Counting Hill, Winter Hill & Two Lads

11th December 2022

It had snowed locally Friday into Saturday and although the roads were still treacherous with ice most of the snow had thawed with the exception of what had fallen over high ground. I can see Winter Hill from the top of the street but funnily enough I only went out early in the morning and during late evening when it was dark where the aviation lights on the mast were visible. I'd taken Brad and Holly on an early morning two hour walk which I topped off which bacon sandwiches for lunch which thawed me out nicely.

It had been a frosty start with clear skies which were perfect for my afternoon plans for a jaunt over Winter Hill timing the end of the walk to catch the sunset. It was a bit of a task because I'd never taken todays route - then factor in the ice and snow I might be pushing it but a quicker than usual start saw me gain twenty minutes on the sunset by which time I'd already let off the gas and was enjoying the powdery snow underfoot as the day drew to an end.


Ascent: 860 Feet - 262 Metres
Summits: 3, Counting Hill - Winter Hill - Two Lads
Weather: Bright Sunshine Throughout. Highs of 2°C Lows of 2°C Feels Like -1°C
Parking: Roadside Parking, Georges Lane, Horwich
Area: West Pennine Moors
Miles: 7
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: Explorer 287
Time Taken: 3 Hours
Route: Georges Lane - Rotary Way - Holdens Farm - Gilligant's Farm - Coal Pit Lane - Dean Mills Reservoir - Counting Hill - Winter Hill - Rotary Way - Two Lads - Crooked Edge Hill - Pike Cottage - Belmont Road (track) - Wilderswood - Georges Lane

Map and Photo Gallery


Winter sunshine over Horwich 12:50pm 2°C

It had been an ambition of mine to walk Counting Hill in the snow the trouble was I was cutting it fine with time leaving just three hours to cover seven miles, an easy task if you was jogging it but I wasn't and there's deep snow on the ground. I came up with a route that would see me head away from Winter Hill towards Dean Mills Reservoir from where I'd go onto Winter Hill which would mean passing through Holden's Plantation first, if your not familiar with the area everything I'm saying now would mean nothing but put simply, it's a bit of a faff. Or so I thought it would be.

The snow had drawn in the crowds which meant I couldn't park where I wanted too which kinda worked out because there was far too much ice on the road for my liking so I parked on Georges Lane and walked with the crowds and their sleds before braking away once the bottom of Rotary Way was reached.

Two Lads and Winter Hill appear.
With snow underfoot and blue skies overhead I was in my element but in my haste to park and get underway I'd left my walking poles behind.

Across Wilder's Moor...
...A busy Rivington Pike comes into view.

Counting Hill comes into view as I head towards Holden's Plantation.
Picking up my pace I committed to Counting Hill by leaving Rotary Way and heading through Holden's Plantation where the snow remained soft and powdery underfoot.

Looking across to Adam Hill.
Where children sledged down the snow covered slopes.

Crossing an infant Dean Brook, Holden's Plantation.

Holdens Farm, Holden's Plantation.
The snow has been here since Friday evening but it still looks fresh hanging there in the trees.


Holdens Plantation.

I pass a woman and her dog shortly after taking this photo who was herself taking a photo of an old gate post made from a slab of stone very similar to those found in Lakeland "I always stop here to take a photo" she explained "you don't know but this place has changed so much over the years, all except that stone" This woman had a good ten years on me but we were certainly on the same wave length.

I kinda like that mutual respect for the countryside, how you cling onto what was whilst living in the now.

Looking back...
...There's still a couple of hours left before the sun goes down but right now I keep the pace up until Dean Mills reservoir is reached.

Burnt Edge is seen in the distance.
With Brown Lowe seen in the foreground.

Crossing Lower Tenements Clough.
The woman also mentioned how the breeze caught the snow in the trees and turned the snow flakes into millions of tiny crystals. She wasn't wrong what an absolute delight to walk through here.

Upper Tenements Clough with Smithills Moor and Winter Hill beyond.
With Dean Mills reservoir just minutes away I could finally let off the gas which was probably best cause I was panting like a good un.

Climbing up towards Dean Mills reservoir.
What a classic winter scene if there ever was one and only 1,100ft above sea level.

Dean Mills Reservoir.
It's not very often you get the reservoir to yourself and that's what I thought I had until a chap popped his head up through the ice on the opposite side of the reservoir.

Counting Hill from Dean Mills Reservoir.
I still couldn't believe what I was seeing but there he was in a wet suit breaking ice and swimming in the reservoir. He even gave me a wave to let me know he was ok (out of shot and over to the right) It was skinny dippers in Easedale Tarn last week and wild swimmers in a frozen reservoir this week.

Ascending Counting Hill.
I'd given myself an hour to reach Winter Hill from the reservoir and was surprised to find a decent trail had already been blazed through the soft powdery snow which still had frozen turf below. What a bloody pleasure to ascend.

Sun dial.
Still plenty of time left.

Winter Hill and transmitters from Dean Ditch.
Despite cars parked everywhere when I left I'd still only seen one person (two if I count the wild swimmer) that was until I crossed paths with a fellow walker heading down Counting Hill who commented on the dark cloud a few miles away "with little to no wind I can't see it affecting us" "Aye" I nodded in agreement.


Anchors and cables, Winter Hill.

I've reached the point now when there's only around an hour of light left and the sensible in me rears keeping a check on the sun's postion every few minutes as if it was my wrist watch.

Left abit right abit.

Sunset from Winter Hill summit.
I followed the access road and crested Winter Hill summit where it was nice to walk without having to dodge the bogs. Adding to this was this little chap also watching the sun going down which probably wasn't the best idea.

Rotary Way.
After leaving the summit I rejoined Rotary Way where I was passed by a second woman who commented how much it meant for her and her wellbeing being up here,. I agreed adding "just wish you could bottle it up" before parting our ways.

Light and snow.

It's just a concrete platform with a rickety wire fence around it.
But with the sun going down in the distance its instantly transformed into a sunset work of art. Or so I thought anyway.

Two Lads.
With around twenty minutes before sunset I reached Two Lads, the timing was spot on.

Two Lads afterglow.
I was joined by five walkers who had arrived at the summit in pair and a trio along with their two dogs. They took a few photos then took in the slight descent over Crooked Edge Hill. From Two Lads my plan was to return to Rotary Way and Georges Lane thereafter but the lads gave me an idea that if I crossed Crocked Edge Hill I'd be walking straight towards the sunset.

Not long now.

For a few moments...
...the snow lit up the snow covered moorland in a fiery afterglow.

Rivington Pike across Crooked Edge Hill.

Moments left.

I joined then passed the lads as we crossed Crooked Edge Hill then took in the slight descent towards Pike Cottage where children sledged the slopes below. The sun had almost completely dipped below the horizon and like most people I was returning to my car taking the odd photo each one seemingly stunning than the last. Adults mixed with children as they sledged thier way back turning the gentlest of slopes into sledging highways. Jeez they shifted.


I broke away from the crowds and passed Wilderswood where an orange glow tainted bark on the trees. Further below horses grazed in a nearby field where I glanced back at the fiery sky. Up hill now on to Georges Lane whilst stepping back into the slush to let the odd car pass.

From the top of the hill my car came into view and I didn't realise I'd parked so far down. Its almost dark now and the ice underfoot is solid but there's time for one last look out over Horwich where dusk had already began to settle.


Back to top