Winter Hill via Counting Hill

16th May 2021

Well what a weekend for getting the forecast all wrong. I'm not going to go into the in's and outs but just about every forecast for Saturday and Sunday was physically turned upside down and because of that I didn't end up travelling to the Lakes to walk, in fact it wasn't just me who cancelled because of the forecast Rod did too.

Waking up (after a lie in) to see Keswick and Skiddaw completely clear from George Fisher's webcam was enough enough to drop my stomach and seeing that the forecast was for it to worsen there was no point heading up late either, I do hope the boffins and the met office were scratching their heads this weekend because I certainly was.

Back here in Wigan it didn't really stop raining all day but Sunday showed a little promise and with that I set about planning a jaunt over Winter Hill which would include a little detective work in trying to locate the crash site from the 1953 air disaster, a little grim I know but it had eluded me after watching a You Tube documentary a few weeks ago. I didn't want to return to Winter Hill just to locate the crash site I also came back to thank the hill for the pleasure it has given me during the lock downs without which I'm sure I would have gone insane.


Ascent: 800 Feet - 244 Metres
Summits: 3, Counting Hill - Winter Hill - Two Lads
Weather: Bright & Warm, Slight Winds Where Exposed. Highs of 18°C Lows of 10°C
Parking: Junction of Smithills Dean Road & Colliers Row Road
Area: West Pennine Moors
Miles: 7.2
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: Explorer 287
Time Taken: 3 Hours
Route: Colliers Row Road - Coal Pit Lane - Dean Mills Reservoir - Counting Hill - Winter Hill - Rotary Way - Two Lads - Rotary Way - Holden's Plantation - Holdens Farm - Coal Pit Lane - Coliers Row Road

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


Map and Photo Gallery


A distant view of Two Lads (centre) and Burnt Edge (left) from Coal Pit Lane/Green Nook 10:15am 10°C

After all the rain that fell locally yesterday I woke to find sunlight creeping through the gaps in the blinds. The forecast was for it to brighten up around midday but after yesterday who knows. I could have had another hour in bed but instead I thought I'd take advantage of the sunshine by setting off earlier than planned, that way I might even get to mow the lawns when I get back later.

A diversion had been in place for well over a month now which meant I arrived at the bottom of Coal Pit Lane a little later but it was no biggie parking easily around the same time another walker arrived and 'mornings' were shared. After a quick sweep of the boot I locked the car and started my walk up Coal Pit Lane taking on the gentle incline with my walking poles set aside. Up ahead two girls on horseback veer off towards Chadwicks Close Farm before two more girls on horseback approach from Green Nook who straddle the lane allowing me to pass through the middle which was a tad daunting as these were full grown horses but I didn't let the girls know I was a bit jittery.

Will Yo Come O'Sunday Morning?
Passing where it all began in these parts.

Approaching Roscow's Tenement Clough.
I don't pass over the top of the Clough instead I head right up the steps towards Dean Mills Reservoir.

Winter Hill seen over Smithills Moor.
With the head of Roscow's Tenements Clough below and Two Lads a distant left.

Lots of Spring colour in the air this morning.
As I take in the view towards Burnt Edge.

Smithills Moor and Winter Hill.
It looks like it's clearing up nicely having just watched the clouds peeling away from the top of the mast revealing lots of blue sky over head.

Another view of Burnt Edge, Adam Hill and Two Lads.

Counting Hill and Winter Hill from Dean Mills Reservoir.
Having the right light here changes everything.

Counting Hill and Winter Hill from Dean Mills Reservoir.

Time to leave the reservoir...
,,,and join the wall over Counting Hill, it ain't half boggy here today.

Lush and fertile.
Equals lots of water underfoot!

Winter Hill from the slopes of Counting Hill.
It's just a case of following the wall, listening to the Lap Wings and letting the mind drift away.

Winter Hill appears from Dean Ditch on Counting Hill.
I didn't really want to go 'full on' and make this report all about locating the whereabouts of the crash site. Up ahead you can see seven transmitters (not counting the main mast) The location I'll be looking at is below the large transmitter seen furthest right.

One of two Memorial Plaques found on Winter Hill summit.
This memorial is the closest to the actual crash site.

I take in the view.
Over Belmont village and Reservoir towards Longworth and Turton Moors.

Suspected Crash Site 2021

The Winter Hill air disaster occurred on 27 February 1958, when the Silver City Airways Bristol 170 Freighter G-AICS, operated by Manx Airlines on a charter flight from the Isle of Man to Manchester crashed during heavy snow into Winter Hill. The cause of the crash was navigational errors.


Winter Hill Crash Site 1989

In 1989 survivor Fred Kennish now Mayor of Douglas was able to meet some of his rescuers and visit Bolton Royal Infirmary to say "Thank you" and was received at Bolton Town Hall by the town's Mayor and Mayoress. He also unveiled a plaque on the outside wall of the transmitter station.

Silver City Bristol Wayfarer 170 Charlie Sierra G-AICS

Transcript between Manchester Zone Control and Pilot Mr Cairnes courtesy of Patrick Taylor 'Winter Hill Air Disaster'

"Have you checked Wigan yet, please?"

"Negative" he replied.

Manchester asked: "Are you in visual contact with the ground?"


The Zone Control officer speaking from Manchester was Mr Maurice Ladd. From its bearing on his cathode-ray direction finder and a faint echo he'd noticed at the edge of his radar screen, Mr Ladd could see that Charlie Sierra had gone too far to the east.

"Charlie Sierra will you make a right turn immediately onto a heading of two five zero. I have a faint paint on radar which indicates you're going over towards the hills."

"Two five zero right, Roger."

The plane collided with the ground 15 seconds later destroying the aircraft and killing 35 people having been able to complete less than 45 degrees of the turn.

Looking down on the suspected crash site.
The crash occurred on the 27th February 1958 just three weeks after the Munich Air Disaster and was deemed 'largely forgotten'

Redmond's Edge and Spitlers Edge from Winter Hill.
Feeling quite sombre I leave the crash site and make my way towards the summit in doing so I pass a fellow walker having trouble negotiating a particular bog which almost swallowed his right boot "there's just no need he joked" I laugh and my my senses return back to normal.

Winter Hill summit Trig Point.
I too had to pass over the same bog in order to reach the summit but I chicken out and double back to a wooden sty which I passed minutes earlier and reach the summit with both boots still attached to my feet.

Passing the Transmitter Station.
Having the place to myself was totally unexpected one month ago a scene such as this would have been unheard of but you don't hear me complaining.

Looking back on Winter Hill summit.
From the Transmitter Station.

Scotsman's Stump (George Henderson Memorial) Winter Hill.
Native of Annan Dumfrieshire
Who Was Barbarously Murdered
On Rivington Moor
At Noonday November 9th
In the 20th Year of His

For the boy in me.

Wide open views of the Lancashire plain.

Concrete Trig Column at SD 666 139
Found less that 600 feet from Rotary Way is this concrete trig column at the exact spot marked 'shaft' on my map. This trig does not appear on the UK Trig Column data base website and remains a mystery although I suspect it may have been built to mark a particular mine shaft back in the day.

On-route to Two Lads.

Winter Hill from Two Lads summit.
Complete with new Fire Beaters due to the high risk of fire on the moors (no such risk today) just ask my soggy boots!

Two Lads summit.
Where I found this chap who had set up an antenna for his CB radio.

Distant views towards Rivington Pike.
From Two Lads summit.

Heading towards Holdens Farm.
Having left Two Lads I descended southerly and picked up the track though Holden's Plantation and Holdens Farm shortly after. I'd only eaten a banana for breakfast and was feeling hungry so off came the pack and out came a walking lunch.

Idyllic Holdens Farm.
With Burnt Edge appearing over on the left.

Roscow's Clough Tenement (lower)

Stone bridge over Roscow's Clough Tenement.

I still had a good mile to walk which I did somberly while enjoying the midday sunshine. I pass the odd dog walkers and mountain bikers but no where near the level I used too during the lock downs. The sound of traffic travelling along Colliers Row Road brought me back to reality and through gaps in the trees my car started to appear.

Arriving back at the car I am joined by the walker who I shared a 'morning' with eailer only this time we are more chattier the topic of conversation was how wet it was and how less crowded it was too "wasn't expecting this warm sunshine either" while the chap replied "aye, I'll probably get the washing out when I get back"


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