Counting Hill, Winter Hill & Two Lads Sunset

25th November 2023

Unfortunately, I had to sit out last weekend due to the poor weather, but I still managed a wind-swept, unrecorded walk over Winter Hill during a break in the weather on Sunday afternoon. By midweek, the damp weather was replaced by winter sunshine, which extended into Saturday, the day I was working, but all was not lost as I took advantage of the sunshine leaving straight from work for Wilderswood to hopefully enjoy three hours of winter sun while timing my walk to coincide with the sunset.

The sunset wasn't as dramatic as I'd witnessed from up here before, but after not walking in the lakes for two weekends now, my go-to local walk never failed to disappoint.


Ascent: 851 Feet - 259 Metres
Summits: 5, Adam Hill - White Brow - Counting Hill - Winter Hill - Two Lads
Weather: Winter Sunshine With Little Wind Highs of 6°C Lows of 5°C
Parking: Parking Spaces, Wilderswood
Area: West Pennine Moors
Miles: 7
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: Explorer 287
Time Taken: 3 Hour 10 Minutes
Route: Wilderswood - Rotary Way - Adam Hill - White Brow - Holden's Plantation - Holdens Farm - Roscow's Tenements Clough - Dean Mills Reservoir - Counting Hill - Rotary Way - Winter Hill - Rotary Way - Two Lads - Crooked Edge Hill - Pike Cottage - Belmont Road (Track) - Wilderswood

Map and Photo Gallery


Winter Hill and Two Lads from Wilderswood 6°C 12:45pm

It had only taken me 45 minutes to drive from Preston to Horwich, and I'd have arrived even sooner had I not gotten caught in matchday traffic as my route took me past Bolton's ground. I was a tad nervous about driving to Wilderswood on such a nice day as parking might be an issue, but I managed to grab the last spot where I reversed my car before polishing off two tuna sandwiches, which I had washed down with summer fruit juice.

Now that I was parked nerves were settled, and given that I know I have a solid three hours before sunset, I was able to do the walk as planned, first making my way through Holden's Plantation to Dean Mills Reservoir before the gentle hike onto Counting Hill and Winter Hill, from where, if my timings are correct, I'll be walking back to Wilderswood facing this evening's sunset, if everything goes according to plan that is. I'd changed into my walking gear at work, so all that was left to do was throw on my Rab down jacket and shoulder my pack before making my way towards Rotary Way and Holden's Plantation.

Looking back on Rivington Pike (left) and Two Lads (right)
Given that I actually had a little over three hours of light I thought I'd include the two summits of Adam Hill and White Brow into the walk. These two easily obtainable summits can be gained from Rotary Way and take little to no effort to reach.

Rivington Pike and Two Lads from Adam Hill.

Adam Hill was soon reached, where I found the summit crowded with this large flock of sheep. Legend has it that a wild panther is going around killing sheep has been spotted around this area, and witnesses have even taken to Youtube to upload their experiences of sheep kills and prowling eyes in the darkness.

It's all spooky stuff, but logically, I still think the sheep kills are by foxes and not a wild cat. Adam Hill is one of the areas where most witnesses say they've seen what they describe as the panther. If you were to believe the legend said panther would have a field day up here today!

Brilliant winter sun as viewed from White Brow.
The mist in the distance hung around all afternoon and was present in every direction around the compass.

Counting Hill seen beyond Holden's Plantation.
From White Brow I joined a semi-frozen track which lead me towards Burnt Edge and impressive views over Holden's Plantation and Holdens Farm over on the left which is where I'm heading next.

Winter Hill beyond Holden's Plantation.
I skirt around the head of the plantation then descend slightly towards the right.

Entering Holden's Plantation.
I was only here a couple of weeks ago when these very trees were in full autumnal plume.

Electricity is still brought into the plantation via wooden pole.
Not a pylon for miles!

Winter sun and bear trees.
I passed Holdens Farm before continuing along the lane towards lower Roscow's Tenement.

Ahead, lower Roscow's Tenement.
I'm heading for the low ridge above the trees over on the left which would have been accessible to cut through the woodland (lower Roscow's Tenement) but the footpath has been closed for as long as I've been coming here due to storm damage.

Lower Roscow's Tenement.
The footpath traces off to the left but as mentioned a heavily padlocked gate prevents me from using it.

Bridge, lower Roscow's Tenement.

Passing Gilligant's Farm over on the right.
As far as posh farm houses go Gilligant's Farm ranks fairly high, what a beautiful spot.

Winter Hill from upper Roscow's Tenement.

Winter Hill over Smithills Moor.
From upper Roscow's Tenement I climbed onto the short ridge I mentioned earlier where I took in these fantastic views over Smithills Moor.

Winter Hill and Counting Hill from Dean Mills Reservoir.
The ridge leads directly onto the reservoir which was once used to power a local mill down in Barrow Bridge in years gone by, now the reservoir is popular with dog walkers and even wild swimmers.

Counting Hill and Winter Hill from Dean Mills Reservoir.
I'm heading towards the wall you see over on the right which will lead me directly onto Counting Hill summit, conditions are perfect to be on't moor.

Two for the price of one.
Reflection of a reflection.

Looking back on Dean Mills Reservoir towards Bolton and a distant Manchester sky scrapers lost in the haze.
From the reservoir I passed through a gate which had the strongest return spring so much so I only just managed to pass through before it snapped back! With that aside I'm on much favoured ground now as I head towards Counting Hill summit.

Dean Mills Reservoir from Counting Hill summit.
The summit of Counting Hill sits on a grassy mound about thirty yards away from the path, accessing the summit can be somewhat troublesome having to cross a wooden style, then cross a stone wall, pass through a ditch/sluce before the short haul through tussocky grass onto the summit. The view more than made up for the hard work.

Winter Hill and its Transmitters come into view from Dean Ditch on Counting Hill.
I was running ahead of myself and in doing so I backed off my pace slightly noticing the sun's position probably had a just over an hour before sunset. I also noticed a bank of cloud above the horizon, and low scattered cloud forming in the west which is already staring to affect the once light I'd been used too.

It's the small things.

Cloud building towards the west.
Seen here as I pass the footpath which leads back over Smithills Moor, it's probably one of the only footpaths I haven't walked.

Sun setting from Winter Hill summit trig point.
Notice the sun bows on either sides of the setting sun.

Sun setting from Winter Hill.
With the sillouette of Rivington Pike below.

Winter Hill transmitter mast.
I returned to Rotary Way to begin the short descent towards Two Lads and captured another imaige of the sun bow seen to the right.

Anchor cables.

Moon rising over Smithills Moor.
The light as the sun began to set was magical along with a perfectly timed moon rising in the east sky was a brilliant addition as I descended Rotary Way towards Two Lads.

Sunset and sun bow from Rotary Way.
I hadn't passed anyone since leaving Wilderswood nearly three hours ago but was joined by a couple and their three spaniels who charged over the moorland to our flanks.

Sunset from Two Lads.

Continuing my descent I heard a drone fly overhead which continued as far back as the transmitter station before returning the same way. I've seen many drones and truth be told they don't bother me especially when they're as quiet as this one.

On reaching Two Lads summit the guy operating the drone was sipping from a flask packing the drone away. I was quite envious of the footage he'd of taken and I passed him with a hey-up.

Moon rising over Two Lads.
Taken from my descent of Crooked Edge Hill.

Sunset 16:00pm

I was totally oblivious of the spectacular moon rising behind me until I had descended as far as Pike Cottage just ten minutes from the car when I turned around to find a full moon which had almost doubled in size sitting directly above Two Lads summit and on the spur of the moment I began to re-ascend back towards the summit before having a 'what are you doing moment' Yes, it was an awesome sight but I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and I turned back towards the sunset.

Folk in thier dozens were by now walking back to their cars on the track below and after descending the last sixty metres or so I joined them. I was right the sun had decsended into the bank of cloud but the colouring was spectacular and it remained that way for the ten minutes it had taken for me to reach the car. Mountain bikers were still on the hill, most descending but three were first gearing it on to Two Lads summit. Almost dark now as I began my kit down, normally I'd be eager to go but with sun setting in the west and the moon rising in the east I hung about for a few minutes as the day edged towards dusk.


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