Counting Hill, Winter Hill & Two Lads

29th October 2023

It had been a busy weekend of work and attending birthday parties which had written Saturday off, and given that the clocks had gone back Sunday's forecast looked perfect for an afternoon walk after I'd got over the hangover that is.

Lancashire's forecast seemed to fair better than Cumbria's, so I planned a walk locally over Winter Hill, tracing the footsteps of a walk I did in December 2022, which took in Counting Hill, Winter Hill, and Two Lads from Georges Lane above Horwich.

There's quite a lot of road walking before Dean Mills Reservoir is reached, and for the first couple of miles I was actually walking away from Winter Hill, but this is soon rectified once Counting Hill is reached, where stone and tarmac are left behind for open moorland.


Ascent: 860 Feet - 262 Metres
Wainwrights: 3, Counting Hill - Winter Hill - Two Lads
Weather: High Level Cloud & Sunny Spells, Sunshine Increasing PM Rain Arriving Towards Sunset. Highs of 15°C Lows of 11°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


The view towards Rivington Pike and Rivington Lower Reservoir 13:45pm 15°C

I could have parked closer to Wilderswood but I wanted to enjoy as much of the afternoon as I could, so I parked on Georges Lane about half a mile from Wilderswood and joined the hoards of people most of whom were heading for Rivington Pike mostly on foot  but there were quite a few mountain bikers too.

The autumn blue skies and sunshine were too good to miss, having already taken Brad and Holly out on a local canal walk this morning which allowed just enough time to grab a quick lunch before I drove the nine miles or so to Georges Lane. I'd driven up wearing my shorts and a midlayer, which I topped up with an underarmour fleece, but I knew that come sunset the temperature drops rapidly so I tucked a windproof under the hood of my pack should I need it later.

Looking across the Burnt Edge as I make my way towards Holden's Plantation.
I flanked Two Lads to my left and joined Rotary Way for a few brief moments before heading through the gate bound for Holden's Planation noting the toppled wall that I have passed on so many occasions had been repaired.

Autumnal colours as I pass through Holden's Plantation.
With storm Ciarán on its way who knows how many leaves are going to left on the trees once the storm has passed through.

An infant Dean Brook.
Seen here winding its way through Holden's Plantation.

Lower Roscow's Tenements Clough.
With Holden's Plantation behind me, I passed Holden's Farm, which has had some restoration work done since I last passed through before continuing onto Coalpit Lane.

Looking back on the stone bridge over Lower Roscow's Tenement Clough.

Long distant views over Gilligant's Farm towards Bolton and Manchester.
After passing Gilligant's Farm I hooked a left and joined the track next to the shooting hut on the map which I would imagine in times gone by would have been more of a grand building than the wooden shed that stands there today.

Looking down on Upper Roscow's Tenements Clough.
With the two cairns of Two Lads seen in the distance.

Dean Mills Reservoir.
It's very rare you get this place to yourself which I had until I reached the eastern tip before being joined by a young couple then a walker and her dog, still, nice while it lasted.

Counting Hill from Dean Mills Reservoir.

Looking back on Counting Hill.
I only discovered Counting Hill just after the first lock down and I've been hooked ever since.

Counting Hill summit comes in to view.
Seen here over on the right, there is no cairn marking the highest point.

Angels torches over Two Lads.
My plan had always been to time the walk with the sunset but with just over an hour to go I noticed a low bank of cloud sitting on the horizon which would obscure the sunset much sooner than the predicted sunset at 16:45pm

The masts on Winter Hill appear.
You can see the cloud building up towards the west while the east remains clear. Time to add the jacket not because of a threat of rain but because the temperature had dropped so much I was starting to see my own breath.

Looking down on Belmont.
With Belmont Reservoir, Longworth Moor and Dawen Tower beyond.

Winter Hill summit.
In the time it had taken me to join Rotary Way from Counting Hill the sun had descended into the bank of cloud which was beginning to thicken with each moment past. Blimey it didn't half turn gloomy quick.

Winter Hill transmitter mast from Winter Hill summit.
While the sky remains clear above Winter Hill the cloud isn't half building up towards the west.

Advancing cloud.

...with forty minutes until sunset this was the last and best view I got of the sunset.

Two Lads summit.

Not only had I added my jacket but my beanie and finger-less mitts too as I walked the mile or so towards the Two Lads summit, each step cautiously thinking if I would be able to out-walk the showers that I could see advancing towards Winter Hill which you might just be able to see to the right of the main cairn.

With the showers appearing a couple of miles away, I descended Two Lads, still clinging to the hope that the sun might leave a last grasp of light, illuminating the sky above, but the thickening cloud took over, and somewhere in between Two Lads and Pike Cottage, the pitter-patter of rain started to hit my jacket, followed by darkening skies and vertical rain. My car was just over my shoulder, and instead of making a direct descent towards Wildersmoor I was exposed to the downpour on Crooked Edge Hill. It had taken no time for the cloud to rapidly take over, bringing with it a bleakness that was unimaginable two hours ago.


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