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Pretty villages & historic towns to visit near Manchester, England

King Street, showing the Gaskell Memorial Tower - Image by PicturesOfEngland.com member Stephen Nunney (view gallery)

A list of pretty picturesque villages and historic towns around Manchester, England, most of them within an hour drive of Manchester, making them great for a day visit if you are staying in Manchester city and are looking for somewhere close by to visit.
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1. Knutsford, Cheshire

King Street, showing the Gaskell Memorial Tower - Image by PicturesOfEngland.com member Stephen Nunney (view gallery)

From humble beginnings this town has grown over the centuries to become a delightful place to live within easy commuting distance from Manchester City.

Its name derives from Canute, the great Danish King who is said to have journeyed this way when he quite possibly forded the local stream.

May Day celebrations held here are wild with fun, they are amongst the oldest and most colourful in the land. Visitors to the town around this time enjoy the spectacle of a procession where everyone is clad in bright costumes, a coronation ceremony and dancing round the maypole.

The town has received several noted visitors, in recent times General Patton was possibly the most famous but back in time Prince Rupert was here during the Civil war.

Edward Higgins was a noted Knutsford gentleman, it is said that at night he took on the guise of a 'Highwayman' robbing the rich to help himself and the poor! Trumpet Major Smith hailed from these parts, he sounded the famous "charge" of the Brigade at Balaclava. Elizabeth Gaskell, friend of novelist Charles Dickens lived in the town which she portrayed in Cranford, which is perhaps one of her better known books.

A major attraction in the town is Tabley House which was completed in 1769, it was built for Sir Peter Bryne Leicester, Baronet. The house passed from father to son for decades, and in consequence the family between them amassed a great art collection which was spread between Tabley and their London home. Here in resplendent rooms the family entertained the great painters of the era, these include - JMW Turner, James Ward and Henry Thompson to name but a few. Works by these famous artists and others can be seen along with other treasures, in Tabley today. Tabley House is open to public view between March and October, it is well worth seeing. It displays the charm and elegance of a world long gone.

The character of the town is retained in its beautiful conservation area which is full of grace and timeless charm. Here the visitor can wander amongst secret alleyways, venture over old cobbles and visit historic courtyards.

Whilst wandering you will come across pleasant shops offering a wide selection of tempting goods ranging from mouth watering Cheshire cheese to Jewellery and fashion.

Should you choose to tarry for a while to discover the wider charms of the Cheshire countryside pleasant Knutsford will make a most delightful base.

ID#513

2. Marsden, West Yorkshire

Standedge Tunnel, Marsden - Image by PicturesOfEngland.com member Tom Curtis (view gallery)

Surrounded by wild and beautiful countryside this traditional Pennine Mill Town lies on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal at the confluence of the rivers Colne and Wessen. It is at the northern tip of the Peak District National Park close to the long march of the Pennine Way.

Marsden offers visitors a wealth of heritage, particularly in association with the town's expansion which came about during the heady days of the Industrial Revolution. Many of Marsden's buildings relating to this period remain in the town to this day. Of special interest is the magnificently restored Mechanics Institute, now the home of the local theatrical society. The group known as the Marsden Luddites met in the towns inns and market place, the Luddite movement began when textile workers rebelled against the use of machinery in 1811.

There has been a church in Marsden for many centuries, the present church dedicated to St.Bartholomew was built on the old church site in 1895 at a cost of £10,000. The tower was built in 1911, the parish hall was completed in 1924, with an extension being added in 1978. In the tree lined churchyard there are a number of ancient carved tombs and graves.

The Methodist founder John Wesley preached in Marsden in 1746, a strong Methodist congregation formed following his visit and the first Methodist Chapel was built in 1824. This no longer exists, but was followed by a later building which stood where the local school now stands.

The town of Marsden has lively streets crammed with interesting shops, pubs, cafe's and restaurants. It offers plenty of accommodation for tourists, and provides an ideal place to stay whilst discovering all that this splendid region has to offer. There are pleasant riverside walks along the waters of the Colne and Wessen where you can enjoy watching the life of the river and its abundance of wildlife. Add to this the glory of the nearby Marsden Moor Estate covering mile upon mile of beautiful countryside, rare wildlife and archaeology from pre-Roman times, and it becomes easy to see why Marsden is a treasured destination for walkers and nature lovers alike.

For those prefering brightlights there is the nearby city of Huddersfield, and Holmfirth, famous as the setting for " Last of the Summer Wine " is within easy driving distance from Marsden.

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3. Marple Bridge, Greater Manchester

Canal View - Image by PicturesOfEngland.com member Christine Cooney (view gallery)

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4. Worsley, Greater Manchester

The Packet House Worsley - Image by PicturesOfEngland.com member Lionel Bird (view gallery)

Just 20 minutes car journey away from the center of Manchester is the historic town of Worsley, which is best known for its scenic walks along the historic Bridgewater canal.

The Bridgewater canal was completed in 1761 and saw Worsley expand from a small village to an important town, which played a large role in the origins of the Industrial Revolution, with its canals, mines and supply of coal.

There are around 50 listed buildings in Worsley, including Worsley Old Hall which dates back over 900 years and was thought to once have been moated, the Packet House, a telephone kiosk and the Delph sluice gates which are is a protected scheduled monument.

Worsley Old Hall is a Grade II listed country house pub with very large gardens, and was once the home of the Dukes of Bridgewater

Ryan Giggs co-owns a pub in Worsley - George's Dining Room & Bar

Worsley Woods is a fantastic green space in the heart of Worsley, containing sculptures, wild flower trail, and wonderful mock-tudor house called The Aviary.

Parts of Worsley are now being considered as World Heritage Sites, including the Worsley Delph, the Bridgewater Canal, and parts of Worsley Green.

ID#422

5. Clitheroe, Lancashire

The Arch in the Centre of Clitheroe, Lancashire - Image by PicturesOfEngland.com member Sue Bristo (view gallery)

Enter the town of Clitheroe and one glimpse of the ruined castle rising above the town, reminds you that this is an ancient place with a long and illustrious history.

The castle, built by Robert de Lacy in 1186 is said to be one of the oldest buildings in Lancashire and it is the only castle remaining in Lancashire which was held by royalists during the Civil War. When it was built by de Lacy it was to protect his estate, which was called the Honour of Clitheroe. These days, the once vast lands are now diminished and the much smaller Honour of Clitheroe is owned by Lord Clitheroe who lives at Downham Hall.

The castle may have dominated the town for centuries but it was from the great days of the cotton industry that the town flourished as an industrial centre. Coton from here was exported all over Europe and beyond, the industry gave strength and stability to the town.

An interesting tale survives concerning Pendle Hill to the east of the town - it is said to have been linked to the trial of several Lancashire women, who were executed for crimes of witchcraft. On a wild and windy day the 1,830ft hill takes on a sinister appearance, sending a chill down your spine!

In this charming town visitors are assured of a warm Lancastrian welcome, there are delightful shops and some interesting old inns and public houses. A museum tells of the history of the town and surrounding countryside. A short distance away are the magnificent rivers and fells of the moors and the glorious Bowland Forest.

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6. Rivington, Lancashire

Rivington Pike - Image by PicturesOfEngland.com member Len (view gallery)

This is one of the most fascinating and scenically beautiful areas in Lancashire. Rivington Pike rises amongst misty moorland to reach a height of 1,190 feet, at its peak is an old tower used as a beacon, this dates from around 1733 and was built by the then owner of Rivington Hall. A path leads from the Hall through a series of terraced gardens to the top of the moor. The views from this high vantage point are well worth the energy expended in reaching this lovely heather and bracken clad expanse of lonely moorland. Rivington Pike is the setting of many interesting architectural features left from buildings that dominated the landscape long ago, included in these is Rivington Pigeon Tower.

The town of Rivington nestles below the Pike, it is here you will find magnificent Lever Park, presented to the public by the Ist Lord Leverhulme, who was born in Bolton. The town is a charming place, well known for its warmth and friendliness, it lies between the reservoirs of Yarrow and Anglezarke, both offer exceptional water-side walks amidst high upland scenery, boating, fishing and other water-sports. This place is also a paradise for enthusiastic bird-watchers and nature lovers, with a wealth of wild-life habitats to be discovered.

Places to visit include; Rivington's ancient parish church of The Holy Trinity, the 15th century Great House Barn in Lever Park, and Rivington Hall Gardens. These gardens provide a magnificent landscaped setting for Rivington Hall - the hall is not open to public view, but the gardens are a delight, an essential part of any visit to the town! A garden trail is available from the tourist information centre located at the Great House Barn.

Other interesting sights are the vicarage of 1884 and the old village stocks which still stand in their original position near to the vicarage.

With pleasant hotel's, restaurants, cafe's and inns this is the perfect place for an interesting day out, or for a longer stay to explore the beauty of the West Pennines.

ID#11585

7. Haworth, West Yorkshire

Main street, Haworth - Image by PicturesOfEngland.com member Mike Freeman (view gallery)

Haworth is famous the world over for its connections with the Bronte sisters, the famous novelists. They lived at Haworth Parsonage which is now a museum cared for and owned by the Bronte Society. This is where the bronte sisters once lived and wrote some of their most famous novels including Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and Agnes Grey. The village also hosts once a year a fantastic 1940's weekend.

ID#417

8. Whalley, Lancashire

Whalley viaduct - Image by PicturesOfEngland.com member Sue Bristo (view gallery)

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A Pictures of England article submitted by poe


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