Winter Hill, Two Lads & Rivington Pike Sunset

6th February 2022

Wind has dominated the week again and come weekend despite a rather wintery forecast it continued to do so. I had planned a low level walk around Derwent Water but the forecast worsened over night so I turned to the local forecast and saw that the last couple of hours of the afternoon were a mix of showers, hail and sunshine.

The last time I walked Winter Hill in such fierce wind was during an unrecorded visit last Winter where I was fully exposed to winds so high I turned around while at the same time felt quite intimidated by the wind roaring over the anchor cables to the point they started to whistle. Today I had a repeat of those conditions and for good measure, I had two hail storms thrown in too which if your a sadistic like me, leaves you feeling more alive than ever.


Ascent: 1,041 Feet - 318 Metres
Summits: 3, Winter Hill - Two Lads - Rivington Pike
Weather: A Wintery Mix of Rain, Hail, Sunshine & Gale Force Winds. Highs of 4°C Lows of 2°C Freezing Above The Summits
Parking: Georges Lane, Horwich
Area: West Pennine Moors
Miles: 6.6
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: Explorer 287
Time Taken: 2 Hours 10 Minutes
Route: Georges Lane - Rotary Way - Winter Hill - Rotary Way - Two Lads - Crooked Edge Hill - Pike Cottage - Rivington Pike - Pike Cottage - Wilderswood - Georges Lane

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: BL6 6RS
Grid Reference: SD 658 117


Map and Photo Gallery


Rivington Pike from Rotary Way 15:00pm 4°C
Depending on the time of day it is you always have a good choice of parking spaces on Georges Lane but I didn't expect to find it as quiet as I did today so I cheated a little an parked as far up the lane as I could. Once again the car was being battered by the wind and through the passenger window I could see a curtain of rain about 10 miles away drenching the suburbs of Wigan below. I'm not carrying any pack or poles for that matter but I keep with my windproof walking trousers. Rab down jacket and warm gloves.

Within minutes of parking up I threw my jacket on, locked my car and was on my way up Georges Lane before turning right onto Rotary Way where the road steepens and the views start to unfold.

Hail storm pushes south after passing over me.
It didn't take long for what brightness there was to disappear behind patchworks of cloud as I began to flank Two Lads from where the cloud turned to black "hope whatever is in that lot isn't coming my way" I thought to myself, it was and for the next eight minutes or so whilst on the open moor I was battered by wave after wave of hail which when carried by gale force winds hurt like hell.

With nowhere to shelter I stood with my back to the hail but it was no good, so I switched positions which saw my face and lips pelted by the white stuff, right there if a bolt of lightening shot out of that cloud it wouldn't have surprised me. Please stop this isn't funny anymore! By the time the shower had passed my face felt like it had just been shot blasted and so to did my legs, wind proof my arse! Hoping that no one had seen my cowardness I continued up Rotary Way and what followed made me forget all about my stinging lips.

With the hail now pushing southwards.
The clouds cleared and the sun came out.

Looks like it's Bolton's turn for the hail shower.
I can't think of a more spectacular sight than bright sunshine over wild grass.

Winter Hill transmitter mast from Rotary Way.
By my estimate the wind was gusting between 35-45mph and no matter how much I walked on the left I always ended up on the right.

Looking westerly.
It's incredible to think that just ten minutes ago I was being battered by hail and now I have this fantastic view.

Judging by how low the sun is I have roughly about an hour left before sunset so I best get a shifty on.

Looking towards Winter Hill summit.
I don't head straight towards the summit instead I turn left after the transmitter seen on the right to try and take in the views over Belmont but the wind was so powerful I could hardly stand let alone admire the view.

Impassible Winter Hill summit.
If I set up base camp tonight with some luck I should make the summit trig point within two to three days. Jeeez it wasn't half wet up here today.

Cable anchor's
I left the summit where the thought occurred to me to descend to Noon Hill, pass the Pigeon Tower and up onto Rivington Pike that way so I turned around, took a dozen steps towards my new plans then had another change of heart 'stick to the original route Paul' before heading back towards the transmitter mast.

Rivington Pike from Pike Cottage.
I continued and passed the transmitter while marvelling at the whistle it, and the cables gave off before branching right for Two Lads summit. After squelching my way towards the summit I took in the view out towards the Fylde coast where I could see the sun sinking into a wall of cloud 'flipping eck there goes my sunset' but hey ho with this ever changing weather who knows what could happen from one minute to the next.

Rivington Pike.
The sun had all but vanished into the wall of cloud and during the time it took me to reach the base of Rivington Pike from Pike Cottage it had remained grey and dull. That was until the cloud broke allowing for this last dash of spectacular light to spill over the hill side.


Well if that hasn't just made my walk.
Nothing will.

As I said, a lot can happen in half an hour.
No sooner had the light spilled out over the hill side it was gone, replaced by hail and wind so fierce I again struggled to stand up. A group of five teenagers had enough and in the hail, descended the summit, poor buggers why didn't they just wait it out. Within the lee of the summit tower I stood with my back against the ancient brick work and at one point dared put my face around the corner to see the teenagers at the base of the summit, heads down looking at their trainers, should have waited I said again. The hail swept across the countryside in great waves, it was biblical and I couldn't but help feel for those below.

Eventually he curtains of hail faded but the roar of the wind kept me on my toes, as if to say 'I haven't finished with you yet, stay there boyo' Street lights that I hadn't noticed before began to appear, I glanced at my watch it was 16:50pm just nine minutes until sunset, I poked my head around the corner again and took another icy blast to the face, blimey it's windier here than it was on Winter Hill. Beyond the visitor benches variations of grey palliated the sky. I was getting cold now having not moved for the last ten minutes and I figured it was time to make a dash for it.

Good things come to those who wait.
At the tail end of the hail shower came light.

And once again...
...the skies began to clear.

Making way.

For this fantastic show of light.

Where the sky turned a fiery red.

Just minutes left.


I stood fixed to the spot letting my bare hands get colder by the minute even slipping them into my gloves for a minute or two before taking them out again to take the last few shots. The sun sank ever lower until the brightness gradually faded into an orangey red hue and then dusk. By now my body was feeling the cold and content that my expectations had been surpassed I made my way back to Pike Cottage where the owner was locking up the Snack Shack who passed with a smile and a Hi. The brightness had once again been replaced by murk which darkened as the minutes ticked by. Wilderswood was reached where I'm passed by a mountain biker heading out onto the moor his lights reflecting off the ground as the light continued to fade.

Glancing left beyond Two Lads the transmitter masts red warning lights had been switched on which must have happened in the short distance it took me to pass through Wilderswood. A white pony gnawed on a fence post which I gave a 'hey up' to as I passed, a blank expression told me she preferred the fence post to my idle chit chat. The light from an old fashioned lamp post reflected off the wet tarmac while to my left the occupants of nearby cottages settled in for the evening.


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