Weekend Walks: Grains Bar

This expanse on the cusp of the moors provides some stunning views of Manchester...

Grains Bar is a small area on the edge of Oldham, right on the cusp of the Saddleworth Moors and overlooking pretty much the entire east of Greater Manchester.

Growing up, it was known as the place where you could have a game of Pitch & Putt golf, as well as home to the once excellent Kings Arms. I say “once excellent” because I’ve not been in there in about 15 years – so it might be awful now.

The area is also known for its outstanding beauty, and excellent walking and cycling paths – most of which will take you to either Bishops Park with its monument, or Besom Hill; a wild former quarry with unmatched views of the city.

There’s ample parking in the area, most of it right off Ripponden Road – so if you’re driving here then you’re sorted. If you’re walking from Oldham, the trip up the hill is a long one but the reward at the end is well worth it.

Bishops Park is located up the hill above the pub and the golf bit, easily identified by the rather large monument that sticks out of the ground at the top of the hill. It commemorates the giving of the 50 acre estate to the people of Oldham by Ellen and James Ludlam back in 1927 – in memory of their parents – the Bishops.

From up here you can see some truly dramatic Pennine scenery, as well as most of Greater Manchester in the valley below. You’ll also notice a massive cross on the hill across the road too – this is Besom Hill.

A former hilltop quarry, Besom Hill’s striking face and shale and sandstone strata are visible for miles – and once you’re up there – the views are stunning. To get up there you should walk alongside the dirt road just to the side of the small row of terraces – just follow the path up there.

From Grains Bar if you’re looking for a longer walk, it’s not far away from the lovely little villages of Delph and Denshaw – although with pubs still closed, there might not be too much to do once you’re there.

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