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Manchester puts you within reach of several brilliant getaways easily accessed by a short road trip little more than an hour from the city. North-west, idyllic seaside towns are draped in the sights and sounds of bustling pier arcades and amusement parks, sandy coastlines and peaceful woodlands.
Make your way south-east in your rental car and find yourself nestled among craggy moorlands, dense forests and chocolate-box villages. Escape the city in your car and head off on some exhilarating road trips where you can smell the salt in the air and bask in green, mist-shrouded valleys for a revitalising break.
Jump in your car hire and drive up to England’s north-west coast for an hour and 8 minutes along the M61. Here, you’ll find the seaside resort town of Blackpool. With sandy shores kissing the Irish Sea and a much-loved 19th-century amusement park dominating the shorefront, it’s little wonder this town has retained its enduring appeal.
Boasting not one, but three wooden piers, there are endless opportunities for entertainment here. Thrill-seekers can get their pulses racing at the famous Pleasure Beach amusement park, which exudes vintage charm with its wooden roller coasters. Stretches of sandy beach lend themselves to an air of romanticism on a late summer’s evening and provide an idyllic setting for a family picnic.
Beyond the beachfront, Blackpool Tower is an iconic Grade I listed building providing panoramic views from 158m above the town. Inside, the tower hosts Blackpool ballroom. The opulent space with a certain charismatic appeal hosts tea dances for a quintessentially British experience.
From Blackpool, you could continue with the coastal theme, and drive down to the Sefton coast where you’ll find Southport just over an hour away. Fringed by the Ribble estuary to the north and skirted by sandy dunes and pine woods, travellers can beat the hustle of the city and indulge in salty seaside bliss along 22 miles of coastline.
Just 15 minutes south of Southport in your car hire will take you to Formby, a spectacularly scenic stretch of coastline dressed in fine unspoiled beaches, dramatic dunes and woodlands filled with native red squirrels. Walk the National Trust’s 1.8-mile red squirrel trail to get acquainted with the furry locals, before returning to Southport’s centre.
Stroll along the boardwalk of the iconic pier before taking the time to drink in the serene views toward Blackpool in the north and North Wales to the south-west. Southport affords visitors a classically British seaside atmosphere.
If you fancy more of an inland adventure, then hop in your car hire and head south towards the Peak District National Park. Just a little over an hour’s drive, you’ll find the spa town of Buxton, nestled within the UK’s oldest national park and at the centre of the Peak District. The highest market town in England, Buxton is surrounded by damp craggy landscapes in a shade of green only healthy doses of rain can deliver.
The landscape here was crafted by the remains of an ancient coral reef smothered by solidified lava in a once shallow sea. Dive deeper into the region’s geological formations at the two million-year-old Poole’s Cavern where vast chambers are sheathed in calcified water and crystal stalactites desperately cling to the cavernous ceilings.
Zeroing in on the heart of the town, you’ll discover the display of Victorian and Georgian architecture. Designed to rival the spa town of Bath by the fifth Duke of Devonshire in the 18th century, some of its most impressive structures include the Devonshire Dome and the Edwardian Opera House.
While you’re in the Peak District, carry on in your car rental to Edale, only a 26-minute drive from Buxton. It’s the sort of picture-perfect village you imagine strolling through on a misty Sunday morning in Autumn. Home to one end of the UK’s first and most famous long-distance walking route, the Pennine Way, Edale is surrounded by dramatic moorlands.
Mountains and bastions made of gritstone surround the hamlet tucked away in an isolated valley. Scenes here are reminiscent of the dreamscapes conjured in fairy tales; babbling brooks, small wooden bridges and lush forests.
Set out on foot to nearby Mam Tor for panoramic views over the breathtaking neighbouring valleys or manoeuvre the sharp, twisting road from Mam Nik to embrace the striking geography of the terrain.
A little over an hour away from Manchester along the M62 lies the city of Liverpool. Famed as the home of the Beatles, a place with a healthy appetite for football and a history built on trade, the city has come to be known as one of the most pleasant in northern England.
We suggest setting aside a day for your visit here as there’s a lot to see. Urban regeneration has transformed the previously dilapidated city, reviving its charming appeal for a new generation. With a history steeped in maritime trade, a visit to The Royal Albert Dock now reveals a series of museums, cafes and restaurants within the building’s brick and iron facade, the first of its kind in Britain.
No visit to Liverpool would be complete without a tribute to one of the world’s most influential bands that changed music as we know it, with a stop at The Beatles Story.