My corner of Greater Manchester gets a bad rap - but there's a two-month waiting list for one restaurant

There's incredible views, a burgeoning food and drink scene and so much more.
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Tameside sometimes gets a bad rap. Its once busy market towns are in decline, suffering from serious underfunding, anti-social behaviour and general neglect. While neighbouring boroughs like Stockport thrive, residents complain in community Facebook groups that ‘it’s not like it used to be.’

Last week, Andy Burnham visited Ashton Old Baths to kickstart ambitious regeneration plans that he says will ‘breathe new life’ to the area, funded by £20million in levelling up money. These include refurbishments to the Town Hall and complete overhaul of the market square. But these plans will take time and it will likely be years before Ashton and other Tameside towns enjoy a Stockport-style renaissance. 

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I have lived in Tameside most of my life and as a reporter covering Greater Manchester I’ve tried wherever possible to highlight some of the interesting people and places you find in our humble borough. So while we wait to see what all that levelling up money will do to Tameside, it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate what it already has to offer. 

Ashton Market Hall is another reason to love Tameside. Ashton Market Hall is another reason to love Tameside.
Ashton Market Hall is another reason to love Tameside.

And to do that, I only have to look out of my bedroom window. The borough is home to fantastic green belt, parks and countryside, perfect for an afternoon hike or school holiday adventure with the children. The area closest to my heart is Daisy Nook nature park on the border with Oldham, but there are other places like Werneth Low and Hartshead Pike, where you will find incredible views across Greater Manchester and beyond. 

You can also find some great walking routes by exploring the canals – which is also a great way to delve into the area’s history. My usual route starts at Droylsden marina, which is only an hour’s walk away from Portland Basin and the hidden gem canal museum, which has an exhibition that recreates an entire 1920s street, complete with chippy and pub. Along the way you will see plenty of old mills and relics from the area’s industrial past. 

If music is more your thing, there are some long-standing pub venues like the Witchwood in Ashton town centre, or you could head to the annual Fields of Gold festival at Ashton Cricket Club, which normally hosts Mancunian legends on the decks like Clint Boon and Happy Mondays’ Bez. If you want something more traditional, the Tameside Whit Friday band contests, which attract the best brass bands in the country, are not to be missed. 

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There is also a burgeoning food and drink scene in Tameside, with several independent restaurants starting to make a name for themselves. Ornella’s Kitchen in Denton has been top of my list of restaurants to visit for a while now, but last time I tried to book we were told there was a two-month waiting list. There is also Lily’s flagship restaurant, which has a smaller deli in Chorlton, as well as Everest Cafe and Beerogi – all have excellent reviews and dedicated regulars. There are also some fun events to look out for in Tameside when it comes to food and drink, like the monthly Street Fest in Stalybridge, Ashton’s Friday’s on the Square, which was also trialled for the first time last summer. 

Daisy Nook. Credit: Manchester WorldDaisy Nook. Credit: Manchester World
Daisy Nook. Credit: Manchester World

Some of the big names from the city centre and South Manchester are also starting to take notice of the Tameside’s potential. Last week, I spoke to the operations director for Burgerism, the hugely successful takeaway-only burger joint that started in Salford and is now preparing to open in Denton. When asked about why the company had chosen to move into Tameside, she highlighted the local online foodie groups and “great community feel” of the area.  

And this brings me to the final and most important reason to love Tameside – the people. Through my work at Manchester World, I have spoken to people from all walks of life in Tameside, including a local food blogger, market traders, campaigners fighting to save the Hippodrome, striking nurses on the picket line, Ukrainian refugees and a war memorabilia collector – to name a few. If there is one thing they all have in common, it is their community spirit. So regardless of the physical changes Tameside goes through in the next few years, there is already plenty to be proud of here, and I think we have every reason to be optimistic about the future.