Longsight Park

Longsight Park

Ghostly goings on and terrific trees

Home to a wonderful arboretum, this site is the perfect place to brush up on your tree id or simply marvel at the beauty of the international collection. 39 species of tree were planted back in the 1980s by the Croal-Irwell Valley Ranger Service in a spot that was once home to a sewage works and rifle range. Amongst the collection are star species like the mighty Coastal Redwood and Wellingtonia, the majestic Maidenhair and the extraordinary Snakebark Maple. Spring is the time to see the Great White Cherry is at its ephemeral best. You can download The Friends of Longsight Park's arboretum guide here.

What can you see at Longsight Park?

Alongside the river, a rocky outcrop provides a visual reminder of the days when the valley was quarried and mined for coal. If you look closely you’ll be able to spot traces of ancient life such as fossilised ferns and the remains of shellfish. Atop the cliff, tree roots give the impression that the trees are slowly escaping down the cliff face.

As with anywhere on the upper reaches of the Kingfisher Trail you should be on the lookout for the four key water birds: dipper, grey wagtail, grey heron and the jewel of our rivers, the kingfisher.

The history of Longsight Park

This isn’t surprising given the torrid tales told about the human skulls that were found in Bradshaw Brook in 1750. Two skulls were taken back to Timberbottom Farm on the far side of the river and placed on the mantelpiece (as you do!). Whenever the skulls were moved or separated loud screams were heard around the farm along with bangs and general misfortunes described by Colonel Hardcastle as 'violent manifestations'. Even burial in consecrated ground wouldn’t silence them or stop the paranormal activity.

Despite this the skulls have moved around several times over the years as their various homes have fallen into disuse, finding a home at Bradshaw Hall before eventually ending up in their current resting place at nearby Turton Tower. Nobody has a definite idea of who the two people were or why their skulls ended up in the river, but one thing is clear, it certainly wasn’t of their own choice – one of the skulls was punctured with a sharp instrument.

Torrid tales are told about human skulls that were found in Bradshaw Brook in 1750

The textile industry once operated on site with a ‘Walk Mill’ located next to the large weir. These mills were specifically concerned with wool, and in them the cloth would be beaten by large hammers to remove the lanolin. Often the hammers would come in pairs and were powered by waterwheels; the action of them working together made it look as though they were walking, hence Walk Mill.

Know before you go

The Friends of Longsight Park are a very active community group who help to manage the site, lead events and campaign for its protection. To find out more about them see their Facebook page.

Access: Longsight Park Arboretum car park off Bradshaw Brow, Bolton.
Accessible: The arboretum is on level ground but does not have footpath access to the majority of the trees. The majority of Longsight Park is accessible from a second car park found on Longsight Lane (nearest postcode: BL2 3JS). Please note that the Kingfisher Trail footpath between the arboretum and the main area of Longsight Park is not suitable for those with limited mobility. 

A portion of the Kingfisher Trail map created by Lancashire Wildlife Trust

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