Greater Manchester’s new long-distance walking trail gets the go-ahead
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Thanks to National Lottery players, Greater Manchester residents will be able to enjoy a new long-distance trail on their doorsteps. The countryside charity, CPRE, together with The Ramblers, Britain’s walking charity, have been awarded a £250,000 grant by The National Lottery Heritage Fund to establish the ‘GM Ringway’ – the new long-distance walking trail for Greater Manchester.
Designed around existing footpaths, parks and open-access land, the GM Ringway will connect Greater Manchester’s 2.8 million residents with the natural and cultural heritage on their doorstep. Green in every way, all 20 stages of the 300-km (186-mile) route are designed to be accessed by public transport.
The trail takes in a wide variety of landscapes within the city-region’s countryside and other green spaces. It also gives communities access to heritage sites across all ten Greater Manchester boroughs. The route passes more than 40 Grade I and II*-listed buildings, including Bramall Hall in Stockport and Haigh Hall in Wigan; 13 accredited museums, such as the Imperial War Museum in Trafford, and 14 scheduled ancient monuments including Blackstone Edge Roman Road in Rochdale. The trail also guides walkers through 57 conservation areas, nine sites of special scientific interest, 18 local nature reserves and parts of the Peak District National Park.
The Heritage Fund grant will enable signposting and an improved app and website to be established so that a wide range of people, including less experienced walkers, can enjoy the trail. It will also support the organisation of community events across all ten boroughs of Greater Manchester. Once the trail is fully established, it’s estimated that at least 30,000 people will walk part of the route every year.
A GM Ringway ‘trail passport’ will also be developed which, it is hoped, will not only allow walkers to mark their progress on the route but also offer discounts to visitor attractions and pubs, cafés and hotels along the way.
A network of at least 200 volunteer ‘footpath guardians’ will be recruited and trained to help signpost the route, get involved in community events, and manage the trail long-term. As a key project aim is to open up the benefits of walking, nature and heritage to a wider range of people, the project team aims to cooperate on activities with community groups across Greater Manchester.
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. We’ve already had an enthusiastic response from residents, community groups and official bodies.
“This inspiring initiative will get a wider range of people involved in heritage, give the local economy a boost, and promote personal wellbeing. And with its intrinsic focus on active travel and public transport, the route should be easy for local residents to access, as well as being positive for the environment. Thanks to players of the National Lottery, the GM Ringway walking trail will make Greater Manchester an even better place to live.”
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
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