Back on the Moors

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

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the summit of Rivington Pike

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and good views over the moors to the north

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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).

Rivington and Anglezarke – Before the Storm

Well, the last few weeks we’ve seen the return of the usual British summer weather – rain and more rain with some occasional sunshine – and a couple of storms. Last Thursday, with wind and rain warnings for the following few days appearing on my phone from the Met Office app, I decided to make the most of what looked like a potentially half decent day and get out for a walk. The wind had already started to pick up so I thought it best to stay local and so headed up to Rivington to set out for a walk up on the moors. There were plenty of parking spaces mid morning – although it would be heaving when I returned in the afternoon.

It was quite pleasant and sunny when I set off, although a little windy.

I headed past the Hall barn and set off along the path towards the Pike

and climbed up through the Ornamental gardens.

I hadn’t intended to climb up to the top of the Pike, but I can never resist a hill, so that was the first of my diversions.

Visibility wasn’t too bad so there were good views from the top on a fine morning.

Back down the top I took the track past the Pigeon Tower

and carried on along the old Belmont Road (now a track) heading towards Anglezarke Moor.

It was wet underfoot in places. But, no worries, I was wearing my boots and I quite enjoying splashing in the puddles (yes I know, second childhood!)

reaching the modern Belmont Road, I crossed over on to the moor, passing the source of the Yarrow.

I now had several options but decided against walking over the edge to Great Hill as that would have extended my walk further than I wanted. So instead I took the path heading westwards over the moor. Going was good at first

but, given all the rain we’d had recently, as expected, some bog hopping was required as I approached the ruined farms at Hempshaws (it’s always bad here)

But after Hempshaws I was walking on a track used by farmers so it was considerably drier underfoot.

I carried on along the track across the moorland, past the various ruined farms, until I reach Lead Mine Valley.

Good views, as usual, over towards Winter Hill and Rivington Pike.

I climbed up the hill to the other side of the Clough intending to take the path through the fields down to Yarrow Reservoir. However I could see that they were occupied by herds of cattle including cows accompanied by their calves and a few young bulls. I’m not usually worried by cows but they can be dangerous if they think their young could be threatened and I definitely not keen on walking through a field with bulls in it. Another change of route was required so I went back down the hill and walked down the valley following the river towards the reservoir

The water looks dirty and brown due to the peat it flows through higher up the clough.

Reaching the reservoir I followed the western shoreline, taking the gravel track, rather than the path through the fields on the eastern side – I’d had enough of mud by now. Reaching Rivington village I followed the path along the shore of the Lower reservoir as far as the Saxon barn. The Go Ape was open and there were plenty of daredevils walking on the ropes up in the trees and sliding down the zip wires and plenty of people congregating by the barn. But it was easy enough to avoid the crowds as I made my way back to the car.

Walking around Rivington

The Japanese Gardens

It’s been a funny old year. Getting out during February and March was spoiled by the stormy weekends and now the weather has improved with the arrival of Spring, we’re “locked in” and restricted to local walks.

During March I took advantage of any “weather windows” to get out and about for some walks nearer to home and a few times a drove the few miles over to Rivington . There’s quite a few routes and some variety too – woodland, lakeside and wild moor land. Here’s a few shots I took during a couple of walks around there. It’ll probably be a while before I can get up there again – United Utilities, who own the land around here, have closed all of the car parks, and even if I could park up on the road, being 5 miles away I don’t know whether it would count as a “local walk”.

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View over to Winter Hill

Climbing up the Pike you pass through the Terraced Gardens which were created by Thomas Mawson between 1905 and 1925 for the soap magnate Lord Leverhulme. In recent years, a lot of work has been done restoring the gardens and making the structures safe and accessible.

The Pigeon Tower
View over the Italian Lake to the Pigeon Tower
The Italian lake
The Japanese Garden
Seven Arch Bridge
The Unitarian Chapel in Rivington Village
Looking over to Rivington Pike and Winter Hill from the far side of Yarrow Reservoir
The overflow “waterfall” from Yarrow Reservoir to Anglezarke Reservoir
View from the western shore of Lower Rivington Reservoir

A grey day around Rivington

Last week I was in Ireland working, but knew that with the short hours of daylight I was going to be stuck indoors in the hotel most evenings, so the Saturday before I set off I decided to get out for a walk. It was a grey day and as I had a long drive the next day decided to go somewhere local. So I drove the few miles over to Rivington.

Parking up near Rivington School I set off for a walk along the Rivington Lower Reservoir and see where I ended up.

Heading along the path from the car park towards “Liverpool Castle”

Then along the east shore of the reservoir

At the top end of the lake I crossed the dam and then took the path along the west shore of Rivington Upper Reservoir. Looking across the water I could see the tower on top of the Pike , the Terraced Gardens and the Pigeon Tower. The light wasn’t great and certainly not good for photos, though.

At the top of the second reservoir I crossed the dam and, deciding not to carry on along the Anglezarke reservoir took the path by the overflow waterfall up to the Yarrow Reservoir.

I then turned south, making my way along the side of the reservoir and then down through the woods to Rivington Village.

I stopped for a bite to eat and a brew from my flask on the village green and then had a quick look at the Rivington Unitarian Chapel

I spotted this plaque in the chapel grounds.

Intrigued, after I got home, I did a little research to find out more. According to Wikipedia

The Eagle Street College was an informal literary society established in 1885 at the home of James William Wallace in Eagle Street, Bolton, to read and discuss literary works, particularly the poetry of Walt Whitman,

There’s more information about this group here and here.

I carried on towards the Hall barn and then up the hill and through the terraced gardens (or “Chinese Gardens” as we used to call them when I was young). A lot of work has been done restoring the gardens and making the structures created for Lord Leverhulme safe and accessible. It was the first time I’d been up through the gardens since the restoration was completed a few months ago. They really have done a great job.

Looking up towards the “Pigeon Tower”.

I made my way along the track above the gardens and climbed up to the summit of the Pike.

There was low cloud over the top of Winter Hill hiding the television and communication masts.

On my way up the Pike I’d been passed by a procession of runners. While taking a break for a brew I had a chat with one of the Marshalls who told me that the runners were taking part in a marathon that would take them up and down the Pike 5 times. Rather them than me I’d say, but well done to them!

After a short break I set off back down the hill and back into the gardens, passing through the Japanese Garden. I’ve been through them many a time over the years but they been well spruced up by the restoration team. They would look better on a sunnier day in the Spring or Summer, but were still impressive in the murk.

I descended down through the gardens and then took the path through the woods at the foot of the hill and then onwards and back to the car park.

I’d ended up walking further than expected and I reckon that the fresh air had helped with my cold. It was only a short drive back home – less than 20 minutes. I had to pack my bag ready for my trip over the Irish sea the next day.

I’ve been running week long training courses in Ireland for about 15 years – including 4 or 5 a year for the past 9 years. But I’ve started to find them too tiring and so, as part of my plan to start slowing down, I’ve finally decided that this would be my last one. It’s not going to be the end of my trips to Ireland, though. I’ve promised to go over to Galway in March to run a half day seminar at the University (but that’s really an excuse to visit some friends!) and we’re planning to take some holdiays over there and explore more of the country as I (hopefully) start to have some more free time.

A walk around Rivington

The August Bank Holiday weekend was forecast to be a scorcher so I was determined to get out to make the most of what was likely to be the best weather for some time. But it was a Bank Holiday and I certainly didn’t fancy sitting in a lengthy traffic jam on the motorway. I also didn’t want to miss seeing the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final which was taking place at Wembley on the Saturday (I wasn’t going down to London but wanted to watch the match on TV, even though our biggest rivals were playing). Any road, with a little thought and planning I managed to devise a couple of routes that would allow me to get out on the hills which avoiding these problems.

On the Saturday morning I was up reasonably early and was soon heading out to drive the short distance to Rivington where I parked up on the car park up near the school. I’d decided to head up to the top of the Pike and then work my way back down and follow a route along the Yarrow and Rivington reservoirs back to the car.

Despite having been up the Pike many, many times I managed to find a path up through the terraced gardens I hadn’t followed before.

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I reached the top of the Pike. There were a few other people up there, but it would get busy later on a sunny Bank Holiday weekend.

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Long range visibility wasn’t so great, but I had a view down to the reservoirs

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and, in the opposite direction, over to Winter Hill (the path over the peaty moor looked rather glutinous after all the recent rain – glad I hadn’t decided to walk over there today)

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and looking over Anglezarke Moor to Great Hill. On a good day I’d have been able to see as far as Pendle Hill and the Yorkshire Dales, but not today.

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After a short rest I set off back down the hill, walking past the Pigeon Tower, recently restored – and a good job the volunteers have done too.

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Looking down towards Yarrow Reservoir.

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I followed the old road down the hill. It was very rough to say the least.

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I walked past the Hall Barn and then cut across the fields to Rivington Village where I stopped for a brew and a bacon butty at the village cafe. Refuelled, I took the path from the village over towards Yarrow Reservoir which I circumnavigated.

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Looking across the reservoir towards Winter Hill and Rivington Pike

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Looking down to Anglezarke Reservoir

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I took the path down beside the “waterfall” (the over flow from Yarrow Reservoir)

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and then crossed the dam between the Anglezarke and Upper Rivington Reservoirs.

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I followed the path southwards along the west shore. Looking across I could see Rivington Pike

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Reaching the dam, I crossed over and then took the path along the east shore of Lower Rivington Reservoir, diverting half way along to take a couple of photos of the “Saxon Barn” (officially Great Hall Barn). As I’d expected, although I hadn’t seen too many people up to now on my walk, the car park and cafe at the barn were heaving. A lot of people drive over here, park up stop for a brew and then maybe take a short stroll. But most don’t stray too far from their cars.

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Back on the path, I eventually reached “Liverpool Castle” – a folly based on the original Liverpool Castle (which no longer exists) by Lord Leverhulme, the local lad “made good” (he founded Lever Brothers, now part of Unilever) who used to own the land round here and created the Terraced Gardens.

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It was a short walk back to the car park where I changed out of my boots and, after stopping to fill up the car on the way home, arrived back in good time to watch Saints get stuffed in the Challenge Cup Final – so a great day all round!

A walk on the moors

On Saturday I decided to get out for a walk up on the moors. I’d plotted a circular route from near Horwich, along the Rivington and Yarrow reservoirs, along Lead Mine Clough, then skirting Anglezarke moor before cutting across to Rivington Pike and then back down to the reservoir.

It was a grey, misty morning but the weather forecast predicted that it would clear up around midday for a couple of hours before the rain came in.

I parked up and set off along the muddy path from the car park

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passing the replica of Liverpool castle Lord Leverhulme had built

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and then reaching the path along Rivington lower reservoir

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I carried on to the end of the artificial lake, crossing the dam and then following the road along the western shore of the Upper reservoir. Rivington Pike and Winter Hill were hidden in the low cloud.

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At the end of the lake I crossed over to the eastern side and climbed up to Yarrow reservoir, following the path along the water and then along the minor road until I reached Allance Bridge

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then I took the path along the River Yarrow up Lead Mines Clough. The name gives away what used to go on around here. At one time there were mine workings along the river and the waters were used to process the ore.

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I took the path that headed east up on to the moor, following the track used by the local sheep farmers. There had been quite a few people enjoying the paths along the reservoirs – walking, on their bikes and on horseback – but it was very quiet on the moor – I only saw a couple of mountain bikers in the 4 or 5 miles before I reached the Belmont road.

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It was grey and misty, but as I walked over the moor, passing the ruined farms at Simms and Hempshaws, the mist began to clear

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The mist hadn’t cleared on Winter Hill – the main mast was still obscured in the low cloud

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I crossed over the Belmont road and took the old track that would take me up across the moor to the top of Rivington Pike

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It looked grey and desolate, but it was brighter looking back over to Anglezarke

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After a relatively easy, gradual climb I reached the pigeon tower that has been undergoing renovation along with the paths, gardens and other structures that make up the “Chinese Gardens” created for Lord Leverhulme on the slopes of the Pike.

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I continued along the track and, although I hadn’t originally planned to climb to the top I can never resist climbing a hill!

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I took in the views over to Winter Hill (now free of mist)

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and back down to the reservoirs

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After taking in the views, I made my way down the hill through the terraced gardens

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Reaching Rivington Hall Barn I headed along the path through the woods, making my way back towards the car park I’d left a few hours before. 5 minutes before I reached the car it started to rain – the Met Office had got it right.

A good 10 mile walk only a few miles from home.

A walk up Rivington and Winter Hill

The other Thursday was a beautiful sunny day. Late morning I received a message asking me to postpone a meting (a telecon, actually, as that’s the way things are done these days!)that was scheduled for the afternoon. No problem, I could reschedule. So that gave me an opportunity to take the afternoon and get out for a walk in the sunshine. It didn’t take long for me to decide that’s what I was going to do!

As dusk was around 6 o’clock, I couldn’t go too far afield so decide to drive over to Rivington and go for a walk up to the Pike and the nearby moors.

I parked up near the Saxon Barn and set out up towards the Pike

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through the woods, with the leaves starting to show their autumnal colours

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I walked up through the terraced gardens

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The summit of the Pike, with it’s tower, came into view

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A short steep climb later and I was on the summit with great views across the Lancashire Plain to the coast

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over the moors

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and Winter Hill with it’s cluster of TV and telecommunications masts.

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There’s been a major fire on Winter Hill earlier this year during the hot, dry summer. Although there was evidence that this had taken place but it was good to see that the grass was recovering.

After a short break I decided to carry on onto Winter Hill, taking the route via Two Lads rather than the more direct, but very boggy, route straight across the moor.

Looking back to the Pike

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Looking towards the summit of Two Lads

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It didn’t take too long to reach the top where I stopped for a break

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Where to next? I decided to carry on to the top of Winter Hill

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I carried on past the TV mast and looked over the moors towards Belmont

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and, in the distance, Pendle Hill

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On a good day it’s possible to see as far as the Lake Distict, Yorkshire Dales and Snowdonia from up on the moors. Alas, although a fine sunny day, long range visibility wasn’t so great. The best time for these views is on a clear sunny day in the winter.

I considered my options. I didn’t fancy squelching through a boggy quagmire, so decided to retrace my steps back towards the Pike.

Looking over the moor I could see evidence of the summer’s fire. Although the grass was recovering well there were scars across the land, which looked like wide paths, where firebreaks had been created

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I bypassed the summit of the Pike and made my way down through the Terraced Gardens

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Rather go straight back to the car I carried on through the woods to Rivington Reservoir and followed the shore to the end of the artificial lake

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I cut up through Rivington Village

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and through the woods up to Rivington Hall Barn

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A short walk, passing Rivington Hall

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and I was back at the car. I changed out of my boots and after a 20 minute drive was back home ready for a brew!