Our next stop after charming Burton upon Stather was a 3-day stay with our good motorhoming friends John and Julie in Bury, north of Manchester. We hadn’t seen them since the start of our summer holiday in early July and, as always, we were very keen to meet up and exchange news and anecdotes. We were lucky we were able to park in their front drive and have a break from the motorhome for a few days: I had almost forgotten how nice it is to live in a house, and a gorgeous one at that!
John and Julie were the perfect hosts and tourist guides and they took us to see the most important landmarks and features around the area. We visited the apple orchard where the local community volunteer to help with the general maintenance of the grounds, the trees, picking apples, making apple juice, etc. A lovely and inspiring community effort which I hope will spread further afield to bring people together for the greater good.
That first evening, we went out for a meal at La Bella Italia restaurant, next to the steam railway station, where we took advantage of their happy hour for an economical meal, followed by a visit to the brewery in the station itself, where we tried a few of their flavoursome craft ales and got to meet the young and friendly brewer himself.
The afternoon after we arrived, we went on a 2 1/2 hour hike on the stunning West Pennine Moors, starting at Holcombe, and, although the path was treacherous in places with big puddles and muddy ground making progress slow at times, we managed to bypass these hurdles without major incident and no falls (amazingly, especially for me) and were rewarded once again with magnificent views of the Moors around us, of Manchester to the south and Preston to the north: an absolute delight.
An important landmark here is the impressive 39 m high Peel Tower, on Harcles Hill, above Ramsbottom and 335 metres above sea level, erected in memory of Sir Robert Peel, born in Bury and regarded as the father of the modern British Police.
We continued our hike along the top of the stunning West Pennine Moors and had another little break to admire the view at the highest point marked by a cairn.
From the cairn, we followed the path to another famous landmark where an ancient pilgrims’ cross once stood. It sadly disappeared and nobody seems to know what became of it.
From the Pilgrims’ cross landmark, we started our hike back, which was often boggy and challenging, but this took nothing away from the beauty and peace of the moors. I also loved that ever changing late afternoon light, which added even more charm to the landscape.
We also came across some old and abandoned houses, which no doubt would have a tale or two to tell. If stones could talk…
And the end of the walk brought us to an unexpected surprise: a Llama farm. Or are they alpacas?
On our last day, we went shopping in the brilliant Bury Market, voted the best one in Britain and with good reason, as there is very little you can’t find here. Large parts of if are covered, which is a good thing as it was a very wet day, but there’s plenty of stalls outdoors too. Keeping with our principles of buying local wherever we are, we bought, among other things, some black pudding, Lancaster Crumbly cheese, Pork pies and even a couple of thermal vests. We then had very cheap lunch at one of the cafés inside the market itself and very good it was too.
After the market, we visited Bury’s Art Museum, where we delighted in some beautiful paintings, including a Constable, and a whole room in the basement as a tribute to Bury’s most famous daughter, the actress and comedian Victoria Wood. Outside, there is also a statue of the famous actress.
We also discovered that John is an excellent cook and he treated us to home-made Cassoulet one evening and a chicken curry the next: both utterly delicious. He had kept that quiet! This was indeed a perfect break.