5 Great Places for an Outdoor Walk – Rochdale, Pennines, Heywood & Middleton

Why not try going back to nature and go on a fabulous local walk. These range from easy strolls to a more difficult level and some even have a place for refreshments

Healey Dell Nature Reserve - Shawclough

The Healey Dell Nature Reserve is situated Dell Road, Rochdale (the same road as the Home Instead office). The Dell is a beauty spot and wildlife sanctuary rich in industrial archaeology.

The River Spodden has carved its way through the woodlands through thousands of years, creating delightful scenery and spectacular waterfalls which once powered ancient corn, wool and cotton mills.

A disused 1800s railway line is now a nature trail with magnificent views from a 100ft high viaduct.

Until the great flood of 1839 the Fairies Chapel was hidden behind a ledge of rocks, at the base of which lay a natural excavation formed by the water. This had a pulpit, reading desk, and seats. Like other spots of the same secluded character in Lancashire, it has “legendary lore”.
Key features of the Dell include the Broadley Wood Mill, Fairies Chapel, Lodges and Waterways, Railways and Viaduct, Stone Rubbing Mill, Th’Owd Mill l’th Thrutch, and the Twin Bridges.

Healey Dell also provides a cycle route along the disused railway line through the centre of the Nature Reserve. This route is part of the National Cycle Network, Regional Network Route 92, which joins the National Route 66.

The footpaths and bridleways of the Nature Reserve are also part of the Rochdale Way, and the Pennine Bridleway passes the northern end.

Healey Dell also features a lovely café where you can grab a bite to eat and drink and take in the beautiful scenery. Our Clients and Care Professionals regularly complete a short walk and then have a coffee and a cake as a treat afterwards
Healey Dell, Dell Road, Rochdale, OL12 6BG Tel – 01706 350459

Alkrington Woods Nature Reserve- Middleton

Just 6 miles north of Manchester, nestled between Middleton Town Centre and the residential areas of Alkrington, Higher Blackley and Rhodes, this picturesque local nature reserve offers over 120 Acres of mature woodland, meadows, rivers and fishing lodges.
Alkrington Hall is an early 18th century listed private residence sat high on the eastern border of the reserve. It proudly overlooks the reclaimed post industrial River Irk valley and is shouldered by two mature woodlands. The reserve has a 3.5 mile long perimeter, 25 entrances, three public footpaths and miles of internal paths criss-crossing the varied natural habitats.

The ‘Big Wier’ on the River Irk
The River Irk flows along the lower reaches of the reserve and is fed by Wince Brook near Middleton centre and Boardman Brook at the border with Blackley. These waterways are joined by 5 fishing lodges and a Lake in Rhodes which are well populated with Swans, Geese and Ducks. Kingfishers and Cormorants are occasionally seen fishing the River whilst the woodlands are home to a wide variety of bird life.

Sandy Lake
Alkrington Woods was declared a Local Nature Reserve by Rochdale Borough Council in 1987. It is well maintained by a Ranger and Green Volunteers. The Friends of Alkrington Woods was formed in 1997 and work with the council to ensure it remains an attractive place to visit.
Manchester Old Road, Rhodes, Middleton, M24 4EA

Hollingworth Lake - Littleborough

In Victorian times, Hollingworth Lake was known as the “The Weighvers’ Seaport”. Spanning 118 acres with the dramatic backdrop of Blackstone Edge, the lake is one of the most popular days out in the area. With boating, a nature reserve, trails, events, guided walks, Visitor Centre, community arts, environmental exhibitions, play and picnic areas, the lake offers the perfect day out for all the family.
One of the easiest options for a walk is to follow the straightforward circular trail by the waterside. For wheelchair users and families with pushchairs, Rochdale Council states that the main footpath around the lake (approximately 2.4 miles / 4 km) is fully accessible with no gates or styles to navigate. There is a café and toilets at the half way mark for a much needed break
There is a selection of cafes, pubs, and restaurants as well as a boat ride across the lake on Lady Catherine. The main car park has a small charge and there are specific disabled bays.
Many of our clients have a small walk and then treat themselves to fish & chips sitting on the outdoor seating area and then feeding the ducks

Hollingworth Lake, Littleborough, Rochdale OL15 0AQ.

Ashworth Valley – Norden / Bamford

This circular walk explores the Ashworth Valley area of Rochdale. On the route you’ll enjoy riverside paths, woodland trails, attractive countryside and hill climbs with fine views over Manchester.
The walk starts in Norden on the western fringes of Rochdale. Here you can pick up the Rochdale Way and follow it south along the Naden Brook through Ashworth Wood. You continue through Carr Wood where you will pass a pretty waterfall and lots of bluebells in the spring.
The route continues south through Gelder Wood and Bamford Wood before coming to Simpson Clough. Here you turn north west to follow the pretty Cheesden Brook to Heywood’s Farm and Greengate Hill. This section climbs high above the valley to expose you to some fine, far reaching views over the surrounding area.
At Greengate Hill the route then turns east along the Rochdale Way to return you to Norden where the walk finishes.
It’s easy to extend the walk if you have time. You could head a short distance north of Norden to visit Greenbooth Reservoir or follow the Rochdale Way north west to , Ashworth Moor Reservoir. Here you’ll find the 18th century Owd Betts pub which is a great place for refreshments after your walk.
Ashworth Road, Rochdale, OL11 5UP

Hopwood Woods

Get to know this 5.1-km loop trail in Middleton, Greater Manchester. Generally considered an easy route, it takes an average of 1 h 10 min to complete. This trail is great for hiking, trail running, and walking. This route takes in a mix of sights and terrains as you make your way along the paved roads, woodland tracks, and waterside paths as you wind around Hopwood Woodlands Local Nature Reserve. This trail offers a good chance to spot wildlife between the trees and on the water. Take care on the rougher sections of this trail, especially in wetter conditions. Appropriate footwear is advised. Care is also needed on the roads.
Hopwood Woods, Middleton M24 2GN