The 29th March was the start of the easing off of the latest lockdown. Outdoor activity was, to a limited extent, now allowed. “Stay at home” no longer required although “travel should be minimised”.
During the lockdown I’ve been following the rules and restricted walking to routes from the front door, but I’ve been itching to get back out into wilder country and, with a mini-heatwave forecast, on Tuesday I was up early and driving the few miles over to Rivington for a long awaited wander over the West Pennine Moors. Of course, plenty of other people had the same idea, but I was hoping by choosing my route I’d be able to avoid he crowds. I wasn’t completely succesful, though.
I parked up near the Hall barn and then set off to climb up through the terraced gardens. I’d gone about half a mile when I realised I’d left a bottle of water in the car. I had a couple of litres in my bladder ( the one in my rucksack, that is) but on a hot day I didn’t want to run out, so back to the car to collect the bottle.
I reached the track which ascends the side of the hill and at the 7 arch bridge I climbed up the steps
reaching the Italian gardens where I could see my first objective – the Pigeon Tower
Climbing up I stopped to take in the view over the moors
before setting off down the old Belmont Road. A few others had the same idea but I only encountered about half a dozen people along this stretch of the walk. Most visitors to Rivi were heading in the other direction towards the tower on the summit of the hill.
Looking across to moors I could make out Spitler’s Edge and Great Hill.
I took a short diversion to climb up Noon Hill, which is a subsidary summit of Winter Hill. It’s topped by a Bronze Age burial mound, which is a Scheduled Monument. The site was excavated n 1958 and 1963/64 by Bolton and District Archaeology Society (now Bolton Archaeology and Egyptology Society), when cremated remains of an adult male, an adult female and a child were found along with pottery and flint tools.
On a fine day, it’s a good viewpoint too. There’s the masts on the top of Winter Hill
the summit of Rivington Pike
and good views over the moors to the north
I cut down back to the old Belmont Road and after a short while reached the modern road.
I walked along a short stretch of tarmac, taking care to avoid being hit by the idiots on their motorbikes and a sporty BMW (this is a favourite route for motorists and bikers who think they’re motor racing stars) until I reached the start of the path which would take me over to Great Hill.
I passed a muddy puddle that’s the source of the River Yarrow
and set off up the flagged path.
This route is over peat morrland and is notoriously boggy. But the flagged path makes it passable and it’s a popular walk, and on a sunny day I passed quite a few people coming the other way – possibly including a certain fellow blogger.
There’s several points on the route where flags haven’t been laid , or have sunk into the bog.
It’s a very plaeant walk along Spitler and Redmond’s Edges, with good views across the wild moorland. There was a distant hum from the M61 over tot he west, but the main sound was the song of the numerous skylarks as they climbed up into the clear blue sky.
I reached the stile at the bottom of the summit of Great Hill
and was soon on top.There were a few people sheltering fromt the wind in the shelter, but I managed to bag a seat and grabbed a bite to eat while I took ing the views.
Refreshed, I set off down the hill. I soon reached the ruined farm at Drinkwaters.
This is a popular spot to stop, have a bite to eat and take in the view, and a couple of groups of walkers were doing just that. But the old farm was looking a little more dilapidated than normal (I’ve been coming up here since I was a young teenager). Turns out that United Utilities – the company that owns the moors up here since our water was privatised – were responsible. They’d had some work taking place to create a truning space for emergency vehicles in case of a fire up on the moor and the contractors, either delibrately or accidentaly, demolished a section of wall. This has provoked outrage amongst the walking fraternity. United Utilities explanation is that it asn’t part of the contractor’s remit but as they deemed the wall “unsafe” they decided to knock it down. Not sure I believe them to be honest. They claim that they will have the wall rebuilt – so look out for pink pigs flying over the moor. (News reports here and here)
I carried on down the track reaching the Rambler’s signpost
There were quite a few people coming up the path from Chorley.
I decided on a diversion and turned north along the track across Wheelton Moor
There’s several old shooting butts along this track, reminders of when this was the grouse shooting domain of wealthy landowners. At one time, not that long ago, I wouldn’t have been allowed up here
I turned off the track and took the path down towards Wheelton Plantation
past a ruined farm and a small quarry
and entered the woods.
I walked down through the woods until, at the bottom of the hill, I reached the Goyt, the water course that links the Roddlesworth and Anglezarke Reservoirs. The path was busy with walkers, cyclists and families enjoying the fine day, with one large group of older walkers inconsideratly walking slowly and blocking the path.
It didn’t take long to reach White Coppice where I stopped and rested on one of the benches overlooking the cricket pitch.
The village is something of a honey pot so it was busy with groups of picknickers.
After my short break I carried on, taking the path along the Goyt towards Anglezarke reservoir,
where I took the path along the east side of the man-made lake.
I turned off and climbed up the slope past High Bullough Reservoir. Although the smallest of the chain of reservoirs in the valley, it was the first to be constructed in 1850 to serve the nearby town of Chorley (where I grew up). Today it’s no longer used and there was little water to be seen between the dams
I carried on up the hill emerging opposite the old Manor House Farm – originally known as High Bullough – hence the name of the reservoir.
A short walk along the tarmaced road and I reached Jepson’s Gate leading me back on to the fringes of the moor.
I decided to visit the memorial to the Wellington Bomber that crashed near here during the war
where there’s a great view over to Winter Hill and Rivington Pike.
I had intended to take the path through the fields down to Parson’s Bullough and Allance Bridge but I could see the path was a bit of a quagmire in places, so decided instead to walk down into Lead MIne Clough. The river here is another honey pot and there were several family groups picnicking and getting their feet wet in the cool water on what had become a very hot afternoon.
Reaching Allance Bridge I looked over the ramparts at the the River Yarrow as it entered the reservoir – no longer a muddly puddle!
A short walk up the road and I crossed the stile and took the path through the fields to the east of the Yarrow Resevoir
I carried on along the path through the woods beside the small stream and then up through the fields
emerging at Rivington village, across from the old Unitarian Chapel
It wasn’t far back to the car now, through the meadow and passing the “host of daffodils” (even if I wasn’t on the banks of Ullswater).