Rivington Pike & Winter Hill Loop

2nd January 2021

When I heard that Lancashire had moved into Tier 4 and Cumbria up to Tier 3 my heart sank to the pit of my stomach and yes I realise that this was very selfish of me considering this was only going to impact my hobby of fell walking when the wider picture is far more serious than getting out to walk the hills.

While most folk adhere to the new restrictions some are still travelling from Tier 4 counties into Cumbria most of whom not equipped for the Winter conditions the Lakeland fells are under and I beg you if your thinking of doing the same please consider the Mountain Rescue Teams who are stretched to breaking point when in the event of requiring assistance it could be sometime until you are reached, if reached at all, time you may not have when the fells are in full Winter condition.

Today I'm returning to Winter Hill which just like the Lakeland fells have seen quite a bit of snow over the last few days turning my local hills into a Winter wonderland. Despite a dull start the sun broke through for the best part of the morning on a route that I hadn't done before which I can see me going back to repeat many times more.


Ascent: 1,018 Feet - 311 Metres
Wainwrights: Rivington Pike - Winter Hill - Noon Hill
Weather: Overcast To Start Soon Clearing With Bright Sunshine Throughout. Highs of 1°C Lows of -3°C Feels Like -3.4°C
Parking: Lower House Car Park
Area: West Pennine Moors
Miles: 5.2
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: Explorer 287
Time Taken: 3 Hours 30 Minutes
Route: Lower House Car Park - Pigeon Tower - Pike Cottage - Two Lads - Rotary Way - Transmitter Station - Winter Hill - Noon Hill - Belmont Road - Pigeon Tower - Lower House Car Park

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: BL6 7SD
Grid Reference: SD 637 148


Map and Photo Gallery


Track between Lower House car park and the Pigeon Tower 09:30am -3°C

Despite the early ish start I only just managed to grab the last parking space at Lower House Car Park (commonly known as Pigeon Tower car park) Belmont Road was showing signs of ice and once I arrived at the car park conditions underfoot were icy indeed. The car park had thawed then froze leaving its surface treacherous underfoot confirmed as I ever so gently pressed the brake pedal which brought my car to a skidded stop, oh blimey.

After crossing the ice covered car park I fork left and picked up the track which directly ascends towards the Pigeon Tower, forking right ascends through the Chinese Gardens first which I didn't see any point visiting today. Ascending the track wasn't without its difficulties where a pair of spikes would have been of great use, the same spikes that I say I'm going to purchase every Winter but somehow never get around to it. The ascend steadies at the same time the view starts to widens over west Lancashire.

A very distant Black Comb seen lower centre.
I knew you were going to ask so I took the trouble of measuring how far Black Comb is from here, as the crow flies it's exactly 54.2 miles.

Pigeon Tower.
I soon reached the Pigeon Tower and continued to follow the track towards Rivington Pike.

Rivington Pike comes into view.
The freeze thaw effect left conditions very slippery indeed and I was pleased to have my walking poles with me if only to keep me upright when it looked like I was going to fall which was very often!

Glorious wide open views over West Lancashire.
If you squint again you might be able to spot Blackpool Tower seen lower right but you can't miss the moon which is sitting low in the western sky.

Rivington Pike summit.

The snow has drawn the crowds out again which is great to see, what wasn't so great was the ascent to the Pike which was very slippery indeed. The steps on the north side of the summit had completely frozen over confirmed by a chap who tried and failed at trying to get up. Every slope surrounding the summit had been used by children to sled down leaving the incline impossible to ascend leaving just the one alternative the 'tourist path' which was dicey at best. Most folk including myself and this chap who turned around just as I was taking this photo were fully equipped, those who weren't sadly learned the hard way which I kinda felt sorry for because after all, this is a family summit.

Footnote. It was noted how many geared walkers I passed today most of whom including myself would have been on the Lakeland or Welsh hills who also like me had been drawn into their local hills.

A clearer view of Black Combe.
With Anglezarke Reservoir below.

Looking back on Rivington Pike as I head for Pike Cottage.

The trick once Rivington Pike had been summited was how to get back down without falling flat on your backside, some used the Tourist Path others searched areas of the hill side that hadn't been sledged on which were slim in picking but I managed to find one and side stepped down then joined the track seen right.

Rivington Moor from Crooked Edge Hill.
Pike Cottage was just as busy as last week with a social distancing queue forming at the snack hut. Directly behind Pike Cottage I ascend the footpath bound for Two Lads which crosses Crooked Edge Hill where fresh snow had had fallen on crunchy snow leaving it a pleasure to walk over.

The view Westwards towards the Fylde Coast.
The clouds look amazing with the forecast sunshine starting to push through,

Two Lads cairns comes into view.
A last push will see me in there in no time.

Looking across Crooked Edge Hill towards Rivington Pike.
Which is looking very busy by now.

Winter Hill Transmitter from Two Lads summit.
No pun intended but two lads were propping up Two Lads summit cairn while they drank from a flask, I pass with a 'morning' and get one back in return. It's time to head over to Winter Hill now which has the clearest of skies above, talk about good timing.

The view South from Two Lads summit.
Not before one last photo from the summit.

There's that sky again.

Winter Hill Transmitter Mast from Rotary Way.
My concerns over how icy Rotary Way were quickly laid to rest finding good traction on the tarmac which made me wonder is there a special tarmac for use at altitude because this tarmac isn't frozen at all? It wasn't just the tarmac detracting my attention, so too were the two planes flying over head which left amazingly clear vapor trails.

Manchester sky scrapers from Winter Hill.
Seen from just under fifteen miles away.


Winter Hill.
It looks like a paraglider is enjoying the Winter sunshine too.

Light and snow.

Mast support cables.
Along with clearing skies it looks like a slight mist is forming over the towns and villages below.

Looking back on Rotary Way.
As I head for Winter Hill summit.

Flipping gorgeous.
You will note that I'm just snapping away with my camera now, the views are simply too nice to miss.

Despite the void of blue this chap is only feet above my head.

Winter Hill Transmitter Mast and Station.
The mist beyond is getting more evident now.

Transmitters from Winter Hill summit Trig Point.
At the head of Rotary Way I turned left and passed the transmitters all the while the paraglider flew silently overhead who was so low at some point we could have struck up a conversation but that was the last thing he would have wanted with all these transmitters around.

Winter Hill summit Trig Point.
I arrived at the summit and managed five minutes alone just exploring the scenery before being joined by two lads who I think were from Bamber Bridge near Preston, we got chatting about our routes until one of the lads disagreed with the other about which way they had come to the point were they were almost arguing! I left them to it still not fully understanding where they had come from, come to think about it, neither did they!

A distant Great Hill, Redmond's Edge and Spitlers Edge from Winter Hill.

Belmont Reservoir.
With Turton Moor and Longworth Moor beyond while the village of Belmont with its distintive Church spire can be seen to the right.

Winter Hill Transmitter Station and Mast.
I left the summit, crossed the track and went off piste to take in the unfolding views, the mist beyond really captivated me.

It looks like he's gaining some height now.

If I stand right here and dont move...
...the transmitter mast almost blocks the sun.

Skier's heading for Winter Hill.
I pulled myself away and passed the last of the transmitters before begining my descent towards Noon Hill, it's been sometime since I last linked Winter Hill with Noon hill where my only memory was just how boggy it was, no chance of that today just ask this skier.

Stone Cairn at SD 655 150
This actual cairn is marked on my map as 'cairn' the next cairn marked on my map is at Noon Hill which is where I'm heading next.

Looking back on Winter Hill.

A distant Two Lads.
Seen beyond Rivington Moor, what a view.

Noon Hill comes into view.
It was around about here the path split into two, the right path took a direct approach down the dip and then up onto Noon Hill while the left path approached from the rear of Noon Hill. Seeing how much I was enjoying myself and, not wanting this day to end I took the longer left path.

Looking back on Winter Hill.
It looks like the paraglyder's buddy has joined him.

Winter Hill from Noon Hill summit.
Noon Hill was easily gained where I spent a few minutes enjoying the views before being joined by a couple who had come from the direction of Rivington Pike, they seemed to be blazing a trail across the moorland which looked like hard work in all this snow but nonetheless they looked like they were having fun. I left with a wave as they approached so they could have the summit to themselves.

Anglezarke and Yarrow Reservoirs from Noon Hill Slack.
From Noon Hill I make a direct descent onto Belmont Road (track) towards the right of the trees via Noon Hill Slack, you do get the choice to head left which takes you to the corner of the trees as both options have sty's at the end of the footpath.

Black Combe in the distance.
The sight of which always pulls at my heart strings.

Looking back on Winter Hill before joing Belmont Road (track)
i took this one last photo looking back on Winter Hill with the couple seen on the Noon Hill over on the right. All that is left is to walk along Belmont Road (track) towards the Pigeon Tower then begin my icy descent towards a rather chaotic car park but before all that the sun was still shining and the only thing going through my mind was "I could bloody do all that again" It isn't Lakeland but Winter Hill on a day like today came close.


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