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Top 4 Day Trips from Manchester: Lake District to Peak District

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4 weeks ago

A lively, trendy cultural hub, the North West of England‘s thriving and progressive epicentre is a far cry from the impoverished industrial wasteland it once was. Whether you’re here for the football, shopping or nightlife, Manchester is an amazing city to visit – and there are even more incredible day trips from Manchester for the cream on top.

We recently ranked Manchester as one of the best cities in the North of England and have plenty of great tips on how to spend your time here. If you’re staying in Manchester for more than a couple of nights, a good way to make the most of it is to get out of the city and discover what else the North West has to offer.

Whether you want to follow in George, John, Paul and Ringo’s footsteps in Liverpool or Wainwright’s in the Lake District, with Manchester as a base you’re spoiled for choice.

Liverpool

Like Manchester, Liverpool has shaken off its industrial past. Gone are the shipyards and cotton mills, 21st century Liverpool is all about celebrating its cultural heritage with swanky restaurants and hip bars to go with it.

Along the Mersey

The riverside in Liverpool has been given a new lease on life as part of Liverpool’s redevelopment in recent years. A city famous for its river, the Mersey is a must see when you come to Liverpool.

Royal Liver Building

Start at the northern end of the The Strand, the road which runs alongside the river. The first grand buildings you’ll see are the Cunard Building, built in 1914 for the transatlantic shipping line. Cunard are still operating an ocean liner across the Atlantic, although their offices are now in Southampton.

Next door, the Royal Liver Building with its grand carved Liver birds is a sight synonymous with Liverpool. The Liver Bird is not a real bird, it’s a mythical creature which look similars to a cormorant and has been the symbol of the city since 1797.

Local tip: Take a tour of the Royal Liver Building’s tower for some great views of the Mersey from the 360-degree viewing platform. Book ahead to skip the line.

Pier Head

Wandering south, you’ll come to Pier Head, the city’s working ferry terminal. From here, daily ferries leave for Douglas in the Isle of Man, one of the best places to go for an unusual break in the UK. If you do, make sure you check out our Local Insighter’s guide to the island! Whilst popping across the Irish Sea isn’t on the cards during when planning your day trips from Manchester, you can still take a cruise on the Mersey.

Local tip: Made famous by Gerry & The Pacemakers back in 1964, ferries still potter across the Mersey every day.

One of the best ways to see Liverpool from a different perspective is take a 50-minute River Mersey cruise with guided commentary. Liverpool has a surprising history that is best understood from the River Mersey.

The Beatles Statue is right behind the ferry terminal and pays tribute to the Fab Four who started out in Liverpool in 1960. Many of their hits including Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields Forever and In My Life were written about the city.

Albert Dock

The gem in Liverpool’s crown, Royal Albert Dock sits at the southern end of the waterfront. Dating back to 1846, it was heavily redeveloped at the turn of the century and now holds a royal charter. It’s home to two of the city’s top museums: Merseyside Maritime Museum and the International Slavery Museum. Both are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm with free admission.

Albert Dock is a great place for lunch. There’s plenty of chain options selling something for everybody’s tastebuds, but the real gem is family-run Peaberry Coffee House & Kitchen. Their Bao Buns are out of this world or get stuck into a juicy burger or freshly baked flatbread.

World Museum

Heading away from the river, pass through Liverpool One, a modern outdoor shopping mall. A great marketing ploy, Everton Football Club named their shop at Liverpool One ‘Everton Two’. If you don’t get side-tracked by the shops, you’ll emerge on Whitechapel, at the end of which you’ll find the World Museum.

Home to over 80,000 artefacts from the ancient world, the museum’s most notable collections are from Egypt, Greece and Rome. Other exhibits showcase world culture, natural history and physical science. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm – and admission is free.

A Drink with The Beatles

End your day in Liverpool with a visit to The Cavern Club. This is the spot where The Beatles rose to fame in their early years and is now a Liverpool icon. It’s the best way to round off your day trip from Manchester.

Getting to Liverpool

The quickest and easiest way from Manchester to Liverpool is by train. Trains leave from all three stations in central Manchester (Piccadilly, Oxford Road and Victoria) and the journey takes between 40 minutes and an hour. Book in advance for the best fares, with round trip tickets starting at just £7.

An alternative is to travel by coach. National Express run every hour from Chorlton Street in Manchester with a journey time of 95 minutes. Tickets start from £3 each way when booked in advance.

The Peak District

A world away from the hubbub of the city, yet right on the doorstep, the Peak District is one of the most ideal day trips from Manchester. Filled with chocolate-box villages, rugged peaks and grand stately homes, the Peak District has it all.

Buxton

The easiest spot in the Peak District to reach on a day trip from Manchester is the historic spa town of Buxton which is the ideal starting point. Sitting 300 meters above sea level, the Romans first settled Buxton when they discovered a natural spring here. The Victorian love of spa water saw Buxton grow into a bustling town with thermal baths and hydropathic hotels drawing crowds from afar.

Whilst Buxton’s thermal baths are no longer in use, the building remains and is a beautiful sight. Another stunning building is Buxton Opera House which hosts the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival every year. Buxton Crescent, a crescent of Georgian terraced houses, is another must see. It takes its design from the Royal Crescent in Bath.

Local tip: Fill your water bottle at St Ann’s Well opposite the Crescent Hotel.

This well was built in 1940, but there’s been one on the site since at least 1521. The water drawn from this well is the exact same water bottled and sold as Buxton Water, a famous water brand in the UK.

Bakewell

A few miles south of Buxton, the picturesque village of Bakewell is a real must. Feed the ducks from the riverbank, wander across Weir Bridge and add a padlock to the thousands hanging from the railings and browse Bakewell Market.

Bakewell is possibly most famous for its tarts. Bakewell Tarts are jam and custard in shortcrust pastry topped with flaked almonds. A common variant is the Cherry Bakewell which are usually smaller, individual tarts with almond flavor icing and a cherry on the top.

Head for the Bakewell Tart Shop to try one. They have a great café at the back of the shop too, so you can have a slice before buying provisions to take home (or the train back!).

Chatsworth House

Saving the best part of your day trip from Manchester until last, Chatsworth House is just a few miles outside Bakewell. The present house in the 17th century for the 4th Earl of Devonshire but there’s been a stately home on this site since 1553.

Behind the house, stunning manicured gardens run down to the banks of the River Derwent giving way to a park which extends over 1,000 acres. And that’s the bits that are open to the public, the Chatsworth Estate covers 35,000 acres.

Aside from the house and gardens, Chatsworth has a farmyard with horses, donkeys, goats, chickens and guinea pigs plus a woodland playground for children. The farm shop sells produce from the estate and local businesses. There are two sit-down restaurants, two cafes and several food trucks and picnic shops dotted around the grounds.

Getting to the Peak District

The best way to explore the Peak District is to hire a car and drive yourself. There are also day tours available from Manchester. If you are traveling by public transport, this is still an easy day trip from Manchester (only one hour away). Take the train from Manchester Piccadilly (every 30 minutes) to Buxton.

The TP3 bus runs from Buxton to Bakewell every hour and takes around 45 minutes. Timetables are available through High Peak buses. From Bakewell to Chatsworth, take bus 170 or 218 which run twice per hour and take less than 15 minutes.

Lake District

England’s beautiful Lake District is a real bucket list destination. Occupying much of the north western county of Cumbria, the Lake District National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within it, you’ll find 912 square miles of rolling hills, 16 glistening lakes and dozens of quintessentially English towns and villages.

Of course, you won’t be able to see everything the Lake District has to offer on a day trip from Manchester. But, you can easily experience some of its best spots. This day trip comes with a wanderlust warning: you’ll will be coming back for more!

Windermere

The most famous of the Lake District’s lakes, Windermere is the largest lake in England. Your starting point today is the town of Windermere which lies around a mile from the lake shore. It’s a nice little town, full of outdoors shops, cafes and restaurants. The next town along, Bowness, is the place you really want to be though.

Lake Windermere

Getting between Windermere and Bowness is really simple. It’s an easy half-hour walk or a 10-minute bus ride, with buses leaving Windermere Railway Station every few minutes.

Bowness is right on the lake and a great place to spend a while soaking up the sunshine (fingers crossed) or strolling around the walk. There’s a pleasant riverside path which runs along a park called The Glebe, right at the side of the pier. Five minutes’ walk along the riverside path is Broadwalk Bar & Grill which is the top spot for lunch or a coffee with lake views.

The main draw of Bowness is the lake cruises. It would seem a shame to visit the Lake District and not take one. Windermere Lake Cruises run three trips from Bowness Pier which last between 45 and 90 minutes.

On your day trip from Manchester, we recommend taking a private cruise or the 45-minute Blue Cruise as this offers a great introductions to the lake without taking too much time.

Peter Rabbit

Almost as famous as the lake itself, Bowness is home to the World of Beatrix Potter Attraction. Beatrix Potter was a scientist and author born in London in 1866. She regularly took vacations in the Lake District which inspired her to write The Tale of Peter Rabbit which was an instant hit.

23 more books followed and, in 1905, she finally moved to the Lakes where she lived at Hill Top, a farm just across the lake from Bowness.

Peter Rabbit and his family have proved timeless and are still some of the most popular children’s stories in England. The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction celebrates Potter’s work with a recreation of the locations in the books, dolls and the organic ‘rabbit garden’.

Grasmere

10 miles north of Windermere, Grasmere is a quintessential Lake District village. Like Windermere, it shares its name with the lake it sits on. Grasmere was home to poet William Wordsworth who dubbed it “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found”.

Wordsworth’s home, Dove Cottage is just outside the village center and is now a museum dedicated to his life and works. You can visit Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am until 4 pm.

Grasmere’s other famous draw is Gingerbread. Victorian cook Sarah Nelson first made gingerbread at her home in Grasmere in 1854 and began selling it to locals from a stall outside her front door. Today, her old cottage is the site of the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop where they still use her original recipe.

Ambleside

About halfway between Windermere and Grasmere, the small but always bustling town of Ambleside is a popular base for hikers. It’s also a great place to stop for a wander and coffee as your day trip from Manchester draws to a close.

Local tip: Pop in to the Apple Pie Café & Bakery for the best coffee and home baked cakes and pies.

Their famous apple pie is the star of the show but they do delicious traybakes and cream cakes too.

Bridge House, Ambleside’s most iconic building, is quite possibly the most photographed buildings in the Lake District. It was originally built in the 17th century as an apple store (for Granny Smiths not iPhones) for Ambleside Hall.

It was built it on top of the river (Stony Breck) to avoid having to pay land taxes for the building. Rumour has it that at one point during the Industrial Revolution, a family with six children lived in the tiny house.

Getting to the Lake District

Like the Peak District, renting a car and driving gives you the most flexibility for your Lake District day trip. There are also a number of tours which run from Manchester, some of which include a lake cruise whilst others offer the chance to visit Grasmere too.

If using public transport, take a train from Manchester Piccadilly to Windermere. There are a few direct trains per day which take just under two hours. At other times, you’ll need to change trains at Oxenholme, making the journey a few minutes longer.

Rail is the best way to get to the Lake District from Manchester, but you can also take Stagecoach buses 555 and 599 which run between Windermere, Ambleside and Grasmere with buses every 20 minutes during the summer.

Tatton Park

One of the easiest and most accessible day trips from Manchester, Tatton Park is a historic estate which covers over a thousand acres.

Tatton Hall is a magnificent Georgian mansion built as a home for the wealthy Egerton family who were known for their lavish Gatsby-style parties. Today, it’s very well preserved with original décor and furnishings and showcases the life of the final Lord Egerton.

Maurice Egerton owned the Hall until his death in 1958. He was a keen photographer and had some remarkable experiences in his lifetime. His personal collection, which is now on display, includes snaps of his safaris through Africa, the first ever Grand Prix and his journeys with the Wright Brothers on their early flights.

Long before Tatton Hall was built, another hall stood in the grounds of Tatton Park. The Old Hall was built during the Tudor period and has been lovingly restored. Located within the park, you can take a look from the outside whenever you visit. However, on select dates you can go inside and discover what life was like in Tudor England.

Tatton Hall’s gardens extend for over 50 acres and have been 300 years in the making. The garden is split into a Walled Kitchen Garden, Pleasure Grounds and glasshouses.

The star of the show is the Japanese Garden built by Alan de Tatton in 1910 after he visited the Anglo-Japanese Exhibition in London. You can admire it from the outside at any time. But if you really want to see it in all its beauty you’ll need to book onto a guided tour when you arrive.

Beyond the Hall and gardens, Tatton Park extends with over 1000 acres of deer park and woodlands, all of which you’re free to explore. The park also has its own farm which originally fed the family and their staff but now lets you get up close with the animals.

Visiting Tatton Park

There’s a restaurant and tea room on site along with a garden centre, gift shop, farm shop and a bookshop. Tatton park is open daily from 10 am until 7 pm although The Hall is only open Wednesday to Sunday from 12:30 pm to 4:30 pm.

The parkland itself is free to visit (unless you arrive by car, in which case there is a charge) but you need to pay for entrance to the Hall, Gardens and Farm.

Every July, Tatton Park holds a world-famous flower show organised by the Royal Horticultural Society. In 2024, it will be held between 17th & 21st July. Tatton Park (except the farm) will be open as usual during this time. However, if you want to visit the flower show, we recommend booking in advance on the RHS website.

Getting to Tatton Park

There is no public transport to the Park itself, but you can access it along a trail from the town of Knutsford. Direct trains run every hour between Manchester Piccadilly and Knutsford and take around 40 minutes. In short, Knutsford is one of the easiest day trip destinations from Manchester.


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