10 quirky gems to explore along the East Lancashire Railway line

From quaint bars to quirky sculpture trails, the heritage railway provides a unique way to explore the Irwell Valley
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The East Lancs Railway is a 12.5 mile heritage railway line between Heywood in Greater Manchester and Rawtenstall in Lancashire, where you can enjoy the magic of steam trains and also hop off and on to explore the beauties of the Lancashire countryside.

From quaint bars to quirky sculpture trails, the heritage railway provides a unique way to explore the most Instagrammable spots of the Irwell Valley and make the most of the sunshine. 

Nature lovers can enjoy the outdoors, exploring the Irwell Sculpture Trail or doing the Riverside Walk.

For those looking for an indulgent treat and a popular instagram foodie snap, there is also the Chocolate cafe and Jersey Girls Ice Cream Parlour, as well as Northern Whisper Brewing Co. located near two different ELR stations.

Here’s 10 hidden gems to explore.

Jersey Girls Ice Cream – Burrs Country Park

Just a short minute walk from Burrs Country Park station, the parlour produces stunning artisan ice cream from their very own herd of Jersey cattle – truly cow to cone.

Open Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 5pm, Higher Woodhill Farm, Woodhill Road BL8 1BS. Closest station is Burrs Country Park, an 11 minute walk. You can keep up to date with the latest news and events through their Facebook page.

Mr Fitzpatrick’s – Rawtenstall 

Mr Fitzpatrick’s is just a short walk from Rawtenstall station and is the last temperance bar in Britain.

The bar is vegan and gluten-free friendly with lots of indulgent goodies on the menu such as vintage cordials, cakes, desserts and milkshakes.

Open Monday: 10am – 4pm, Wednesday: 11am – 5pm, Thursday – Friday: 10am – 5pm, Saturday: 10am – 4pm, Sunday: 11am – 3pm, at 5 Bank St, Rawtenstall, Rossendale BB4 6QS. Closest station is Rawtenstall, a five minute walk. Find out more on their website.

Irwell Sculpture Trail – Bury, Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall

With 450 hashtags, the Irwell Sculpture Trail is definitely one of the most Instagrammable spots of the Irwell Valley.

Visitors to the East Lancashire Railway can hop off at either Bury Bolton Street station, Ramsbottom station or Rawtenstall station to explore the trail that winds its way through the Irwell Valley.

The trail is the largest sculpture route in the UK and provides a fascinating backdrop to the local landscape.

The closest station is Rawtenstall station, and the trail starts as you head off the station. You can find out more and plan your route on their website.

Bloom Coffee Co. – Bury 

Located just around the corner from Bury Bolton Street station on the East Lancashire Railway, the independent coffee house is dog-friendly and does a great full English breakfast, with veggie and vegan options available too.

Open Mon – Fri: 8.30am – 3.30pm, Saturday: 8.30am – 4pm & Sunday: 9am – 3pm at 6 Market Street, Bury, BL9 0AJ. Closest station is Bury Bolton street, a two minute walk. Find out more via their Instagram.

Northern Whisper Brewing Co. – Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall

With just over 100 hashtagged posts on Instagram, the Northern Whisper Brewing Co. is a true hidden gem with tap rooms in Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall.

Both within walking distance to the East Lancashire Railway, the tap rooms aim to push the boundaries of flavour, having a beer in their range to suit every taste.

Find them at 2 Market Place, Ramsbottom, Bury, BL0 9HT and 18 Newchurch Rd, Rawtenstall, Rossendale, BB4 7QX. Find out more at northernwhisperbrewingco.co.uk.

Peel Tower, Holcombe Hill – Ramsbottom

For picturesque views of Lancashire, head to Peel Tower which stands 128 feet high on Holcombe Hill overlooking the town of Ramsbottom with views spanning Manchester, Cheshire and North Wales. 

Located just a half hour away from Ramsbottom station on the East Lancashire Railway, Peel Tower is one of the most impressive sights in the North West. The tower was opened in 1852 to commemorate Sir Robert Peel. 

Peel Monument, off Moorbottom Rd, Holcombe, Bury BL8 4NR. Closest station is Ramsbottom, a 32 minute walk.

Hearth of The Ram – Ramsbottom 

After hopping off the train at Ramsbottom, take a short minute stroll across the River Irwell to discover the Hearth of The Ram which sits on the edge of the countryside.

The pub offers  a range of hearty meals, with food and drink that reinvent classic local flavours.

Open Sunday – Thursday: 12pm – 11pm & Friday – Saturday 12pm – 1am at 13 Peel Brow BL0 0AA Ramsbottom. Closest station is Ramsbottom, a three minute walk. Find out more here: hearthoftheram.com.

The Mouse Trap – Ramsbottom 

This quirky and unique bar is another gem with a warm-toned interior, cosy seating and low lighting, serving a range of drinks and a delicious food menu.

Perfect to end the day with a glass of wine and a cheeseboard after a long hike.

Open Wednesday: 12–4pm, Thursday – Saturday: 12pm–12am & Sunday: 12–10pm at 47 Bolton St, Ramsbottom, Bury BL0 9HU. Closest station is Ramsbottom, a five minute walk. You can find out more on their website.

Irwell Riverside Walk – Irwell Vale 

Just around the corner from Irwell Vale station you can embark on a relaxing riverside walk along the banks of the River Irwell.

The walk is picture perfect with views right down the river, overlooking the valley and the East Lancashire Railway.

Start location postcode is BL0 0QQ. Closest station: Irwell Vale, a three minute walk. You can find out more about the route here.

The Chocolate Cafe – Ramsbottom 

The Chocolate Cafe is just a five minute walk from Ramsbottom station and has a range of mouthwatering sweet and savoury treats.

As well as the cafe, you can pay a visit to their chocolate shop with a full range of quality handmade chocolate products with innovative flavours and their mini chocolate factory where you can see the team at work creating their range of award winning chocolate.

Open Tuesday – Sunday: 10am – 5pm at 2 Bolton Street BL0 9HX Ramsbottom, Closest station is Ramsbottom, a five minute walk. Find out more on their website.

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