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Sunday, 12 November 2017

Winter Hill From Belmont, West Pennine Moors 7-10-2017

Well, what a good old yomp across the moors this was, sun, blue sky and the birds singing.... If only!!
WINTER HILL, didn't quite live up to it's name, more like wet and windy hill, but this didn't deter 16 brave souls from the WFP facebook walking group, meeting in a car park on a damp Saturday morning in early October. I'd met a few of the group on numerous occasions and some today for the first time which is always a good thing and as everyone knew someone else it's a good start to getting on with folk. We'd all come from across the UK, 30 minutes for me but upto 6 hours for some and after hello's and catch up chats done we made our way into what can only be described as a wet walk on 't' moors, hence the lack of photo's.
Starting at the Black Dog pub, we headed up through Hill Top Wood that bought us out onto the open moorland as we headed up into the mist. It did start off OK and there was a few bright patches here and there but we all knew that wouldn't last. We got to a good clearing where it was a good idea to get waterproofed up and have a regroup. There is a path but it was a tad wet and quite boggy in places but with a bit of effort we all managed to get to the summit of Winter Hill in one piece :-) Winter Hill is also a TRANSMITTING STATION  with a TV coverage all over Northwest England and North Wales.
Group photo at the start of the walk. Thanks to Lesley for the photo :-)
The locals are used to the conditions
Clear view back to Belmont & the reservoir
Winter Hill trig
Winter Hill trig
I have been up to Winter hill before, but from the direction of RIVINGTON PIKE, so this way was new to me, indeed the whole walk and area we visited is a new one which is always good and will make for a good return in some decent weather one day. A visit to Rivington Pike and surrounding area is always a good half day out, especially on a clear day.
After a bit of bog hopping, it was another wet and slippery walk down, across open moorland and Rivington Road, as we made our way up to our second summit of GREAT HILL which took a good hour to get there. After the initial descent and re-ascent from Winter Hill, it seemed like a straight forward walk that involved quite a distance on stone slabs that made the going easier across the boggy ground. And believe me, this was very boggy and wet but spirits were high. A welcome rest was had at the summit cross shelter where we could at least get out of the wind for a few minutes. Despite the wet conditions, it wasn't constant rain, we did get the odd respite here and there but unfortunately nothing in the way of any decent views of the surrounding area which is always a shame.
Views disappearing
On the slippery slope down........
Looking back to the slippery slope up to a misty Winter Hill
Great Hill summit shelter
From here it was good navigation and knowledge of the area by the organizers as we were led across the bleak and boggy moorland for a few miles where the wind and rain made it quite challenging in the conditions. There was a path of sorts where we followed in single file for most of the way but it was also strangely enjoyable. Not sure I would of found it as enjoyable on my own in these conditions but as a group, it was good to be out. We were heading to DARWEN TOWER or Jubilee Tower as it was originally called, on top of Darwen Hill. Very little in the way of any sort of view, apart from misty moors but we did go through Tockholes Plantation, a wooded area alongside the RIVER RODDLESWORTH which was a good talking point, so we had to wait until we got to the Tower for a view and a well earned rest and food intake.
Into the mist we go
Bog, rain, wind, the perfect moorland companions
Featureless moors
Follow the leader
The world of civilization
The muddy, woody & slippery Tockholes Plantation
The muddy, woody & slippery Tockholes Plantation
Some information I have copied from elsewhere
Darwen Tower. Built in 1897 to serve as a duel celebration. In 1878 5 men were served with writs by the local squire following a provocative Sunday afternoon stroll on the moor. The squire argued that the men were trespassing on private land and frightening the game. The men fought the case and won, so enabling the moors to opened for public enjoyment. The tower also celebrates 60 years of Queen Victoria's reign.
(Interesting note: The campaign to win the freedom to roam across the moors of northern Britain began here in 1878 and at Winter Hill in 1896. Not with the more acclaimed mass trespass on Kinder in 1932).
Great views from the tower
From the top looking down
After another good rest and a bite to eat we made our way back the same way to the main road where we headed along, before re-joining the Darwen Moors and making our way to BELMONT RESERVOIR and the road walk back to the meeting point for a debrief.
Road walk to the moors
Watch out for the bog monsters!!!
A good wild swimming spot :-)
On the way to Belmont Reservoir
Belmont Reservoir
Belmont Reservoir
Well despite the weather, this was again a very enjoyable walk with a great group of people that came in around 14 miles on the soggy boggy West Pennine Moors of North West England and one I'd like to go back to in better weather to see what was missed.
A Big thanks to Wayne for organizing the walk. Thanks to all who came from near and far, the company and a special mention to the two youngsters who just got on with it and never moaned once. Quite refreshing to see and I think the haribo hand outs were greatly received :-)


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