Something most humans have in common is the craving to be near water whenever we feel the need for rest and relaxation. It’s no coincidence that so many retirement communities are near the coast – but for those of us that don’t have the luxury of retiring just yet, there are still plenty of opportunities to get our fix of peace and tranquillity close to home.
From popular riverbank walks right under our noses in the suburbs, to remote and hidden waterside spots way out in the sticks, here are my top five recommended destinations for enjoying fresh air with the sound of babbling water. And best of all, if you’re following the course of a river, you don’t need a map.
1. Fletcher Moss and the Mersey.
Starting close to home – in fact, right in the heart of Didsbury, it’s sometimes easy to forget that there are miles and miles of riverside walks, where the dog can run off the lead and you can completely forget the proximity of the city. All you have to do is walk into Fletcher Moss Park, keep going until you reach the banks of the Mersey, then turn right for a long snake through Didsbury towards Chorlton Water Park.
2. The Garden House, Marple.
On the banks of the River Goyt and next to Roman Lakes Country Park, there’s a lovely petting farm, where kids can interact with rabbits, goats and even alpacas for just the cost of a donation to the charity. These animals live on an idyllic bend in the river that’s also popular with wild swimmers, because the gently running water is quite deep in places but well shaded and crystal clear.
3. Millers Dale and the Wye.
A bit further afield, deep in the Peak District between Buxton and Bakewell, lies the beautiful village of Millers Dale. You can park there and eat at the popular Anglers Rest pub, then follow the Monsal Trail along the Wye, heading east towards Cressbrook Mill with no sound except the water running over pebbles.
4. Hope to Hathersage.
If you walk along the Derwent Valley Heritage Way, you can not only enjoy the famous Hope Valley via an alternative route to the A-road that runs along it, but you can also set your destination for the famous outdoor swimming pool in Hathersage to complete your water fix. This family- friendly lido is open all year round, heated to a comfortable temperature and surrounded by some of the most glorious scenery (not to mention some of the best outdoor equipment shops) in the North of England.
5. Macc Forest Reservoirs.
Macclesfield is surrounded by reservoirs with pretty paths for less strenuous walks. There’s a particularly nice cluster around Langley, where the Leather’s Smithy pub is surrounded by Ridgegate, Bottoms, Trentabank and Teggsnose reservoirs in very close walking distance. Keep dogs on leads as there’s sheep about.