Of all the parks in Bolton, Moss Bank Park is by far my daughter’s favourite. Until she was seven we used to live in a house backing onto it. To reach ‘her park’ all she had to do was open the garden gate and she’d be in it.
The park has lost a few attractions in recent years but is still the most popular in the town. Animal World, a children’s zoo, closed in September 2013 as part of a cost cutting exercise by Bolton Council. Despite being a fairly modest zoo it was a huge hit with the local children and will be sorely missed.
The main entrance to the park is situated on Moss Lane. Just to the left of here there are four tennis courts (free), a bowling green, and a large field used mainly by local sports teams.
Most visitors follow the path that leads north from the main entrance. There’s a large field to the right that’s a popular picnic spot in the summer months. After about 200 yards you’ll come to the funfair. It’s open from spring to autumn and is the best we’ve seen on a public park in North West England. The rides vary throughout the year but there’s usually a small rollercoaster, roundabouts, bouncy castle, crazy golf course, and more. Most rides cost just a pound and unlimited ride wristbands are also available. Just opposite is a small kiosk selling hot and cold drinks, ice cream, and snacks.
Walk a few yards further and you’ll reach the first of two playgrounds. This one is aimed at younger children. There’s a large sandpit, swings, and a couple of play towers. On the opposite side of the path there’s a miniature railway operated by the Moss Bank Model Railway Society.
The other playground is just a little further on and caters to older children. Equipment here includes a stepping log trail, timber climbing frame with nets, a climbing wall, dish swing, and a rotating seesaw.
Follow the path further and you’ll come to the former home of Animal World. It’s now being redeveloped by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust as The Hive. The project aims to help local people grow their own food and also hosts lots of activities for children.
The park’s café is also here. It opened in October 2014, replacing the one destroyed by fire 5 years earlier. It can accommodate up to 50 customers and sells sandwiches, snacks, and drinks.
Moss Bank Park is situated in the Smithills area of Bolton. The main entrance is on Moss Lane, just off Moss Bank Way (A58). The main car park is also here but fills up quickly at weekends. If there are no spaces you can try the second car park at the eastern side of the park. To reach it, follow Moss Lane for about ½ mile. The entrance is on the left, about 100 yards past the Barrow Bridge Chimney.