Manchester is home to many great activities, so much so that you can be spoiled for choice. So, what can you do if you just want to chat, spend some time together and not have to shout over music in a bar? Forget speed dating in Manchester in a pub, enjoy some leisurely outdoor dating instead!
A romantic walk would probably be one of the nicest dates to enjoy together; you’re guaranteed fresh air, relative privacy, and it’s free!
There are many walks in and around Greater Manchester that are suitable for any age and fitness level, from level canal walks to brisk hikes. So, let’s see what surroundings this beautiful city has to offer!
Situated in the Higher Blackley and Crumpsall areas, this park covers around 50 acres with the River Irk running through. You can walk through the forested area and view the heathland, unique to Manchester, carpeted in heather. The wildlife is growing – bats, birds, toads, and even a resident Kingfisher.
You can find a downloadable map here
Only a mile northwest of Bury is this stunning country park. The park lies on the River Irwell and compromises woodland, open space, and waterways, home to an array of wildlife. You can picnic at one of the designated picnic tables or grab something from the cafe, open 9 am – 4 pm, Monday to Sunday. The country park has a rich history, dating back to as early as having a pre-Roman settlement.
This park boasts a lake, canal towpaths, wildflower meadows, and woods, all along an easily accessible route, which you can alter to make as long or short as you like. Situated in the Medlock Valley, Failsworth, you may be lucky enough to spot the woodpeckers or even an owl. There is a seated area with a cafe to grab a hot or cold drink together and the car park is free to park.
Proving beyond popular during the pandemic lockdowns, Dovestone has a lot to offer. Saddleworth Moor is home to the reservoir, with many different routes to reach it, as easy or challenging as you’d to make it. The views here are breathtaking, and if you are lucky, you may spot the peregrine falcons soaring above. Be aware that parking can be difficult on a busy day, but when you get a spot, you won’t regret it.
One of the biggest parks in the North West, Heaton Park covers over 600 acres. Walking is just one of the activities available here, whether woodland or through the ornamental gardens. You could also choose a round of golf or pitch and putt for something a little different. Relax together and watch the world go by at the boating lake or visit the animals at the farm and take a break at the Stables Cafe. Heaton Hall itself is a Grade I listed building from the 18th century and is an impressive house.
There are walks and trails here to suit every requirement and fitness level, from leisurely strolling to more energetic hiking. At the top of the hill is the Peel Monument, a tribute to Sir Robert Peel, founder of the police force and former Prime Minister. If the white flag is flying, the tower is open, but the panoramic views of Manchester, Cheshire, and Jodrell Bank are well worth it even if it is closed.
This country park, found in Littleborough, is a man-made lake originally serving the Rochdale canal and spans 118 acres. This cherished beauty spot offers simple saunters or robust treks. With a cafe, chippy, and pub, refreshments are widely available. The circular walk around the lake is only 2.5 miles and you have many opportunities to absorb the fresh air, stunning scenery, and watch the watersports, and even enjoy a picnic together.
Just north of Bolton is this gem of a reserve, set in Bradshaw Valley. The walking trail around the reservoir is well maintained and relatively flat so requires minimum effort. The woodland is home to a variety of wildlife including herons, sparrowhawks, and kestrels. You may be lucky enough to spot the roe deer! You can walk off the beaten track through the woodland and there are plenty of benches to sit, chat, and while the time away.
Yet another treasure in Bolton is Rivington. There is more than one route to follow, and this may depend on fitness levels. The main walk is easy and level, and you can take in Rivington Hall, Liverpool Castle and visit the shores of Rivington Reservoir. The walk to the Pike is a little more taxing, with a steep ascent to the peak. On a clear day, you may see the Isle of Man and Lake District, so if you can, the climb will pay off with the fantastic views!
The Salford Trail is a new route, which totals approximately 50 miles. The route is broken down into 10 (much more manageable!) walks. Compromising riverside, woodland, canals, country parks, and disused railways, there is plenty to choose from, and of course, you can walk as much as you like. There is a detailed plan of the walks here.
Tandle Hill is Oldham’s oldest park, ranging over 110 acres. The park‘s woodland area is mainly beech trees through which you can roam, or there are maintained designated footpaths. This area is popular not just for walking, but cycling and orienteering too, should you fancy a change. There are two main walks, the green route (900 metres long) and the blue route (1,300 metres long), which can be downloaded here.
The Trans Pennine Trail (TPT) is not just any normal walking route. It links the Irish and North Seas, through hundreds of villages in the North and is 215 miles long from Southport to Hornsea. The beauty of this ‘trail’ is that you can pick it up when and where you like along the route and is well mapped and a pretty level walk for the most part. 70% of the route is traffic-free and never far from urban towns. There is so much to see, something for everyone.
Last but not least, is a gentle 3.5km walk starting at Castlefield in Manchester. The route takes just over an hour, but with plenty of bars or restaurants to stop off at along the way, this can be extended significantly! There is plenty of history to be learned along the route, from the Roman era settlement, the industrial cotton mills and through to modern-day Spinningfields.
Obviously, we ask that you exercise caution with anyone you are meeting for the first time. A daytime park stroll can be a good idea when there are other people around. Keep your phone handy and, if possible, install a tracking app so that friends can see where you are.