bishops park monument

From our kitchen window we can see Besom Hill quite clearly in the distance. Therefore, we have done this little walk quite a few times and especially over the last 12 months or so.

besom hill start

Route and location

(Ref: 53.57028oN, 2.06396oW)

It takes us approximately 20-30 minutes following local roads, so this is good if the ground under foot is very muddy, snowy etc. 

Social Wellness Walks

Besom Hill has a small car park and is a very popular route for dog walkers. Not far from the car park on the left-hand side is a shale quarry which is disused.

top of besom hill


On the scree slopes there are fossils to be found. Note: You should get permission from the landowner before entering this quarry. The majority of the fossils can be found at the bottom of the scree slopes or on the quarry floor.

fossil rocks

These mainly contain Calamities in good condition (large, tree-like horsetails). If you are lucky enough to find the thin Bullion Mine Marine Band, you could find rock which contains fish teeth, scales and fin spines. There are also Goniatites and bivalves to be found in this layer. This quarry is one of the most fossiliferous shales in the area.

Care must be taken at the quarry – it is not suitable for younger children as high cliff faces are constantly crumbling. The larger slopes to the right have more stable scree slopes and could be suitable for older children if they don’t climb the slopes.

It is very important before embarking on fossil hunting to follow the code of conduct which gives you a detailed guide and instructions of how to look for fossils safely. 


I have to be honest, I didn’t actually know Besom Hill had fossils until I did research for this blog. It just shows what’s on your doorstep!

The Cross

Moving on past the quarry we follow the track to the tope of Besom Hill. The views from here are brilliant over our local area and Greater Manchester, makes you feel very homely and comforted. 

besom hill cross

At the very top of Besom Hill there is a large stainless-steel cross which erected in 1998, this was to celebrate the beginning of the 3rd millennium. It attracted quite a lot of attention at the time with locals likening it to the cross which overlooks Rio de Janeiro (very much scaled down). Every year on Good Friday members of St Thomas’s, Moorside and the local East Oldham Methodist Church congregate around the cross for a communal service. 

It is very distinctive cross and makes a prominent mark on the skyline.

Fairy Houses

Our walk then continues down into the woodland where we are met with a nice surprise – a little fairy house built on a tree trunk!

fairy house door in tree

The word Besom means a broom, traditionally it would have been constructed from a bundle of twigs which were then tied to a short pole. Originally the handle would have been made of hazel wood with a head of birch twigs.

The Besom is linked to early modern witchcraft and also fairy folklore.

tree fairy house

This might explain why it was built there? Who knows, it certainly cheered us up!  We carry on down the path towards the pitch and putt golf course, there are two further fairy houses – they certainly have been busy! I won’t divulge the exact location, that’s for people to find if they are in that area. Sadly, on a return visit to the first one, it had been slightly vandalised.

Pitch and Putt golf course

The walk continues past the Pitch and Putt course which consists of 9 holes and a 200 yard driving range.

The opening times are:

Monday to Friday – 9.00 a.m. to 7.30 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday – 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.

(Tel No: 0161-621-3313)

It’s a definite must if you’re in the area. I have many happy memories as a child playing here with my mum, dad and brother. My brother was a brilliant player as I remember. Good memories to have 😊

Bishop’s Park Monument

Walking past the pitch and putt course, we then head towards our final destination, the monument.

bishops park

The park itself was developed back in 1927 and built on a site which included farms, a coal pit and quarry. The River Medlock also has its source within the park.

The monument itself was built in 1928 in memory of William and Anne Bishop after they donated 50 acres of land. This kind gesture was so that the people of Oldham could enjoy this wide-open space. It is situated 1233 feet above sea level and marks the highest point in Oldham.

besom hill sunset

The walk to the top is definitely worth it as the views are spectacular. We have done it many times now. On a clear day you can see 4 counties – Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire. Sometimes North Wales on a clear day. 

It is a popular place to visit and continues to do so for many local people.

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  1. Paul Reade says:

    Dear Cath
    Love your posting on Besom Hill and Bishop’s Park – it brought back lots of happy memories for me. I was brought up in Waterhead, on Waterworks Road in fact, (before the old reservoirs were drained), and we often used to walk up to Bishop’s Park. I still visit occasionally, as I only live in Burnley, but didn’t realise that you can now climb Besom Hill, which used to be fenced off – definitely a walk for my next visit.
    On a recent visit, I was lucky to pick a very clear day when the hills of North Wales were visible, but when I used to go there it was rare to be able to see much beyond Oldham.
    It’s great to see the Pitch and Putt is still there – we used to play for one shilling and sixpence (7½p)!

    1. Catharine Hebdon says:

      Dear Paul,
      Apologies I’ve just seen your very kind comments at the bottom of my blog (I don’t expect comments).
      I’m really pleased you enjoyed it and it brought back happy memories for you too. I think the golf cost us about the same !
      Hopefully you’ll get to visit again soon
      Take care and thanks again.

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