
For the energetic, a climb from Ramsbottom, a town on the East Lancashire Railway, up to the Peel Tower on Holcombe Hill will leave you with spectacular views. Relax afterwards with a visit to the popular Shoulder of Mutton pub in Holcombe Village near Bury.