Moderate, Challenging, Multi-stage

GM Ringway – Greater Manchester’s walking trail

Manchester, Stockport, Tameside, Oldham, Rochdale, Bury, Bolton, Wigan, Salford, Trafford

6 - 186 miles long

Map of the GM Ringway

The GM Ringway with its stage start points & future link routes

A view over the Chew Valley, Saddleworth

A view over the Chew Valley on Stage 8 of the GM Ringway in Saddleworth, Oldham

A barge on the Bridgewater Canal

The Bridgewater Canal seen from Stage 20 of the GM Ringway in Trafford

A shepherd with his sheep on the Tameside/Stockport Border

A rural view on Stage 7 of the GM Ringway on the Tameside/Stockport border

One of the Wigan Flashes

One of the Wigan Flashes, seen on Stage 16 of the GM Ringway

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Overview

The GM Ringway is the new walking trail for Greater Manchester. Green in every way, each of the 20 stages of the varied and beautiful 300-km route is designed to be accessed by public transport.

From its start in Manchester city centre, the GM Ringway explores the green spaces, waterways and countryside of all ten boroughs. By connecting the communities of the entire city-region, the trail will provide residents and visitors with a low-impact means of accessing and appreciating their environment. It will also enhance public health and reduce GM’s carbon footprint by encouraging active travel.

The project is supported by the Ramblers (Greater Manchester & High Peak Area), Greater Manchester Combined Authority and CPRE, the countryside charity. The project team is currently bidding for funding to establish the trail both on the ground (with signposting) and online (with a standalone website and app). A trail ‘passport’ scheme (similar to this one) will also promote the trail to users and support hospitality businesses and heritage attractions along the way. Finally, a team of volunteers will be recruited to help manage the trail long-term.

Pages describing each of the 20 stages of the entire route, including maps and directions, will be posted on this site over the next few weeks (see below). Longer-term, there are plans to add western, northern and eastern link routes, which will give even more of the Greater Manchester population direct access to the walking trail network.

The route of the GM Ringway

The anti-clockwise route naturally falls into four broad sections, each made up of five one-day stages. These can be described as:

  • The SOUTHERN START-UP, which uses waterways and green spaces to trace an almost traffic-free route from Manchester city centre to the edge of the Peak District.
  • The EXHILARATING EAST, which explores the lovely line of hills that rise above Stockport, Tameside and Oldham.
  • The NOBLE NORTH, in which five fairly challenging stages connect the dramatic peaks and valleys of the South and West Pennines within Rochdale, Bury and Bolton.
  • The WESTERN WIND-DOWN, which brings the GM Ringway to a gentle finish via the wetlands, mosslands, farmland and canals of Wigan, Trafford, and Salford.

There are also plans to add western, northern and eastern link routes from the city centre to the circular route, providing even more residents with direct access to the walking trail network.

Accessibility and facilities

The five stages of the “Southern Start-Up” provide a relatively easy introduction to trail walking, as they are largely level and not too long. Things get tougher during the “Exhilarating East” and “Noble North” sections because of the hilly terrain involved. All five stages of the final “Western Wind-Down” are level, though longer than the early stages of the trail.

Although the full route cannot be walked by all users because of the varied nature of the terrain, we plan to identify and publicise sections or alternative routes that are accessible to a wider user group.

How to get there

All of the trail is designed to be reachable by residents in every part of Greater Manchester as every stage starts and finishes at a public transport stop – usually a train or Metrolink station. In addition, many of the stages can be broken down into even shorter walks using transport options along the way.

The individual pages for each stage list the start and end points and include details of how to access these by public transport.

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