Coming Up For Air: Great Rural Adventures in Greater Manchester

East of the M60‘s selection of suitable rural and semi-rural jollies in Greater Manchester

The 21st June isn’t only noted for the Summer Solstice these days. It is also noted for Clean Air Day. Transport for Greater Manchester, alongside a number of local authorities across the UK, have raised awareness of this day. TfGM hasn’t only encouraged people to sign a pledge to use public transport on that day. There is a useful page on Clean Air Day from our friends in Piccadilly which is aimed Mr and Mrs Average.

What’s more, for this year’s event, TfGM is offering free tram travel on journeys made before 7am and after 7pm. In addition to the aims of Clean Air Day, passengers affected by tomorrow’s Northern rail strike could take advantage of the Metrolink for zip all. Even more so where trams run parallel with Northern services.

One of the great joys about living in Greater Manchester is you are not too far away from open countryside. The Peak District is within an hour or two by car. Within its boundaries and on its fringes, some of Greater Manchester’s rural or semi-rural settings are accessible by bus or tram. Which if you have taken up TfGM’s pledge, enables you to take in wonderful views.

For our feature we shall be looking at a small selection of semi-rural and rural jollies by bus, tram or train. There will also be grid references. For the early birds (or anyone wishing to celebrate the Summer Solstice) details of pre-7am bus journeys.

Before you start…

Take with you or wear the following items before you set off:

  • Suitable waterproof clothing;
  • Strong walking shoes or boots;
  • A walking pole;
  • The appropriate Ordnance Survey map for your walk (or you could print off your walking route via the Ordnance Survey’s website);
  • Some water for rehydration;
  • A packed meal;
  • A good camera with a suitable bag;
  • Timetables;
  • Any travel card (GetMeThere, CountyCard, ENCTS concessionary pass, etc).

Some walks could be done in an hour, so it is down to you as to whether to take butties or not. Suitable clothing items and footwear are non-negotiable.

Stalybridge Country Park (and more besides)

Sheltering Tameside from the worst weather is the Pennine foothills. Framing Stalybridge and Mossley are Alphin Pike, Buckton Moor, Harridge Pike, Wild Bank, Slatepit Moor, and Hobson Moor. From Millbrook, Walkerwood and Brushes reservoirs nestle between Wild Bank and Harridge Pike. The views of the rest of Tameside, Greater Manchester, and further afield are amazing. That’s before we consider the bucolic moorland charms in its immediate proximity.

As for the bus route which connects Stalybridge town centre with Stalybridge Country Park most properly, that is the 343. Or the 340 on weekday and Saturday early evenings (or Sunday and Bank Holiday daytimes). Both services stop outside the Brushes Road entrance of Stalybridge Country Park. The 348 is another option, terminating in Carrbrook village. This is your best stop for exploring Slatepit Moor and Cowbury Dale. Plus the 343 also calls at Carrbrook village.

Further south, you can reach Hobson Moor and Wild Bank from Mottram Rise. This is possible by taking a 236, 237, or 387 from Stalybridge [Armentieres Square]. Alight at the stop close to the Waggon and Horses. Gallowsclough Road would take you towards Wild Bank whereas Hobson Moor Road offers you two choices. From there, one way of getting to Wild Bank, or a walk towards Swallows Wood via Hobson Moor. If you choose to venture into Swallows Wood you could continue to Tintwistle and join the 237 for Glossop or Ashton-under-Lyne.

O.S. Map Grid References:

  • Carrbrook [Village]: SD 98913 00927;
  • Brushes Estate [Brushes Road]: SJ 97992 98976;
  • Gallowsclough Road: SJ 98433 96661;
  • Hobson Moor Road: SJ 98493 96627.

Buses before 7am:

  • From Ashton-under-Lyne: 0529 (236) – weekdays only, 0629 (236) – Saturdays only;
  • From Glossop: 0649 (236) – weekdays only;
  • From Hyde: 0627 (343) – weekdays only;
  • From Oldham: 0624 (343) – weekdays only.

Winter Hill thrills

Seven Arch Bridge, Lever Park
The seven arch bridge in Lever Park: one of many wonderful sights you see en route to Winter Hill. Or Horwich.

There are two ways of reaching Winter Hill: either from Belmont or via Rivington Pike. The latter option enables you to enjoy Lever Park. If you choose to walk from Horwich, its real beauty lies in the gardens built at Lord Leverhulme’s expense. Landmarks include The Pigeon Tower, Japanese style gardens, and its seven arch bridge. That’s before we see Winter Hill!

Within half an hour of leaving the gardens, Rivington Pike is walkable. On a clear day you can see the Fylde peninsula and Southport. From another direction you can see the nascent River Douglas and the Winter Hill transmitters.

Most journeys of the 575 and 576 routes stop at Old Lord’s Estate in Horwich. If you choose to go via Belmont, the 535 bus offers a less frequent though more scenic alternative. Alighting at Belmont Road, the climb up to Winter Hill is fairly steep, though made all the more challenging by its uneven path.

O.S. Map Grid References:

  • Old Lord’s Estate: SD 63619 12292;
  • Belmont Road [footpath]: SD 67995 15297.

Buses before 7am:

  • From Bolton: 0535 (575) and roughly every 15 – 20 minutes thereafter on weekdays, 0615 (575) and roughly every 15 minutes thereafter on Saturdays;
  • From Wigan: none – earliest 575 from Wigan departs at 0706 (or 0711 on Saturdays).

The joys of Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens

Fletcher Moss bee.
Bee Smart: Fletcher Moss’ deceptively rural setting is only minutes away from the Wilmslow Road corridor. Image by Pete Birkinshaw, 2014 (Creative Commons License: Attribution-Some Rights Reserved).

I blame my formative years at the Ewing School for introducing me to this place. If you have had a few drinks in one of Didsbury village’s hostelries, this place offers a real alternative to raised voices. In warm summer days it offers a perfect place for relaxing, enjoying an ice cream, or reading a good book.

As well as its manicured rockery, the wild flower garden and its neighbouring nature reserve adds interest to your visit. There are also opportunities for playing tennis, football, or for walking towards the River Mersey. The last option allows you to begin a longer walk towards Stockport or the Sale and Chorlton Water Parks.

O.S. Map Grid References:

  • Wilmslow Road gates: SJ 84790 90428;
  • Stenner Lane entrance: SJ 84588 90408.

Buses before 7am:

  • From Stockport: 0608 and 0654 (42) on weekdays;
  • From Manchester: 0555, 0635, and 0655 (42) on weekdays;
  • From East Didsbury: at frequent intervals from 0445 (42/142 services) on weekdays.

Greater Manchester’s slice of The Pennine Way

Did you know that a small part of the Greater Manchester boundary covers The Pennine Way? For over 50 years, the long distance footpath from Edale to Kirk Yetholm has been popular with many walkers of all ages. Between Diggle and Denshaw is Greater Manchester’s section of the Pennine Way. By bus, the only part of the trail you can join crosses the A62 on the 184 route. Thankfully, the TfGM/Metro West Yorkshire border stop (Great Western Hotel) isn’t too far from the path.

The walk to Denshaw takes us towards Ripponden Road and the M62 motorway. Not just any old stretch; the highest stretch of motorway in the United Kingdom.

O.S. Map Grid References:

  • Standedge Cutting: SE 01849 09491;
  • Denshaw (outside Moor Snacks): SD 98300 14170.

Buses before 7am:

  • From Huddersfield: 0625 (184) on weekdays;
  • From Oldham: 0519 and 0607 (184) on weekdays;
  • From Manchester: 0530 (184) on weekdays.

Any more suggestions?

Could you suggest any more rural and semi-rural walks in and around the Greater Manchester boundaries? Would you like to add to very own Fantastic Four? Feel free to comment.

S.V., 20 June 2018.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Andrew Bott says:

    I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned such delights as Reddish Vale Country Park, The walk to/from Pots & Pans and also the various walks round Daisy Nook Country Park to name just a few

    Like

    1. Hi Andrew,

      All the more reason for a Part Two. Three great suggestions to go towards the second part. 🙂

      Warmly,

      Stuart.

      Like

  2. Leeds says:

    How about a really good one from Greenfield Clarence Pub to Chew Reservior via the private road leading to Dovestones and the water board access road? I’ve done this many times and the road is used by loads each day without anybody objecting so I assume it must be a permitted route for pedestrians. One massive downer though is that toilets at Dovestones must be avoided for health reasons as they are a major hazard. Instead, toilets at the Clarence or at Tesco should be used. As you know, as well as the 180, 350, 352, 353, 354, 355 and X50, this walk can be accessed from the 184/train so is accessible from a wide range of areas in West Yorkshire/Greater Manchester.

    Like

    1. Hi Leeds,

      Another good shout. Only one thing, The Clarence Hotel has been closed for the last month. By the end of this month it will be reopening under new management.

      I did most of the same walk in 2011 – boarding the short lived DS1 Park and Ride Service to Dovestones car park. Then I returned to the bus walking around Dovestones reservoir up to the bottom of Yeoman Hey.

      The 180 and 350 are – by far – the best buses for your walking route. South Pennine Community Transport’s 352 and X50 services (Saturdays and Tuesday only respectively) are also good options.

      Warmly,

      Stuart.

      Like

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