Pies, Pints and Pictures: Ten Good Reasons to Enjoy the 343 Bus Route

Three eateries, four good pubs and three galleries – all along a single bus route

Enviro200 Stagecoach Manchester, MX11 HHF, Oldham bus station
Seen in Oldham bus station whilst operating the Saturday daytime service. Today, Stagecoach Manchester run the 343’s evening, Bank Holiday and Sunday journeys. Stott’s Tours also run the Saturday daytime service alongside its weekday journeys.

 

With Catch the Bus Week only next month and recent cuts to our services, the travails of passengers who have 51 more Catch the Bus Weeks are getting a fairly raw deal. So much so we need to publicise the joys of socially important yet sometimes overlooked services.

Today’s 343 service, as a result of the last set of changes, now follows the same route on a full time basis. A diversion via Staley Road, Hey Farm and Roaches – introduced in 2010 on daytime journeys – has now been rolled out to evening, Bank Holiday and Sunday journeys. This makes for a more user-friendly service, though purists may mourn the omission of Richmond Crescent and the horseshoe section of Huddersfield Road.

There are many treasures along the 343 service. Not only does it take in three pre-1974 counties, it remains the only route to link all four constituents of the former SHMD Joint Board. At either point of the route, there is a number of gems to explore. Enough to fill a modest book.

For the purpose of this article, we shall focus on ten of the treasures. In our case, three eateries, four pubs and three art galleries. Better still, it is possible to do all ten attractions in a day. With the 343 service being once hourly, there is ample enough time to have a pint in one of the pubs, enjoy a light lunch en route, or look at a few works of art. For your convenience, each of the attractions are a short walk away from the stop.

Please note: any times stated on this entry may be approximate. Check the Transport for Greater Manchester website or online journey planners (i.e Moovit or Google Maps) for further details.

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Eateries

1. The Tripe and Sandwich Shop: 69 Melbourne Street, Stalybridge, Cheshire:

A real institution and one of the smallest shops in Stalybridge. If your idea of lunch includes a cheap and cheerful cheese salad and a bun, looking out towards the canal, this is the place. If you ever fancy an alternative to ham or quiche with your salad, tripe is a nourishing and low calorie meat to go for. In cord or honeycomb varieties, it is best enjoyed cold with a touch of vinegar.

If the shop’s not too busy, why not take time to look at the pictures of historic Stalybridge? Please note: they may contain traces of Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley and Dukinfield Joint Transport Board vehicles. Feel free to comment if you spot a 4 or 4A on any of them!

Alight at: Armentieres Square.

  • From Hyde: 10 minutes to the hour;
  • From Oldham: 17 minutes to the hour.

Also nearby: The Society Rooms (J.D. Wetherspoon); The Village Café; Mettricks Butchers.

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2. Country Style Kitchen: 169 Manchester Road, Mossley, Lancashire:

Perhaps you may demand something a bit more substantial for lunch. How does a Mega Breakfast with three slices of bacon, some black pudding and spam, and two eggs grab you? A short walk away from Mossley station, the Country Style Kitchen offers a range of traditional lunch time treats as well as breakfasts.

It is a homely, small café ideally placed for exploring Mossley and Saddleworth. Plus the town’s public houses.

Alight at: Mossley railway station.

  • From Hyde: 17 minutes past the hour;
  • From Oldham: quarter past the hour.

Also nearby: LL’s Kitchen; The Station Café.

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3. The Salt Cellar: 11A Church Lane, Oldham, Lancashire:

Owned by Oldham’s local methodist churches, The Salt Cellar offers a unique dining experience. With freshly cooked food at popular prices, it is a favoured eatery among Oldhamers and a real alternative to the fast food chains. As well as breakfasts, light bites and sandwiches are available.

For anyone unfamiliar with Oldham, it isn’t the easiest of places to find. Church Lane is next to Barclays Bank and close to the Post Office. Before opening in 1990, The Salt Cellar was Oldham’s County Court.

Alight at: Yorkshire Street or Oldham Sports Centre (outside Tommyfield Market).

  • From Hyde: 18 minutes to the hour;
  • From Oldham: 7 minutes to the hour.

Also nearby: The Naked Bean Café (within Gallery Oldham); The Gallery Grill.

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Hostelries

1. The Old Hunters’ Tavern: 51 – 53 Acres Lane, Stalybridge, Cheshire:

For several years, this agreeable public house has featured in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide. It has two rooms and an outdoor seating area. The narrow public bar can be busy on Saturday afternoons, being a popular haunt for armchair football fans, and home or away supporters leaving Bower Fold. So much so it allows for conversion with fellow drinkers.

The Robinsons house never fails to do a good pint of Unicorn with Robbies’ seasonal ales too a regular feature. There is a wide range of single malt whiskies and other spirits.

Alight at: Acres Lane (near TESCO on Northbound journeys; outside The Organ on Southbound journeys).

  • From Hyde: 9 minutes to the hour;
  • From Oldham: 20 minutes to the hour.

Also nearby: The Organ; Stalybridge Labour Club; Number 71 club.

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2. The Roaches Lock: 387 Manchester Road, Mossley, Lancashire:

On the newest section of the route, The Roaches Lock is one of a few pubs which strike an excellent balance for diners, real ale lovers and music lovers. With recent changes, you can enjoy an evening pint and let your 343 become the designated driver.

What makes The Roaches Lock a great pub? Its food, as well as being realistically priced, is well presented and freshly cooked. There is a number of special dishes available, whether your budget or appetite stretches to a Sunday roast or an fish finger sandwich. Real ales, of the Thwaites variety are consistently good. By night time, we see the pub at play with live entertainment each week.

Alight at: Manchester Road (outside The Old Fire Station Day Nursery).

  • From Hyde: 3 minutes past the hour;
  • From Oldham: quarter past the hour.

Also nearby: The Tollemache.

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3. The Fleece Inn: 53 Stamford Street, Mossley, Lancashire:

Going through as many changes as the 343 has had in five years, The Fleece Inn too has settled into a more regular pattern. Over the last year, it has come up in leaps and bounds as Top Mossley’s mecca for real ale. That I can testify from previous experience!

As well as numerous locally brewed cask ales, there’s a range of foreign bottled beers and real cider. The pub has a commodious lounge with pool table and a public bar which is intimate enough for conversation with the landlord. So much it’s possible to order a pint from the bench behind the window.

Plus the bus stop’s a short stagger away. A good thing.

Alight at: Mossley, Market Place (Brookbottom).

  • From Hyde: 9 minutes or 21 minutes past to the hour;
  • From Oldham: 9 minutes or 11 minutes past the hour.

Also nearby: The Billy Goat; The Stamford Arms; The Blazing Rag.

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4. The Royal Oak: 178 Union Street, Oldham, Lancashire:

If you’re looking for a pub that’s virtually unspoilt from its day of opening, look no further than this one. Our fourth entry is the only one to appear in CAMRA National Inventory, which focuses on pub interiors of historic interest. It is a multi-roomed public house with its bar and tile work dating from the 1920s.

As well as its separate rooms is this rarity. The Royal Oak retains its original off-sales counter. This is entered via a side door off Rhodes Bank. The front lounge – cosy in winter – is served by a hatch.

Beer wise, being a Robinsons house, the usual Unicorn plus its seasonal ales. There is also pork pies and pickled eggs among the bar snacks.

Alight at: Mumps Bridge terminus (by Oldham Mumps tram stop).

  • From Hyde: 21 minutes to or 26 minutes past to the hour;
  • From Oldham: 5 minutes to the hour.

Also nearby: Hark to Towler; The Squire Knot (J.D. Wetherspoon).

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Galleries

1. The People’s Gallery: 2 Melbourne Street, Stalybridge, Cheshire:

Part of Stalybridge since January 2003, The People’s Gallery is a community run gallery with three floors of exhibition space. You can also purchase art materials at ground floor level whereas the first and second floors are also used for art classes. Everything exhibited is produced by local artists in and around Tameside.

There is also regular temporary exhibitions as well as paintings, drawings and sculptures from a number of amateur, semi-professional and professional artists. Please note that The People’s Gallery has limited disabled access with steep stairs to first and second floors.

Alight at: Trinity Street (by the war memorial).

  • From Hyde: 10 minutes to the hour;
  • From Oldham: 17 minutes to the hour.

Also nearby: Gallery 23; Witzend Gallery; Astley Cheetham Art Gallery (selected Saturdays only).

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2. Woodend Mills: 1 Manchester Road, Mossley, Lancashire:

Over the last decade, the Woodend Mills have been home to a number of artists who have set up their own studios. With the 343’s rerouting, this makes the studios more accessible for bus users. Before 2010, the two-hourly 354 was the only option.

Though some of its studios are open to the public on weekends, the Woodend Studio Artists organise occasional open days. Every studio is open to the public with a variety of artistic tastes covered. Not only fine art but also amateur dramatics (where MAODS – the Mossley Amateur and Operatic Dramatics Society – have demonstrative features).

Plus you can also have a cup of coffee or a light bite in The Flying Teapot. Whenever there’s an Open Studios event, just drop everything, talk to the artists and admire their work. Absolutely unmissable.

Alight at: Woodend Mill (buses stop beside entrance).

  • From Hyde: 16 minutes past the hour;
  • From Oldham: 16 minutes past the hour.

Also nearby: Emmaus Mossley has a small display of artwork in its superstore on Queen Street.

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3. Gallery Oldham: Union Street, Oldham, Lancashire:

For our final entry is a modern building which is always a joy to visit. After moving from its previous base, Gallery Oldham caused quite a stir but has established itself as one of the finest galleries outside Manchester. There is a number of changeable exhibitions and a selection of pieces from the gallery’s collection. At present, part of the top floor in the old library is used for temporary exhibitions, linked by a glass bridge.

With plans to relocate the Oldham Coliseum to a new building it will form part of a creative quarter which includes the library (which, I say, is one of the best appointed town centre libraries I have seen). Another reason to get the 343!

Between buses, you could enjoy a quick coffee and a cake at The Naked Bean before getting the 1550 or 1650 journey out of Oldham.

Alight at: Oldham Library (journeys from Hyde) or board outside The Squire Knot (journeys to Hyde).

  • From Hyde: 22 minutes to or 27 minutes past to the hour;
  • From Oldham: 7 minutes to the hour.

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But wait, there’s more…!

After reading this, you may wish to elaborate on the ten attractions, or recommend some more places. Among its seventeen miles, you wont be stuck for things to do. Whether you prefer a trip to Buckton Castle, a walk along Wild Bank or the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, the 343 service offers several possibilities.

Sit back, relax and take in the scenery. Let your mind wander till you reach the stop. On a clear day aboard the 343, that’s possible.

S.V., 17 April 2015.

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4 thoughts on “Pies, Pints and Pictures: Ten Good Reasons to Enjoy the 343 Bus Route

Add yours

  1. I’ve heard a new 352 service from Holmfirth over towards Greenfield/Uppermill and Oldham has been registered for the end of May running 3 times each Saturday? Have you heard anything about this?

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  2. Glad you mentioned the Salt Cellar in your article as I did some voluntary work there a few years ago and it was such a lovely and friendly place to work for and despite the fact I haven’t been in for years I would still recommend it, btw I’m surprised you didn’t mention more of its history in your article as the building its in used to be the old County Court and many of its original features are still in evidence if you look hard enough

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    1. Hi Andrew,

      I used to go to The Salt Cellar with my late Grandma before she left this world in August 2003. It is thanks to her that I not only found the place but make a point of calling in there if having dinner in Oldham (as an alternative to the usual chains).

      The fact I only made a passing reference to its previous use was to keep the article as concise as possible. Chances are I might have seen you in the dim and distant past (i.e. before East of the M60’s launch in Summer 2006).

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

      Like

  3. Found out the 352 will run from Holmfirth to Uppermill from end May on Saturdays with possibly 3 journeys each way and will be operated by Pennine Community Transport of Fenay Bridge near Huddersfield.

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