A walk up Great Hill

Saturday, was a decent day, the last gasp of summer, so I decided to get out on the Moors for a walk. I’ve a lot going on at work and in my personal life at the moment and there’s nothing like a bit of exercise wandering on the moors away from the hustle and bustle to give myself some time and space to think and get some things in perspective.

A relatively short drive and I was in White Coppice on the edge of the West Lancashire Moors ready to set off up Great Hill. I took a route that took me up alongside Dean Clough, joining the main path to Great Hill about half way along the main, well trodden route. After reaching the summit I headed back down via Wheelton Moor before descending and heading back to my starting point via the pleasant woodland of Wheelton Plantations.

It’s a wild area, yet only a few miles from several large industrial towns. Growing up in one of them I spent a good part of my spare time as a teenager wandering over these moors – Rivington, Anglezarke and Great Hill.

Although at first it may seem like it’s a natural wilderness the  landscape has been shaped by human hand, going right back to Neolithic times – there are burial mounds, the remnants of a long barrow and other prehistoric features on the moors – and the “Round Barrow” up  on Anglezarke was visible on the horizon for a good part of the walk. The barren hillsides would have originally been covered by trees but they have been cleared over the ages for firewood and building materials and to create terrain for sheep. And during the Industrial age the moors have been mined for lead and other minerals and the millstone grit has quarried for stone used for building and for, what else, millstones.

There were other walkers around, including a few groups of teenagers bearing heavy packs – a sure sign of Duke of Edinburgh Award expeditions! But for most of the time I was able to enjoy the peace and solitude I needed to clear my head and get my thoughts together.

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