pots and pans stone

This must be one of the very first walks my father took me when a young child. I am Oldham born and bred and if you have ever passed through Saddleworth you will perhaps not have missed the sight of Pots and Pans. A hill that stands amongst the valleys and above the villages of the Saddleworth area, standing out as well to the fact it has a war memorial standing proudly at the summit.

Pots and Pans, Saddleworth memorial
pots and pans memorial at sunset

Pots and Pans is not the largest hill in the land by any account, but, extremely memorable. For me I have lost count how many times I have been up here. As I say it is one of my earliest ever memories of an uphill walk. To this day, when back in the area, visiting family and friends, I still take the time to walk up this unique hill. It is a short way to get away from it all. And at sunset time it can be spectacular. If clear you can easily see all the way over Oldham and the skyscrapers of Manchester.

There are mysteries and superstitions abound too at the top.

stone and monument pots and pans, saddleworth

Why called Pots and Pans? Well, this is where folklore and mystery starts to come in. Down through time this hill has very fondly been known by the unique name. The hills of Saddleworth are awash with rocks and boulders made of gritstone. And the summit of Pots and Pans has more of these rocks in more abundance scattered around by history. Immediately you could say the collection of rocks gives the name, but, the largest rock on the summit gives maybe druid connection?

Social Wellness Walks

Firstly, this large rock (known as Pots and Pans rock), when viewed from certain angles really does seem to show a face with a crooked nose and protruding chin. It is not just from one angle either.

Pots and Pans rock face and crooked nose
Pots and Pans rock nose and mouth

The weather? Coincidence? Carved a long long time ago then misshaped through time naturally? I will let you decide.

This is not the only thing this rock gives mystery with. If you clamber on top of it you will see hollowed out basins so to speak with a large one in the centre.

druid rocks saddleworth

These hollows are not new and are documented at least in the 1800s as being there long before that. It is quite often said that this rock and these hollows have druid connections. Superstition states that the water that collects in these basins will ‘cure sore eyes’. Other tales and rumours abound, was this a place of ritual and the hollows for collecting sacrificial blood? Or simply, as this was an old quarry area, did the workmen carve them out for water collection? The name of Pots & Pans are more likely to have come from these anyhow.

Other smaller rocks in the vicinity have smaller basins.

rock basins

Documents through history tells us more. That not too long ago this hilltop was adorned with other great rocks with mystery. There are tales from a few sources that talk about a larger rock with a cave like feature, a rock with a giant handprint upon it. The industrial age, canal building and time seemingly has lost the trace of all, but Pots and Pans Rock still stands tall as if keeping guard on the summit and of the memorial.

mysterious rock formations saddleworth

The Pots and Pans Memorial. After the First World War the villages that make up the district of Saddleworth wanted to find a way collectively to make a memorial. Eventually they decided to build a memorial on top of Pots and Pans Hill. It is this spot that can be seen from most of the villages. It was finished in 1923 and the bronze plaques show the names that died in the war, a plaque for each village community. The plaques around it do face approximately the direction of the corresponding village too.

pots and pans summit

Still to this day, on Remembrance Sunday, people walk up to this spot for a Remembrance Service in memory of those that have fallen.

The walk up here is a wonderful leisurely walk and one for the whole family. Hence one of my earliest ones as a child. You can take the roads and tracks up from the village of Greenfield..

overlooking Greenfield

You can walk up from Uppermill, or you could cheat a little (for the young ones) and drive up most of it before taking one of the many paths. I myself enjoy taking it in as part of a big circular. Waling around the hills beyond the beautiful Dovestone Reservoir then down and up to Pots and Pans. It is truly a wonderful part of the world to enjoy on foot.

walk up pots and pans

I look forward to showing you more highlights from my old home area in the months to come, during my wanders of old that I can’t hep going back to.

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  1. Jill Morris says:

    Just come across this whilst trying to do research on the war memorial and pots and pans for a book I’m writing on local walking adventures in and around the Colne Valley. Enjoyed reading your account.

    1. Paul Steele says:

      Hi Jill, thanks and glad you enjoyed. Yes the Colne Valley is a wonderful area I shall be doing more on soon as we can travel. I lived in Slaithwaite a while myself.

  2. I’m going to do this walk tonight Paul, but head up to Broadstone Hill also in the first instance.

    1. Paul Steele says:

      Nice! hope it is a great evening for you, enjoy the walk

  3. Wonderful post. I’ve lived in Salford for a couple of years now and I’m looking forward to checking out Pots and Pans tomorrow. Going to look for these holes! I love these kinds of folklore mysteries.

    1. Paul Steele says:

      Hi, thank you. I hope you have managed to get up there and enjoy? 🙂

  4. Ronald Rhodes says:

    Thanks so much for the info and wonderful photos. My Dad was born in Diggle and had family all around Oldham and Greenfield. He was born in 1919 and emigrated with his parents at the age of 6 months to Canada. But he kept in contact with family there. I was sent over to his birth place in 1962 and stayed with his aunt Hetty in Greenfield. We could see Pots and Pans from her home! Even though I was only 11 at the time, I clearly remember hearing stories about it and walking up to it too. Thanks so much for the memories.

    1. Paul Steele says:

      Hi Ronald, That is a lovely tale. Glad you have seen Pots and Pans with fond memories… Yes I used to live in Greenfield and Diggle myself. Where I learnt my love of walking.

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