A beautiful, feisty, and proud English county with a rich industrial history and a passionate love of culture, Greater Manchester is a truly fascinating area to explore in North West England. Everyone knows about the powerhouse of a city Manchester which is often known as the ‘Capital of the North’ but explore further afield and you’ll also stumble across some equally extraordinary sights. From fine historic houses to gorgeous country parks, here are 15 of the best and most beautiful places to visit in Greater Manchester…
Salford Quays – Manchester’s contemporary waterfront destination
Even though Salford Quays is one of Greater Manchester’s newest places, it has become a firm favourite with Mancunians and tourists alike. It’s an area for business and pleasure, with the BBC and ITV studios broadcasting great TV alongside the events, arts, and history put on for visitors.
It’s home to the Imperial War Museum North, the Coronation Street tour, The Lowry theatre, and Ordsall Hall. It’s a popular place to watch big events and be in the audience for TV shows. It even has its own Christmas markets in the Wintertime. For a different view of the modern architecture, take a boat cruise along the Manchester Ship Canal, looking out for kingfishers and herons along the way.
Bury – a large market town which is great place to explore in Greater Manchester
The big market town of Bury in North Manchester is often overlooked but it has a wealth of attractions to explore and enjoy. Not only is it home to the East Lancashire Railway, but it has its own cultural quarter and famous market. Bury’s market has nearly 300 stalls selling local and handmade produce. In the centre you can find the Bury Art Museum, the Fusilier Museum, the Bury Transport Museum and a little further out is the Bury Sculpture Centre.
The nearby town of Ramsbottom hosts its own Chocolate Festival, as well as the World Black Pudding Throwing Championships with Bury black pudding of course! Rail lovers can take the 12 mile East Lancs line from Heywood to Bury, Summerseat, Ramsbottom, Irwell Vale, and Rawtenstall, taking in the vistas along the way. Follow the Rail Ale Trail to discover delicious local beers and pubs along the way.
Dovestone Reservoir – one of the most stunning places to visit in Greater Manchester
The RSPB nature reserve of Dovestone Reservoir can be found on Saddleworth Moor where it skirts the edge of the Peak District.
Its location makes it the ideal place for watching grouse, peregrine falcons, curlew, and the golden plover. There are various tracks to the surrounding areas, and the walk around the reservoir is 2 and a half miles.
Dunham Massey – a beautiful Georgian house and one of the best places to visit in Greater Manchester
Dunham Massey is an 18th-century house and gardens that are now a National Trust estate. The wider grounds are home to a herd of fallow deer that can be seen grazing and feeding on trees all over the park. Make sure to visit in September to October when they start ‘rutting’.
This is when the males lock antlers and roar at each other in order to compete for a mate. It’s a joy to watch and the park is home to other wildlife, like great spotted and green woodpeckers, ducks, geese, grey squirrels, and swans.
Lyme Park – a magnificent house and estate on the edge of the Peak District
Situated on the outskirts of Greater Manchester in Disley, Lyme Park is another gorgeous estate – complete with herds of red deer – and managed by the National Trust.
The centrepiece is the Tudor house and gardens made famous from its appearance as Mr. Darcy’s home in the BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It’s another great place to see rutting from red deer, a breed native to the UK countryside. There is plenty of other wildlife to spot here, from spotted and pied flycatchers to buzzards and skylarks.
Marsden Moor Estate – a Greater Manchester beauty spot perfect for outdoor lovers
The rugged landscapes of Marsden Moor are a brilliant place to hike, with a variety of routes to suit all abilities. Whichever one you take will reward you with stunning views of the rocky green moorlands.
Look out for beautiful and rare birds on the moors as short-eared owls, merlin, and snipe all feed in the uplands. Mountain hares and common lizards can also be spotted here.
Reddish Vale Country Park – one of the most beautiful places to visit in Greater Manchester
Once the site of a calico printing works, Reddish Vale Country Park is now a nature reserve with much to entertain all types of visitors.
It has trails for biking and walking, ponds, geocaching walks, wildlife watching in the woodlands and butterfly garden, small art exhibitions, and a farm where children can pet the animals. It’s all set around the River Tame so there are loads of areas to explore and find your own peaceful bit of green space.
Castlefield – walkable area home to canals, waterfront bars and green spaces
Even though Castlefield is situated right next to Manchester City centre, it’s a whole world away from the hustle and bustle. The area is built inside the ruins of the Mamucium Roman Fort on a lovely stretch of the Bridgewater Canal so it’s a great area to stroll around.
As well as great bars and restaurants, it has an outdoor venue called the Castlefield Bowl that hosts canalside concerts. It’s also home to the fascinating Science and Industry Museum and HOME, an independent arts centre that shows films, plays, and exhibitions.
Fletcher Moss Park – a beautiful green space to explore in South Manchester
For a peaceful oasis in South Manchester, head to one of Manchester’s loveliest urban spaces, Fletcher Moss Park in Didsbury. The botanical garden and park links to Stenner Wood and the River Mersey so it’s a wonderful place to go for a wander or to read a book on a bench.
Here you can chat with some of Manchester’s noisiest residents, the escapee ring-necked parakeets that have established a wild population here. The park is a part of history as Emily Williamson founded the RSPB bird protection charity from her home here. She did it in protest against them being killed to be used to decorate hats.
Bramall Hall and Bramhall Park – a striking black and white timber-framed Tudor manor house
South of Stockport is Bramall Hall, a 14th-century building that is preserved as mainly a Tudor manor. The insides have been kept in typical style to display the history of the house, and the staff dress in traditional clothing to represent families and servants that lived and worked here.
Outside are stunning grounds of Bramhall Park with a cafe, a children’s playground, woodlands, and ponds filled with ducks and geese.
Hartshead Pike – a popular Great Machester destination for afternoon strolls
The climb to the tower on Hartshead Pike is quite an easy one to be rewarded with sweeping views of Ashton-under-Lyne, Mossley, Saddleworth, Lees and Oldham. This iconic monument was built in 1863 to celebrate the wedding of the Prince of Wales to Princess Alexandra of Denmark and it stands to this day.
In the 1930s, it was briefly a sweet shop before the second world war broke out. There is a lot of green space surrounding the tower to extend your walk or to simply go exploring.
Marple Bridge – one of the prettiest villages to explore in Greater Manchester
The village of Marple Bridge is in a charming area in the Goyt Valley near Marple in the Southeast of Manchester. It is right next to the Peak Forest Canal and a short walk from the Roman Lakes Leisure Park.
The leisure park has something for all ages with a children’s playground, picnic areas and a vintage-style tearoom. Even without its picture-perfect surroundings, the village is delightful in its own right, with independently owned shops, cafes and bars. Crime fiction writer Agatha Christie found inspiration during her visit and that’s why she named her main character Miss Marple.
The ‘Pigeon House’ on Winter Hill – one of the most beautiful places to explore in Greater Manchester
Winter Hill is part of the West Pennine Moors in the Northeast of Greater Manchester. Its election makes it a great place to watch the sunset over the field and hedgerows. On top of it is a slightly gothic-looking building that has been nicknamed the ‘Pigeon House’. The thin building once had one floor for Lady Leverhulme’s sewing and music room and the other two housed dovecotes for her birds.
Winter Hill has a fascinating and complex history, there have been reports of UFO sightings, there was a deadly plane crash in the 20th century and a Scotsman was murdered here in the 19th century. There are memorials to look out for on the walks here.
Behind the adjacent peak of Rivington Pike is a secret Japanese garden, built by the Lever Brothers company of Unilever fame. It was once a thriving tea garden with houses and waterfalls and nowadays the lake and foundations still remain. Nearby pubs cater to walkers by offering hot meals and a place to rest.
Haughton Dale – an attractive nature reserve with ancient woodlands and meadows
The nature reserve of Haughton Dale is one of the few places in Manchester to contain ancient woodlands and meadows. Most of them fell victim to the industrial revolution and have been replanted since.
The spring is a wonderful time to visit as the ground is carpeted with bluebells. It is crisscrossed with trails that can be used for hiking, biking and horse riding. Wildlife lovers can look out for the woodpeckers, owls, buzzards, bullfinches and nuthatches that live in the trees.
Park Bridge Heritage Centre – one of the best places to visit in Greater Manchester for families
The Park Bridge Heritage Centre is built on ironworks in the Medlock Valley which is based around the old stables that were once a part of the industrial complex. The stables house exhibitions that focus on local history about the ironworks itself as well as geology, wildlife and coal mining in the area.
It’s a great place to discover Manchester’s heritage as the grounds have been landscaped around old architecture. There are picnic areas and a tearoom on site. It’s a great jumping-off point for fabulous walks as from here you can hike to Daisy Nook, Hartshead Pike, Knott Hill.
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Written by blogger Jennifer Sizeland.