Winter Hill via Counting Hill

28th February 2021

I set about planning a walk which would include gaining Winter Hill via Counting Hill. Intially I came up with a slightly longer route than this one which I changed at the last minute due to how busy it got on the hill but that's no hardship I can always go back another day.

If you'd have been with me on Counting Hill today you'd have heard me kicking myself for not discovering it sooner, you'd have also heard the call of breeding Lapwings over the gentlest of breezes Counting Hill today won me over hook line and sinker.


Ascent: 776 Feet - 237 Metres
Summits: 2, Counting Hill - Winter Hill
Weather: A Cool Start Soon Turning Warm & Sunny. Highs of 13°C Lows of 3°C
Parking: Layby, Colliers Row Road, Smithills Dean
Area: West Pennine Moors
Miles: 7.3
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: Explorer 287
Time Taken: 2 Hours 40 Minutes
Route: Colliers Row Road - Coal Pit Road - Dean Mills Reservoir - Counting Hill - Winter Hill - Rotary Way - Smithills Moor - Coal Pit Road - Colliers Row Road

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: BL1 7PJ
Grid Reference: SD 682 124


Map and Photo Gallery


Colliers Row Road, 09:00am 3°C
There was still a couple of parking spaces left at the lay-by by the time I arrived leaving me to park with ease and soak up the glorious morning sunshine as I kitted up alongside my car. A couple and their dog pass on their 'morning' before unlocking the car parked behind mine and driving away, it was just me, the odd cyclist and the bird song as I laced up. I threw my jacket on just to take the nip away, shouldered my pack and began the half mile walk up Colliers Row Road towards Coal Pit Lane.

Winter Hill Transmitter Mast comes into view from Coal Pit Lane.
Less than an hour ago I was defrosting my car on my driveway and now it feels like I'm overheating which I'll put up with until I reach the gate onto Smithills Moor half a mile up ahead.

Views beyond Green Nook towards Burnt Edge (left) and Two Lads (centre right)

Early Mass Tresspass, Winter Hill
Will Yo’ Come O’ Sunday Morning
For a walk o’er Winter Hill?
Ten thousand came last Sunday
But there’s room for thousands still.
O the moors are rare and bonny
An’ the heather’s sweet and fine
an the road across the hilltops is the public’s
yours and mine

Taking the track towards Smithills Moor.
Coal Pit Lane comtinues west towards Holden's Farm but I picked up the path bound for Smithills Moor at the same time this mountain biker was de-layering at the gate "seems like a good idea I laughed" we swapped routes as we both tucked our jackets into our packs before smiling with "have a good one mate" It would seem the sunshine brings out the best in folk.

Heading right towards Dean Mills Reservoir.
I arrive at the familiar footbridge over the outflow from Dean Mills Reservoir where I take the stone steps seen right. Unbeknown to me I'll be back here in a few hours which wasn't on the plan but I guess that's the good thing when you know the area well enough to change your route at the drop of a hat and over these last few months I've got to know Winter Hill very well, in fact I'm going to go so far to say a bond has been forged.

Winter Hill from the top of the steps.
More than one feeder stream contributes to the stream below which eventually flows into Dean Brook further down the valley.

From a little further up...
...Two Lads comes into view seen here as the high point over on the right.

Winter Hill and Counting Hill.
Seen as I head towards Dean Mills Reservoir.

Mast reflections, Dean Mills Reservoir.
Considering this is my first time at Dean Mills Reservoir to say that I was impressed with this views would be an understatement! The waters surface was mirror like this morning.

I'm soon joined by this local chap and his two Whippets.
We swapped 'mornings' and commented further on how nice it was to which the lad replied "it's gonna get real busy up here later" "aye no doubt" I replied.

Dean Mills Reservoir.
It is said the water is often brown in colour due to the surrounding peat content.

Winter Hill and Counting Hill from Dean Mills Reservoir.
But this morning the waters surface was reflecting the deep blue of the sky above.

Winter Hill and Counting Hill from Dean Mills Reservoir.
And not only that, the waters surface was a mirror finish.

Time to head onto Counting Hill.
Which was easily accessed via this path from the east corner of the Reservoir.

Winter Hill from the lower slopes of Counting Hill.
The wall to the right is actually a boundary wall between Bolton with Blackburn and extends as far as Great Hill five miles north of here.

Ascending Counting Hill.
What a place!

Winter Hill from Dean Ditch on Counting Hill.
Named Dane or Danes Ditch after the Norse settlers who settled in this part of Lancashire during 2,000BC.

Winter Hill from Deans Ditch on Counting Hill.
By the time I'd crossed Counting Hill summit (no cairn) the sounds of reality starting to creep back in first by the heavy thud of a lump hammer workmen were using to replace posts in a nearby fence, then came the noise of a drone (which I don't mind) followed by the sound of approaching walkers and mountain bikers, my peaceful bliss was over but it was nice to see everyone out enjoying themselves including one mountain biker who was filming his mates descent of Winter Hill using a drone which looked like fun.

Winter Hill.
It was nice to see the summit and transmitters from a different angle, if transmitters are your thing that is...

Turton and Longworth Moors from Winter Hill.
With Belmont village and Reservoir below.

Here l look out over Spitlers Edge and Redmond's Edge.
Just as I had last week I turned right after the first transmitter and walked along the eastern edge of the summit, it was here I almost lost Brad last week and that aside, I knew both Holly and Brad would have loved to have been here today but they'll get their walk later when I get home.

Winter Hill summit.
After a few minutes of taking in the view over Belmont I made my way towards the summit where besides a fellow who had just left, I had to myself.

Looking back on Winter Hill summit.
Taken from Rotary Way as I head towards the transmitter station.

Reefs at the Winter Hill Memorial Plaque.
Donated by the Mayer of Horwich and Horwich Rotary Club.

Winter Hill from Smithills Moor.

It wasn't just one or two, or even a dozen people approaching it looked like half the north west were walking towards the transmitter station and after spotting the sign post for Smithills Moor fifty feet ahead I decided to take it.

Your turning into a right O'l grumpy git!

Transmitter Mast from Smithills Moor.

Transmitter Mast from Smithills Moor.
Back at the same area I left for Dean Mills Reservoir from earlier.

Sunday solitude.
Sometimes walking with or against the traffic I made my way back down Coal Pit Lane as midday approached in what could only be described under perfect Spring conditions while getting the first sun tan of the year. I can't wait until we can return to Lakeland but you know what, Counting Hill and Winter Hill as I had them today were truly perfect.


Back to top