The Saddleworth vista is traditionally depicted as a wide open expanse of hill and moorland, with more than its fair share of wet and windy weather! Most of the area is underlain by Millstone Grit, characteristically made up of succesive layers of sandstone, mudstone and siltstone. Glacial shifting towards the end of the Ice Age, while the ground was saturated with meltwater, contribute to the valley scenery dotted around the area.

Yet the landscape is also marked by its industrial heritage. Quarrying has scarred some of the hillsides. Reservoirs were built in the area to supply an increasing demand of water to Oldham, which for a short time was the industrial epicentre of the whole world - eg. two of the first were built in Castleshaw in the 1880s. The air was not always clean and bright: pollution was generated by the smoke and steam of the mill factories. This has obviously improved with the introduction of the Clean Air Act and the decline of the mills.

In contrast to its past, Saddleworth’s environment is now one of the attractions which draws city dwellers to breathe in its air.

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