Greater Manchester Cycle Routes
Manchester and the surrounding areas are now well served by a number of attractive cycle routes. This includes National Cycle Networks routes 6 & 60 which pass through Manchester and are an ideal way to see some of the cities highlights.
The Trans Penine Trail also passes through the region with several attractive traffic free sections to enjoy.
Please use the links below to view full route information including descriptions, elevation profiles, interactive maps and GPS downloads.
You can also view an overview map of all the routes in the using the Greater Manchester Cycle Map
There are several National Cycle Network signed routes in the county many of which have been mapped and can be viewed and downloaded below.
For more information on NCN routes in the county (including free cycle maps) please click here
For more information on cycle routes in Greater Manchester including tips, advice and free cycle maps please click here
|Ashton Canal||6 miles (9.5 km)||Enjoy a waterside walk or cycle along this 6 mile long canal in Manchester. The canal runs from central Manchester to Ancoats, Bradford-with-Beswick, Clayton, Openshaw, Droylsden, Fairfield and Audenshaw before finishing at Ashton-under-Lyne where it meets the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. Walkers and cyclists can enjoy the whole route along the towpath. National Cycle Network Route 60 runs along the first section of the canal and a local cycle route takes you the rest of the way. Along the way you'll pass 18 locks, Manchester City Football Stadium, Manchester Velodrome and Philips Park. You can take short detours from the canal to visit some nearby attractions too. For example at Audenshaw you could head just south of the canal and visit Debdale Park and enjoy a walk around Gorton Reservoir. At the velodrome you can take a short trip north of the canal and visit Clayton Vale where there is a nature reserve with miles of walking trails and some great mountain bike trails.|
To extend your walk you can continue along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal in Ashton-under-Lyne. The canal leaves Manchester and heads into the lovely countryside of the Peak District and Pennine Hills before finishing at Huddersfield.
|Blackburn to Accrington||7 miles (12 km)||This lovely short easy ride follows NCN route 6 along the Leeds & Liverpool canal from Blackburn to Accrington via Rishton. This would make an ideal family ride as most of the route is traffic free.|
|Chorlton Water Park||1 miles (1.5 km)||Enjoy a walk or cycle around this large lake and nature reserve in Manchester. The well maintained trail runs for about a mile around the water. It's a nice easy cycle ride for families or an easy stroll. Look out for lots of birdlife on the water such as kingfisher, herons, geese and ducks. Facilties include a car parking area at the end of Maitland Avenue, toilets and an ice cream van in the summer months.|
The park is located right next to the River Mersey so you can continue your exercise along the river. National Cycle Network Route 62 runs through the park and continues along the Trans Pennine Trail to the nearby Sale Water Park.
Also nearby is the lovely Wythenshawe Park. It's only about a mile south of Chorlton and has miles of walking trails with wildflower meadows, pretty gardens, herbaceous borders, woodland and grassland.
|Clayton Vale||1 miles (2 km)||This large park and nature reserve in Manchester has miles of walking paths and some great mountain bike trails to try. You can start off at the National Cycling Centre in Philips park just to the east of Manchester city centre. From here you can pick up the mountain bike trails through Clayton Vale. There's 12km of colour coded trails for all abilities. The red easy trail is a great one for families with gentle, rollable, rideable features. At the other end of the scale is the black graded ride which is for expert mountain bikers. It has rocky sections and is tight, twisty and very challenging. In the middle the red trail includes rock slabs and gnarly rock gardens.|
Regional Cycle Route 86 also runs through the reserve. It's a nice ride along the River Medlock. This is the route shown below but you can see all the other trails on the Open Street Map link below.
The reserve is also great for walkers with the Medlock Valley Way passing through. In the reserve you can enjoy riverside paths, woodland trails, ponds and a variety of wildlife.
To extend your outing you could continue east along this long distance path and visit Medlock Vale, Medlock Hall and Daisy Nook Country Park. The Ashton Canal also passes by the National Cycling Centre. You can pick this up and head to Ashton-under-Lyne.
|Clifton Country Park||3 miles (5.5 km)||This country park and nature reserve is located between Bolton and Manchester in Salford. Situated on the River Irwell it contains a pretty lake, woodland, meadows and an arboretum. The Irwell Sculpture Trail walking route runs through the park where you will find two of the sculptures from the trail. A cycle trail also runs through the park so you can bring your bike.|
If you would like to continue your walking in the area then you could to Blackleach Country Park. Here you'll find a nice walking trail along a pretty lake with lots of birdlife to look out for.
Also nearby is Moses Gate Country Park. The park covers 750 acres with a number of nice cycling and walking trails to try. The site is located on the outskirts of Bolton and includes three lakes while the Rivers Croal and Irwell also run through the park.
|Daisy Nook Country Park||1 miles (2 km)||Enjoy waterways, a lake, a canal, woodlands and wildflower meadows in this lovely country park in the Medlock Valley. The park is great for wildlife with great-spotted woodpeckers, owls, foxes and squirrels to look out for. The main highlights in the park are Crime Lake and the Hollinwood Branch Canal. There's also good facilities with a nice cafe and car park. |
The Medlock Valley Way long distance path runs through the park so it's easy to extend your outing. If you head west along the path you will soon come to Clayton Vale. Here you can enjoy a walk along the River Medlock or try one of the great mountain bike trails devised by the National Cycling Centre.
|Debdale Park||3 miles (4.5 km)||This 130 acre park includes waterside cycling and walking trails around Lower Gorton Reservoir. The park is the start point for the traffic free Fallowfield Loop cycle route which runs along the National Cycle Network to Chorlton.|
|Fallowfield Loop||8 miles (13 km)||This traffic free cycle ride follows a National Cycle Network route from Chorlton-cum-Hardy to Debdale. The route follows an old railway line and passes Fallowfield and Levenshulme finishing at Debdale Park where there are off-road cycle trails around Gorton's reservoirs.|
|Heaton Park||3 miles (5 km)||Enjoying cycling and walking in this huge park in Prestwich, Manchester. It is the largest park in Manchester and the largest municipal park in Europe, covering an area of over 600 acres. Attractions in the park include the 18th century Heaton Hall, an 18-hole golf course with driving range, a boating lake, an animal farm, woodlands, ornamental gardens, an observatory and a tram system.|
|Highfield Country Park||2 miles (3 km)||This 70 acre park is also a local nature reserve with a number of country walks and a cycle track. It is located in Levenshulme in Manchester - a short walk from the train station. |
The park has peaceful woodland paths and a variety of plantlife and birdlife.
|Leeds and Liverpool Canal||126 miles (203 km)||Enjoy waterside cycling and walking along Britain's longest single canal. It runs for 126 miles across the Pennines, passing many villages, towns and cities with a fascinating heritage and industrial history. There are also umpteen pretty locks, viaducts and some wonderful countryside to enjoy. |
Walkers can enjoy the whole route from Leeds to Liverpool, while there are several sections for cyclists too. If you are on a bike then you can follow Sustrans National Cycle Route 66 from the start at Leeds to just outside Silsden. There's another Sustrans section around Barnoldswick and from Nelson to Burnley in Lancashire. The section from Chorley to Adlington is also open to cyclists.
Highlights on the route include the impressive 5 rise locks at Bingley, Wigan Pier and the lovely Foulridge Reservoir in Colne. Near Burscough you'll pass the wonderful Martin Mere Nature Reserve where you can look out for otters, flamingos, beavers and thousands of water loving birds. You can also link up with the Rufford Branch of the canal and head to Rufford Hall.
|Macclesfield to Marple - Middlewood Way||11 miles (18 km)||Follow the Middlewood Way - a lovely off road cycle and walking path running from Macclesfield to Marple and passing by the Macclesfield Canal.|
|Manchester Loop||12 miles (20 km)||Take a tour through Manchester along NCN routes 6 and 60. Much of this ride takes place on traffic free paths making it a great way to explore the city. The ride starts by Manchester Oxford Road train station, passing through Chorlton, Levenshulme and Openshaw before finishing at Manchester Piccadilly station. Highlights on the route include a stretch along the Ashton Canal, Gorton Reservoir in Debdale Park and views of the city of Manchester Stadium.|
|Manchester to Altrincham||14 miles (23 km)||This ride follows NCN route 62 through Manchester to Altrincham. You start by Manchester Oxford Road station heading south through Chorlton to the River Mersey. A lovely off road section along the river follows, passing Sale Water Park on the way. More off road paths and quiet roads take you through Trafford to Altrincham where you finish at the train station.|
|Manchester to Bury||13 miles (21 km)||This short ride follows NCN route 6 through Manchester to Bury. The route starts near Manchester Oxford Road train station and heads through the city centre before joining the River Irwell. You follow the river passing Pendlebury and Clifton where a lovely off road section takes you by Clifton Country Park. The ride finishes with another traffic free section, taking you around Elton Reservoir and into Bury town centre.|
|Manchester to Buxton||36 miles (58 km)||Follow NCN routes 6, 62 and 55 through Manchester, Cheshire and Derbyshire on this lovely ride. You start by Manchester Oxford Road station heading south through Chorlton to the River Mersey. Here you join a lovely traffic free section along the Trans Pennine Trail which takes you to Stockport. You then pass through Bredbury where you join another off road stretch by the River Goyt taking you onto Marple where you join the Middlewood Way - a lovely off road cycle path running along the Macclesfield Canal to Bollington. Quiet roads then take you through the beautiful Peak District to Buxton.|
|Manchester to Liverpool||47 miles (75 km)||This ride takes you along NCN route 62 and the Trans Penine Trail between these two major Northern cities. You start by Manchester Oxford Road station heading south through Chorlton to the River Mersey. A lovely off road section along the river follows, passing Sale Water Park on the way. More off road paths and quiet roads take you through Trafford to Altrincham where you join a lovely traffic free section along the trail and the River Mersey which takes you through Warrington and Widnes. Quiet roads take you through the outskirts of Liverpool before finishing with another stretch along the Mersey and coming to a stop at the famous Albert Dock.|
|Manchester to Macclesfield||28 miles (45 km)||Follow NCN routes 6, 62 and 55 through Manchester and Cheshire on this lovely ride. You start by Manchester Oxford Road station heading south through Chorlton to the River Mersey. Here you join a lovely traffic free section along the Trans Pennine Trail which takes you to Stockport passing Chorlton Water Park on the way. You then pass through Bredbury where you join another off road stretch by the River Goyt which takes you to Marple. At Marple you then join the Middlewood Way - a lovely off road cycle path running from Macclesfield to Marple and passing by the Macclesfield Canal.|
|Manchester to Marple||17 miles (28 km)||Follow NCN routes 6, 62 and 55 through Manchester and Cheshire on this lovely ride. You start by Manchester Oxford Road station heading south through Chorlton to the River Mersey. Here you join a lovely traffic free section along the Trans Pennine Trail which takes you to Stockport. You then pass through Bredbury where you join another off road stretch by the River Goyt which takes you to Marple, finishing at the train station.|
|Manchester to Stockport||14 miles (22 km)||Follow NCN routes 6 and 62 through Manchester on this pleasant ride. You start by Manchester Oxford Road station heading south through Chorlton to the River Mersey. Here you join a lovely traffic free section along the Trans Pennine Trail which takes you to Stockport, finishing at the train station.|
|Manchester to Warrington||24 miles (38 km)||This ride takes you along NCN route 62 and the Trans Penine Trail from Greater Manchester into Cheshire. You start by Manchester Oxford Road station heading south through Chorlton to the River Mersey. A lovely off road section along the river follows, passing Sale Water Park on the way. More off road paths and quiet roads take you through Trafford to Altrincham where you join a lovely traffic free section along the trail and the Bridgwater Canal to Lymm. The final stretch into Warrington follows the Manchester Ship Canal, finishing at the tourist information centre.|
|Medlock Valley Way||12 miles (20 km)||Follow the Medlock Valley Way from Manchester City Centre to Bishop Park near Oldham on foot or take your bike for the first section to Clayton Vale.|
You start off near Piccadilly station and head east along the River Medlock, passing Manchester City Football Stadium and Phillips Park before entering a lovely section of parkland and woodland through Clayton Vale. The reserve is home to a number of excellent mountain bike trails run by the National Cycling Centre.
The route continues past Droylsden and the pretty Daisy Nook Country Park with the final section taking you through Strines Dale to Bishop Park.
This is a lovely, fairly easy waterside walk that takes you through some attractive parkland and woodland. There are also some splendid views of the surrounding countryside during the final ascents at Strines Dale and Bishop park.
NB.The first part of the trail to Clayton Vale is open to cyclists forming part of regional route 86. Please click here for a pdf description and map.
|Moses Gate Country Park||3 miles (5 km)||This large country park in Bolton covers 750 acres and includes a number of splendid cycling and walking trails. The River Croal and River Irwell run through the park and there are 3 pretty lakes, so there is some lovely waterside walking and cycling to enjoy. The park is excellent for bird watching with a bird hide next to one of the lakes. |
Facilities in the park include a visitor centre and some excellent play areas for children. The park is located just a few miles south of Bolton next to Moses Gate train station.
If you would like to continue your walking in the area then you could head a couple of miles south and visit Blackleach Country Park. Here you'll find a nice walking trail along a pretty lake with lots of birdlife to look out for.
Also nearby is Clifton Country Park. Located alongside the River Irwell the park contains walking and cycling trails with features including a pretty lake, woodland, meadows and an arboretum.
|Pennington Flash Country Park||4 miles (6 km)||This 490 acre park is located in Leigh, Greater Manchester. The main feature is the 170 acre lake which is now a nature reserve with a number of bird hides. Over 200 bird species have been spotted at the park such as Black-faced Bunting, Nightingale, Marsh Harrier, Spoonbill and Leach's Storm-petre.
The park has a number of well maintained paths suitable for cyclists or walkers.|
Facilities include an information centre, mobile cafe and nine hole golf course. The Bridgwater Canal also passes through the park so you can continue your walk/cycle along the towpath if you have time.
|Prestwich Forest Park||3 miles (5 km)||Enjoy a peaceful walk or cycle in this pretty country park in Bury. The park covers an area of approximately 500 acres and includes some lovely woodland trails and a waterside path along the River Irwell. |
Prestwich Forest is located on the Irwell Sculpture Trail and right next to Clifton Country Park so there is scope for continuing your outing if you have time. Philips Park is located at the western end of Prestwich Forest and contains an excellent mountain bike track - see video below for details.
|Reddish Vale Country Park||2 miles (3 km)||This 400 acre park lies just a couple of miles north of Stockport in the Tame Valley. The park contains a Visitor Centre, Community Orchard and Garden, Butterfly Conservation Field and a Dipping Pond. There are also peaceful woodland walks, a waterside path along the River Tame and two reservoirs which attract plenty of wildlife.|
Both the Trans Pennine Trail and the Midshires Way run through the park. You can follow both these trails on towards Stockport either on a bike or on foot. The park is conveniently located a short distance from Reddish South and Brinnington railway stations.
|Rochdale Canal||33 miles (53 km)||Follow the Rochdale canal from Manchester to Sowerby Bridge on this waterside route through Greater Manchester and Yorkshire. It starts in the city centre of Manchester and runs for about 33 miles through the Pennine Hills. The canal is an excellent way to see the Pennines without too much effort as the towpath is largely flat.|
You start off in Manchester just to the north of Piccadilly train station at the Castlefield Basin. The canal then heads to Rochdale passing through Failsworth and Chadderton on the way. Near Rochdale you will pass the lovely Hollingworth Lake which is worth a small detour.
The route continues through Littleborough to Todmorden where there is the opportunity to visit Stoodley Pike. The challenging climb to the monument gives gives great views over the surrounding area.
The next section runs from Todmorden to Hebden Bridge giving wonderful views of Calderdale and the Pennine Hills. If you have time you could visit the wonderful Hardcastle Crags just north of Hebden Bridge. Here you will find streams, beautiful waterfalls and the fantastic Gibson Mill.
The final stretch runs from Hebden Bridge to Sowerby Bridge passing the pretty village of Mytholmroyd. The canal then joins the Calder and Hebble Navigation Canal which is also great for a walk or cycle. You can continue along the towpath to nearby Brighouse to extend your exercise.
The canal is excellent for cycling with National Cycle Network Route 66 running along the towpath for most of the way.
|Rochdale to Hebden Bridge||16 miles (26 km)||Follow NCN route 66 from Greater Manchester into Yorkshire wih terrific views of the Pennines and several waterside traffic free sections. The route starts by the railway station in Rochdale and soon joins the Rochdale Canal for an easy traffic free run to Smithy Bridge. Here you will pass Hollingworth Lake which has watersports and a nature reserve to enjoy. |
The route continues through Littleborough and Todmorden following the canal as you go. You finish by the railway station in Hebden Bridge.
|Rochdale to Todmorden||11 miles (18 km)||This lovely ride follows NCN route 66 from Greater Manchester into Yorkshire wih terrific views of the Pennines. The route starts by the railway station in Rochdale and soon joins the Rochdale canal for an easy traffic free run to Smithy Bridge. Here you will pass Hollingworth Lake which has watersports and a nature reserve to enjoy. |
The route continues through Littleborough and Walsden following the canal as you go. You finish by the railway station in Todmorden.
|Smithills Country Park||2 miles (3.5 km)||Enjoy 2000 acres of cycling and walking trails in this large country park in Bolton. The parkland surrounds the Grade 1-listed Smithills Hall with a history dating back to the 14th century. Smithills includes lakes, woodland, farmland and moorland with superb views of the West Pennine Moors.|
|Stalybridge Country Park||4 miles (7 km)||This country park contains several large reservoirs and some beautiful open moorland. It is ideal for walking and cycling with the super Pennine Bridleway and the Tame Valley Way both passing through the park. You can stay in the lower part of the Brushes Valley and around Carrbrook for flatter, well surfaced paths or climb to Wild Bank where there are fabulous views of the Pennine Moors. The waterside stretch along Walkerwood, Brushes and Swineshaw reservoirs is particularly lovely. The park is located a couple of miles east of the centre of Stalybridge.|
|Stockport to Glossop||19 miles (30 km)||This route goes from Greater Manchester into Derbyshire via NCN route 62. The route starts by the railway station in Stockport and soon joins the Trans Penine Trail taking you along the River Tame and through Reddish Vale Country Park. You continue off road along the trail until Godley Green where quiet roads take you onto Broadbottom and then Hadfield crossing the River Etherow. A short stretch south then takes you through the High Peak district of Derbyshire with some wonderful scenery before you finish in Glossop at the train station.|
|Tandle Hill Country Park||2 miles (3 km)||Explore 110 acres of beech woodland and open grassland in this country park in Royton. At the highest point in the park there is a war memorial commemorating the men of Royton who died during the First World War. There are also views across the Manchester Plain and the Pennine Hills. Facilities include a cafe and a Countryside Centre with leaflets and information displays on the local area, wildlife and countryside.|
There are two way-marked walking trails in the park. The green trail follows well surfaced paths and is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs. The blue trail is more hilly and not suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs. The Thornham cycle trail also passes through the park and offers a nice ride on well layed out paths. You could also continue your walk along the Rochdale Way which runs through Tandle Hill.
|Trans Pennine Trail||215 miles (346 km)||This terrific walking and cycling trail runs from coast to coast across northern England entirely on surfaced paths. It starts on the Yorkshire coast at Hornsea and passes through Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Greater Manchester before finishing on the Merseyside coast at Southport.|
|Werneth Low Country Park||2 miles (4 km)||Enjoy fantastic views across Manchester and the Pennine Hills in this 200 acre country park. On a clear day the hills of North Wales are also visible beyond the Cheshire plain. In the park there are well surfaced footpaths and bridleways suitable for mountain biking. |
The Cown Edge Way and the Trans Pennine Trail both run through the park so there is scope for continuing your walk/cycle. The park is located just 9 miles from Manchester city centre.
|Wythenshawe Park||2 miles (2.5 km)||Enjoy walking and cycling in this large park in Manchester. The park has miles of nice walking trails while National Cycle Network Route 85 also runs through it. The park covers 260 acres (109 hectares) and includes wildflower meadows, pretty gardens, herbaceous borders, woodland and grassland. You can also enjoy a waterside stroll along the Baguley Brook and visit the community farm. Here you'll find cows, sheep, goats, pigs, ducks, horses and all the elements of a working countryside farm in an urban setting.|
The extensive parkland surrounds the 16th-century medieval house of Wythenshawe Hall. The timber-framed manor house was home to the Tatton family for over 600 years.
To extend your exercise you could head through Northenden and pick up the Trans Pennine Trail along the River Mersey. Also nearby is Chorlton Water Park where there are more nice walking and cycling trails around a large lake. Just beyond there is Sale Water Park which is also well worth a visit.