It's green and pleasant amid those dark satanic mills

See Manchester's impressive new city-centre developments, keep abreast of the Commonwealth Games, but allow time for its surrounding countryside.

See Manchester's impressive new city-centre developments, keep abreast of the Commonwealth Games, but allow time for its surrounding countryside.

Bronte Country

In the isolated Pennine upland area of West Yorkshire, Charlotte, Emily and Anne lived and wrote their classics at the Parsonage at Haworth. The quaint village has top tea-shops and the usual book-shops, restaurants and pubs. Play at Cathy and Heathcliffe on Top Withens moor, then cross impressive National Trust woodland, Hardcastle Craggs, to Heptonstall village.

By car: take the M60 to junction 21, then follow signs for A6033 Howarth; 55 mins.


This delightful Derbyshire town with its gracious Georgian terraces is famous for its mineral water which flows freely from the St Anne's Well. Begin your visit with the Pavilion Gardens and the newly restored Opera House, a fine example of Frank Matcham's celebrated architectural style and home of the international music festivals.

By car: take the A6 from Manchester city centre to Hazel Grove, bear left and continue on the A53; 40 mins.

The Quays

Bringing together Salford Quays, Old Trafford and Trafford Wharf, The Quays is an exciting fusion of the traditional and cutting edge. The epicentre of Manchester's expansion during the Industrial Revolution and one of the UK's largest inland waterways, The Quays is now a cultural hotspot, a waterfront with remarkable architecture, including The Lowry centre and the soon to open Imperial War Museum North.

By car: take the M602 and follow signs; 15 mins. By tram: take the Metrolink to Harbour City or Broadway then short walk; 15 mins.

Irwell Valley Sculpture Trail

This 30-mile footpath stretches from Salford Quays, through Bury and up to the River Irwell's Pennine source, near Bacup in Lancashire. Here is the UK's only public commission of internationally renowned sculptor Edward Allington and the largest work of Ulrich Ruckriem. The trail is developed in sections so you can see several sculptures in the same cluster, for example start at Ramsbottom, walk to Bury past Allington's Tilted Vase, then return on the East Lancashire Railway line.

By car: take the M60 to junction 18, and the M66 to Ramsbottom; 50 mins.

Healey Dell Nature Reserve

Picture postcard Healey Dell is a deeply incised magical valley near Rochdale with the river Spodden running through it. The local sandstone rock has eroded creating a stunning valley with wonderful waterfalls and rocky outcrops. Many woollen mills were built here during the industrial era, but only remnants of these now remain.

By car: take the M62 followed by the A671 and follow signs; 30 mins.


Follow the picturesque Pendle Witches Trail and retrace (by car) the route of the witches who are said to have walked from Pendle Hill to Lancaster Castle where they were tried and executed in 1612.

By car: M62, M66 and M65 to Colne, and signs; 55 mins. By train: to Colne; over an hour.

Malmaison Hotel Manchester (; 0161-278 1000; ) has b&b from £120 per room per night. Virgin Trains (08457 222 333; offers return fares from London to Manchester from £20. Europcar's (0870 607 5000; weekend car hire from Manchester airport is from £49.41.