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The GM Ringway – a whopping 300km walking trail around Greater Manchester linking beautiful countryside with local attractions
The best bit? Every section is accessible by public transport.
An enormous 300km walking trail around Greater Manchester has got the go-ahead and is set to be fully operational within two years.
The GM Ringway has been awarded a £250,000 National Lottery grant, which will allow a new long-distance trail to be established right on our doorsteps.
The route will make use of existing footpaths and parks, and will connect the beautiful countryside in the north west with tourist attractions and heritage landmarks.
It all splits down into 20 stages, and every section is designed to be accessed by public transport.
Spanning all 10 Greater Manchester boroughs, the GM Ringway will pass more than 40 Grade I and Grade II*-listed buildings, 13 museums, 57 conservation areas, 18 local nature reserves, 14 ancient monuments and parts of the Peak District.
Attractions along the route include Bramall Hall in Stockport, Haigh Hall in Wigan; the Imperial War Museum in Trafford and Blackstone Edge Roman Road in Rochdale.
The GM Ringway will split into four broad sections, each one made up of five one-day stages.
They’ll be the Southern Start-up (almost totally traffic-free route from the city centre to the Peak District, along waterways and green spaces), the Exhilarating East (the hills above Stockport, Tameside and Oldham), the Noble North (challenging stages connecting the peaks and valleys of the Pennines with Rochdale, Bury and Bolton) and the Western Wind-Down (the wetlands, mosslands and canals of Wigan, Trafford and Salford).
The Heritage Fund grant will pay for signposting and an improved app and website so that everyone can enjoy the trail.
There are plans to launch a trail passport, which could offer discounts to visitor attractions, pubs and cafes along the route.
It’s estimated that 30,000 people will walk part of the route every year.
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The groups working on the GM Ringway are countryside charity CPRE and walking charity The Ramblers.
A network of 200 volunteer ‘footpath guardians’ will also be recruited and trained to look after the trail and get involved in community events.
Debbie McConnell, chair of CPRE Lancashire, Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester said: “The GM Ringway project is truly innovative and could act as a blueprint for other city-regions. Here in the north west, we’re fortunate to have a wealth of heritage and natural beauty on our doorstep and we want more people to get out and discover it.”
Margaret Manning, chair of Greater Manchester and High Peak Area Ramblers said: “The grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund is just fantastic as it will enable us to make the GM Ringway project a reality, which is so exciting. The GM Ringway will open up opportunities to collaborate with local community groups, charities and partners in the health, heritage and environmental sectors on trail-related events and activities.
“We also hope heritage sites and hospitality businesses will benefit as visitors discover them on foot. The grant will allow us to establish this wonderful trail as a long-term asset for the region.”
Andrew Read, GM Ringway Project Lead, said: “Our core aim is to connect even more people with our local nature and heritage. We know there are proven health benefits that come from moving more and from spending time in nature.
“We’re particularly keen to enable those currently under-represented in the walking community to enjoy Greater Manchester’s incredible landscapes and heritage sites, especially those living in deprived areas, young people, those with disabilities or long-term health conditions, and different ethnic and faith groups.
“We believe that, as people explore Greater Manchester’s rich landscapes and history, it will increase their appreciation of and pride in their local area.”
For more information and news on the GM Ringway, including route maps, visit GMRingway.org.
Featured image: Supplied