Winter Hill, Belmont and Anglezarke

Since the easing of lock down I’ve managed to get in a few walks, although I’ve been slow writing them up as being glued to the computer for most of the week means I’ve been reluctant to spend more time on it in my free time – I’d rather be out walking or relaxing with a book or film. But I’m going to be less shackled to the keyboard over the next few weeks so time to catch up!

I had to visit a clinic on the west side of Bolton a couple of weeks ago. This gave me an excuse to take the rest of the day off and drive over to Rivington on what was promising to be a decent day for a walk. I’d worked out a route up over Winter Hill, down to belmont village and then back over the moors.

I parked up on the drive up to the Hall barn, donned my boots and gear and set off. It was still during the school holidays so it was busy with families out for the day, but I’d picked a route to avoid the crowds who were mainly heading up to the top of the Pike. I skirted the bottom of the hill and then took a less frequented path and then a track on the southern boundary of the gardens.

I avoided the summit of the pike and walked down the track towards Pike Cottage where I planned to take the path up to Two Lads and then on to Winter Hill.

Looking over to the top of the Pike
There were a few people coming up and down the old road but it was still fairly quiet.

Reaching Pike Cottage I discovered that since I was last up here a snack bar had opened up. A good excuse to take a break with a brew and have a bite to eat and take in the views over to the Pike and across the South Lancashire Plain.

Time to set off again. I went through the gate and on to the path across the moor towards Two Lads

Looking back to the Pike

and on to the mast on top of Winter Hill

There’s Two Lads, a subsidary summit of Winter Hill, ahead.

There’s various theories as to how this little lump gets its name, but there’s two “lads” there these days, in the form of a couple of substantial cairns.

After a short stop to take in the views I set off over the moor towards the summit of Winter Hill. Fortunately the peat was reasonably dry so not too much clag to have to navigate!

On towards the TV mast – the cage is for maintenance workers – I definitely wouldn’t fancy going up in that!

I made my way across the top and then took the path that would take me down the east side of the hill and on to Belmont, my first time down this way.

It had turned into a lovely afternoon and as I descended there were great views over Turton Moor. Long range views were excellent and I could make out Pendle Hill, the Yorkshire Three peaks and, on the horizon to the north west, the Lakeland Fells.

Looking down to Belmont.

It was an enjoyable descent – not too steep (which is hard on the old knees these days) and with excellent views.

Towards the bottom of the hill I turned off onto the path that would take me to the main road and then on to Belmont village. It’s a small settlement that grew up around the cotton industry with a mill, dye works and other factories. When I was researching my family history I discovered that some of my ancestors lived there for a while, although I don’t have any connections there these days.

The stone cottages, which would have been home for workers in the mills and other factories, look attractive all cleaned up and, no doubt, would cost a packet to buy. I wonder whether any of my ancestors lived in one of them?

I turned up by the Black Dog pub – still shut due to the lockdown

and had a mooch around the graveyard of the Victorian neo-Gothic St peter’s church wondering whether I might find a gavestone for one of my ancestors. A slim hope of course as they would have been too poor to have a memorial.

I carried on towards Ward’s reservoir which was drained a number of years ago for safety reasons

and then crossed over the road on to a path that runs across the moors, heading west towards Anglezarke. I could hear the cry of a curlew and saw a lapwing and a couple of oystercatchers. Unfortunatly they’d flown off before I could snap a photo with my camera which I had to dig out of my rucksack, my phone camera not having an adequate zoom.

Arriving at Horden Stoops, I took a short diversion up the path towards Spitler’s Edge to take in the views northwards over to Great Hill and across Anglezarke,

and, in the other direction, over to Winter Hill

I’d orinially planned to take the Old Belmont Road along the bottom of Winter Hill and back to Rivington, but it was such a lovely afternoon that I decided to carry on west across the moor

The peat was reasonably dry and the going was good until I approached the ruins of Higher Hempshaws farm – it’s nearly always a quagmire underfoot here and it was true to form as I gingerly hopped across of clag trying to avid my boots becoming submerged in the morass.

I decided to stop for while in theruins. It’s always a good place to stop and sit, take in the view and contemplate life.

Someone else had had the same idea and was just setting off again as approached. As you do we said hello and exchanged a few words that chaned into a chat swapping stories about the moors and their history. Suddenly he changed subject and produced a leaflet from his pack. Turned out he was a Jehovah’s Witness and had decided to take the opportunity to try to convert me. A lost cause I’m afraid as I gave up on religion when I was about 13.

After a short break, I set off again, crossing over the young River Yarrow and following a path I’ve never taken before heading west towards another ruin known as “Old Rachel’s”.

There’s several ruined farms up on Anglezarke and the other nearby moors. It must have been a hard life up here, especially during the winter, but the farms were home for their occupants. However, they were all demolished at the beginning of the 20th Century by Liverpool Corporation as themoors are in the catchment area for the reservoirs at Anglezarke and Rivington they constructed.

The ruins of “Old Rachel’s

Looking back towards Spitler’s and Redmond’s Edges from “Old Rachel’s”

Looking over to Winter Hill

I carried on across the occasionally boggy ground until I reached the minor road near Wilcock’s farm. This old building certainly isn’t a ruin

There’s stables nearby (I passed a field of horses before I hit the road) and there’s also a small tidy looking campsite by the farm house.

Just past the farm I turned down a path that runs above Dean Wood – a wooded gulley that’s a protected Nature Reserve – and which took me to the end of the Yarrow Reservoir, ner to the dam. I carried on following the path through the woods and back to Rivington Village

A short walk across the fields and I was back at the car.

A decent walk – more than 10 miles with all my little diversions.

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”.

One of several Logia
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 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!

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.