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Our Complete Travel Guide to Etherow Country Park in Manchester

Our Complete Travel Guide to Etherow Country Park in Manchester 

More often than not, it’s quite difficult to find quality country-side areas in Manchester, but if you look close enough, you’ll find counties like the Etherow Country Park! It’s definitely a worthwhile visit if you’re into exploring the rich lakes and dense forests of Manchester.

But if it’s your first time, here is our complete guide to getting to know Etherow Country Park more and see what it has to offer! 

Time Zone

British Summer Time (GMT+1)

Best Time to Go

Etherow Country Park is located in Compstall, England, and is a local nature reserve that offers a range of activities such as bird watching, boating, and nature walks. 

Being in the United Kingdom, the park’s beauty can be enjoyed year-round, but some seasons might be more attractive than others depending on your preferences.

Spring (March-May): This is when the park is coming to life with blooming flowers and migratory birds. The weather is usually mild and the park is not as crowded as in the summer.

Summer (June-August): This is the busiest season because the weather is typically warm and sunny, making it ideal for picnics and boating. However, it might get crowded.

Autumn (September-November): This season provides a stunning display of fall colours, making it a beautiful time to visit for photography and nature walks.

Winter (December-February): While the weather can be cold and the days are shorter, the snow-covered landscape can be quite beautiful. However, some amenities might not be available and it’s advisable to check the weather forecast and park’s opening hours before visiting.

As for the time of the day, the park is typically quieter in the early morning or late afternoon. Remember, the best time to visit largely depends on the activities you’re interested in and your personal preference for weather and crowd sizes. 

Always check the official website or contact the park for the most current information, including any seasonal closures or restrictions.

Things to Know

Currency: Euro
(Check the current exchange rate)

Language: UK English

Calling Code: +44

Address: George St, Compstall, Romiley, Stockport SK6 5JD, United Kingdom

How to get there

By Train: There isn’t a direct train station at the park. The nearest train stations are Marple, Romiley, and Woodley. From these stations, you can take a bus or taxi to reach the park.

Bus: Bus service 383 from Stockport Bus Station or Marple goes to Compstall, which is very close to the Etherow Country Park. Check the latest bus schedules to plan your trip accurately.

Taxi: You can also take a taxi from anywhere in the area directly to Etherow Country Park. The price will depend on the distance from your starting location.

Car Service: There are many car services available in the Greater Manchester area, including ridesharing services like Uber and local private hire companies. 

How long is the walk around Etherow Country Park?

Etherow Country Park covers about 240 acres, providing a number of trails for visitors to enjoy. The length of your walk can vary depending on which trails you choose to follow.

One of the most popular routes is the circular walk around the main lake, which is approximately 3.2 kilometres and takes roughly 1 hour at a leisurely pace. This route is fairly flat, making it suitable for walkers of all abilities.

There are also other paths leading to adjacent woodlands and hills, which could make your walk longer if you choose to explore them.

Remember to wear appropriate footwear, especially if you plan to go off the main paths, and always adhere to the park’s rules to help protect the wildlife and environment.

Do you have to pay for parking at Etherow park?

Parking at Etherow Country Park is completely free. There are several car parks available, including the main one located near the visitor centre. 

However, please note that availability might be limited during peak times and details could change, so it’s always a good idea to check the most current information from the park’s official website or contact them directly before your visit.

What is the history of Etherow Country Park?

Early History and the Compstall Mill

In the late 18th century, Etherow Country Park was the site of the Compstall Mill. The Mill was a cotton spinning mill established by George Andrew around 1790, and it utilised the water power from the Etherow River to operate. 

To support the mill, a weir and mill pond were constructed to ensure a steady supply of water. The Mill became one of the prominent local employers during this period, driving population growth and the development of Compstall as a village. 

Houses, a cooperative store, a school, and a church were built to accommodate the increasing workforce.

Industrial Peak and Decline

In the 19th century, the Compstall Mill and the surrounding village reached their industrial peak. With the expansion of the cotton industry, the mill flourished. 

However, by the late 19th and early 20th century, as the cotton industry declined and technological innovations surpassed the old water power systems, the mill’s operations gradually diminished. 

Eventually, the mill ceased production and was left abandoned, marking the end of an era which led to the expansion of the park.

Conversion to a Country Park

In the 1960s, the site underwent a major transformation. Recognising the need for public recreational spaces and wildlife conservation areas, the local authorities converted the site into Etherow Country Park. 

This made it one of the first country parks in England. The transformation represented a shift from industrial use to public enjoyment and ecological preservation.

Present Day

Today, Etherow Country Park covers around 92 hectares and offers a variety of habitats including the Etherow River, several ponds, woodlands, and grassland areas. 

The park is managed by the Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council and is designated as a Local Nature Reserve. It is a haven for wildlife, with over 200 species of birds recorded, and it offers a range of recreational activities, including walking, bird watching, and sailing.

The old mill buildings have been repurposed into a visitor centre and café. They stand as reminders of the park’s industrial past, while also serving the needs of contemporary visitors.

Future Prospects

While Etherow Country Park already serves as a vital asset for the local community and wildlife, plans and ambitions for its future are continually under consideration. 

These include improved facilities, better conservation efforts, and initiatives to enhance visitor experience, ensuring that the park continues to be a cherished resource for generations to come.

Please note that this historical overview is based on the data up until September 2021, and it is always recommended to refer to the most recent resources or the park’s official website for the most updated information.

What to Do in Etherow Country Park

Enjoy Nature Walks and Trails

Etherow Country Park offers a multitude of trails, from easy strolls to more strenuous hikes, to cater to all levels of fitness and mobility. 

One of the most popular walks is the circular route around the main lake, which offers breathtaking views of the water, wildlife, and plant life. The trail is approximately 2 miles and is suitable for wheelchairs and prams. 

Other trails meander through the various habitats in the park, including woodlands, grasslands, and the banks of the Etherow River. These longer, more challenging trails offer an opportunity to immerse yourself in nature and enjoy some solitude.

Delve into Bird Watching

With over 200 species of birds recorded, Etherow Country Park is a haven for birdwatchers. Species to look out for include kingfishers, herons, and various types of ducks and geese. 

There is a bird hide situated at the edge of the main lake which provides a discreet spot for observing these feathered creatures in their natural habitat. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars and a bird identification guide!

Start Boating

Etherow Country Park is home to the Etherow Model Boat Club, making it a popular location for model boat enthusiasts. The model boating lake situated in the park is often buzzing with activity, particularly during the club’s regattas. 

These events feature a variety of model boats, including yachts and scale models, offering an exciting spectacle for all visitors. Even if you’re not a boating enthusiast, it’s a delight to watch these miniature vessels sail across the lake.

Go Fishing

If you’re an angler, Etherow Country Park offers several spots for fishing, particularly around the main lake and the Etherow River. Species include carp, bream, and roach. 

Remember that a valid rod licence is required and there are certain rules and regulations to follow to protect the park’s ecosystems. Always check the latest information from the park management or local angling societies before you cast your line.

Visit the Visitor Centre

The visitor centre, housed in the old Compstall Mill building, serves as a hub of information and history about the park. 

Here you can learn about the park’s transformation from an industrial site to a haven for nature, discover more about the wildlife that resides in the park, and get the latest updates on events and park initiatives. It’s also home to a café where you can grab a bite to eat or a hot drink.

Take your Family Picnicking

There’s nothing quite like a picnic amidst nature, and Etherow Country Park provides several scenic spots for this simple pleasure. 

Whether you choose to set up near the tranquil waters of the lake, under the shade of the woodland, or on the open grassland, you’re sure to enjoy your meal with a view. Remember to clean up after yourself to help keep the park clean and safe for its wildlife.

Attend Events

Etherow Country Park regularly hosts a variety of events and activities for all ages. These can include guided wildlife walks, where experts help identify and understand local fauna and flora, talks about the park’s history, and themed activities for children. 

Checking the park’s event calendar is a great way to see what’s happening during your visit and join in the community activities.

Practise Wildlife Photography

The park is a paradise for photography enthusiasts. With its array of wildlife, changing seasons, and varied landscapes, there’s always something to capture. 

Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or a beginner, you can spend hours exploring and finding the perfect shot. From the flurry of birds around the feeders to the reflection of autumn colours on the lake, the park offers endless opportunities for beautiful photos.

Volunteer to Conserve the Environment

The park thrives thanks to its community of dedicated volunteers. If you’re interested in conservation, community engagement, or just love the park, there are many ways to contribute. 

Volunteering opportunities can range from hands-on roles like habitat management and conservation projects, to event planning, or assisting in the visitor centre. It’s a great way to give back, learn new skills, and meet like-minded people.

Allow Yourself for a Relaxation and Mindfulness Session

Finally, Etherow Country Park is not just about doing, but also being. The natural beauty and tranquillity of the park provide the perfect setting for relaxation and mindfulness. 

Whether it’s finding a quiet spot to meditate, practising yoga by the lakeside, or simply sitting on a bench to watch the world go by, the park offers many opportunities to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life and reconnect with nature.

Where to Stay

Oakfield Lodge Guest House  


A charming and welcoming guest house situated in Marple, just a stone’s throw away from Etherow Country Park. Known for its cosy rooms and friendly staff, Oakfield Lodge offers a quintessentially English bed and breakfast experience. 

With beautiful gardens to explore and a hearty, homemade breakfast to start your day, it’s a perfect place to stay for those looking for a peaceful retreat.

Bredbury Hall Hotel & Club  


Nestled in the lush, sprawling countryside of Stockport, this hotel offers a luxurious experience to its guests. 

Apart from spacious, tastefully decorated rooms, Bredbury Hall also has a restaurant serving exquisite cuisine and a popular nightclub, making it a great choice for those seeking both relaxation and entertainment. 

Premier Inn Stockport South  


A part of a trusted UK-wide chain, this hotel guarantees a comfortable and convenient stay. The rooms are modern and well-equipped, and the hotel features an on-site restaurant serving a mix of contemporary and traditional dishes. 

With its location on the south side of Stockport, it offers easy access to Etherow Country Park, as well as the amenities of the city.

The George Hotel  


Based in the nearby town of Glossop, The George Hotel is an establishment that brims with character. It offers en-suite rooms that marry comfort with an old-world charm. 

Downstairs, you can enjoy the friendly atmosphere of a traditional English pub. While a bit further away (around a 20-minute drive), it’s a great base for exploring both the park and the Peak District.

The Sycamore Inn  


One of the best inns you can get yourself in, The Sycamore Inn is a picturesque accommodation in the village of Birch Vale. The inn offers tastefully decorated rooms that provide guests with a cosy, home-away-from-home experience. 

What makes this inn special is its traditional pub downstairs, renowned for serving delectable local fare and offering an extensive selection of beers and ales.

Holiday Inn Express, Stockport  


As part of the globally recognized Holiday Inn chain, this hotel offers a familiar standard of comfort and service. The rooms are modern, featuring amenities such as free Wi-Fi, and a buffet breakfast is included each morning. 

Its location near Stockport train station makes it convenient for guests relying on public transport.

Village Hotel Manchester Hyde  


This hotel exudes a contemporary vibe with its stylish, spacious rooms and state-of-the-art facilities. Guests have access to a fitness centre, perfect for those who want to keep up with their workout routine. 

Dining options include a chic on-site restaurant and a trendy bar, ideal for unwinding after a day exploring the park.

The Waltzing Weasel B&B

The Waltzing Weasel B&B


Another great hotel nearby is this quaint bed and breakfast located amidst the beautiful landscape of Birch Vale, near the edge of the Peak District. Each room is thoughtfully decorated to provide a comfortable and charming experience. 

A highlight is the generous full English breakfast, prepared fresh each morning to fuel your adventures in the countryside.

The Old Hall Inn  


Set in Chinley, this historic inn offers a unique blend of comfort and rustic charm. Each room has been individually styled to reflect the inn’s heritage, while still providing modern amenities. 

The restaurant is a standout feature, with a menu that showcases the best of British cuisine using locally sourced produce.

Travelodge Glossop  


If you’re looking for an option that’s easy on the pocket without compromising on comfort, Travelodge Glossop is worth considering. 

The rooms are simple yet well-maintained, and the hotel’s location in Glossop means you have easy access to local shops and eateries. This pet-friendly hotel offers free parking and is a short drive from Etherow Country Park.

Where to Eat

The Etherow Park Café  

Address: George St, Compstall, Romiley, Stockport SK6 5JD, United Kingdom

Contact: +447542229289

Website: N/A

Operating Hours: Daily 9 AM to 4 PM 

Located within the park at the Visitor Centre, it’s a convenient place to stop for a quick snack, a hearty lunch, or a warm drink. They offer a variety of dishes from sandwiches to hot meals, and the setting gives you a beautiful view of the park.

The Harewood Arms  

Address: Harewood Arms, 2 Market St., Broadbottom, Hyde SK14 6AX, United Kingdom

Contact: +441457762500


Operating Hours: Monday to Friday 3 to 11 PM; Saturday 3 PM to 12 AM; Sunday 2 PM to 12 AM 

The Harewood Arms is a traditional British pub located in Broadbottom— and they pack a lot of flavours for any palettes out there! It offers a good selection of beers and ales, as well as hearty pub grub, including classics like fish and chips and a Sunday roast.


Address: 22-24 Town St, Marple Bridge, Stockport SK6 5AA, United Kingdom

Contact: +441614845380


Operating Hours: Monday to Saturday 8:30 AM to 5 PM; Sunday, closed 

A little further away in Marple Bridge, Dutsons is a deli and wine bar that serves breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea. They offer a range of sandwiches, salads, and other light dishes, and their wine list is quite extensive.

The Fisherman’s Table  

Address: 103 Church Ln, Marple, Stockport SK6 7AR, United Kingdom

Contact: +441615364389


Operating Hours: Monday to Wednesday 5:30 to 10 PM; Thursday to Saturday 12 to 10 PM; Sunday, closed

Also in Marple Bridge, this seafood restaurant offers a variety of fresh fish and shellfish dishes. The menu changes regularly based on the catch of the day.

The Allotment Vegan Eatery 

Address: 1-3 Cathedral Gates, Manchester M3 1SW, United Kingdom

Contact: +441612431419


Operating Hours: Daily 12 to 11 PM 

At the heart of Marple is this vegan eatery offers a menu full of fresh and seasonal plant-based dishes. A great place for vegans, vegetarians, and anyone looking to try something new.

The Norfolk Arms 

Address: 2 Ringinglow Rd, Sheffield S11 7TS, United Kingdom

Contact: +441142302197


Operating Hours: Check-ins only 2 PM to 12 AM 

Located in Glossop, this gastro-pub offers a variety of British dishes made from locally sourced ingredients. They have a good selection of beer and wine, and the setting in a renovated historic building adds charm to the dining experience.

Angkor Soul  

Address: 12 Stockport Rd, Marple, Stockport SK6 6BJ, United Kingdom

Contact: +441612220707


Operating Hours: Check-ins only 5 to 10 PM

The Angkor Soul is a Cambodian restaurant in Marple that offers a unique dining experience. Here, its menu includes traditional Cambodian dishes with a modern twist, and the restaurant is known for its friendly service and vibrant atmosphere.

Libby’s Bread and Wine 




Operating Hours:

A lovely café and bakery in Marple Bridge, Libby’s is known for its homemade bread and pastries, as well as its sandwiches, salads, and brunch menu.

Marple Spice 

Address: 1-3 Town St, Marple Bridge, Stockport SK6 5AA, United Kingdom

Contact: +441614272310


Operating Hours: Daily 8 AM to 4 PM

If you’re in the mood for Indian cuisine, Marple Spice is a good choice. The restaurant offers a variety of Indian and Bangladeshi dishes, and the warm and welcoming atmosphere enhances the dining experience.

The Italian, Marple  

The Italian, Marple

Address: 27 Stockport Rd, Marple, Stockport SK6 6BD, United Kingdom

Contact: +441614490648


Operating Hours: Sunday and Monday, closed; Tuesday to Saturday 5 to 9 PM

The Italian Marple restaurant is a family-owned restaurant that serves a range of Italian dishes, including pasta, risotto, and pizza, all made with fresh, high-quality ingredients.

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