The beautiful place in Greater Manchester that was ‘like an oasis’ for the kids, as long as you could find it


A beautiful hidden spot that was just off the beaten track has been described as “an oasis” for the children of Manchester.

Photographs of idyllic riverbanks surrounded by lush vegetation with bathers cooling off in the crystal clear waters have made people remember the childhood they spent there.

The site in question is an attractive and secluded section of the River Bollin on Castle Hill, part of the Cotteril Clough Nature Reserve, near Manchester Airport.

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It is also worth noting that, until the early 1970s, there was a large outdoor swimming pool near Mill Wood on Castle Hill next to the footbridge at Mill Lane where the road and the River Bollin meet.

Like many lidos in the late 20th century, the Castle Hill pool closed when tastes changed and more indoor pools were built. However, it has been noted that the River Bollin as an attraction has enjoyed a resurgence during recent closures.

Posting to the ‘Memories of grow up in and around Manchester UK’ Facebook group, people fondly remembered a section of the River Bollin surrounded by woodland.

Describing how they found the beautiful spot, one person commented: “We traveled from Hulme to Castle Mills.

“I’ve tried to find it in the car but to no avail. When we were kids we walked from the bus stop in Wythenshawe through lots of fields.”

A second person said, “Lots of family picnics…great spot and within walking distance of the house, though I can’t remember how long it took me to get there.”

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A third responded: “I loved Bollin and Castle Mills. On a trip home years ago I took my kids there on a beautiful summer day. They still talk about it now 60 years later.”

While another person commented: “Oh my mom took us there in the late 70’s and it’s a memory I’ve had all my life. It was a really hot day and me and my older brother loved it. It was like an oasis.” .

Others described traveling from other areas of Greater Manchester just to visit the lush banks of the Bollin, commenting that “those were the days”.

People enjoying the banks of the River Bollin, below Castle Hill on a bank holiday, Ashley, near Hale, Cheshire in 1945
People enjoying the banks of the River Bollin, below Castle Hill on a bank holiday, Ashley, near Hale, Cheshire in 1945

Photographs obtained from the Manchester Libraries collection show how previous generations chose sections of Bollin as ideal places to bathe or have a picnic on a sunny day.

The River Bollin is a major tributary of the River Mersey and flows through Macclesfield and Wilmslow, where it meets the River Dean near Styal Prison and runs through Styal Country Park.

River Bollin at Pigley Stair Bridge, Manchester.  May 25, 1949
River Bollin at Pigley Stair Bridge, Manchester. May 25, 1949

From there it defines the southwestern part of the border between Greater Manchester and Cheshire before merging with the River Mersey north of Lymm.

The river is also a popular fishing spot with the most popular species caught there said to be Chub, Mirror carp and Common carp.

The River Bollin remains a popular beauty spot enjoyed by bathers and swimmers, although as an untreated natural water source the water is not fit for drinking and caution is advised when swimming in open water, rivers and reservoirs.

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More information can be found on the Public Health England website and the National Water Safety website.

Join our Greater Manchester history, memories and people Facebook group here.

EG – Do these awaken any memory? Let us know in the comments section.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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