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It’s a Wild Thing

Tameside’s countryside is packed full of places where ‘wild things’ can play.  From meadows to woodland, hillsides to riversides, so you are sure to find the perfect place for a mini adventure. There’s no excuse for saying …”I’m borrrrred…!” Why not go outside and fly a kite, make a den, hunt for bugs, mess with mud, run around, hug a tree, don’t just sit there, get outside and play.

To help you find and explore these wild places, we have produced a fantastic activity guide packed full of suggestions for places to explore and things to do in Tameside’s countryside. 

Pick up a Free copy of the booklet from any of our countryside visitor centres, or contact 0161 330 9613 for more information.

Photograph of the wild thing booklet

Nature is all around you............

Why not go outside to play? Make a den, make a nest, go on a nature hunt near where you live, do some leaf rubbing's, look for mini-beasts, make a mud pie, see if you can make your own paint from mud, fly a kite, collect things, make a spider out of sticks and mud and stuff, make a giant spider web out of string, make a daisy chain, run around, make yourself dizzy, hug a tree, have a picnic, have fun!

Where can we play?

There are lots of wonderful wild places right on our doorstep in Tameside. The places marked on the map are described in this booklet. Here we tell you what the place is like, how to get there, suggestions for what you can do there and what the paths are like, in case you want to visit with a baby brother or sister in a buggy.

If you discover other wild places that are not in this booklet, then we would love to know about them.

Do you fancy going outdoors to play today?

There’s a wild place near you

map ofMap of the parks location

Rocher Vale

Local Nature Reserve

This valley was carved by glaciers and you would never imagine you were so near to civilisation! There are plenty of highs and lows, open grassy areas, woodland copses, rock faces, ruins, old railway tracks, bridges, ponds, waterfalls and of course there is the river to explore. Such a variety of countryside all in one place!

Directions: From the A627 Oldham Road, turn into Park Bridge (Waggon) Road at Bardsley Bridge. Follow the signs for Park Bridge Heritage Centre. You can park at the Centre or, just before you climb the steep road to the Centre, turn right up the hill, keep to the left, down the hill. The entrance is by the river bridge.

A-Z ref: G6 97

General Info

  • Parking: There is parking at the Heritage Centre or at Rocher Vale, by the river bridge.
  • Accessibility: Main paths are suitable for wheelchairs and buggies, but other rougher tracks more suitable for young children in backpacks.
  • Dogs: welcome, under control. Please clean up after your dog, (there are dog poo bins on the site).
  • Facilities: Park Bridge Heritage Centre is only 10 minutes walk away with toilets and baby changing facilities.

Knott Hill

Local Nature Reserve

This area was once underwater! It was a reservoir, but now the water level has been lowered, nature has taken over and this place is full of wildlife. The reservoir is used by a fishing club, and you can’t go down to the water, but there are good trails all around. The woodland is great for exploring and there is a grassy picnic area for games.

Directions: From the centre of Ashton, take the A670 Mossley Road. After 2 miles, past the old Ladysmith barracks, turn left on to Gorsey Lane at The Junction Inn. The entrance is about 100 metres on the right.

A-Z ref: K1 119

General Info

  • Parking: There is no car park, so you will have to park on Gorsey Lane.
  • Access: There is a flat, surfaced, circular route around the reservoir, suitable for buggies and wheelchairs.
  • Facilities: There are no toilet facilities here.
  • Dogs: Welcome, under control. Please clean up after your dog.

Werneth Low

Country Park

Feel like being on top of the world? Enjoy a wonderful wild and windswept adventure, high on the hills, with spectacular views. This place is great for blowing off the cobwebs and for exploring. Around Lower Higham Visitor Centre there is an orchard, herb garden and picnic area so make a day of it!

Directions: You can walk to the Country Park from the centre of Gee Cross, up Baron Road, to the Baron Fields entrance, or, for Lower Higham Visitor Centre, follow signs from A560 Mottram Old Road in Gee Cross, Hyde.

A-Z: 2A 156

General Info

  • Parking: There is plenty of parking at the Visitor Centre. At the Quarry car park, at the top of Joel Lane, leave the car park and cross the road to take the path through the wooden gate.
  • Facilities: There are toilets and light refreshments at Lower Higham Visitor Centre when it is open. (Tel: 0161 330 9613 for opening hours). There are also lots of benches and picnic tables around the park with fantastic views.
  • Accessibility: Many of the main paths are surfaced and suitable for wheelchairs and buggies, although some may be a bit hilly.
  • Dogs: Welcome, under control. Please clean up after your dog, (there are dog poo bins on the site).

Lymefield and Broad Mills

Riverside meadows and woodland are just waiting to be explored here. This place has a bit of everything, wiggly paths and tunnels, dark trees and ruins, flowery meadows and ponds, even a maze! Venture further and discover the ancient woodland called Great Wood.

This place has something for everyone. 

Directions: From Mottram, follow Broad bottom signs and as you pass through the village, turn right before the narrow road bridge and down the road signposted to Lymefield Visitor Centre. The Countryside Visitor Centre is on your left.

A-Z Ref: 2H 157

General Info

  • Parking: There is a small car park at Lymefield Visitor Centre.
  • Accessibility: Most of the paths around the site are flat and surfaced. Suitable for buggies and wheelchairs.
  • Dogs: Welcome, under control. Please clean up after your dog, (there are dog poo bins on the site).
  • Facilities: Lymefield Visitor Centre has toilets and baby changing facilities and you can get trail maps and guides. You can borrow pond dipping equipment here as well.

Ring 0161 330 9613 for opening times.

There is a café at the nearby Garden Centre.

Brushes Valley

Stalybridge Country Park

The Lower Brushes Valley is perfect for all sorts of adventures. Lots of footpaths lead you through woodland and open grassland, to ponds and wetland. Perfect for finding a grassy picnic spot, or for investigating the water wildlife. From here you can also venture further for a walk around Walkerwood reservoir, and to the moorland beyond.

Directions: Main entrance to the Lower Brushes Valley at Oakgates is just off the B6175 Huddersfield Road in Millbrook, Stalybridge.

A-Z: 5E 120

General Info

  • Parking: You can park near to the Oakgates entrance on Hartley Street or Besom Lane.
  • Accessibility: There are a variety of footpaths, many surfaced, suitable for buggies and wheelchairs.
  • Facilities: There are no toilets in the park.

Park Bridge

Park Bridge Heritage Centre

One of Tameside’s hidden gems. This fascinating place was once an industrial settlement, but nature has reclaimed the Park Bridge area and it is now an ideal starting point for lots of adventures. Close to the Heritage Centre you can play in the landscaped ruins and, a short walk away, explore ponds, woodland and wild places.

Directions: From the A627 Oldham Road, turn into Park Bridge (Waggon) Road at Bardsley Bridge. Follow the signs for Park Bridge Heritage Centre, keeping to your
left for about mile.

A-Z: F6 97

General Info

  • Parking: There is ample parking at the Centre.
  • Facilities: The Heritage Centre has toilets with baby changing facilities. The Stables Tearoom is open at weekends for light snacks.
  • Accessibility: Most of the main paths are surfaced and suitable for buggies and wheelchairs.
  • Dogs: Welcome, under control. Please clean up after your dog, (there are dog poo bins on the site).

The Dingle

Stamford Park

This is the place for adventure and discovery. This fantastic bit of woodland in Stamford Park has everything a young Indiana Jones could wish for. One day, dark and spooky and full of mystery, another day it can seem like an Aztec jungle, with its strange rocky ruins and winding stream.

Directions: From Ashton centre, take the A635, Stamford Street, for half a mile. The entrance to the park is just before West Hill School on the left.

A-Z: J6 119

General Info

  • Parking: Astley Road or Mellor Road - each side of the Park.
  • Accessibility: There is a fairly fl at, surfaced path running through The Dingle, suitable for robust buggies, although it can be muddy in places. Keep to the left after the bridge to avoid steps.
  • Facilities: There are toilets and a cafeteria in the park. The Dingle is inside Stamford Park so only accessible when the park is open.
  • Dogs: Welcome, under control. Please clean up after your dog, (there are dog poo bins in the park).

Haughton Dale

Local Nature Reserve

What a fantastic place to spend a day. This stretch of hidden countryside along the River Tame has a mixture of riverside walks and woodland meanders. You can explore the ancient woodlands or follow a path through meadows of wild flowers. There are peaceful ponds to investigate and old riverside tracks to discover. A ‘wild place’ whatever the season.

Directions: From Gee Cross, Hyde, turn off A627 Dowson Road, down to the bottom of Apethorn Lane and across the canal. A-Z: 2G 155

From Haughton Green, the entrance is at the bottom of Meadow Lane. A-Z: 3E 154

General Info

  • Parking: You can park right at the bottom of Apethorn Lane and at the car park at the bottom of Meadow Lane. 
  • Accessibility: There is a footpath network through the nature reserve suitable for robust buggies, although some paths are unsurfaced and can be muddy. There are bench seats at various points.
  • Facilities: No facilities nearby.


Daisy Nook

What a hidden gem this is. Follow the trail through the top of the wooded valley, and then step into a world made for adventures. There are grassy woodland glades, just the place for picnics, games and trails through the trees to explore. The River Medlock meanders round the site, making this a great place for a day of discovery. 

Directions: About a mile out of Ashton centre, just off the A627 Ashton – Oldham Road, at Bardsley Bridge, turn left into the car park. The footpath to the woodland starts from there.

A-Z: 1D 118

General Info

  • Parking: There is a good car park, just off Oldham Road at Bardsley Bridge.
  • Accessibility: A fairly flat, surfaced trail leads you through the steep sided woodland, through a stile on to woodland tracks, more suitable for young children in backpacks.
  • Facilities: There are no facilities here
  • Dogs: Welcome but keep under control.

 Discover the nature trails

If you visit some of our countryside sites you may spot the Nature Posts. These wooden posts have letters, numbers and an engraved nature picture. At our visitor centres you can pick up activity sheets and follow a trail, or follow a map to find the letters. But you don’t need the activity sheets to have some fun. Just go exploring, and see how many of the nature posts you can find. Why not take along a piece of paper and a crayon with you and do a rubbing from the picture on the post. See how many different pictures you can find (There are 23 altogether) why not try and collect them all.

Discovering Nature

It’s a jungle out there

You may be surprised who has already been in the woods – or who lives there.

Nature Detectives

Whether you are looking out for birds, squirrels, or something bigger! Here are a few hints for successful spotting.

Hide away

True detectives blend in with the background so wear natural coloured clothes and stand in shadows or peek from behind trees or rocks.

Listen up

You’re more likely to hear something than see it, so turn off the sound on your Mobile phone. Avoid carrying anything that jangles, or creaks and snack on soggy sandwiches not crisps and crunchy apples!

Rest up

Pause to look around. Sit down, make yourself comfy keep still and look for movement. Sometimes ‘still hunting’ is the most successful, as curious creatures come to look at you.

Why not go gathering evidence!

Look for signs that some creatures have been in or near a place. Munched leaves, nibbled nuts even poo! See if you can guess who done it.

Watch the birdie

Binoculars are useful but not as useful as eyes and ears!

Read the tracks

You’re out discovering and you find some tracks. How do you know what you are looking at? Badger or Labrador? Deer or Goat?

Shallow stream secrets

Take a picnic and settle down to watch life beside a stream. Look gently under rocks for insect larvae. Take some binoculars and keep a look out for dragonflies and kingfishers.

The hands and knees

  • It’s incredible what you can find by simply getting closer to the ground and peering into the grass. Hidden in the undergrowth, under logs, stones and leaves are thousands of creatures. Why not see what you can find? 
  • Remember to put all creatures back where you find them and put the ‘roof’ back on their home.
  • Go on - roll up your trousers - hitch up your skirts - get your knees muddy - and discover a wonderful world.

Fun in the woods

Collecting nature

Several of the places you explore will be special habitats for endangered animals
and plants. Before you collect anything remember:

For making things, only collect the nature which has already fallen to the ground, and try not to disturb creatures’ homes.

Useful things to take with you:

  • a collecting bag
  • string
  • scissors
  • some paper

Nature’s nibbles

Foraging for wild food, like blackberries and hazelnuts is fun, but make sure you know what you are collecting, and don’t eat anything unless you are sure it is safe.

Some berries and plants are poisonous.

Never pick or eat mushrooms or toadstools. Just have a good look!

Wild wellies

Wrap a piece of sticky tape round the top of your wellies, sticky side out, see what sticks to it as you run through the grass. Or why not cover them with leaves and twigs or make long claws. Use double sided tape on card to collect nature.

Den Building

Making a shelter in the woods is great fun, and as long as you only use wood that has already fallen from a tree and dismantle and replace everything where you found it afterwards, you can have fun time after time.

Use the space that nature has created, the space between two trees, or by a fallen log. Use leaves or soft grass for a floor.

Remember - never break branches off a living tree.

Wacky woodland obstacle course

Invent your own obstacle course. Walk along a log. Jump over a puddle, round the tree, through the gap, race your friends. Do it on one leg. With your hands in the air, or walk it back wards!


This is the fruit of the horse chestnut tree. Why not organise a conker championship with your friends? All you need is a piece of string and something sharp to make a hole. An adult can make the holes in your conkers and once you have threaded the string through, you’re away! The aim is to take it in turns hitting each other’s conkers, the champion is the one that doesn’t get smashed!

Get arty

Nature is great for creating all sorts of art.

Collect different shaped leaves and then do leaf prints at home. Make pictures, shapes and patterns with leaves on the ground and leave them there for someone else to discover or take a photo. Make a strange creature out of fallen logs and twigs. Draw in the mud or soil with a stick.

Get all touchy feely

Write your name with leaves or twigs. Find something prickly, something bendy, something hard, something furry  make a texture picture on the ground or stick to card.

Natural paint

Try squashing berries or leaves or dandelion flowers to make ‘Paint’ Try mud paint.

Rock on!

Pile up the pebbles, how high can you go? Write your name with them, make a face with them, create a pebble person!

Muddy faces

Some of the mud you may find is mostly clay. Take a lump in your hands, squidge it and squash it onto the trunk of a nearby tree. Add leaves, grass or berries to make a face. Does it have a long beard? Or a pointy nose or big ears? 

Make a mud cake, decorate the top with leaves and berries.

Make monster mud footprints.

Make a nature mobile.

Collect natures treasures and turn them into a mobile! Tie them at different lengths to a sick and hang it in your bedroom window.

Countryside and nature games

Play nature noughts and crosses

A game for 2 people Make a 9 square grid with twigs. I person uses pebbles, the other uses leaves. Take it in turn to place your object on a square. The first to make a row has won. Try it with other objects.

Tracks and trails

This is great fun if you and your friends make 2 teams. One team sets off and lays a trail of arrows and signs for the other team to follow. You can use twigs and stones or whatever is available. You can invent your own signs, but make sure everyone agrees them before you set off.

Make a nine square grid

With a friend collect 6 pairs of objects e.g. 2 stones, 2 leaves, etc. Make a 9 square grid each out of twigs. Decide who is the boss. The boss picks up an object and places it in his/her grid and describes to the other where it is e.g. Top right, one to the left and two up. The friend must place the identical object in the same place on their grid. At the end, look at the grids, are they the same?

Bird survival hunt

This is a good game to play with a few friends. Each imagine you are a small bird and must find enough food to survive. Here is a typical menu. Tick the box when you find each item. Each item is worth 1 point. 

  • Small Spider
  • Small creature on tree bark Snail
  • Caterpillar
  • Centipede
  • Ground beetle
  • Pine cone
  • Earthworm
  • Small seed
  • Flying insect
  • Berry
  • Maggot or grub
  • Fruit tree bud

Total score:

10-12 = Your sharp eyes and determination mean you will survive.
7-9 = You will probably survive.
4-6 = Your survival is doubtful.
0-3 = Oh dear! You haven’t found enough.

Fun with nature

Create a mini world!

Find a small area of grass, or moss and ‘fence it off‘ with sticks. Make a mini world inside. Use stones and leaves to make a house, village, theme park, or a castle. Make flags with leaves, and creatures with twigs and pebbles. Make a mini garden, a fairy playground, or a hobbit house.

Wizard ideas

Make a fairy crown. Find some bendy twigs and wind them into a circle that fits your head. Decorate with leaves and feathers and twigs. Find yourself a wizard stick. Decorate it by rubbing patterns into the bark with a stone. Tie treasure to it with string. Make a witches broomstick. Tie little twigs to a long stick with string.

Make a nest

Gather twigs, leaves, wool, feathers, or moss and make a nest on the ground. Imagine what would lay an egg in it.

All that energy!

Windy days are great for kite flying. Make your own, experiment with different shapes. Have fun watching things blown by the breeze. Try flying seeds from sycamore trees or dandelion clocks, or feathers. Make a wind chime by tying sticks on lengths of string and listen to them knocking together. Find a windy spot. Make your coat your wings and fly!

Map sticks

Make a ‘map’ of your trip as you walk. Collect interesting things that you find as you go around to remind you of the day, and tie them to a stick with grass stems. Look for colourful leaves from a wood or clover from a grass field.

Playing safe

Part of the fun of playing in the countryside is about exploring and taking risks, but you must always play safe. Tameside’s countryside is there to explore, but it is possible to get lost in woodland and on remote hills. If you are going out exploring, try and stick near to paths and always tell someone where you are going and what time you will be back. 


Wear sensible clothes whatever the weather, and remember the weather can change quickly. Don’t forget the sun cream or a waterproof coat.

Tree Climbing

Grown ups, help children to work out which tree is a good one to climb and which is not. If a child needs help getting up onto the tree, it is probably too big! Remember always look at the branch you are about to sit or climb on. Don’t climb any tree or branch that is dead, or climb any higher if you can’t work out how to get down.

Water safety

Some ponds and streams may look shallow, but can be deep and rivers can be dangerous. If you want to watch wildlife near to water, find a safe, stable spot. Don’t lean down over steep sides and never wade or swim in the water.

Stings and bites

All the best explorers cover up. Wear long trousers to protect your legs from stings and bites and stop itching! If wasps, bees or horseflies come near you, stay calm. Try and watch what they are doing, rather than worrying about them stinging you.

Poisonous plants and berries

Some of the most yummy looking berries can be poisonous. Enjoy looking at the colours and shapes, but don’t eat any.

Remember, be sensible

Watch where you are going. Look out for branches that can trip you up, be careful on slippery slopes and never climb high rocks.

Kite Flying

Don’t fly kites where there are electricity pylons or overhead wires or trees. Stunt kites can be dangerous and are not allowed in the Country Parks.

Who wants to spend Saturday shopping?

When you can have fun outdoors.

If you enjoy discovering the countryside and want to learn more about the environment and wildlife. Why not join Kids In The Environment (K.I.T.E). It’s a group run by Tameside Countryside Service for 7 – 11 year olds and meets once a month at Park Bridge Heritage Centre, 10am – 12 noon. There are lots of activities from wildlife watching to bird box building.

And if you are older, you could join the Youth Conservation Group. Activity sessions run from 11am – 3pm on the first Saturday of the month across the borough. 12 – 18 year olds can get involved in practical conservation projects and learn new skills.

For more information ring: 0161 330 9613

The countryside code

Following the countryside code helps everyone to respect, protect and enjoy the countryside.

The Countryside Code.

  • Be safe, plan ahead and follow any signs.
  • Leave gates and property as you find them.
  • Protect plants and animals and take your litter home.
  • Keep dogs under close control.
  • Consider other people.

What do the Countryside Rangers do?

Well, apart from taking people out into the countryside on walks and events, they are responsible for looking after much of the countryside in Tameside. They help improve the paths and fences, conserve wildlife habitats, prepare plans, do surveys and record wildlife and help school children learn about the environment. (They also spend a lot of time clearing up litter!)

We’d love to hear about your adventures

Have you had an adventure in Tameside’s countryside?
Or have you found a fantastic place that isn’t in this booklet?
Maybe you have a favourite activity that you can share with us.
We’d love to hear about it.

Maybe you have been to one of the many events that the Countryside Rangers organise throughout the year. If you have a favourite, let us know.

Contact Information
Contact by Post

Park Bridge Heritage Centre
The Stables
Park Bridge
Contact by Telephone
0161 330 9613
Contact by Fax
0161 343 1834
Request this service online!