Rossendale has a reputation as one of the best places in the UK to spot a UFO; maybe they visit so regularly because they agree with The Times, which recently declared it one of the best places to live. Situated in East Lancashire, it is a collection of small villages and towns that include Ramsbottom, Rawtenstall, Bacup and Haslingden. Once all milltowns, they now welcome fans of outdoor pursuits, as well as those who appreciate independent shopping, super food and culture.

It is also home to the World Gravy Wrestling Championship (Stacksteads in August) and the Black Pudding Throwing Championship (Ramsbottom in September) which are perhaps a little more niche. We don’t know if any aliens have observed these events but, if they have, they haven’t yet shared their thoughts.

Great British Life: Bank Street, Rawtenstall. Bank Street, Rawtenstall. (Image: Kirsty Thompson)

Rossendale is also known as Adrenalin Valley and there are many ways to acquire a shot of it: water skiing, cycling, horse-riding, or even a spot of snowboarding and skiing. It has more public footpaths than any other borough in England; some you can stroll along but others require a little more tenacity. A walk-up Holcombe Hill to Peel Tower is a traditional Easter activity and, although it isn’t easy, the views are stunning.

If you prefer culture to adrenalin, Rossendale delivers. There are plenty of events going on. Ramsbottom’s Nuttall Park has a two-day festival in July; Haslingden holds the Rossendale Kite Festival each summer and September sees Rawtenstall host a 1960s festival.

Great British Life: Bridge Street, Ramsbottom. Bridge Street, Ramsbottom. (Image: Kirsty Thompson)

Waterfoot Wakes Festival is one for the whole family, a 10-day event in July, showcasing a mix of theatre, music, parades and amazing costumes. It is organised by Horse and Bamboo, an arts organisation in Bacup that offers a varied programme of events. Bacup is also home to the Royal Court Theatre – in May they’ll be performing a new musical version of The Addams Family. Ramsbottom also has a Theatre Royal and this month they’ll be presenting a production of Jane Eyre.

The Whitaker Museum in Rawtenstall is one of Lancashire’s jewels and don’t forget that the end of March sees the Helmshore Mills Textile Museum re-open its doors. It is also worth popping into Bacup’s Natural History Museum where you can find out everything you could possibly want to know about the area from the stone age onwards – there are children’s quizzes too. There are heaps to do in Rossendale and March is a perfect month to explore.

Great British Life: Olivia Phillips and baby Jude of Darling Buds of Rossendale. Olivia Phillips and baby Jude of Darling Buds of Rossendale. (Image: Kirsty Thompson)

Family fashion

Running a business with your mum isn’t for everybody but for Olivia Phillips, it’s wonderful.

‘My mum is my best friend. When we decided to launch Darling Buds of Rossendale, an upmarket children’s clothing store in Rawtenstall, we did have some concerns but how we would get on together certainly wasn’t one of them,’ says Oliva, an ex-teacher who runs the business with her mum, Claire, a midwife and nurse.

‘It means mum and I can work around each other to organise childcare. Some days,I even bring baby Jude to work with me: he’s a very good model! It’s all perfect, except for the fact that I can’t stop buying my own stock!’

When she launched the business a year ago, Olivia was unsure about how successful the store would be.

‘Before long though, we knew we’d done the right thing,’ Olivia adds. ‘We quickly built a good reputation and now have customers from all over Lancashire.’

The shop stocks the latest Spanish and English designs and Olivia will soon be extending the age range from five to eight; as well as expanding the footwear range. She says: ‘Stock changes regularly and this spring, bunny designs and gorgeous sunset colours will be the order of the day: perfect for Easter.

‘There’s lots of smiles here, such as when we have a store full of excited flower girls choosing outfits from our occasion range.’ The best moments are when parents, whom Claire delivered, come into the store to buy clothes for their children. ‘Mum delivered many Darling Buds of Rossendale and now here she is clothing them!

Great British Life: Rossendale Mums in Business; Abby Thompson, Jo Shay, Rebecca Whitaker, Kelly Waters (Seated-) Rachel Kiloran and Amanda Robinson stood outside the Whitaker, Rawtenstall. Rossendale Mums in Business; Abby Thompson, Jo Shay, Rebecca Whitaker, Kelly Waters (Seated-) Rachel Kiloran and Amanda Robinson stood outside the Whitaker, Rawtenstall. (Image: Kirsty Thompson)

Mums mean business

We hear a lot about equal opportunities and of course, things are much better now but there’s a reason why most businessmen are able to attend crack of dawn networking meetings and that’s because, in many cases, it’s still mum who does more parenting,’ says Kelly Waters, an award-winning make-up artist and spokesperson for Rossendale Mums in Business. ‘We’re all trying to juggle childcare and home life while ensuring we deliver the best to our customers. It can be isolating and that’s why we need this networking group. We promote each other, provide support, and yes, even childcare when needed.

‘Between us we have a lot of skills, so it’s good to know that, when the computer won’t respond or a toddler is tantrumming just when you’re about to make that Zoom call, there will be another mum who can help or just listen,’ says Kelly who is originally from Berkshire but believes Rossendale is a great place for working mums.

‘Sometimes, we meet up just to go for a walk in the gorgeous scenery and that’s a prescription for mental health right there. The community is strong and more young families are choosing Rossendale as home: team that with good schools and it’s a perfect spot for any business mum.’

Great British Life: Rossendale Vulcanising; Vicky Sehfaild, Luci Eagan, Nicole Holland and Rachael Eagan.Rossendale Vulcanising; Vicky Sehfaild, Luci Eagan, Nicole Holland and Rachael Eagan. (Image: Kirsty Thompson)Sisters at the wheel

It’s rare to find a female vulcaniser in the UK and even rarer to find a whole family of them, but the women of Rossendale Vulcanising are challenging the perception that it is only men’s work.

‘Why should it be? We are very capable and have a great reputation with commercial and private clients; we’ve even opened another branch at Cloughfold,’ says Rachael who along with her mum, Vicky, wife Luci and three sisters don their overalls, roll their sleeves up and get properly stuck in.

‘I think we’ve all been asked to go and get the man in charge butthat’s par for the course and anyway, it only happens with new clients,’ says Nicole, who reports that female clients are always happy when they realise they can explain the problem to another woman.

‘That said, it’s not a battle of the sexes. We have a wonderful male workforce and it was our dad, Jeffrey Holland, who began the business 50 years ago. He must be happy with us, as he’s never been tempted to come out of retirement.’

The family are determined to be a good example to local girls.

‘We have groups like Brownies coming in and we show them how to jack up a car, making it fun for them,’ says Rachael. Closer to home, Rachael and Luci’s daughter, Jessica – who is just three – is already showing an interest in all things tyres.

‘It would be nice to have another generation of women come up through the ranks but that would be her choice. For now, we’re just happy that she is learning that a girl can do any job.

Great British Life: Exterior of the Whitaker, Rawtenstall.Exterior of the Whitaker, Rawtenstall. (Image: Kirsty Thompson)


The heritage railway is a great way to explore the Rossendale Valley.It’s also worth checking out the special events that take place on board, from fine dining and afternoon tea to gin tasting and comedy. March events include a murder mystery and a Peter Rabbit fun day.

THE WHITAKER, Rawtenstall
The permanent collection includes nature, art and social history. There is a constantly changing programme of exciting events and exhibitions. March sees film nights, a Mother’s Day wreath making workshop, an afternoon tea event and a family craft day.

THE HILL, Rawtenstall
Home of Ski Rossendale, this outdoor ski and snowboarding centre, located in picturesque surroundings, has just celebrated its 50th birthday. There is a full complement of highly qualified instructors, with something for all abilities including tubing for those wanting family fun.

This disused quarry consists of 8km of tough mountain bike trails, which have been designed to help bikers develop and learn new skills.It offers some great biking opportunities, such as tabletop jumps, a pump track and some of the UK’s biggest berms.