A Winter Hill Yomp

13th January 2013

Today was the day as a family we attended our local church in a bid to say a final farewell in a mass dedicated to our Mother & Grandmother.

We had to wait longer than usual for mums funeral which was held on 11th January in the place where our Mother married my Dad, the very same church of whom I married my wife & the same stone walls that witnessed not just my own Christening & Baptism, but also my children’s, you could, & would be correct in saying that St Jude’s Church in Wigan has always held dear with my family & long may the tradition to continue.

Came the time Father Macnally gave pause for thought as he urged the congregation to bow our heads in silence & remember those who fell asleep over the past few weeks.

I & we do this as I bow forward hand in prayer & remember mum, & think – I hope mum, that those new boots don’t give my feet blisters…

I am of course referring to the ‘free boots’ I attained just before Christmas, the very boots needed to ‘get me over winter’ the cheap boots so to speak…

To cut a long story short I ordered a pair of Brasher Supalite II leather boots which never came, of course as you do I complained & subsequently I received an email informing me that my size was ‘no longer in stock’ & that the store would credit my account accordingly, this they did.

Due to the fact that I still needed a new pair of boots to ‘get me over winter’ I bit the bullet & went for what I know, what wouldn’t let me down: The Salomon Cosmic 4D 2 Gore Tex, okay, my newly acquired boots greatly exceeded my budget but at the time, I really didn’t have the time & possibly the patience to wade through review after review on this years new hot picks.

Three weeks later & what should happen through my door? A brand new pair of Brasher Supalite’s totally free of charge (I’ll not say nowt if you wont) – thank you Amazon your A-Z Guarantee has done me proud! My past two walks were done in my new Salomon’s as I didn’t quite fancy breaking in leather over the Lakeland fells, this can be done on a wonderful afternoon on some local hills not fourteen miles away from where I live.

Everybody knows it as Winter Hill.


Ascent: 633 Feet 193 Metres
Wainwrights: None
Weather: Sunny Spells Turning Overcast With Snow Flurries, Highs Of 2°C Lows Of 2°C
Parking: Wilderswoods Car Park, Georges Lane Horwich (SD651 124
Area: West Pennine Moors
Miles: 5.4
Walking With: On my own
Ordnance Survey: (Explorer Map):287
Time Taken: 2 Hours 10 Minutes
Route: Wilderswood – Makinson Moor – Wilderswood Moor – Two Lads – Rotary Way – Winter Hill – Noon Hill – Pigeon Tower – Rivington Pike – Pike Cottage – Wilderswood

Map and Photo Gallery



Georges Lane, Horwich 2°C

I shake my fathers hand in a clasp & say Dad I hope you don’t mind, I’m off to do a walk over Rivvy’ Bloody Hell lad…Dad’ what? shush were in church, he laughs & says have a good un son but watch your sel, It’ll be slippy.

You just cant keep away, right at this moment in time I am trying to think of the next word my father called me but I cant, It may or may not come back to me, I’ll give you a call later Dad, aye R-reet son.

With this I leave St Judes.

Within forty minutes I find myself at Georges Lane car park, suited enough to squeeze a dozen well parked cars, I find myself squeezing into the last available space. Right now I am dressed for church & as the car park is a hustle with walkers, getting changed at the back of the car wont do… I’m going to have to get back in the car & change into my walking gear at the drivers wheel, this takes me no less than two minutes & I am ready to leave.

I take a right out of the car park & take on Georges Lane keeping a keen eye for the junction with Makinson Lane to which I will turn left & make over Makinson Moor.


Horses feeding by the roadside along Makinson Lane.


Zooming in on Rivington Pike from Makinson Lane.

The air is crisp & clear yet all the while grey & dull. My initial plan was to carry my camera in hand or around my neck & leave my pack in my car, I figure I know the area well enough to sustain a couple of hours bog trotting with just a Snicker bar in hand, this sounded good at the time then I thought to myself, Paul? what about your sandwiches? you cant squash those into your pockets too.

So the pack came, if only to carry my sandwiches.


Looking towards Two Lads my next destination.

You cant walk this land without the Telecommunications Mast never being out of shot, its quite famous (or at least I think it is) in the fact that this is my weather station, I see it almost everywhere I travel & on a clear night, the mast is lit in red beacon aerial lights which are in some ways romantic, but that’s just me being a softie, the summit is a wee while away & depending on which way you are inclined the area is very much described as a ‘blot on the landscape’ However If you like tall things & satellites this may be the place for you.

On this occasion, I’m a bit of both…


Looking back down Makinson Lane with the car park being on the left of the trees in the foreground.


And in the other direction, Rivington Reservoir with the small town of Adlington (somewhere in the mist)


En route to Two Lads.

I leave the tarmac road & divert slightly for Two Lads, the ground is frozen & a joy to walk over even over the muddier sections. As you can see its quite busy even during the winter months, I certainly never predicted how busy it would be…


With precision flying radio controlled aeroplanes.


I don’t know what this is but its flying & very well I might add.


This ones real.


Looking across Wilders Moor towards Horwich & Wigan.


Two Lads Hill.

Two Lads Hill has many ancient legends ranging from a Saxon burial ground where upon two Saxon sons constructed the stone cairns as a memorial to their departed father, others include the story of two young boys who over four hundred years ago froze to death during a storm, thus naming the hill Two Lads Hill.

No evidence can support the myth’s of Two Lads Hill but I find them still pleasant to hear.

I press on towards Winter Hill in all her bleakness & maybe more myths to ponder upon.


The Telecommunication mast & service road, Winter Hill.

It’s at this point you are going to love or loathe Winter Hill, me? for now, I’m of mixed opinion as the boy in me comes out within the shadow of the giant coms mast & high tension steel cables


One of the high tension steel anchors surrounded by steel fencing to avoid security threat, nine anchors in all secure the main mast.


Sadly on 27th February 1958 thirty-five people lost their lives when a Bristol 170 Freighter flying from the Isle of Man to Manchester airport crashed close to the Transmitting Station, so severe was the weather that morning that all the engineers where completely un-aware at what had un-folded only a few hundred metres away. A Snow Cat vehicle  on the nearby A6 had to be diverted to cut a path for the rescuers.


For the boy/girl in you.


And just the boy in you.



Okay, got it.


Winter Hill Telecommunication mast under low winter sun.


Winter Hill summit trig point with above all, the coms mast in the background.

The ground & my surroundings are well below zero, with no wind the summit top right now is a pleasant place to be, I withdraw on an attempt on my hat & gloves for I know I shall soon be dropping  in height sometime very soon, on reflection, I could have spent more time here just pondering & thinking to myself.


The summit shoulder is awash with coms masts, I take the service road towards the last one in the picture & start my descent, but for now…


One last picture.


Descent by Noon Hill.

I skirt around the back of the last coms mast & start my ever so gentle descent over Noon Hill. Cairns mark the route but with not many in numbers the cairns aren’t to be too much relied upon, I have a good mental knowledge & map of the area but still, if the mist came down here knowing how to read both compass & map would only truly help you, best to pick the good weather days if venturing off the main paths I would suggest.


Yarrow & Anglezarke Reservoirs with a misty Chorley town in the background.

As predicted the mist & snow flurries are upon me & all that goes through my mind is how well (or how lucky) I timed my time at the summit, here my frozen grassy path cuts to the left of the treeline before re-joining with the main track that navigates the whole fell.


A close up of the gothic like Pigeon Tower.


The Brasher Supalite’s doing a fine job across the rocky pathways, thanks mum, no blisters.


Winter sun over icy pond.


The Pigeon Tower.

The Pigeon Tower was built in 1910  The upper room was used by Lady Lever as a sewing room, which gave wonderful views of the surrounding countryside. Ornamental doves and pigeons were kept in the lower two levels


The Pigeon Tower.


Rivington Pike features not far away.

Although the last legs of the journey feature many an interesting Landmark, it was also along here that was most possibly the least favoured of the whole route, gone was myself alone with my thoughts & back was the hustle of reality. I should expect nothing else really as the beauty & history of Winter Hill & Indeed Rivington Pike cuts mass appeal within the north west of England.

It’s now a short trudge up some steep steps…


Here once stood a stone beacon put in place by Ranulph de Blunderville the 4th Earl of Chester in around 1139 following a Scotch raid on the nearby town of Clitheroe where the English were defeated by a larger Scotch army. Originally the beacon was part of a multi part early warning system to aid the English against the Scottish advancing armies.

The Tower itself is a Grade ll listed building only being completed as late as 1733 by John Andrews of Rivington Hall, the beacon has been lit on a number of occasions before & after the completion of the tower with one of the beacons most prominent contributories was when the Beacon was lit on July 19th 1588 to signal the end of the Spanish Armada.

In more recent times Beacons were lit near to the tower for the coronation of King George V in 1910, at the end of the Great War in 1918 and in 1977 and 2012 to celebrate the Silver and Diamond Jubilees of Queen Elizabeth II.

My time on Winter Hill is almost over, my camera stays holstered for the rest of the duration as hundreds of visitors flock the pathways & sites that Winter Hill & its surrounding countryside hold.

I make the one & a half mile journey back under snow flurry as I pass yet more people on their way up to the Pike or a visit to the Pigeon Tower, mountain bikes, dogs, children they are all here today to enjoy the countryside on a bleak winters day.

I really must come here more often…

PS: watch out for the U.F.O’s over Winter Hill, apparently the M.O.D know about them, now there’s a thought…


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