Embrace your inner artist and discover dozens of wonderful sculptures and art installations dotted up and down the East Lancashire Railway line on the Irwell Sculpture Trail. Featuring works by local, national and international artists, each piece has its own unique story to tell.
A good starting point for the Trail is our Rawtenstall Station. There’s some parking by the station and around the town, but if you’re coming from Manchester or the South, park at Heywood and take the train straight up to here.
Head to the river as you leave the station and you’ll find your first sculpture, Bocholt Tree. Then it’s time to burn some energy as you climb up Top o’ Slate to find the magnificent Halo installation. It’s a 2.8km hike, but it’s well worth it for the stunning views and a chance to see this steel giant up close and personal.
As you wind your way back to Rawtenstall station, be sure to stop by Gateway 1 and Gateway 2 sculptures.
A picture perfect picnic
Before you get back on the train, stock up on supplies from any of the local shops, cafés or bakeries, ready for a picnic at your next stop – Irwell Vale.
Hop off the train here and follow the trail south from the station. The first sculpture you’ll find is Remnant Kings, a stunning reflection of the area’s thriving industrial heritage. Next you’ll find Richard Caink’s truly impressive installation – In The Picture.
This giant picture frame provides a stunning backdrop for your picnic lunch, beautifully capturing the landscape behind it.
A rest bite in Ramsbottom
If you’re keen on stretching your legs, take the 4km trail path along the river to Ramsbottom, where you’ll find more amazing sculptures including Tilted Vase and The River.
If the walk’s too far, retrace your footsteps to Irwell Vale station, and take the train to Ramsbottom instead.
This is a great place for afternoon tea and a little treat. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, don’t miss the Chocolate Café.
A wander round the park
Suitably refreshed, if there’s still time left in your day your next stop will be Burrs Country Park. As soon as you leave the station here you’ll be straight into the beautiful country park, where there’s lots to see.
Besides the amazing wildlife and wonderful nature trails, there are three big sculptures to find here. Stone Cycle, Picnic Area and Waterwheel. They’re all close by on the trail, and you won’t miss them!
If you’ve somehow managed to see all these stunning sculptures and still have time to spare, then Bury will be your final stop. You’ll find even more amazing artwork in and around the town here, including an important piece of the Irwell Sculpture Trail right on our doorstep – the gates to our Trackside Bar!
Those gates – named Thrutch, Woolfold, Ogden, Grane – draw on our railway heritage, mixing a range of art styles and showing four different maps of the Irwell and Roch Valleys. They’re worth the extra stop – as is a thirst quenching local ale afterwards!