The North West of England is filled with contrasting surroundings. In just a short drive, you will find everything from unspoilt natural wonders to small traditional villages, industrial towns and huge modern cities.
It is a region with tremendous heritage, linking Britain with the Americas and acting as a gateway to and from the British Isles for both people and goods.
It is home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites and was the site of the world’s first elevated electric railway.
In this diverse and historic corner of the UK, you’ll find plenty of outdoor activities. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the cities such as Liverpool and Manchester, just a few minutes of driving can get you to an area surrounded by green and natural spaces. Here is a look at a few.
Top outdoor activities in North West England
Located in a small village around a 15 to 20-minute drive from the historic Roman city of Chester, Delamere Forest is the largest area of woodlands in the UK. It spans 972 hectares.
The forest also contains Blakemere Moss, a kilometre-long lake inside the forest that was restored in 1996 after being drained in the early 19th century.
The vast forest is popular amongst serious and casual walkers alike, as well as with cyclists and horse riders. With several car parks, a train station and on-site cafe facilities, Delamere Forest is a good balance between natural beauty and modern convenience for those looking for an escape without having to travel far.
For those looking for a little bit more excitement, Go Ape has a site inside Delamere Forest that offers Segway tours and its “Tree Top Adventure”, which is a series of zip wires and other obstacles connecting the forest’s trees.
The Wirral Way
The Wirral Way is a walking and cycle path that follows the route of an old train line that shared the same name. It spans the majority of the peninsula and passes through many of the towns and villages on the Western side of the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral.
Starting in the village of Hooton at the side of the train station, the Wirral Way will allow you to walk, run or cycle all the way to Seacombe, where you will find the terminals for the famous ferry across the Mersey.
The route grants you a variety of beautiful views, ranging from the seclusion of wooded areas, the green of fields, and the mountains of Wales.
The final stretch of the route, which passes through the town of New Brighton, will give you great views of Liverpool and many of its famous landmarks, including the Liver Buildings and the Albert Dock.
Football fans will also be able to admire Goodison Park and Anfield, the stadiums of Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the latter of which is currently the favourite to win the Champions League against Tottenham.
A brief stop-off at the small village of “Parkgate” is a must, with views of Wales and some old black and white wooden buildings to admire. Parkgate is a favourite destination amongst the locals to get ice cream, with Nicholls ice cream getting very busy in the summer months.
Windermere is England’s largest natural lake and is surrounded by majestic scenery on all sides, making it a popular tourist spot.
Despite its name suggesting that it is “mere”, this term refers to a body of water that is shallow when compared to its width. Lake Windermere does not meet this criteria, with its deepest point being 66.76 metres.
Contrast this with the depths of nearby Buttermere (23 metres) or Aqualate Mere in Shropshire (1 metre) and you can see Windermere definitely doesn’t fit into this category.
Bowness-on-Windermere is one of the most popular sites in the Lake District and is located on the side of Lake Windermere. It is a great place to stay a night or two, with plenty of nearby routes to walk, including around the lake.
Boat trips are also available offering the chance to enjoy the scenery as you float into the middle of the 10-mile-long lake.
Lyme Park is one of many National Trust sites in the North West and is located close to Disley and Stockport, with access from the M56 motorway.
There are two sections to Lyme Park; the first is the large mansion and its gardens, and the other is the deer park that makes up the rest of the estate and is a great place for an afternoon walk.
Built in the 16th century, the Grade I listed building contains a number of Elizabethan features and has elements of Baroque and Palladian styles. The building is very popular among tourists who are fans of the BBC’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, as the outside of the building was used to portray Pemberley.
The building has been used for filming of several other TV shows and films, including an episode of “Red Dwarf” and the 2011 film The Awakening.
In the 13th century, around the time the estate was initially granted to Sir Thomas Danyers, the land was enclosed. This meant that the deer present on the land became permanent residents of the estate, along with a now-extinct, rare breed of cattle. They can best be seen in October and in June, the latter being the time when baby deer are born.
North West England is home to some of the most picturesque places in the country, all of which are close to the major population centres. You don’t have to travel far to escape modern life, get into the outdoors and enjoy the beauty of nature.
* Thanks to Alex McGallion, a freelance writer specialised in travel and sports content.