Having done this excellent walk a few times I can’t find a way to improve it. But how do you make a short feature-filled route longer? One option is simply to walk round it twice. And that’s what I’ve been doing as a substitute for the bigger stuff in the Lakes and Cheviots. Can be a bit squelchy in places which limits options, so imagine a giant angled hamburger and off you go…
Full original 5.5 mile route details are here A Summer Walk on Winter Hill and Rivington Pike via Two Lads – from Lower House If you’re familiar with Lancashire and haven’t been up yet then you just need to do it. Choose a clear day as the views really lift the experience – a fascinating mix of cities, coast, distant mountains, ruined Italian Gardens and a bloody big TV mast;-
Take binocs as if lucky you might see – Manchester, Bolton, Snowdonia, Anglesey, Liverpool, Southport, sea, ships, Preston, Ribble estuary, Lytham, Blackpool, the Lake District fells, Pendle Hill, the 3 Yorkshire peaks, the Pennines and more.
A good starting point is Lower House Car Park SD6314 (aka Pigeon Tower Car Park), end of Belmont Rd off Sheep House Lane. Bit quieter than the touristy Barn area and there may be an ice cream van waiting for you!! Another recommendation is to definitely finish through Rivington Terraced Gardens. There’s 5 different sections over just 5 miles;-
- From Lower House car park – gradually ascend under the Lever Bridge curving round to steps up Rivington Pike. Nice & easy to get yer legs moving, views open up across the Lancs plain, lots of people.
- Enjoy the views on the busy Pike – walk down to the ‘road’ along to the dog kennels and up to Two Lads (Crooked Edge). Less people, more kestrels.
- Two Lads to Winter Hill – slight ascent joining the road on a plateau dominated by the ever nearing 1,000ft aerial ahead. Wonder at masses of giant cables leading the eye up to the the size, built in sections, hollow allowing internal access with giant support cables snaking up to the sky. Check out the aircrash plaque on the wall. Fewer people.
- Follow the road past Scotchmans Stump – angle left through the aerials, stop at the oddly placed trig point for best views to the Pennines and Lakes, (Isle of Man on a good day). Then onto open moorland (bit squelchy) to Noon Hill (ancient burial cairn). Usually on your own for this last bit so feels a million miles from the busy Pike. Saw two deer here recently.
- Down to the Pigeon Tower – take the ‘road’ track on the right for speed & less features down to the car park. Or walk around the Tower down steps through the ruined Italian Gardens and down over the Lever Bridge. Thats if you want more interest, which is recommended
Extending the Route – always best avoiding much of the boggy tussocky central area and sticking to previously walked tracks. So after walking around the original route once you descend down to the Pigeon Tower – turn southeast, walk along the road then back up to the Pike.
Route One – 9 miles 1,580 ft ascent, took 3hrs 17 mins.- at the Pike take the direct path north east straight across to Winter Hill. Then rejoin the route back round the aerials to Noon Hill and down again to the Pigeon Tower. Route map below.
Tried a shortcut here from below the Tower steps through the trees which was steep & slippy and didn’t save much time, plus missed some of the ruined gardens.
Route Two – 9.6 miles 1,740 ft ascent – took 3hrs 37 mins – simply the standard route redone, at the Pike continue south east round to Two Lads and up to Winter Hill. I tried another shortcut along the ‘road’ heading north from the Tower back to Lower House car park. It’s a little faster, steeper and less interesting than going through the gardens.
Note the choice of paths through the boggy section east of Noon Hill. I think the south one might be less wet than the north….maybe. This is where light boots are recommended.
Best Route Three – 9.8 miles 1,740 ft ascent, took 3hrs 24 mins – same route as above, taking the south path both times to Noon Hill and coming down through the Gardens from the Pigeon Tower. I was a bit quicker and kept moving as time was limited.
The above is my favourite, click map for details. Not very imaginative though serves to remind what a fascinating walk this is and why it’s become such a favourite. Conditions often differ second time around, sometimes clearer and less busy, or vice versa. Any other suggestions welcome.
PS. Much longer extension including Great Hill;- Walking the Chorley 3 Peaks – White Coppice, Great Hill, Winter Hill, Two Lads and Rivington Pike – from Lower House Car Park (12 miles)