Whether you want to experience the English countryside, try something fun or find a quiet picnic spot, Britain’s bustling cities have some great options. Known for being metropolitan and cultural hubs, trips to London and Manchester can also be about taking a deep breath of fresh-air or trying new things to do in the great outdoors. So why not spend some time exploring Britain’s areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB), taking a cycle tour of London or walking around an expansive historic estate?
Tatton Park is the day-trip from Manchester with something for everyone. Spot the red and fallow deer that roam freely on the country estate, stroll around formal gardens or enjoy the estate farm and playground with your little ones. Just a 30-minute drive from Manchester, this 18th century mansion offers a break from the big city and a chance to soak up the countryside atmosphere.
Known for being the filming location for Mr Darcy’s residence in Pride & Prejudice, Lyme Park is a grand and historic house surrounded by glorious countryside. Under an hour away from Manchester, it’s home to a 1,400-acre deer park, ideal for a relaxed countryside walk or cycle, with routes suitable for all ages.
If you want to add some adrenalin to your Manchester trip, Go Ape in Rivington offers a unique high-rope experience. As the only Go Ape centre to feature a zip-wire going over a reservoir, and with high-rope courses suspended 10-metres above the forest floor, it’s a day out that’s sure to get pulses racing! Courses are suitable for children aged 10 and older.
If ‘giant, bouncy nets, suspended high in the treetops’ sounds like your type of fun, then Manchester’s Treetop Trek is a must for your holiday to-do list! This family-friendly activity centre offers different types of tree-top treks and aerial challenges, as well as the super fun suspended bouncy nets – and all less than half an hour away from Manchester city centre.
You could also jump into a world of windsurfing, canoeing and open water swimming at Helly Hansen Watersports centre, Salford. Located close to the centre of Manchester on Salford Quays, this activity centre is bursting with different activities to try!
The Great Outdoors
Manchester has strong connections to the Peak District National Park, known for being home to some of the best hikes and landscapes in the country. Under an hour’s drive from the centre of Manchester you can find the stunning Dove Stone, Yeoman Hey and Greenfield reservoirs, which offer a (completely flat) family and pram-friendly outing!
For more adventurous walkers, there there’s the chance to enjoy a more intense walking experience, leading straight on from Dove Stone reservoir. This somewhat challenging hike up to Saddleworth Moor takes you up and round the reservoirs, offering breath-taking views of the surrounding moors. Another highlight of this hike is the Trinnacle rock formation, which makes for a truly enviable selfie background! Bring a map and compass for this one, as the moors can be tricky to navigate.
To explore more of the Peak District near Manchester, you can jump straight on a train from Manchester Piccadilly to Edale station, which drops you right in the heart of the National Park in under 45 minutes!
Although perfect for serious hikers and mountain bikers, it can also be broken down into a shorter walks suitable for children. Edale leads on to babbling brooks, a steep walk up Jacob’s Ladder and from there it’s possible to reach Kinder Scout, Castleton or even Mam Tor, known for the iconic and utterly photogenic ‘Great Ridge’.
With 183 acres of wide-open space and iconic views of the capital, Greenwich Park has everything needed for a jolly British day in the park. In between kite flying, eating ice cream cones and lounging on picnic blankets, visitors can also stand on Prime Meridian, the home of Greenwich Mean Time, or visit The Royal Observatory.
A trip to Kyoto Japanese Garden at Holland Park will undoubtedly inject some ‘zen’ into a busy trip to London. With soothing water features and a collection of peacocks who call this park home, Kyoto Garden is home to an abundance of wildlife in the heart of West London. In stark contrast, and opening in early summer this year, is Holland Park’s new children’s playground, which includes a 25-metre zip wire, 10-person seesaw and a 56-metre hill-coaster!
Known as ‘the garden of England’ and reachable in less than two hours by car from central London, the Kent Downs is home to an array of enchanting landscapes. An official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the Kent Downs can easily be walked or cycled, while the historic city of Canterbury is a great stop-off or end destination.
Little over 90 minutes from London, The Surrey Hills are another of Britain’s official Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, boasting extensive cycle and walking routes amid stunning landscapes. One of the area’s highlights is Leith Hill, which is the highest-point in southeast England.
If you want to see London from a different perspective, take to the famous River Thames and see the city’s sights in a kayak! Kayaking in London offer group sessions, both day and night, to Big Ben and back! Costing £39 per person, this tour takes roughly 2 hours and no prior experience is required.
For another refreshingly different way to see London, BreakAway Bike Tours provide cycle tours of the capital where you can feel the wind through your hair! These guided tours of London include ‘Grand London’, ‘Secret London’ and private family tours. By only cycling along safe routes, park and riverside pathways, it is a stress-free way to explore London on two wheels.