If you’re looking to explore the stunning Pennines, head on down to the villages of Saddleworth for some proper country pubs, top food and the biggest selection of gin this side of Bombay.
Coming from the city centre on the train, the best place to get off is Greenfield. The train will most likely be full of a gang of middle aged blokes on the Ale Trail (which I’m sure we will cover at some point) wearing brand new shiny trainers and buzzing to be away from the wife.
The Railway Inn, Greenfield
Straight off the train in Greenfield, over the bridge and across the road is the Railway Inn, a cracking little no-frills boozer which is usually the 2nd or 3rd stop on the Ale Trail. When I say no-frills I don’t mean it in a bad way – in fact it’s a big complement. There’s them brass horse things on the walls, a great selection of real ales and ciders and an excellent range of British Tapas (crisps). I’ve been in here on Christmas Day and I’ve been in here on a sweaty Saturday night in the Summer when they’ve got live music on and it’s always been pretty mint. Everyone is really friendly too!
11 Shaw Hall Bank Rd, Greenfield, Oldham OL3 7JZ
From here you’ve got two options: First, if you’re a bit of an outdoors person walk down the hill and towards Dovestones Reservoir – great for a potter and to nod and smile at every randomer you walk past. You can probably stop reading this now.
Personally though, I would suggest the second option; taking the short walk down to Uppermill, which has a ‘high street’ of sorts with plenty of shops, pubs and restaurants to explore.
You know that you’re close to Uppermill because you’ll get to the canal – perfect for kicking the odd duck up the arse, and you’ll be confronted with the High Street, pretty much the entire hub of the village and where most things are located.
Saddleworth Museum & Gallery
Right at the bottom of High Street is the Saddleworth Museum, which is definitely worth a little visit if you’re interested in the history of the area – mostly revolving around mills and textiles. There’s plenty to see and do, what with Oldham being at the centre of the Industrial Revolution, and to be fair, walking around the museum and all of its Victorian artefacts – it’s not much different than most of the places you’ll be visiting elsewhere. Apart from the odd smartphone knocking about, or Ford Focus driving past, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped back in time around these parts.
33 High St, Uppermill, Oldham OL3 6HS
The Granby Arms
You must be getting a thirst on by now, and luckily for you, the Granby Arms is directly opposite the Museum and Gallery and is a cracking place for an ice-cold cider and a smile. It’s not got all of the bells and whistles that other places in the area have but it does have some cracking beers, a nice cosy atmosphere and a couple of dogs milling about that you can stoke, pet and try to Barbara Woodhouse while drunk. They also have a great little outdoor bit where you can sit in the sun and watch the world go by – perfect.
28 High St, Uppermill, Oldham OL3 6HR
The Waggon Inn
Pretty much next door to the Granby Arms is The Waggon Inn, which wouldn’t look out of place in Castlefield – complete with extensive levels of sanded wood, a cracking food menu and foreign sounding beers. Some people say it may have lost its charm in recent years, but it never had any in the first place – and it’s now a much nicer place to crack open a bottle of Old Tom or down a pint of Big Wave while tucking into their menu which features such delights as their Beer and Treacle Glazed Ham, Beaded Yorkshire Halloumi and Rump of Texel Lamb .
34 High St, Uppermill, Oldham OL3 6HR
Muse could be considered the ‘party boy’ of Uppermill, insofar that it features a massive cocktail list, neon on the walls and will be absolutely rammed full of Ben Sherman wearing blokes with gel in their hair come 1am on a Friday night. Selling itself as an all-round venue, there’s a bar front and centre, but they also serve some cracking food round the back and upstairs and tend to have DJs on in the evening. The food itself is excellent, and well worth a visit during the day for a proper ‘sit down’ meal with your mam.
Muse, 27 High St, Uppermill, Oldham OL3 6HS
Betty’s Fish and Chips
I usually find it difficult to get a good bit of Fish and Chips in the city centre, although I am partial to a little visit to Chorlton for a session in Atlantic Fish Bar every now and then. Betty’s Fish and Chips in Uppermill is a proper chippy, a place to come when you want your fish battered, your chips vinegary and your tin of Tizer ice cold. They also do the fantastic Oldham speciality Rag Pudding, which you should definitely give a try, as well as actually calling chips in bread a ‘Chip Muffin‘ which is the correct terminology for now and forever.
36 High St, Uppermill, Oldham OL3 6HR
A great drinking hole right slap-bang in the middle of Uppermill. What makes this place so special? Well, with a name that includes the word ‘tap’ – it’s their beers and there’s always a very impressive selection of them at any one time. There are 8 taps smashing out the good stuff, as well as a mightily impressive number of bottles and those new trendy cans. They also have a rather impressive amount of gin here – although it’s nowhere as extensive as The Old Bell Inn (you’ll see later).
Albion Tap, 72 High St, Uppermill, Oldham OL3 6AW
Rioja Tapas Bar
A fair few years ago, on a particularly messy Summer all-day session in Uppermill, I decided to treat my girlfriend to a lovely bit of tapas in Rioja, most likely trying to show off my Spanish language skills and food knowledge after a stint working in Barcelona. Although the food was excellent, the service very friendly, and the wine flowing – my girlfriend was not happy because I didn’t seat her in one of their ‘pods’ outside. To me I couldn’t think of anything worse than sitting in one of them, but I suppose I’m a miserable old bastard who just wants to stuff padron peppers down his throat and go to bed. Rioja is a lovely place, and if you manage to get a pod, there won’t be anything to be disappointed with.
58 High St, Uppermill, Oldham OL3 6HA
As you continue up the High Street you’ll pass a couple of great little charity shops, a few of them odd gift shops that only sell cards and teddy bears and some more decent boozers. There’s the Hare & Hounds which is great for sitting outside, and The Commercial which although it’s a bit of a sports monster, has cheap drinks and a nice friendly atmosphere in which to drink them.
From Uppermill there’s a few other villages you can head on over to. I personally get on the bus and head over to Delph, but there is also Dobcross and Diggle with a few cracking places to visit.
The Swan, Dobcross
I once went in here and had a monstrous plate piled high with chips, beans and a fantastic Cheese and Onion pie and I must say it was glorious. It was absolutely freezing outside and my fingers had started to drop off, and the Swan was like a golden, warm oasis of ales, vodka and hearty pub grub. There’s plenty of big leather seats, roaring fireplaces and blokes with tweed jackets sipping whiskey with an Irish Red Setter and a pipe. There’s also apparently a theatre upstairs which hosts a variety of events, but I’ve never been up there.
1 The Square, Dobcross, Oldham OL3 5AA
Grandpa Greene’s Luxury Ice Cream, Diggle
Down by the banks of the canal in Diggle you will find Grandpa Green’s ice cream which is not only a lovely cafe and ice cream parlour but is also the actual factory that bangs out some of the creamiest, most delicious ice cream imaginable. While eating at Muse I scoffed down a couple of scoops of Salted Caramel and Banana ice cream and was in bloody heaven – so it’s definitely worth the trip to the ‘source’ of all this goodness. Perfect when it’s sunny outside, there’s a lovely terrace area where you can tuck into a bit of breakfast or lunch or just take a quick route to Gouts-ville and devour your body weight in ice cream.
Ward Ln, Diggle, Oldham OL3 5JT
As mentioned, a visit to Delph is usually on the cards, because not only does it have some cracking pubs but there’s also a gang of goats down the side of the canal who are great fun to hang around with. There is this one duck though – perhaps it’s a goose- who has a real attitude problem. Watch your fingers around him.
The Old Bell Inn, Delph
Pretty much one of the greatest pubs in the world, The Old Bell Inn is famous the world over for its selection of gin – which numbers somewhere around 1300 I believe. That’s way too much gin to drink in one sitting, but I suggest you give it a bloody good try. They hold a Guinness World Record for the largest number of gins commercially available, and if you ask nicely they will tell you all about meeting Daley Thompson and getting him leathered on some 1875 Beefeater Gin the night before he won gold at the 1984 Olympics. That never happened, but it would be good if it did.
Huddersfield Road, Delph, Oldham OL3 5EG
After taking over the old bank in Delph, they then decided to call it The Bank and then serve up a rather impressive menu of foodie delights to us all – and for that I’ll be eternally grateful to the owners of this rather lovely restaurant and bar. There’s bottomless brunch, Sunday roasts and a main menu that’s rather eclectic in its offerings. Their cocktails are pretty bob-on too!
The Bank, 15 King St, Delph, Oldham OL3 5DL
The Swan Inn, Delph
Right in the heart of Delph, the Swan Inn may not be the best pub in the world but it holds some nice memories for me because it was our ‘go-to’ place for a Sunday Dinner when I was a kid. Usually eaten while my mum and dad sat in silence after an argument, the roasts were fantastic, and the pub always warm and friendly. A more recent visit showed that it’s still a great little boozer, and perfect for a few stiff ones while nattering away with the locals. I should really go back and try their Roast Dinners again to see if they still hold up – I’ll head down again this Summer and let you know. I’m sure you’ll be sat on the edge of your seat until then.
King St, Delph, Oldham OL3 5DN