Some of our favourite walks (inc Lymm Dam, Chapel Woods/Styal and Huddersfield Canal) which are more suitable for baby carrying rather than the pram, or for older children who enjoy a walk.
1. Lymm Dam (Cheshire)
We absolutely love Lymm Dam and as it's only a short drive from where we live it is a place we visit a lot! There's great free parking (can get busy but you never have to wait too long for a space), a lovely village to wander round after the dam, lots of lovely cafes and pubs (when out of lockdown) and is the perfect length walk for little legs and for baby wearing.
We normally park in the car park located at WA13 0AP and enter the dam from this location. There's lots of little routes around but we like to head off to the right when you enter the dam at this entrance, down towards the water and follow the route that way. There's lots of picnic benches around, great trees for climbing and I even remember spotting some homemade tree swings which swing right out across the water (if you dare!) when I was little. We always bring some food for the ducks as there are also plenty of duck feeding opportunities!
Once you have crossed the wishing bridge at the bottom of the dam, if you look carefully when you come up to your left hand side, you might spot some fairies hidden around the fairy glen. There are also some lovely painted rocks hidden everywhere (check out the facebook group - Lymm Rocks and tag yours if you find one).
When you exit the dam, you cross the road straight ahead and this leads into Lymm village. We love a nice lunch or coffee (or usually a pint!) after our walk, so lockdown dependant, we normally head to the Coffee House for our coffee fix, or the Golden Fleece for an alcoholic beverage which has a lovely beer garden overlooking the canal :-). We've even had a takeaway chippy from Lymm Fish and Chips and sat outside the Brewery Tap with a drink. For vegan options there is also the plant based longboat cafe on the canal, Evergreen Cafe.
If you don't fancy a walk into the village, there is usually an ice cream truck and coffee van at the top of the dam, and of course the lovely Church Green pub which does amazing take away ice cream.
2. Chapel Woods, Styal (Cheshire)
Another firm favourite is Chapel Woods in Styal just outside the grounds of Quarry Bank Mill. The walk can be quite hilly and a does involve some steps, but it's not too strenuous (we've walked in the woods baby wearing and when around 7 months pregnant so it is doable!) The paths leading to the woods are cobbled which are no good for the pram and make for a bumpy ride, so this one is definitely much better with a baby carrier (or a toddler who is happy to walk!)
I've mentioned this walk to a few people and they always end up at Styal Country Park and Quarry Bank Mill, so if you're looking for this walk, park at the car park at SK4 4JQ and follow the signs for Chapel Woods.
The woods are amazing for little imaginations, lots of fallen trees, lots of old and really tall trees, lots of little bridges and steps, and for some reason Orlaith always role plays that there are dinosaurs around when we go here! When you enter the woods, the path forks, and we normally head to the right of the fork and take the compulsory picture on the tree below. Once you come to a point you can not go any further, off to your right you will find some steps down and then on to cross the bridge.
When you get to the top of the next set of steps, you can walk round to your right which will eventually lead to the perimeter of Manchester Airport and right up to the runway, which is great if you love planes. That walk is quite a long loop so the majority of the time we turn left at the top of the steps and follow the route back down to the River Bollin where there are lots of inlets and 'beaches' for paddling if warm enough, or to sit and have a picnic.
If you continue to follow the route round, you will come to the 39 steps (I only clicked recently that's why the restaurant in the village is called this!). You will now be on the opposite side of the fork you took at the beginning. There is a path off to the right which will lead you into quarry bank mill if you fancy a longer walk or refreshments, or if you continue you will end up in Styal village, where we normally stop for a drink outside the Ship or a coffee from Earlam's. There is also a lovely garden centre on Altrincham road which I like a nosey around before heading back to the car.
Top tip - we love to act out 'we're going on a bear hunt' on this walk as you can nearly do them all, starting with long wavy grass at the entrance to the woods (might have to improvise on the swirling, whirling, snow storm though! Oh and the bear!)
Parking is free and if the car park is full you can normally park on the road.
3. Huddersfield Canal (with a pit stop at the famous Grandpa Greene's) (Oldham)
We love a good canal walk, which is lucky as we have so many canal walks in and around Greater Manchester. Most of our walks take in some part of the Bridgewater Canal, but prior to lockdown, we've walked this stretch of the Huddersfield Canal for a bit of a change (and mostly because of the amazing ice cream, hot chocolates and bread bowls on offer at Grandpa Greene's). The first time we did this walk we took the pram, which was doable, but the second time we opted for the carrier as the canal path can be quite muddy, but also, there are a few steps up and down on to the canal, there are parts which have cobbles and also the lock bridges can be quite narrow (our pram just about squeezed across).
Start your walk at the Brownhill Centre in Dobcross (OL3 5PB) and get on to the canal just behind there. The centre itself is apparently great and hosts exhibitions and has a lovely restaurant (I am reliably informed), but we have only ever visited when in some sort of local restriction so we haven't been able to go inside. Start your walk walking away from the viaduct and head towards Diggle. The route is quite straightforward and twenty minutes up the canal you will come to Ward Lane and Grandpa Greene's is on the right hand side of the canal. Here, we normally have a refreshment break and either sit by the canal, or inside or outside Grandpa Greene's when restrictions do not apply.
There are a few different routes you can take around this part of the canal, our preferred route is to cross back over the canal and carry on walking up. Once you get a little further up there is a great adventure playground off to your left which Orlaith loves, playing fields, picnic benches and lots of green area's to stop and have a picnic or rest.
After a play on the playground we carry on walking the path until you get to the Standedge Tunnel entrance and you can't go any further. The tunnel is right next to the railway track so we love to stand on the bridge and wave to the trains.
You can cross the bridge and walk back down the otherside of the canal back down to Grandpa Greene's where you have to stop for the best ice cream around, and then continue back down to the Brownhill Centre.
You can park at the Brownhill Centre, but if you want a bit of a shorter route you can park at Grandpa Greene's (there is a car park behind it), and also there is parking available on Ward Lane.