Looking for sights a little less grey than your WFH set-up? From the dramatic landscapes of the Pennines to traditional village scenes and iconic Manchester heritage – Manchester’s canals reveal it all. Whether you’re on the lookout for a new, short stroll, or a 7-mile spring walk, check out our guide to the best canal walks in and around Manchester.
Starting on King Street in Delph, Oldham, this beautiful Saddleworth canal walk showcases some of the best scenery in the Pennines – giving you a little break away from the city just a stone’s throw away. And while it does offer dramatic countryside landscapes which make for a bit of a change for us Mancs, the route does still feature a lot of the industrial charm we’re already used to. From historic mills to industrial buildings that were once rife with workers, this route has it all. The walk follows the canal through to Dobcross – racking up six miles on your FitBit.
2. The Wharf
Showing off the best of beautiful Castlefield, The Wharf canal walk is a fairly short walk that’s suitable for a quick 2-mile Sunday stroll, with a number of pubs and restaurants along the way, too. Experience some of Manchester’s old canals, take a stroll through city highlights such as China Town and Spinningfields, and swig a pint once you’re done at The Wharf or Albert’s Shed.
3. Ashton Canal
A great route that can be extended or decreased to suit, the Ashton Canal walk begins in New Islington by the tram stop, before veering off through Fairfield and ending at Ashton-under-Lyne – where the route then begins the Huddersfield Narrow route. In addition to this walk, those starting at New Islington can also take the route towards Rochdale, which will take them through Ancoats, Middleton and to Rochdale – where the route extends through Yorkshire spots such as Hebden Bridge, back round through Huddersfield and into Manchester via Ashton. Naturally, that particular route would suit avid cyclists better – however, the beauty of it is you can stop and turn back at any point.
4. Bridgewater Canal
One of the most fantastic canal walks near Manchester as the route ends at The Green in Worsley (which is incredibly pretty!), the Bridgewater Canal runs through much of Greater Manchester – with walkers able to stroll alongside it from the city centre right through to Salford. This particular route spans 7 miles (so great for those looking for a proper day of it), beginning at Old Trafford before leading you down by the Kellogg’s factory, right through Trafford until Worsley. Parts of it are fairly industrial, however, the final destination is well worth it for a fab roast at George’s.
5. Manchester Ship Canal and Salford Quays
The Manchester Ship Canal is an iconic industrial landmark and played a pivotal role in the city’s history, and though it’s 36 miles long, this walk will take you along 5 miles of waterway. It starts in Warburton where you first head along the Bollin Valley Way and head along the trail northeast until it joins the canal with Glazebrook.
The path then continues towards Carrington. Along the way you’ll discover a 19th century viaduct before heading back to Warburton. You’ll also pass the Paddington Meadows Nature Reserve, a beautifully serene part of the walk – alternatively, you can start at the other end of the trail at Salford Quays, but either way, it’s a great way to see our wonderful region.