Five reasons to love Bolton - does the town really belong on a list of England’s worst places to live?

An online survey of terrible towns has given Bolton a panning - so we asked our born Boltonian writer to suggest some reasons why it is being unfairly maligned.

Bolton has been named on a list of England’s worst towns to live in. But is that really fair?

Website I Live Here unveiled its annual list of the 50 worst places to live in England, as voted for by the Great British public themselves online, and Bolton was revealed to be number six.

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Some of the flattering comments made about it referred to takeaways with one-star hygiene ratings, a feeling of sadness and grubbiness around the town and attacks on the intelligence of its people.

An aerial view of Bolton. Photo: Shutterstock

Does Bolton really deserve this outpouring of bile and condemnation? I was born in Bolton and lived in the town until I went to university, and still visit on a reasonably regular basis.

With that in mind, here are five things about Bolton that suggest my hometown really doesn’t belong on a list of England’s worst places to find yourself.

Winter Hill

Visible from miles around with its array of transmission aerials standing up on its summit, Winter Hill is a gem of the moorlands just to the north of the town centre.

There are a number of walking routes up to the top of the hill and the commanding view of the surrounding area once you get there is magnificent.

Winter Hill. Photo: Historic England Archive/Heritage Images via Getty Images

In fact, if you want to get outside and enjoy a bit of greenery around Bolton there are several options, including Moses Gate Country Park and a route starting at Moss Bank Park and taking in the charming 19th century model village of Barrow Bridge with its 63 steps.

Britain’s most successful Olympian

The most successful British athlete in Olympic history (and now a knight of the realm courtesy of the New Year’s honours list) is from Bolton.

Track cycling superstar Jason Kenny, who is originally from Farnworth, has lit up the velodrome at the past four Olympic Games, securing nine medals in total and seven golds.

Cyclist Sir Jason Kenny celebrating a gold medal at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016. Photo: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

He’s not the only famous Boltonian either. The town has recently punched hard in the boxing ring, courtesy of light-welterweight Amir Khan, and tickled the nation’s funnybone thanks to comedian Peter Kay.

Sports enthusiasts will also want to head to Bolton each summer when the Ironman UK triathlon takes place, with the town filling up with spectators to see the amazing athletes take on the gruelling endurance challenge of swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles and then completing a full marathon.

A pint in a boozer with an amazing history

Bolton town centre is not exactly overflowing with brilliant boozers. But Ye Olde Man and Scythe is a pretty special building.

The beautiful black-and-white timbered construction was first mentioned in documents, astonishingly, in 1251, making it one of Britain’s oldest pubs.

Ye Olde Man and Scythe on Churchgate in Bolton. Picture: Ian Roberts

The front of the Churchgate inn also refers to one of the most famous moments in its history, when the Earl of Derby spent some of his last hours there before being executed outside in 1651 for his part in an English Civil War episode in which Royalist forces stormed the town.

And if you’re feeling peckish after your pint, the same street also has Ye Olde Pastie Shoppe, turning out a delightful selection of pastries, sandwiches and cakes.

Alternatively, if cooking for yourself is more your thing, Bolton Markets will sort you out with a superb spread of fresh ingredients from meat and fish to fruit and vegetables. It’s also the place to pick up items ranging from handbags and jewellery to quirky gifts and cosmetics.

A good curry

If you’re a fan of the flavours of the Indian subcontinent, then Bolton is a fairly good bet.

The town might not be as famous as some of the big city “Curry Miles”, but it does have plenty of options for an Indian meal and the quality of food dished out in the town has been recognised by critics and awards ceremonies too.

Award winners include the Royal Balti House (the town’s oldest curry spot) in Farnworth, while takeaway Little India last year brought a gong back from the Curry Awards in London to its Blackburn Road location.

See a show at the Octagon Theatre

Culture vultures will want to head to the Octagon Theatre, where they can see a play in the venue’s intimate, in-the-round layout.

Over the past few years the Bolton arts venue has scooped up rave reviews as high standards have been set under the artistic direction of David Thacker.

And the place had a major refurb to get it ready to welcome arts enthusiasts for many years to come.