Rochdale, Lancashire or Greater Manchester

Anyone for Rochdale?

Before you start reading this, it was written in 1999 and isnt completely relevant for todays visitor

So what’s so special about Rochdale? I hear you cry.

Well apart from being the town of my birth, its is also the birth town of Dame Gracie Fields, former MP Sir Cyril Smith, Lisa Stansfield and Anna Friel.

Rochdale is also the birthplace of the Co-Operation Movement in 1844, and the museum can be visited on Toad Lane just outside the town centre.

Rochdale grew up around the cotton industry and many of the old mills still remain in the town but now are industrial units or have been turned into luxury apartments.

So, where is Rochdale?

Well, Rochdale is now made up of several smaller towns, which go to make the borough of Rochdale, these towns are Rochdale, Middleton, Heywood, Littlebrough, Milnrow and Wardle. If you follow the M62 from Liverpool towards Leeds you will come to J19, this is the turning for Middleton and Heywood, J20 is for Rochdale Centre and Wardle, J21 is for Milnrow and Littleborough.

So, what is there to do in Rochdale and its surrounding areas. Well, Rochdale has several Country parks, the most famous being Hollingworth Lake. This can be seen from the M62 as you pass over the Rakewood Viaduct on the way to Leeds. This is an absolutely beautiful park and the lake can be walked around with relative ease, and if you don’t have the energy to walk all that way, then you can hire rowing boats to laze around on the lake. There are several other footpath in the area which I can also recommend, most of the trails are also open to Mountain Bikes as well.

The Rochdale canal

Rochdale also has a canal, Which is called the Rochdale Canal suprisingly enough, which was opened in 1804. The canal stretches all the way from Sowerby Bridge in Yorkshire to the centre of Manchester, to Castlefield. Some parts of the canal especially that around the Littleborough area are nice for a Sunday afternoon stroll, or something I have done in the past is to catch the train to Todmorden and either walk or Cycle back to Rochdale, About 20 miles. I will say that certain section of the canal, especially those near to the centre of Rochdale are best avoided as these are usually used by the local residents, as dog toilets and they are far from pleasant.

Watergrove reservoir at Wardle

Another favourite walking place of mine is Watergrove reservoir, which is a country park at the top of Wardle town, (Just go through Wardle until you can go no more). Watergrove is a reservoir built in 1930 and the reservoir takes its name from the town, which was flooded so that the reservoir could be. This is a very pleasant place to walk if you´re after peace and tranquillity, as its usually very quite. If you wish to walk round the reservoir than paths are of good quality and well sign posted. As I said before Watergrove is an excellent place to go for a few hours if you need some where quiet.

There are several other parks, and reservoirs in the area but I think the above are the most beautiful places around the area.

So what if you don´t want to go walking. Well, the shopping centre in Rochdale took a bit of a dive a few years ago but the council have put money, time and effort in to the centre and things are beginning to look up and several chain stores have come back to the town. Don´t expect anything special of the shops though, they are the same as any other town in the country.

If you want to go sightseeing in Rochdale then there is the town hall and the Rochdale Pioneers Museum, as mentioned above (Toad lane…) there are other things to visit in the towns around Rochdale. Littleborough has a heritage museum with history of the old town and loads of information on the building of the Canal and the Summit Railway tunnel, which connect Yorkshire and Lancashire.

The Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum is in Rochdale as well and has a few of the olde fire engines from early century to present day. If your into toy cars then the Corgi Heritage centre is in Heywood about 15 minutes drive from Rochdale town centre and if your into steam then Ellenroad Engine House (Sign posted as Ellenroad in Steam), is in Newhey, just off junction 21 of the M62. Come off the motorway and then head back under the motorway. Here is the Worlds Biggest working steam mill engine, weighting 80 tonnes and standing 28ft in diameter. Be warned it´s only open on Sundays (April to October)

Whats the nightlife like?
Well after many a year going to Rochdale on a Friday or Saturday night I can tell you its pretty good really. There are lots of pubs to choose from differing in style from Rock to Dance. A visit to Yates Wine lodge is always a good bet as its always full of good-looking people. (Maybe that´s the beer goggles talking). Other good pubs are the Flying Horse up near the town hall and if you want to experience a good set of pubs and travel into Rochdale then you should try walking down Whitworth road. There are several good pubs down this road, offering variety from Live acts to Live Dj´s.

Other good places to visit are Heywood centre as it has a very large selection of pubs. Apparently it was in the Guiness Book of Records with most pubs per square mile and from one end of the town to the other there must be over 50 pubs to choose from. Good pubs are the Queen Anne, The Freemasons arms and the Duke of Wellington, all with 5 minutes walk of each other.

If you want to go clubbing. In Rochdale centre, there is Pazzazz (rubbish, full of kids), Liquid Rock (So, So, full of more kids) but if you want a really good night out try Nemises, which is just off J20 of the M62. Off the Junction and just go straight ahead. Sign posted Sandbrook Park. Be prepared to queue though unless you get there early. Some nights the bouncers have been known to institute a no uglies/ no fatties/ no tracksuits/ etc policy. So wait patiently, you´ll probably get in, or ring up and book. However if your after a really good club the you´d be better off taking a trip to Manchester!

There is never much trouble in the pubs as they are usually staffed by very capable doormen, who can see trouble before it happens. Oh! A word of warning, dress smartish for Saturday night. Otherwise you´ll be outside on your own.

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