‘Manctopia’, one of the fastest developing cities in the UK with a constantly evolving skyline of new buildings, is not the first place you’d think of when it comes to a rural camping escape. But break out of the city and delve into Greater Manchester’s green and pleasant suburbs and you’ll find a raft of hidden gem campsites that are a world away from the hustle and bustle of city life. We’ve picked out five that we love, all within an hour’s drive.
Well-i-Hole Farm, Saddleworth
Situated on the edge of Peak District in the beautiful area of Saddleworth, Well-i-Hole is a peaceful caravan and camping site that boasts spectacular views. It’s hard to believe you’re just over 10 miles from the busy skyline of Manchester, but with Dove Stones and Saddleworth Moor at your doorstep, you’re able to enjoy some of the best scenery in Greater Manchester. Campers have free access to the site’s well-maintained shower and toilet facilities and, if required, can also pay a small fee for an electricity hook-up.
People often pitch up at Well-i-Hole to take advantage of its close proximity to the excellent hiking and biking trails of Saddleworth Moor and Dove Stone Reservoir and its easy transport links from Greenfield Station. There’s also great fishing nearby and several charming villages like Uppermill and Diggle that are filled with independent cafés, bars and shops. Speaking of Diggle, those with a proclivity for the sweeter things in life should check out Grandpa Greene's Luxury Ice Cream.
Address: Well-i-hole Road, Greenfield, Saddleworth, Lancashire, OL3 7HY
Getting there: The site is just a 10-minute walk from Greenfield Railway Station for those traveling by public transport. If you’re driving, leave the M60 motorway at Junction 23 and get onto Manchester Road. Turn left once you see The Royal George pub.
Crowden Camping and Caravanning Club, Glossop
If being on the edge of the Peak District isn’t enough, why not venture into it? Crowden Camping and Caravanning Club is located in the friendly market town of Glossop, just 15 miles east of Manchester. Popular with walkers, the site is perched at the top of the peaks and has easy access to the ever-popular Pennine Way. Welcoming caravans, motorhomes and tents, the pristine site also has ready camp tents and glamping pods for those looking to give camping a try before they buy.
Whilst enjoying the peace and quiet of Crowden, there are several attractions worth visiting nearby. Holmfirth is a picture-postcard town in the beautiful Holme Valley. Just a 20-minute drive away from your pitch, the town is famous for being the filming location of Last of the Summer Wine and is full of independent shops, cafes and bars. A bit closer to home, Hoden and Ladybower reservoirs make for a lovely walk and have their own claim to silver screen fame as they were a filming location for ‘The Dam Busters’.
Address: Crowden Camping and Caravanning Club Site, Woodhead Road, Glossop, SK13 1HZ
Getting there: Hadfield is the nearest train station around 5 miles away for those arriving by rail. By road, the journey from Manchester will take around an hour via the M67, A57 and A628.
The Paddock, Bury
Overlooking Ramsbottom’s Holcombe Hill its iconic Peel Tower, The Paddock is one of the best small camping and glamping spots in Greater Manchester. The site features well-kept grass pitches for campers and has a selection of BBQs and fire pits available to hire. There’s also a family of fantastic glamping pods, domes and yurts for those looking to add a touch of luxury to their stay.
There’s something for everyone nearby. You can take a trip on a steam train on the East Lancs Railway, navigate the Irwell Sculpture trail or simply enjoy a wander around lovely Ramsbottom with all its artisanal cafes and independent shops. The site is also conveniently located just meters from The Duckworth Arms pub, a friendly watering hole that has recently been tastefully redecorated.
Address: The Paddock, Kays Cottage, Sheep Hey, Leaches Road, Bury, Lancashire, BL0 0ND
Getting there: The Paddock is easiest to get to via car and takes around 40 minutes from Manchester via the M66. Turning right as you exit Junction 1 will put you on a straight road until you reach the site (opposite The Duckworth Arms). If you are traveling via public transport, a Metrolink ride to Bury followed by the 483 bus towards Rawtenstall will get you there.
Piethorne Valley Caravan and Camping Site, Rochdale
For those who like to go back to basics when camping, Piethorne Valley is a superb choice. There’s no wi-fi, and don’t expect any phone signal. Instead, enjoy the gorgeous views of the valley and walk beside the site’s brooks and waterfalls that are teeming with wildlife. Thanks to the well-spaced out pitches on a variety of levels, it’s possible to feel as though you have the place to yourself at times. There are pitches for campers, caravans and small motorhomes as well as a handful of charming glamping pods. You will also have access to spotlessly clean toilets, a hot shower and laundry facilities.
One of the best things to do here is to get a campfire going and switch off from the outside world. If you are itching to explore, there are plenty of nice walks in the local area, and you’re not too far from Hollingworth Lake which is well worth a visit. The Bulls Head in Ogden also comes highly recommended. It’s a cozy local pub that serves homely food with friendly service.
Address: Piethorne Valley Camping, Huddersfield Rd, Newhey, Rochdale OL16 3QG
Getting there: Greater Manchester’s Metrolink trams are your best bet if relying on public transport. From St Peter’s Square, take the Pink Line to Shaw and Crompton then change to a Rochdale tram. Get off at Newhey and walk for around 15 minutes to the campsite. If you’re travelling by car, the take the M60 until you reach Simister island and then take the M62 towards Leeds and exit at Junction 21, where you’re just a few minutes from the site.
Dearden Wood, Bury
Dearden Wood is a hidden gem set in beautiful woodland close to Edenfield’s Plunge Valley. Originally planted by North West Water in the 1930’s, the woodland is now cared for by the campsite’s owners who have done a magnificent job of carving out a camping and glamping space with bags of charm and character. Tents and small camper vans are welcome, or you can stay in one of the on-site bell tents that are beautifully decorated and come with their own decking space. The site has showers, toilets and fire pits for cooking. We recommend staying on a Friday and sampling some of their homemade wood-fired pizza!
The site is in a prime location for walks and bike rides. Our top picks nearby are the Irwell riverside walk and the Cheesden Valley, a historic site that contains the ruins of former textile mills. If you’re planning to stop off for refreshments, Owd Betts is a famous pub dating back to 1796 that serves up well-kept ales and traditional food.
Address: Michael Wife Ln, Edenfield, Ramsbottom, Bury BL0 0QY
Getting there: Getting to Dearden Wood from Manchester via car takes around 40 minutes via the M66. Exit at Junction 1 and turn right then follow the road until you reach Edenfield. The campsite is the next right after you pass Edenfield Cricket Club. If you are traveling via public transport, the X41 Red Express bus to Accrington stops at the Rostron Arms, which is a 10-minute walk from the site.
Ready to ditch the bright lights of Manchester and embark on a rural weekend? Make sure you have all the gear you need and let us know how you get on in the comments or on our socials.