It’s easy to forget sometimes that there’s more to life than the city, and the North West is jam-packed with quaint and picturesque spots that are well worth a visit. Feeling the need to break away for the day? Check out our guide to some of the pretty towns and villages located around Manchester if you’re bored of the sight of concrete and fancy an adventure.
Commonly known as Brontë country due to the fact that the famous Brontë sisters lived in the village, Haworth has a whole lot of history to explore – including Wuthering Heights itself (known as Top Withens). The village retains its historic cobbled streets and buildings, and close by, visitors can check out the Brontë moors and picturesque Brontë waterfall. It’s pretty much a literary mecca, however, on a normal day, you’ll find a ton of quirky little shops to check out in the village. It takes around 1 hour 20 mins by car, and is a great place to get lost in for the day.
Just outside of Bolton, the village of Rivington lies alongside the Lower Rivington Reservoir and the Anglezarke Reservoir – providing a beautiful backdrop to the traditional village. Naturally, the place boasts its own history which can still be seen today, including Lord Leverhulme’s Chinese Gardens, Rivington Pike and the beautiful Lever Bridge. There’s lots of walking to be done, and so many photographic moments en route to Rivington Pike making it one of many pretty villages near Manchester. It takes a mere 40 minutes by car and will keep you coming back with its friendly atmosphere.
Possibly one of the most picturesque villages in Greater Manchester, the pretty spot of Worsley can be found in Salford and is incredibly picturesque for those looking for a lovely stroll in the sunshine. Walk alongside the Bridgewater Canal or through Worsley Woods where you’ll find old Tudor-style buildings and ample greenery. There are some great places to eat, too, including Albert’s Worsley where you can enjoy al fresco dining. The village is just a 20 minute drive from the city centre, perfect for a spontaneous day out.
4. Marple Bridge
Situated in the Greater Manchester borough of Stockport, Marple Bridge is one of the cutest little villages (as well as pretty to look at) for a wander – featuring traditional buildings and picturesque streets, as well as a number of mini beauty spots to stop by. The Roman Lakes is a beautiful little spot on a sunny day, with canoeing activities to take part in and locals usually cycling around the area. Running along the side of the small village you’ll also find the lovely River Goyt, which you can walk along before turning back and checking out some of the local cafes for a cuppa. Drive down within 35 minutes and have yourself a lovely cosy day.
Nestled by the iconic Peak District that is a short drive away from Manchester, Marsden can be found just outside of Huddersfield and is as picturesque as quaint, pretty villages come. From the traditional cobbled village that’s home to a good few cosy pubs and restaurants to the nearby moors and reservoirs – Marsden has a lot to offer for such a small place. Water flows through the village from the reservoirs, three of which are within easy walking distance from the centre. Marsden is just 50 minutes away from Manchester by car, so be sure to pop it into your weekend plans!
Knutsford is located in the heart of Cheshire and is a lovely traditional town, populated with gorgeous houses and old Tudor buildings. Check out the town for a spot of shopping, walk around and drool over the characterful homes, or head further out to the beautiful Tatton Park which is situated nearby. The town boasts lovely little bars and restaurants, and you’ll also find farmer’s markets stocked full of local produce that you can take home with you. The 40 minute drive is worth the effort, trust us!
Clitheroe, set in the Ribble Valley, is one of Lancashire‘s many quaint little towns that lead to the Lake District, and is frequently visited by those looking to explore the Forest of Bowland. The historic market town is home to its very own castle with beautiful gardens, as well as offering easy access to nearby Pendle Hill – another great spot for a wholesome nature walk. Whilst in the town, check out the plethora of specialist shops that Clitheroe is known for – including foodie shops selling locally sourced sausages, local fashion retailers and even local drinks producers who have been in the town for decades. Just an hour’s drive from Manchester, Clitheroe should be on your day trip list.
Another beautiful spot in the Ribble Valley, Whalley is just a little closer to Manchester than Clitheroe, 50 minutes in the car, and lies at the foot of Pendle Hill – a pretty backdrop to an already picturesque village. There are some lovely little shops and cafes within the village, and close by you’ll get to see the wonderful Whalley Viaduct – the perfect photo opportunity. The Viaduct stands over the River Calder, and is surrounded by some gorgeous countryside, perfect for walks that provide a great escape from city life.
9. Lytham St Annes
Funnily enough, Lytham St Annes is a seaside town split into two: Lytham and St Annes. The neighbouring towns are most often referred to together, although they do comprise of contrasting styles, making it all the more interesting to visit. Just down the coast from Blackpool, Lytham St Annes is lined with well tended lawns, a boating lake and pretty parks, and of course boasts a gorgeous sandy beach. The St Annes beach huts are a lovely addition if you’re staying for longer, but are still well worth a visit to see the gorgeous décor and beautiful pastel colours adorning the seafront, and Lytham of course hosts its annual festival, with the upcoming line-up including Blondie, Jamiroquai, and George Ezra. The town has an array of sights and activities, including the Victorian pier, historic windmill, golf course, Lytham Hall, and independent shops and cafes at its heart. Lytham St Annes is just over an hour’s drive from Manchester, and with so much to do you might consider stopping over!
Set against the backdrop of Holcombe Hill, Ramsbottom is a lovely market town with a friendly community and famous annual chocolate festival (yum). Just a 45 minute drive from Manchester, with bus routes servicing the town too, the Bury town is a pretty classic English spot, offering lots of independent retailers and fantastic restaurants and cafes. Ramsbottom has been voted the best place to live in the UK and High Street of the Year several times, and it’s not hard to see why. The town is also a stop on the East Lancashire Railway heritage line, meaning you can take a trip on the historical steam train, hopping on or off in Ramsbottom to enjoy the sights. The ELR will also see the return of the Flying Scotsman from 11th-19th March, offering guests the once in a lifetime opportunity to ride on the iconic locomotive, passing through Ramsbottom on its round trip.