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Why you should visit the market town of Ramsbottom

Bridge Street, Ramsbottom. PHOTO:Kirsty Thompson
Bridge Street, Ramsbottom. PHOTO:Kirsty Thompson

We meet some of the people who make Ramsbottom such a thriving community.

Ramsbottom is a town with a rich industrial heritage set within rolling Pennine scenery. The earliest recorded reference to this place dates all the way back to the 14th century when the name probably referred to ‘a valley bottom where rams graze’.

Today, it is better known as a modern, thriving market town with a burgeoning foodie scene – and as home to the World Black Pudding Throwing Championships. This unique contest attracts thousands of spectators every September as competitors attempt knock down the most Yorkshire puddings from a plinth by lobbing three black puddings at them.

Great British Life: Irwell Works Brewery. PHOTO:Kirsty ThompsonIrwell Works Brewery. PHOTO:Kirsty Thompson

If you’d rather eat the local fare than fling it, you won’t be disappointed. Ramsbottom has a wealth of popular cafés, coffee shops and ice cream spots. The Mouse Trap is an upmarket coffee shop by day and a funky cheese and wine bar by night. The Old Bank has a hearty lunch menu along with tempting cakes that are hard to refuse. Grind & Tamp is another independent business thriving on Ramsbottom’s high street, serving speciality coffees and simple but seasonal food, whether you’re grabbing a pastry on the go, or savouring a sandwich and watching the world go by.

When evening comes, there are countless bars and restaurants to choose from too. Ramsbottom is a haven for craft beer lovers and even has its own brewery, Irwell Works, which has a balcony overlooking the town so you can sup and survey all that’s going on during the summer months. Northern Whisper’s taproom sits on the corner of Bridge Street and Market Place within a Grade II-listed building and has a tipple to suit all tastes, and Casked champions local drinks with five hand pulled cask ales, 15 craft keg lines and 60 carefully selected gins.

Great British Life: View toward Tre Ciccio. PHOTO:Kirsty ThompsonView toward Tre Ciccio. PHOTO:Kirsty Thompson

Visitors and locals alike enjoy tucking into mouth-watering Italian food at Tre Ciccio, Ramsbottom Social is well known for serving a delicious roast as well as more contemporary dishes, and Colleen’s was a welcome addition to Bridge Street – garnering a wealth of reviews praising its ‘big city food’ in ‘small town surroundings’.

Ramsbottom’s Friday Night Bite brings even more mouth-watering treats to the town centre, with a lively street food market surrounding the famous tilted vase sculpture on the first Friday of every month. The huge bronze vase or urn was designed by internationally renowned British sculptor Edward Allington to represent Ramsbottom’s heritage; its classical shape reflects the surrounding architecture, while its modern, bolted sections conjure up the idea of an industrial machine. It is one of around 70 artworks on the Irwell Sculpture Trail which spans Salford, Bury and Rossendale.

Great British Life: View across Market Place where the Great Urn of Ramsbottom is located which is part of the Irwell sculpture trail. PHOTO:Kirsty ThompsonView across Market Place where the Great Urn of Ramsbottom is located which is part of the Irwell sculpture trail. PHOTO:Kirsty Thompson

As well as the sculpture trail, Ramsbottom has plenty to offer art lovers and creatives – from creative writing courses at the civic hall to diverse galleries across the town.

The culture continues at The Theatre Royal, run by the Summerseat Players. Catch them taking on George Orwell’s iconic 1984 in November, or if you’d rather something more family friendly – you can watch Jacqueline Wilson’s Suitcase Kid in January.

Great British Life: Ramsbottom Station, East Lancashire Railway. PHOTO:Kirsty ThompsonRamsbottom Station, East Lancashire Railway. PHOTO:Kirsty Thompson

The historic East Lancashire Railway (featured on TV programmes and in movies such as Peaky Blinders and Paddington 2) has a station and signal box in Ramsbottom with one of the last manually operated main road crossings in the country. East Lancs Railway is proud to host a wealth of events throughout the year, including dining experiences, Halloween-themed trains, Santa specials and more. One of the most popular annual traditions is the 1940s weekend in spring which sees every station, including Ramsbottom, celebrate all things vintage – music, dance, living history displays and plenty of period fashion.

At this time of year, you might want to embrace one of the suggested rail itineraries such as the ‘Shop ’til You Drop’ route, which takes in four market towns (Heywood, Bury, Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall) and is perfect for Christmas shopping. In fact, shopping is another one of Ramsbottom’s highlights with a weekend market and a host of independently run shops and boutiques ensuring a bustling high street.

Velvet has two stores on Bridge Street and an outfit for every occasion; Hearts for Homes is a treasure trove of local gifts that you could spend an hour browsing before ever realising there’s an upstairs; the calming Life Store stocks carefully curated wellbeing and lifestyle items such as handmade candles, blankets, and ceramics; and the staff at Walmsley’s Butchers couldn’t be more helpful, whether you’re looking for complex culinary advice or something for a quick and easy tea.

Great British Life: Peel Tower sitting high on Holcolmbe Hill above Ramsbottom. PHOTO:Kirsty ThompsonPeel Tower sitting high on Holcolmbe Hill above Ramsbottom. PHOTO:Kirsty Thompson

If you’re feeling energetic and a day’s shopping isn’t your idea of exertion, there are plenty of walking trails and bike routes to explore around the area. The walk up to Peel Tower is steep, but your efforts will be rewarded with stunning views all the way to Manchester on a clear day. The 128 ft millstone grit monument was built in 1852 as a tribute to Bury-born Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel in recognition of his repeal of the Corn Laws.

If you’d rather cycle, you could follow in the bike tracks of this year’s Tour of Britain and tackle Rawson’s Rake in nearby Holcombe Village. The Rake is a 1km long climb and bridges 103 vertical meters with an average gradient of 10%. You’ll find yourself 246 meters above sea level when you reach the top ofthe ascent.

A stroll around Nuttall Park by the River Irwelll is a gentler alternative and there’s a children’s playground too. Ramsbottom is a diverse melting pot of Victorian architecture and industrial heritage, with a welcoming modern-minded community that hosts foodie fridays, celebrates its own annual pride event, welcomes artisans and makers and makes sure there’s something for everyone to enjoy, including a public garden.

There’s also lots of free parking across the town, which is lucky, because even if you arrive for breakfast – with so many fantastic eateries – you won’t want to leave before supper.

Great British Life: Zak Ford-Williams - photo Tom BarkerZak Ford-Williams - photo Tom Barker

Ramsbottom-born Actor Zak Ford-Williams shares three favourite things about his hometown:

1: I’ve always loved the urn or Tilted Vase as it’s officially named, it’s a great sculpture and very unique.

2: I was a huge Thomas the Tank Engine fan as a young lad so the steam train has always ignited my imagination.

3: And I’d have to say the countryside is one of my favourite things about Ramsbottom; there are so many beautiful vistas and places for a good stroll.



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