Last week, after a few days stuck in front of a computer screen, I was itching to get out again. I hadn’t been up on my local moors for a while – in fact, not since early January, – so I decided to drive over to White Coppice and get up Great Hill.
I parked up by the cricket field, booted up and set off up the short steep path up onto the moor. I spent many hours up here during my teenage years. I could walk to White Coppice over the Nab in about an hour. It’s then a couple of miles up on to and across the moor to reach the summit of Great Hill
I was pleased to find that the path wasn’t particularly muddy – except for a few places. Not so bad considering recent rain. But the peat on the moor off the path looked like it would be quite different. It takes time to dry out.
After a short while the summit came into view.
and shortly afterwards I reached the ruined farm buildings at Drinkwaters. It’s a popular spot for walkers to take a break and I decided that’s what I’d do.
I was very disappointed to find that Joe’s Cup was missing and it’s “house” had been damaged. Sadly, mindless vandals can get up here.
Joe Whitaker was a fell runner from Wigan who used to train regularly up on these moors. There’s a spring just down from the old farm – that’s probably why it was called Drinkwaters – I used to be able to find it when I was younger and when I was up here with friends or on my own used to draw water to make a brew, on a meths or calor gas stove. Apparently Joe would stop off and drink water from the spring, using a tin cup. After he died, at the early age of 52 in 1991 his friend built the monument and incorporated his cup. It was there, undisturbed, for quite a few years and seeing it gone and the little monument gone made me feel quite sick in the stomach.
Disappointed and feeling a little low – the theft and damage had affected my mood – I carried on and soon reached the summit where I stopped for a while to take in the views
Visibility wasn’t so great so the views were limited and hazy.
I took the path down the hill in the direction of Winter Hill, but I wasn’t going over the Redmond and Spitler’s Edges today. Instead, I turned west and headed towards the ruins of Great Hill Farm
I had considered crossing the moor over to Round Loaf, but my suspicion about how wet the peat would be was confirmed and I didn’t fancy a trudge through the quagmire.
Instead I carried on along the path then cut up back towards Drinkwaters, dodging the best I could the boggy patches
From there I carried on back down the path retracing my steps from the ascent, before turning off on the track towards Brinscall. It had been very quiet up on the moor. I’d only seen three other people and there were no sheep – at this time of the year, lambing time, they’re down in the pastures. There were plenty of small birds – larks and wheatears in particular – but eventually I head, and saw, a curlew. I’d have been disappointed not to have come across one but they are an endangered species, numbers having fallen dramatically. But I can usually count on encountering one up here at this time of the year.
Reaching the metalled minor road, instead of going straight down towards Brinscall, I took the path directly ahead, through the fields. Plenty of sheep with their lambs now.
I was surprised to see a few Herdwicks with their black lambs in amongst the usual white fleeces.
I made my way to Abraham’s Temple – not, not a religious site but another ruined farm. I’ve no idea why it’s called that! Surprisingly, I’d never been on this part of the hill before.
I turned 180 degrees to start making my way down off the hill, passing another ruined farm
I carried on along the paths through the fields
until I reached the metalled road, wich I crossed and started down the path through the woods of Wheelton Plantation (also known as Brinscall Woods). This website gives the background to their creation
the planting of Brinscall woods was intended to keep people away. In the 19th century the Lancashire moors were being cultivated to provide more and more water for neighbouring Liverpool. In the mid 1800’s there was both a cry for a better quality of available water, and multiple outbreaks of the highly infectious disease Typhoid.
To meet the demand for clean water, and to prevent contamination, the areas where the water was drawn was cleared of all human residents. To make sure no one returned to their former homes, the lands and estates of the numerous manors and farms in the area were planted with thousands of trees, rendering them useless.
So, like the clearing of the farms on Anglezarke Moors, this was the work of the Liverpool Water Corporation
The path led through the woods down the hill to the Goyt
which I followed back to White Coppice