Up on the moors

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Last Saturday, after a tough few days at work, I decided I needed to get out for a walk. It was a warm day and we probably haven’t got many of those left this year!

I wasn’t able to get out to the Lakes or Dales so decided on a walk closer to home. So it was off to White Coppice to set off up Great Hill and Anglezarke.  It’s a walk I’ve blogged about before but here’s a few pictures from a pleasant day up on the moors.

Starting and finishing at White Coppice near one of the lodges that used to supply water to the mill that used to be there many years ago.

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Past the picturesque cricket pitch

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Then up onto the moors

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Rivington Pike and Winter Hill

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Last Wednesday was a beautiful sunny day so to make the most of the weather and long hours of daylight, I finished work a little early and we drove the few miles over to Rivington to take a walk during the early evening.  Rivington Pike and Winter Hill loomed large in my youth – along with the Talbot Mill they dominated the view from my bedroom window when I was a teenager.

Rivington is on the western edge of the West Lancashire Moors. A substantial part of the Pike and the nearby estate was purchased by Lord Leverhulme in 1900 who moulded the landscape into tree lined avenues with terraced gardens on the side of the hill. He constructed a number of buildings, including follies like the replica of Liverpool Castle on the shore of Rivington Reservoir, and restored two oak cruck barns. He also built a bungalow that was destroyed in an arson attack, allegedly by a suffragette, Edith Rigby, on 8 July 1913

We parked up near the Great House barn and walked up towards Rivington Hall.

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This large house, with it’s Georgian frontage, a Grade II* listed building which was originally the manor house for the Lords of the Manor of Rivington. Behind the hall is Rivington Hall Barn, the larger of the two oak cruck barns on the estate, which is a popular venue for weddings.

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Behind the barn we took the lane up the hill towards the Pike

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After a short steep climb we reached the Dovecote tower

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The view west across the reservoirs towards Chorley, Wigan and the coast was, unfortunately, very hazy

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We carried on along the track towards the summit of the Pike

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and climbed the steps towards the tower

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The summit is 1,191 feet high and was the site of one of a series of early warning beacons spanning England created in the 12th Century.

The tower is a Grade II listed building, which was completed in 1733.

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A hazy view to the west

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but much clearer air over tot he east with a good view of the summit of Winter Hill and the TV transmission mast

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Normally the path over to Winter Hill, which crosses the peaty moor, is something of a quagmire. But after a dry spell of weather the going was good underfoot so we decided to take advantage of this to walk over to the summit.

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The route took us over the infant River Douglas (the very same “Dougie” that flows through Wigan) which rises on the flanks of Winter Hill

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We were getting closer to the TV transmission mast

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Passing an old mine shaft

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We finally made the summit – 1,496 feet high and the site of the Winter Hill TV Mast, which came into service in 1956, and a number of other telecommunication masts and towers.

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Today Winter Hill is open access land, but it wasn’t always the case and the there was a mass trespass in 1896, earlier and larger than the more well known Kinder trespass. There were a series of marches up the hill, initiated by the Social Democratic Federation, leading up to a mass trespass by 10,000 people who marched up the hill led by a brass band. There was even a poem written by the Bolton Socialist poet, Allen Clarke, to celebrate the event

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(Source here)

The land owner, Colonel Richard Ainsworth, who planned to use the whole area of open moorland for grouse shooting, issued writs to the leaders and took them to court. Unfortunately, the Colonel won the case and proceeded to take it out on the leaders by bankrupting them for damages and fees. Typical of the landowning class.

We took in the view over to Belmont over to the north east (some of my ancestors lived here)

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Winter Hill was a dangerous place. This Scotsman’s stump

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a memorial to a young Scots merchant who was murdered here in 1836

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and there’s a couple of memorials to a fatal plane crash in 1958

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Time was getting on so we set out back over the moor to the Pike

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This time skirting the summit

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We took a different route down , through the wooded terraced gardens

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We soon reached the foot of the hill

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Looking back – a glorious evening

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We made our way back to the car. If was after 7 o’clock by now but there were still plenty of cars parked up, and even a few more arriving, as people took advantage of the good weather to enjoy the outdoors.

Up on the moors

It was a beautiful sunny day yesterday so in the afternoon we decided to make the short drive over to Anglezarke to take a walk up on the moors. This was my stomping ground when I was a teenager. I spent many an hour up here, sometimes with friends and sometimes on my own walking our pet dog. It’s a wild, desolate place, only a few miles from several south west Lancashire towns and a good place to be on a sunny afternoon.

We parked at the viewpoint overlooking Anglezarke Reservoir, with views right across the Lancashire plain down to the sea. Visibility was reasonably good and we could just make out the Welsh and Cumbrian hills on the horizon.

Taking the path from Jepson’s Gate we passed the remains of the ruined Neolithic burial at Pikestones.

 

The going was muddy underfoot s we decided against “yomping” through the boggy peat over to the Round Loaf tumulus and instead made our way over to the memorial to the Wellington bomber that crashed on the moors during WW2

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where there’s a great view over to Winter Hill and Rivington Pike

We crossed over the river and followed the well defined track up onto the moor

There are several ruined farmhouses out on the moor. It must have been a lonely and desolate place to live, especially during the winter months.

There are limited opportunities to create a circular route on the moor.  There’s a good circular walk up along a ridge to Great Hill, on to White Coppice and back along Anglezarke Reservoir, but it’s a long walk and time was limited, so after a few miles we turned round and retraced our route back along the track.

Reaching Lead Mines Clough we decided to follow the river down the valley

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eventually reaching the road at Allance Bridge where the River Yarrow enters the Yarrow Reservoir.

A short stroll along the road and then we took the path up through the bracken back up to the car.

White Coppice

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White Coppice is an attractive hamlet, a few miles out of Chorley, on the edge of the West Lancashire Moors. It was the start and end of my walk last Saturday.

There’s only a handful of stone cottages, located in two clusters a short distance apart. Some of them painted white, the origin of the hamlet’s name.

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Some of the cottages face on to what must be one of the most scenic cricket pitches in Lancashire, situated at the foot of Great Hill.

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Although a very pretty picturesque and desirable location, it’s origin was an an industrial settlement – originally lead mining and stone quarrying was carried out on the moors. Later it was the location of a cotton mill, originally powered by water from the lodges (small reservoirs) in the immediate vicinity, which were later used for the water supply for a steam engine.

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Today they’re used by fishermen.

Most of the houses standing today were built to house the mill workers. The mill was demolished many years ago and no traces of it remain.

White Coppice was the birthplace of a Nobel Laureate – Norman Howarth, who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1937 for his work on synthesising Vitamin C – and Henry Tate, one of the founders of the Sugar giant, Tate and Lyle. An art collector, he donated his collection of 65 contemporary paintings to the nation which led to the founding of the Tate Gallery, which is named after him. Both of them were knighted. Not bad for a tiny Lancashire industrial settlement.

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.

Anglezarke and Great Hill Circular

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After a pretty miserable start to the year the last week has seen us experiencing some good, warm, weather, with blue skies and sunshine. Having been stuck indoors for most of the week I decided to take Friday afternoon off and get out in the fresh air for a walk. I didn’t want to stray too far so drove the eight miles or so over to Anglezarke, to go for a walk on the moors that have been my stomping ground ever since I was a young teenager.

I parked up at the viewpoint overlooking Anglezarke reservoir and walked the short distance up the road to Jepson’s Gate where I was able to gain access to the moor.  Despite being surrounded by some significant towns the West Pennine moors wild and remote.

I did a favourite circular route of about 6 miles which toko me 3 hours including 3 short stops. It’s a mix of wild moorland and a walk through woodlands along the reservoir at Anglezarke. While I was up on the moor I only passed 2 people coming the opposite way but saw three curlews, a number of skylarks and plenty of sheep.

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There were more people around when I descended back into the valley to walk along the reservoir.

From Jepson’s gate

I cut across the open access path over to Pikestones, the ruins of a Neolithic long barrow.

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It can be heavy going across the peat, especially as there isn’t a properly defined path, but as there’s been very little rain of late it was quite dry underfoot.

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I then cut across the moor heading towards Round Loaf, a Neolithic round barrow  which is a dominant feature on the relatively flat moorland landscape(there are a number of prehistoric remains on the moors here).

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I climbed to the top of the mound and rested for a while. Visibility today was limited – on a good day it’s possible to see the mountains of the Lake District and Snowdonia, but it was hazy in the distance. But there were good views of Winter Hill and Rivington Pike to the south east

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and towards the summit of Great Hill to the north

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my next destination. I cut across the moor trying to follow an indistinct path. Fortunately it was dry underfoot as the peat can be quagmire. There were a few ditches and rivulets that had to be traversed.

I climbed up towards the summit and took another short break while taking in the views.

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Then I walked along the ridge and took the path that would lead down to White Coppice. I passed the ruined Drinkwaters farm (it must have been a difficult life living up here) whose only residents were sheep sheltering in the shade.

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Eventually I descended down to White Coppice, a small hamlet with a manicured cricket pitch and attractive cottages at the foot of the moors

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I took the path along the Goyt, a channel that takes water from the reservoir at Roddlesworth across to the one at Anglezarke. The landscape changed to pleasant woodland providing some welcome relief from the direct sun

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Reaching Waterman’s cottage

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a short walk along the road and I was on the path that took me along the east side of Anglezarke reservoir

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with a short diversion past the smaller Bullough reservoir

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and then through the woodland on the shore of it’s larger companion

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Then it was a short climb up the hill back to the viewpoint to rejoin the car.

The route. (Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.)

Anglezarke, Great Hill and White Coppice

The weather has been too good this week to stay in the office, so I decided to take a few hours off Tuesday afternoon and get up on the moors to clear my head. When I was a teenager I used to spend hours up on the West Lancashire Moors and knew them like the back of my hand. Although they’re surrounded by industrial towns they’re wild and isolated and a good place to find some solitude. I didn’t go up there for a long time, but over the last few years have started to rediscover them. This walk is one of my favourites taking in different types of terrain, wild moors, farmland and a lakeside path, a picturesque hamlet and  one of the most dramatic locations for a cricket pitch in England.

I parked up at the viewpoint above the reservoir. I walked along the road as far as Jepson’s gate and climbed over the stile on to the open access land and headed over the rough ground towards “Pike Stones”. The ground was dry – quite different to the last time I visited the Neolithic monument in the early Spring when it was sodden underfoot.

Jepson's Gate

Pike Stones

Pikestones is a collection of stones that used to be a Neolithic burial mound. There are several large slabs of millstone grit which at one time would have stood upright to form a burial chamber. It’s a scheduled Ancient Monument. There’s an information board about the site with an artist’s impression of what the burial mound may have looked like when it was built.

Leaving the site I took the path at the back of a plantation of fir trees and then cut across the moor towards “Round Loaf”,  a Neolithic or Bronze age Tumulus, or burial mound, which dominates the flat moorland. It’s situated on open access land and the peaty ground going can be really difficult after wet weather – but this time  it was dry underfoot. Nevertheless, it was still hard going at first as the ground is rough and there was no distinct path until I got nearer to the tumulus. There were extensive areas of blackened grass on the moors and even part of the western side of the mound itself was scorched. Standing on top, I could see that the grass over to the east was still on fire but, fortunately it was smouldering rather than properly ablaze.

"Round Loaf"

Standing on top of the mound I had a good view of Great Hill ,Winter Hill and the surrounding moors, but the atmosphere was very hazy. It wasn’t even possible to make out the coast at Southport. The tumulus is in such a dominant position high on the moor that on a good day most of the Lancashire coast is visible and it’s possible to see as far as the mountains in three National Parks – the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and Snowdonia.

Looking towards Great Hill from the Round Loaf

After a short break I set off again across the moor towards Great Hill and then climbed to the summit. which is the highest point on this part of the moors. Again there were great views of the surrounding hills and moorland, but long range visibility was poor. Although it can get busy on nice weekends, mid-week, even on a nice day, it was fairly quiet. It can be windy on the exposed top, and a shelter has been built to protect walkers who reach the summit on blustery days. I stopped for a while to take in the view and some refreshments before setting off down the hill towards White Coppice.

On the way down I could hear the bubbling sound of a curlew and looking up could see it circling over the moor.

On the summit of Great Hill

White Coppice is a picturesque hamlet with a cricket pitch nestled at the foot of the hill. It has an industrial past though, owing it’s existence to lead mining and quarrying in the nearby hills.

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From White Coppice I took the path over the fields and along the river to Waterman’s cottage at the bottom of Anglezarke reservoir – one of a string of reservoirs created to supply water to Liverpool.

Waterman's Cottage

Anglezarke reservoir

I made my way along the east side of the reservoir and then climbed the hill back to my car.

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

I’ve saved a map of the route here.