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.