Sometimes, spotting nature in Manchester can go as far as Piccadilly Gardens – and for resident Mancs, we all know that the famous spot hardly resembles anything green these days. If your body is craving the view of something other than concrete, then you’ll be pleased to hear that Greater Manchester and its surrounding areas are home to some of the best nature spots the UK has to offer. So, what are you waiting for? Pop on your walking shoes and check out our guide to some of the most magical forests near to Manchester.
1. Blackley Forest
Set by Heaton Park in the North Manchester village of Blackley, Blackley Forest spans approximately 20.5 hectares and houses part of the River Irk, which runs right through it and is one of the forests near to Manchester city centre. The site is of biological importance due to it being one of England’s first Community Woodlands, which was created by locals in 1953 in commemoration of the Queen’s coronation, and also in respect to those who lost their lives in WWII. The forest provides a gorgeous backdrop to a riverside stroll, and is a great change of scenery for those who are more accustomed to the city’s signature concrete.
2. Delamere Forest
South-West of Manchester in the heart of Cheshire, Delamere Forest provides 972 hectares of woodland – officially making it the largest woodland area in the country. There are trees (obviously), three official walking trails showcasing the forest’s ample beauty, and there are even places to stay within Delamere Forest, too. Opt for a chilled out picnic with the beautiful surroundings, or go for something more adventurous, like the Go Ape Tree Top Adventure.
3. Forest of Bowland
The Forest of Bowland can be found in Lancashire and is so pretty, it’s been described as the “Switzerland of England”. Big statement. Spanning a whopping 312 square miles, the huge forest boasts beautiful waterfalls, deep valleys, and miles and miles of moorland – making it the perfect walking spot. The forest is easily accessible from Clitheroe, which is just a one hour drive from Manchester and offers up some quiet, quaint villages to check out as well as local wildlife.
4. Chorlton Ees Nature Reserve
Another of Manchester’s sites of biological importance, Chorlton Ees Nature Reserve boasts 58 hectares of stunning nature. The site features mostly woodland and grassland, with wildflower meadows throughout that make for some pretty sights. Chorlton Brook runs through the nature reserve, and across the river, you’ll find Sale Ees to explore, too.
5. Macclesfield Forest
Just a short drive out of town into Cheshire, Macclesfield Forest is a 400-hectare site of woodland, with four reservoirs to discover and so much to see. From Red Deer to Heron, the forest is home to all sorts of wildlife. There’s plenty to see and do across the site, including walking, orienteering, horse riding, cycling, fishing and more. Within the forest, you’ll find spectacular views of the Peak District, and to the East of the forest, you’ll find Tegg’s Nose.