Getting a taste for a wild weekend in Ramsbottom


Ramsbottom and The Peel Tower - image by Marketing Manchester

Ramsbottom and Peel Tower – image by Marketing Manchester

Travel the world and you can still sample what people eat and drink locally despite a lot of places falling victim to the domination of Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Heineken and other world brands.

The 2012 Olympic venues seemed to fail as well, as part of the price of staging them, although organisers said Red Tractor-branded, British-sourced food would be in venues where possible.

However, there seemed no positive drive to push British recipes and British drinks within venues – with Heineken the only lager despite the range of British beers and proper lagers thanks to the resurgence of brewing via microbrewers and the big brewers bringing out their own lines.

The same, sadly, is often true throughout the country during normal times.

Go to Merseyside and try to find places serving Scouse or the Black Country for grey peas and bacon. Do the same in North Staffordshire with oatcakes (outside of the wonderfully surviving oatcake shops and the fightback signalled by growing support for National Oatcake Day on August 8) and you can draw the same kind of blank.

Go to Italy, France, Switzerland, Holland, Greece etc and you can go into a whole range of local restaurants, cafes, hotels and bars and you can eat local recipes made from locally-sourced ingredients. In the UK this has not been the case – but things are changing.

In the North West they have taken a taste of Jamie Oliver, determination to grow things, grassroots grit and determination and mixed it with a little Mediterrannean flavouring.

This recipe, in a patch of Greater Manchester/Lancashire just west of the Pennines produces an enthusiastic mix swimming together against the recessionary tide and the damage done by same-old, same-old global brands. Young people are helped along the way and quality food and drink, making the most of local ingredients, is produced.

Here, just above Manchester, Ramsbottom was voted the seventh best place to eat in the United Kingdom in the BBC Magazine Olive. The Saturday market, with its fresh fish, pies, cheeses, meats, vegetables, and produce hint at a a big relationship with food – and growing things.

There is also a Farmers’ Market (now called an Artisan Market) held every second Sunday of the month.Visit Manchester has also produced a video showing off the best of the North West and it can be viewed at their website food video

There are also oddities and quirks with the area is thought to have lost points due to hosting the World Black Pudding Throwing Championships and judges thinking it not an entirely good use of food.

Championships are held annually at the Royal Oak (now The Oaks) pub, 39, Bridge Street, BL0 9AD (telephone +44 (0)1706 822786) with puddings thrown to try and dislodge a stack of Yorkshire Puddings on plinths. Plinths are on two levels (one for children, the other for adults).

This year the competition is being held on Sunday September 9.

To get a flavour of it take a look at it with Si and Dave, The Hairy Bikers here The winner is the one who dislodges most in three tries. The competition started at the, now closed. Corner Pin pub in nearby Stubbins, but Wikipedia says: “The contest stems from the War of the Roses in which opposing forces from Lancashire and Yorkshire are said to have hurled black puddings and Yorkshire puddings at each other when they ran out of ammunition.”

A claim to be taken with a pinch of salt. While I was there the weekly paper carried a sad court case about an attack on a woman, matter-of-factly referred to her as “the former gravy wrestling champion.”

More positively the annual chocolate festival now doubles the population (about 15,000) of the town over a weekend. It is held the weekend before Easter and started in 2009. More details about the festival can be found at http://chocfest.wordpress.com/ In addition to the chocolate festival there is a year-round self-guided Chocolate Trail.

Bury Council, which has tourist information available on +44(0)161 253 5111. has a downloadable leaflet detailing the trail here

A good way to start, as I did, is with a journey into Ramsbottom on the East Lancashire Railway from Bury’s Bolton Street station (following a Metro ride from Manchester Piccadilly Station – £5 for a weekend ticket on the Metro).

The Bury Transport Museum, across the road from the Bolton Street station (postcode BL9 OEY, telephone +44 (0) 161 764 7790) is also worth stopping to take a look at. Details are on the railway website above.

Bury Bolton Street Station

Bury Bolton Street Station

The railway, which was opened in 1845 as the Manchester, Bury & Rossendale Railway closed to passenger traffic in 1966 and freight in 1980.

However, enthusiasts have worked since the 1960s to grow the railway back to 12 miles of track, a locomotive works in use since the railway’s 1845 opening and six stations – Heywood, Bury, Summerseat, Ramsbottom, Irwell Vale and Rawtenstall.

A family Full Line Return (valid for up to 2 adults and 3 children) costs £34.00, an adult full Line return: Green Timetable costs £10.20, Weekend £13.00. Concessionary fare for a Full Line Return are: Green Timetable £8.30, Weekend £11.00. The Child Full Line Return is: Green Timetable £6.50, Weekend £8.40.

The 4,000 plus members of the East Lancashire Railway Preservation Society are also planning to re-open the existing line to passengers from Heywood to Castleton.

In the meantime people are tempted onto the line with initiatives such as the Rail Ale Trail. Leaflets plot a route from station to station with opportunities to stop off and sample the best beers on offer at towns along the line. In addition to people going under their own steam using the leaflets to guide them the railway also organises in-depth guided tours.

Steam-hauled First Class luxury dining and family events such as Days Out With Thomas (the Tank Engine), Halloween Ghost Trains and Santa Specials are all on offer at different times of the year along with private tours.

Light and shade at Bury Bolton Street

Light and shade at Bury Bolton Street

80080 at Ramsbottom Station

80080 at Ramsbottom Station

After arriving in Ramsbottom at the town’s rebuilt railway station a swift right and left out the station takes you up Bridge Street.

Here, at number 28,The Ramsbottom Sweet Shop, (postcode for satnav or snailmail BL0 9AQ, telephone +44 (0) 1706 822 166 28 website http://www.ramsbottombears.com/) creates hand-made chocolates as well as selling sweets with a nostalgic flavour.

On the same street The Cultured Bean Shop, at 9E, has ‘Ma Bean’s puddings and award-winning bitter chocolate torte served in the licensed coffee bar.

The Cultured Bean also has chocolate beauty products which include locally-produced chocolate shampoo and conditioner, and coffee beans roasted in Lancashire (postcode BLO 9AB, telephone +44 (0) 1706 825232 and website http://www.theculturedbean.com/).

Local award-winning produce is emphasised at The Cultured Bean but the chocolate theme continues even with drinks from farther afield

The Vineyard Wine Merchants, further up and off Bridge Street, at 12, Square Street (postcode BL0 9BE, telephone +44 (0)1706 822213, website http://www.thevineyardwineshop.co.uk/Home) stocks Chocolate Wine and Teichenné Chocolate Liqueur and sometimes holds £30 a head tasting events in Ramsbottom Civic Hall as well as corporate tastings from £10 to £25 a head.

Ramsons Restaurant, Ramsbottom

Ramsons Restaurant, Ramsbottom

Ramsons, which is in the Which? Good Food Guide and appears in the guide on the list of Britain’s 50 Best Restaurants has excellent chocolate desserts (turn right at the traffic lights at the top of Bridge Street and you find it at 18, Market Place, BL0 9HT, telephone +44 (0) 17 0682 5070 website http://www.ramsons-restaurant.com/).

Its name is derived from the wild garlic which grows in the Irwell Valley, and in some accounts gives its name to the town.

It is proudly used in cooking in the area and its use and growth in the area is being strongly promoted with a Ramsons day and promotion of recipes it can be used in.

Crossing back over Bridge Street, The Cook’s Emporium is a good place to pick up the equipment to produce your own chocolate creations at 22, Bolton Street (postcode BLO9HX, telephone +44 (0) 1706 828359).

Further up Bolton Street at number 43, The First Chop Bar and Restaurant (postcode BLO 9HU,telephone +44 (0) 1706 827722, website http://www.thefirstchop.co.uk/) does locally-sourced dishes, Lancashire Tapas and chocolate beer.

It also hosts live music every Thursday and has five locally brewed cask ales available as well as more than 40 bottled beers and ciders from around the world and six fruit beers and four chocolate beers. Just above the market, at 2-4, Prince Street, is The Lounge (postcode BLO 9FN, telephone +44 (0) 1706 828392, website http://www.theloungeramsbottom.co.uk/) – which serves chocolate cocktails.

Paul Morris and chocolate bars at The Chocolate Cafe

Paul Morris and chocolate bars at The Chocolate Cafe

Paul Morris, who opened The Chocolate Cafe on the corner of Carr Street and Bridge Street. in 2008, is a cheerful and passionate chocolate enthusiast who helped to start the festival in 2009.

He said: “I looked through the records and the town had a chocolate shop for a very long time. We estimated that 3,000 would come and 10,000 turned up on the day.

“Now we have 50 plus traders, music and a beer tent and entry to everything is free.”

Paul and wife, Emma, worked on the French Rivieria, running properties, and got the idea of opening a relaxed family-friendly cafe serving simple British food and drink coupled with a shop selling chocolate hand-made on the premises with the help of enthusiastic young people building their skills and confidence in their own abilities.

The relaxed family atmosphere was achieved and recognised when the cafe won the award for the Best Family Friendly Venue at the Manchester Food and Drink Festival in 2010.

The cafe (postcode BLO 9HX, telephone 01706 822 828, website http://www.chocolate-cafe.co.uk/) is also cyclist-friendly – useful as Ramsbottom is on the National Cycle Route. Paul said: “We get a lot of cyclists and they can lock their bikes in the yard while they come in to eat and have something to drink. We get 30 or 40 a week coming through.”

Paul said: “We got enough money to come back and find a place where we could try out the concept. “We looked around Cheshire and the Midlands and loads of places before we found this place. It had been a pub and then been knocked through into the pub next door and used as council offices.

“Ramsbottom had a growing reputation for food and drink and when this came up we were first through the door.

“The town suffered badly in the 1980s but has bounced back with a lot of good independent shops and businesses and good places for eating and drinking.

“The businesses in the town really network well together and club together to get things done.

“We get a lot of visitors from all over the North West and, if there is one negative, we could do with more good quality hotel accommodation – although there is talk of a boutique-type hotel opening.”

Since then Paul and Emma, who is originally from Ramsbottom, have grown the business so that they employ 16 staff and two part-timers.

“We make chocolate for one week only – we don’t make it in bulk and stockpile it,” said Paul. “I am a firm believer that fresh chocolate provides quality.

” They use single origin chocolate couveture – high quality chocolate containing extra cocoa butter – mainly from South America.

Although Paul says they are not big enough for the general market and national supermarkets their close relationship with customers mean that ideas from those customers can be developed into new flavours and types of chocolate product.

However, their chocolate does find its way into Harrods London store and the Booths supermarket chain in the North West. Looking to the future Paul says: “My ambition would be to have bean-to-chocolate factory which people could go round and see the whole chocolate making process from start to finish.”

Helping young people into employment and to acquire skills is important to Paul and The Chocolate Cafe.

He said: “It is about the concept but it is also about the young people and their abilities. “They are enthusiastic and they sign the packet on each bar that they make. They have been keen to learn and have show so much ability that I would be happy to leave some of them in charge of the business.”

Now, according to the Manchester Evening News, Paul and Emma plan to invest £350,000 in a chocolate factory and help to create up to 20 jobs.

They have, says the newspaper, appointed an agent to look for a 4,000 sq ft site within 10 miles of Ramsbottom in order to triple production and to start looking at overseas markets. The new cafe will also include a cafe and visitor attraction.

Paul and The Chocolate Cafe are also doing their bit for charity. He said: “We were being asked to help a lot charities by giving prizes and other things. Now we choose one charity a year to support. This year it is Bury Cancer Support. It seems a fair way to help.

“However, we also help out others with our Chocolates for Charity scheme. Registered charities can buy the handmade chocolate bars at a special fundraising price of £1.67 + VAT (£2.00) a bar with a minimum order of 60 bars. “They can then sell them on at a suggested retail price of £3.50 each and retain all the profit.

“We deliver anywhere in the UK for £9.95 or they can collect them from us free.” Charities can also hire one (or more) retail stands holding up to 72 bars.

The cafe takes a deposit of £25 per stand which is refunded when a stand is returned.

Charities can choose the flavours they want with a minimum order of any one flavour of 10 bars. They can also leave it up to the cafe to choose their most popular flavours.

Peel Tower from Ramsbottom Railway Station

Peel Tower from Ramsbottom Railway Station

From Carr Street, walkers and cyclists can break off and head up The Rake, via Holcombe village, to see the Peel Tower at Holcombe Hill (1,100ft).

This commemorates Sir Robert Peel (Prime Minister 1841-1846 and MP for Bury), the founder of modern policing in Britain (the early police were nicknamed Peelers and can still be referred to as ‘Bobbys’).

He was also largely responsible for getting the repeal of the Corn Laws through Parliament.

When you get to the tower, which was opened in 1852, there are 150 steps to the top and very good views.

For details people should telephone +44 (0) 161 253 5353.

The Irwell Works Brewery

The Irwell Works Brewery

However, chocolate is not the only flavour in town. One of the businesses that networks well and delivers to the others is The Irwell Works Brewery in Irwell Street (postcode BL) 9YQ, telephone +44 (0)1706 825 019, website at http://www.irwellworksbrewery.co.uk/).

It operates out of the former ‘Irwell Steam Copper and Tin Plate Works on Irwell Street. The building, dating from 1888, was built for local coppersmith Richard Mason but until about five years ago was used by a light engineering firm – Atlas Engineering.

It now houses the brewery and an atmospheric brewery tap on the upper floor.

Keith Powell, partner Sara D’Arcy and brewer Peter Booth started brewing in November of 2010. ‘ Copper Plate,’ a 3.8% abv session bitter, was overall winner of the Bury Beer Festival later the same month.

Keith said: “The original idea was Peter and Sara’s. “You could see the old system of big breweries selling to tenants was not working any more. “In fact Sara did her dissertation at university on the demise of British public houses.

“We looked at a lot of places before we found this in what is a very nice town. It is also in the centre of town.

“The fact that the building is in a conservation area also meant that it had to be converted and restored in a tasteful way. Keith added: “Peter is a very good brewer and we are up to about 9 or ten beers now – winning prizes at regional and national festivals.

A sight for thirsty eyes outside the Irwell Works Brewery

A sight for thirsty folk outside the Irwell Works Brewery

“One thing we have tried to do is to maintain the industrial feel of the place with beers referencing steel, copper and iron.

“As well as festivals we distribute the beer local and to pubs in north Manchester.We are trying to expand and build our market up. “However, micro-brewing is quite competitive now with microbrewers cropping up all over the place.”

They have four standard beers named after the works – ‘Steam Plate’ Best Bitter at 4.3%abv, ‘Iron Plate’ Lancashire Stout at 4.4%abv, ‘Tin Plate’ Dark Mild 3.6%abv and ‘Richard Mason’s 1888’ Pale Ale 4.0%abv.

To celebrate the opening of the brewery tap in August 2011 they brewed two summer ales, ‘Mad dogs & Englishmen’ IPA at 5.5%abv and ‘Lightweights & Gentlemen’ a light pale ale at 3.2%abv.

Peter Booth also organised Ramsbottom’s first beer festival at the nearby Civic Hall in February this year with more than 50 beers, including four from the Irwell Works Brewery. The bottled version of Lightweights & Gentlemen was also the winner in the mild category at this year’s Bradford Beer Festival.

Lightweights and Gentlemen English Pale Ale

Lightweights and Gentlemen English Pale Ale

The kitchen was being finished off to to do food at lunchtimes- a small plates service with Lancashire soups and breads -using their beer in their recipes.

Opening hours were from noon from Wednesday through to Sundays with the main brewing – the physically hard work of putting in the mash being done on Saturdays from 8 in the morning. This was not the only expansion and improvement on the menu.

Distribution locally and in North Manchester was due to be improved with a replacement delivery van and a move into the old brewery nearby to create a distribution depot. In Bridge Street, nearby, the Mad Dogs & Englishmen was being served up at £3 a pint with the Copper Plate at £2.75 and the 1888 Pale Ale IPA at the same price.

Their ale also features in Ramsbottom Festival – an array of musicians hosted at Ramsbottom Cricket Club’s ground. This year it was being held Friday 14th to Sunday 16th September and featured top band Inspiral Carpets and top folk artist Seth Lakeman. Details at http://ramsbottomfestival.com/

Cheese and Onion Pie is a local speciality, without potato, which goes quite nicely after a pint and The Olive Tree Bistro at 76, Bridge Street (postcode BLO9AG, telephone +44 (0) 1706 822012, website http://www.theolivegroveramsbottom.co.uk/) was serving a very nice version which the Burslembandit enjoyed with salad at £5.95 and a pot of tea for £1.50.

A slightly different, but equally tasty, version of the pie was on offer at The Eagle and Child (telephone +44 (0) 1706 557 181, email glen@eagleandchild.com or go to the website at http://eagle-and-child.com/) at 3, Whalley Road, a five minute walk from the town centre and the railway station over the River Irwell and up the hill via Peel Brow.

Here landlord Glen Duckett, aged 33, in a change from the regular stream of pubs closing, has reopened the pub after it was left empty for 18 months. Alongside he also runs a social enterprise – EAT Pennines – and has also linked up with Incredible Edible Ramsbottom – a campaign to grow and campaign for local food.

A decade after Jamie Oliver opened his first Fifteen restaurant to train apprentice chefs from disadvantaged backgrounds,

Glen is trying something on a smaller scale – without Fifteen Cornwall’s view of Watergate Bay and the £1m of grants from the EU and regional development agency that the Cornish operation got.

The landlord, who also helped Delia Smith set up her brasserie at Norwich City Football Club, had to use his savings to finance the project. Glen supports traditional Pennine foods using traditional recipes at the pub – which is also on the East Lancashire Railway’s Rail Ale Trail.

He said: “I looked at a few places before this. It had been closed but suited what I was looking for. I wanted somewhere where we could have an afternoon room and a dining area and beer garden.

A beer garden has been created on an acre of scrub land alongside the pub in collaboration with Incredible Edible Ramsbottom food growing campaign which started in the town in 2010 after a public meeting heard from Incredible Edible Todmorden.

They started after being given permission by Bury Council to transform a flower bed in Nuttall Park into an edible herb garden and then moved on to restoring a former convent orchard from the 1900s – Holly Mount Orchard – using the 55 heritage apple trees surviving and identifying apples developed in Victorian times.

The River Irwell, Ramsbottom

The River Irwell, Ramsbottom

The council has also let the campaign use land at the side of The Good Samaritan pub at the bottom of Peel Brow to plant up vegetables as part of their drive to make Ramsbottom self sufficient in vegetables. While I was there beds at the fire station were also being brought into use by volunteers from the campaign.

Glen, originally from Clayton-Le-Moors, near Accrington, says that when looking for premises he was also looking for somewhere to help young people from deprived areas.

He has previous experience in the catering industry, trained in horticulture and has worked with young people in deprived such as Bradford, over the border in Yorkshire. Under 25s in long term unemployment get the chance to acquire skills and the possibility of entry into work.

Glen said: “It does help them acquire the Level 1 equivalent of an NVQ and a CV which shows what skills they can bring to bear when they move on. “We are also doing something positive for the local economy – supporting local people and the community as well as providing good food with as many locally-sourced ingredients as possible.

” The ingredients wont be coming much more locally than the fruit and vegetables, and possibly chickens, in the beer garden.

Glen also hopes that, in keeping with the family pub orientation of the business, children and adults going to the pub can use the garden to learn more about where their food comes from and perhaps how to grow their own. Pupils from local schools may also be encouraged to have a plot in the garden .

The young people working with experienced chefs and front of house staff include students from Bury College, Hopwood Hall, Rochdale and referrals from the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (Nacro).

Networking extends well beyond the confines of Ramsbottom as I found out by taking the East Lancashire Railway back to Bury and then a couple of buses out to Rochdale and the town of Littleborough – complete with independent shops and a Victorian park.

For walkers and cyclists it is handy to connect with Pennine Way – the first national trail – and the Calder Dale Way (50miles/80km long). There are bus and rail links to Hebden Bridge, Todmorden, Leeds, Manchester, Rochdale and Halifax.

Nearby is the Hollingworth Lake Country Park which is now used for canoeing, sailing, cycling and walking. Originally it was created as a reservoir for the Rochdale Canal because the local mill owners feared that the water they relied upon to drive their machines would be diverted to the canal which runs for 33 miles, with nine locks, between Castlefields Basin, Manchester, and Sowerby Bridge, over the border in West Yorkshire.

The Rochdale Canal looking towards Littleborough

A cyclist uses the towpath on the Rochdale Canal looking towards Littleborough

The entire length of the canal, originally opened in 1804, was reopened in 2002 after a £50m investment and it connects with the Calder and Hebble Navigation at Sowerby Bridge and with the Ashton and Bridgewater Canals in Manchester.

I strolled up the hill from Littleborough and over the canal to the Rake Inn and Tapas Bar, nestling beneath the Pennines’ Blackstone Edge. The Inn, on Blackstone Edge Old Road , has been revived and converted by Mark and Dawn Wickham. Mark, originally from Eccles, has travelled widely and worked in the Hotel de la Plage, Geneva.

He has used these influences to expand The Rake and offer more than accommodation, bringing it up to four star silver standard.

The project was part-financed by the European Fund for Rural Development Europe Investing in Rural Areas. Visit Manchester delivered the project throught the North West Development Agency with the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs as the managing authority.

Now a Boutique Hotel to 4 star standard, The Rake was originally a coaching inn at the foot of the Blackstone Edge Old Road (The Turnpike) and later at the junction of Old Road and New Road. Coaches took on horses for the steep climb over the Knowl and up to the White Horse, near the summit of Blackstone Edge, which rises to 1,323ft.

The earliest landlord listed, Abraham Whitehead in 1734, is described as an ale house keeper but some sources suggest the inn dates back to 1695. Its name may be derived from a farmer’s hay rake – one of which Mark found during renovation and restored to stand in the restaurant.

Some of the original beams at The Rake Inn, Littleborough

Some of the original beams at The Rake Inn, Littleborough

He said: “Another explanation, and the reason the name is sometimes spelled Raike, is that it comes from the local name for a track or path up over the moors.” The Rake is also know for the story of the ghost of the Laughing Cavalier. It is supposed to appear to anyone called Anne who lives at the inn.

The Rochdale Observer reported in 1967 that landlady Annie Turton saw the ghost of the Laughing Cavalier and described him as a big fellow with a red, round ,face and his Cavalier’s hat held in front of him and wearing a lovely amber brooch.

Mark said: “We started off in Littleborough with a restaurant and got a lease in Spring 2007. ”

Dawn added: “Mark has always had an artistic side and one night when we were still in Littleborough I said ‘Why don’t we try something different’.

“We put red table cloths on along with candles on the tables and tried tapas and it took off. “We originally leased it from the brewery and then tried to buy it. They didn’t want to know at first but then agreed.

“Mark makes sure we get authentic ingredients from Spain but we also use locally sourced organic herbs and vegetables.” Mark said: “We get those from a couple of chaps who started Incredible Edible Todmorden who have an organic allotment on the Todmordern Road.”

“The space above the bar was not being used and we decided to renovate it. We have kept a lot of the original features such as the beams and a lot of the stonework – providing a link to the place as it was all those years ago.

“At the same time it had to be insulated and modern features that people expect to find in a boutique-type hotel were introduced.”

A room at The Rake Inn, Littleborough

A room at The Rake Inn, Littleborough

The good wine menu had a very Mediterranean spin and the beers available included Spanish favourites Estrella and Cruzcampo. In addition there were Spanish brandies including the incredibly smooth, slightly orange-flavoured Ponche Santa Maria de Osborne.

However, Mark added, “We get the beers from the Irwell Brewery in Ramsbottom and they are very popular. “I have been talking to Stephen, the head brewer, about doing something different – perhaps with fruits or herbs.”

The Rake also has a shop selling locally produced vegetables, herbs, fruit, cheeses and other produce as well as some of the Spanish ingredients that go into the tapas at the restaurant. Rooms are en-suite with shower or bath. Mine had a jacuzzi as well. There was also a flat screen TV with Freeview in the room.

Bathroom The Rake Inn Littleborough

Bathroom The Rake Inn Littleborough

The inn has four ensuite room with rates of £85 a night for a room and £120 for a suite. Opening times are 5-9 Monday to Thursday, 3-10 Fridays, 8-10 on Saturdays and 8-9 on Sundays with breakfasts available to non-residents.

The Rake can be contacted by writing to Dawn and Mark at The Rake Inn and Tapas Bar, Blackstone Edge Old Road, Littleborough, OL15 OJ96. Telephone +44 (0) 1706 379689 for the tapas restaurant. Mark and Dawn can be called on +44 (0) 77757 92684 and the website is at www.raketapas.co.uk).

The Burslembandit tried the evening tapas on a Saturday night and started with a platter of Serrano ham, Manchego cheeese, artichoke, Iberico ham and salami (£9.85).

This was followed by a dive into the tapas menu producing fresh anchovies with a salad of tomatoes, onion, olive oil and kidney beans (£9.85) , scallops wrapped in Serrano ham with onions, pepper and olive oil (£7.95) and the inevitable, but delicious Spanish Omelette with salad and a salsa sauce(£5.85). All were excellent and served in a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

There are specials and the tapas menu ranged in price from £10.95 for cajun beef skewers to fresh breads at £2.85. The smooth Ponche Santa Maria de Osborne brandy was an ideal way to finish off the meal.

The Terrace at The Rake Inn, Littleborough

The Terrace at The Rake Inn, Littleborough

Burslembandit on the move Sara Gaughan of Visit Manchester (Visit Manchester can be contacted at www.visitmanchester.com and is on Twitter at @visit–mcr )helped organise the Burslembandit’s trip, starting with a comfortable ride north from Wolverhampton on Crosscountry Trains to Manchester Piccadilly service at 8.49 on a Saturday morning.

This costs £34 single (£40.56 First Class) with a First Class return costing £720 and an Anytime Return £144. A Standard Adult Return costs £29 and a Standard Single £14.50. With railcards the First Class Return is £47.50 and a single £26.75 (outward bound) or £22.45 (returning).

A Standard Return with a railcard was £19.10 with singles at £9.85 (out) and £9.55 (return). More information is on the Crosscountry Trains website at http://www.crosscountrytrains.co.uk/

The Metro from Manchester Piccadilly’s Metro station (turn left coming off the platform and go down the stairs or escalator) was £3.90 for a full day return or £1.70 concessionary (disabled, child, student) with a weekend day ticket, which the Burslembandit bought costing £5.

Taking the 471 bus from Bury Interchange (next to the Metro Station) takes about 36 minutes and Transport for Greater Manchester lists an array of passes and day tickets ranging from about £4 to £10 (a three day ticket). They can be telephoned at +44 (0)161 244 1000 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.

Their website is at http://www.tfgm.com/index.cfm From Rochdale bus station to Littleborough was a 16 minute journey on the 457 bus. An alternative way over to Littleborough would have been to have taken the Metro from Bury back into Manchester to Manchester Victoria and then switch to the Manchester-Rochdale-Littleborough rail service which takes about 20-25 minutes.

Tourist information is available from Bury Council on +44(0)161 253 5111.

2 thoughts on “Getting a taste for a wild weekend in Ramsbottom

  1. Pingback: Getting a taste for a wild weekend in Ramsbottom « burslembandit

  2. Great article, in Ramsbottom the Railway pub at the bottom of bridge street opposite the train station is re open after a very extensive refurbishment under new owners. The food on offer is great and and also on offer is a wonderful selection of conditioned cask ales.

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