This walk starts at the East Lancashire Railway’s Ramsbottom Train Station and finishes in Bury. It follows the course of the River Irwell and takes in the pretty village of Summerseat and Burrs Country Park. It essentially follows the route of a section of the Irwell Sculpture Trail. Although it is an easy walk, there are several sections that would be difficult for those with pushchairs.
My 9-year old daughter and I started the walk at Ramsbottom Train Station. Although we could have taken the train there, we drove and parked nearby on Irwell Street. The original plan was to do the walk and, after reaching Bury, catch an East Lancashire Railway train back to Ramsbottom.
On arriving at the train station it soon became apparent that it was a special event day. It was a bank holiday in May and hordes of kids were on the platform for a Day Out With Thomas. We were going have a look around the station before starting the walk, but access to the platforms was for ticket holders only. We gave it a miss and started the walk.
From Railway Street we turned right onto Bridge Street. Crossing the bridge over the River Irwell the road becomes Peel Brow. We passed the Hearth of the Ram restaurant and bar (formerly the Good Samaritan pub), and after a few hundred yards turned onto Bury New Road.
It wasn’t long before we reached Nuttall Hall Road. This would take us to our first stop on the walk; Nuttall Park. Walking down the road we came across a delightful sight. One of the residents had established a Little Free Library at the bottom of their garden path. I’d never heard of the scheme before, but basically it is just a box full of books that can be used by neighbours. Borrowing and returning is all based on trust. It looks like a wonderful idea.
My daughter played on the playground for a while. We then walked to the southern end of the park where we came across some large carvings of wooden flowers. Subsequent research established that they were part of a series of sculptures called Seek And You Will Find by Kerry Morrison. It looks like they were at one point commissioned by the Irwell Sculpture Trail. However, for some reason are no longer listed on the official Irwell Sculpture Trail website.
We then followed the path south along the eastern bank of the River Irwell. On reaching Nuttall Lane, just before the village of Nuttall, we took the gravel path south (signposted for Brooksbottoms).
Gravel gave way to cobblestones and shortly after we reached Brooksbottom Tunnel. Our timing was perfect and we were fortunate enough to catch sight of an East Lancashire Railway train heading north to Ramsbottom.
Continuing along the path brought us to Waterside Road in Summerseat. From here we turned east passing The Spinnings apartments and what was once the Waterside pub and restaurant. The Spinnings was originally the Joshua Hoyles Mill. It was built at the end of the 19th century using sandstone from the Fletcher Bank Quarry in Ramsbottom. The adjacent building (Waterside) was the mill’s offices.
Waterside Road then led onto Kay Street. At the top of Kay Street we went onto Miller Street, admiring the beautiful cottages on our left.
Reaching the end of Miller Street, brought us to Summerseat Train Station, another railway station on the East Lancashire Railway. We walked the length of the platform. Again, luck was on our side; another steam train arrived.
Exiting Summerseat Train Station at its southern end brought us to the junction of Railway Street, Rowlands Road, and Wood Road Lane. We headed south along Wood Road Lane. After about 300 yards the road crosses the River Irwell. We didn’t cross the river, but instead took the steep path to our left. This brought us to a gate where we had to cross the railway track. There’s no barrier here and care should be taken when crossing. The East Lancashire Railway trains pass here most days of the week.
Following the path eventually brought us out onto an unnamed road just west of Walmersley. Whoever owns the land here (possibly Springside Farm) has built a delightful pond here for the public to enjoy. It features a couple of islands with statues of birds, crocodiles etc.
From Springside Farm we followed the path on the western shore of the River Irwell. After half a mile or so we came to the weir at the northern end of Burrs Country Park.
It was late afternoon now and we’d been walking for a while. Refreshments were in order, so we decided to head for the Brown Cow pub, located at the centre of the park near the Burrs Country Park Caravan Club Site. On the way we paused for a while at Stone Cycle, a sculpture by Julie Edwards.
It was a bank holiday and the Brown Cow was packed. I ordered a cider while my daughter had an ice cream. There was live music inside the pub, but as it was a sunny day we sat in the beer garden. They’d set up a burger stand/bar in the garden, so we each topped up with a cheeseburger.
Leaving the pub, we headed for the southern entrance on Woodhill Road, passing the Burrs Activity Centre, the fishing lodge, and remnants of the mills that once stood here.
Walking along Woodhill Road, we passed the Woodhill Road play area, the Garsdale pub, and a farm.
Just after reaching the housing estate we took a footpath on our left. This took us over the over the River Irwell and to the Bury Community Fire Station at Chamberhall Business Park on Magdalene Road. This rather funky building is one of a new breed of fire stations in Greater Manchester with community facilities. This particular station boasts a sensory garden with bee hives.
Continuing along Castlecroft Road, we soon reached Bury town centre. We went left along Bolton Street, passing Bury Bolton Street Train Station. Our original plan of action was to take an East Lancashire Railway train from here back to the Ramsbottom and the car. It was early evening by now though, and the trains had stopped running. In any case it was a Day Out With Thomas event day, so the regular timetable didn’t apply.
Bury Interchange was beckoning. We could get a bus from there. My daughter was dying to use the toilet though, so we popped into the Clarence pub where the staff kindly let her use their facilities.
Once at Bury Interchange we made our way to Stand P where we caught the First 472 bus back to Ramsbottom.
We alighted on Market Place and had a quick look at Edward Allington’s Tilted Vase sculpture before returning to the car.