Exploring Irwell Line


Relax and let us do the driving while you discover East Lancashire’s urban and rural views, from markets and mill towns to scenic Red Rose countryside

Our journey of discovery begins at Bury Interchange, with easy connections available from the Metrolink tram network and a range of bus routes across Greater Manchester.

Keen shoppers will need no introduction to this town – home for over five hundred years to the famous Bury Market, with over 200 stalls open on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, it attracts thousands of visitors to the town and is simply the biggest and best in the North West! Bury also has two shopping centres, Mill Gate for traditional High Street names, and The Rock, opened in 2010 and packed with fashion stores, restaurants and entertainment including a ten-screen Vue Cinema, with two screens showing the latest movies in digital 3D. No need to walk far with those shopping bags – our Irwell Line buses stop right outside Bury Market and The Rock, with Mill Gate just a short stroll from the Interchange.

Bury Market

A stroll past the Library Gardens brings you to Bolton Street Station and the East Lancashire Railway’s heritage steam and diesel trains, serving a 12-mile route through the Irwell Vale. Bury’s culture scene includes The Met music and theatre venue, Bury Art Museum with works by JMW Turner and Constable, and Bury Sculpture Centre, a key hub on the 33-mile Irwell Sculpture Trail from Bacup in Rossendale to Salford Quays.

East Lancashire Railway

We leave Bury by the busy Walmersley Road – look to your right for Clarence Park, opened in 1888 and a Green Flag Award winner – features include a bandstand, skate park, football, bowls, children’s play area and a café. Crossing the M66 Motorway, we reach the mill village of Shuttleworth. The road climbs steadily and the scenery opens up to reveal scenic views on the left across the Irwell Vale to the West Pennine Moors beyond, and on the right, towards Scout Moor and Whittle Hill.

Our journey continues to Edenfield, starting point for some amazing country walks. From the village centre, head east around half a mile along Plunge Road and at the end, you’ll find the beautiful Edenfield Waterfall – ideal for a family adventure!

We’re now in the Lancashire district of Rossendale, and in a few minutes, we arrive in Rawtenstall. Enjoy traditional shopping along Bank Street, where you’ll also find Fitzpatrick’s – Britain’s last Temperance bar. First opened in 1890 as part of a wave of similarly alcohol-free venues, it makes and sells herbal drinks ranging from ginger beer and sarsaparilla to blood tonic and dandelion and burdock soda – all of which are proving popular today, more as a mixer in designer cocktails than for their sobriety!

Now our two Irwell Line routes go their separate ways. The 481 leaves along Haslingden Road – on your right is the beautiful Whitaker Park, home of the Whitaker Museum and Gallery, open Wednesday to Sunday in a former mill owner’s house donated to the people of Rawtenstall in 1902. A walk through the park will take you to Ski Rossendale, known simply as ‘The Hill’, it’s the UK’s premier ski and snowboarding centre.


Next is Helmshore, dominated by the flat-topped hill Musbury Tor. The Helmshore Mills Textile Museum on Holcombe Road tells the story of an industry which shaped Lancashire during the Industrial Revolution. Our route then climbs to Haslingden – take a walk up to the Halo Panopticon, a stunning orb-like structure which lights up in blue at night. Its location is a perfect spot for a picnic! We then cross The Grane, with moorland views on all sides, passing through the small village of Belthorn before dropping down into our destination, Blackburn. You’ll find great shopping at The Mall complex opposite the bus station, while close by stands the beautiful Cathedral – well worth exploring.

Back in Rawtenstall, our Irwell Line 483 bus climbs through the Lumb Valley, passing Clough Bottom Reservoir on our right: a three-mile circular walk from here takes you around the water’s edge, or relax as you take in the stunning moorland scenery. We begin our descent from the moors and pass the 445-acre Towneley Park on your right: a short walk from the picnic area bus stop leads to the Towneley Hall historic house, museum, and gallery all in one – look out for the cat fast asleep by the range in its Victorian kitchen and enjoy half price admission to Towneley Hall with a Transdev Treats voucher from your Irwell Line 463 driver!

Towneley Hall

Our destination is Burnley, one of Lancashire’s most prominent mill towns and appropriately for a powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution, in 2013 it was named as the most enterprising place in Britain – but Burnley is about more than industry. Burnley Football Club competes in the Premier League. Known as the ‘Clarets’ after the dark red of its home strip, it’s played at Turf Moor for almost 140 years. Climb Crown Point Moor to see and hear the ‘Singing Ringing Tree’ sculpture, named in the world’s top 10 pieces of ‘sound art’.


Many popular attractions offer money off admission fee or your bill with your bus ticket as part of our #TransdevTreats programme. Check here for our up-to-date list of our partners. Ask your driver to print you a Transdev Treats voucher and just show them at the destination to get your discount.

Photo credit to Scott Poole for main photo