Well I’d promised myself to return to Belmont Moor after the walk of the 29th of April had to be aborted owing to a fire breaking out. On Saturday June 11th I was presented with another opportunity to finish things off! The plan was to park at the Barn at Rivington, walk the long trek along Sheep House Lane and Moor Road over Great Hill then down over Redmond’s and Spitlers Edges, up the north face of Winter Hill, down the service road until turning off this and over the Two Lads summit before dropping down to the Belmont Road (track) heading towards and up the northern face of Rivington Pike and then taking the stony road to the drive and my car – utterly shattered. That was the plan, read on…
I parked at The Great Hall Barn car park – on the lane and made my way up the winding side path which is a stone and mud, cobbled in places, kind of path, hard to describe and when you’re feet are tired, hard to walk on. Upon reaching the northern car park at the eastern continuation of Parson’s Bullough Road I headed for the pavement that soon expires on Parson’s Bullough Road to begin my amble through this side of Rivington over to White Coppice. This meant first of all going over Sparks Bridge and a matter of some moments later Alance Bridge. To be honest, unless the afore mentioned is some kind of engineering marvel that took immense planning or it changed the lives of those whom live near to here then I don’t see what is so special for it to be somewhat of a local landmark! Anyway, from here on it was quite a nice walk on quite flat roads until reaching the junction of Moor Road and Knowsley Road where instead of repeating a mistake from a previous walk by going with the natural curve of the road to the left (and ending up lost at the Yew Tree), I ventured to the right and into the shady footpath that runs through the east of Anglezarke Reservoir.
A bit of zig-zagging on this lane and I was heading up through the car park and onto Moor Road proper. On my way up towards Jepson’s farm the incline got a bit steeper but nothing that I couldn’t cope with and the scenery on my right hand side got steadily better as distant hills such as Hurst Hill and Grain Pole Hill came into view. Next came a substantial drop down hill as I entered what I shall term as the boundary of White Coppice. A right turn off the paved section and through a large gate then brought me onto a fairly decent path that would take me through the heart of White Coppice with the crag rats favourite of Stronsrey Bank on my right hand side, eventually White Coppice cricket ground on my left hand side and a myriad of sheep at times all around me. Here I took note of my surroundings intently and observed what I perceived to be the start of the climb up to Great Hill – I was right.
The first few hundred yards were as steep as anything that I had previously encountered anywhere – and that includes places such as the Pendle steps at Barley, the north face of Winter Hill, Catbells and Ingleborough! Fortunately this stretch didn’t last long and by the time that I had gone past the various “Trial Shafts” and ruined farmsteads, although not flat, the route was now at a much more manageable incline. I bumped into a number of fellow walkers and it has to be said that for once I seemed to be having a much better time talking to people and taking photo’s (on my rather rubbish phone camera) than I was having walking…note to self, cut back on the ciggies again and you’ll enjoy the walking more!
The path carried on relentlessly and after some time I finally observed the distant Great Hill – my main objective! At Drinkwaters – apparently named after there being a very clear water source in the immediate vicinity, I took shelter from the sun which was now beginning to beat down quite mercilessly and the wind that had picked up once more – this was going to lead to a dry goat let alone a fatone! In a matter of moments I was at the summit of Great Hill…a few moments later and I was attempting to eat a Tesco deep-filled Roast Chicken salad sandwich in the midst of a small-scale, localised tornado that was intent on making my nutritional consumption somewhat arduous!
In spite of the driving wind I must have spent some twenty minutes atop Great Hill trying (and failing) to capture the wonderful views of Pendle to the north, Darwen Tower to the east, the three peaks of Yorkshire even further to the north east, the sky was beginning to look quite dark by comparison now so it was with attempted full speed that I set off on the wonderful slab path that runs from the southern base of Great Hill via Redmond’s Edge and finishes at the start of Spitlers Edge.
It was at the bottom of Great Hill that I noticed that part of the sole of my boot was detaching itself! From the joining of the toe and sole there was now a very definite gap that was increasing with every footstep and within 100 metres or so it was beginning to trip me up! Picture the scenario: I am parked roughly three miles away (as the crow flies) at Rivington, most escape routes would actually take me considerably out of my way, the sky is getting darker and darker by the second and the added exertion of now having to lift my right foot further off the ground so that I didn’t fall over was now beginning to really tell on me. There could be no aborting of this walk – hell it wasn’t a pride thing – it was a practicality issue – there was nothing left other than to carry on.
Descending Spitlers Edge is normally a thing of joy. Today it was one perilous step after another and seemed to be taking forever, this was no longer a nice peaceful walk over the moors – with the wind howling all around this was now an odyssey, a trial, a saga. It was with an heavy heart that at the bottom of the north face of Winter Hill I took the sensible decision not to climb that particular beast today. All of my instincts warned me that if I went up that ridiculously steep and narrow path then I might be coming straight back down at a speed of 32 metres per second, per second! I joined Rivington Lane intent on taking the Belmont Road track turning when it became available. In less than 200 metres I had taken the turning and was heading slowly off towards the direction of “The Dovecote” or “Pigeon Tower”. After not 100 further metres I came across another path on the left hand side that would lead up to the summit of Winter Hill – this is yet another path that is not listed on multimap or Ordnance Survey maps but is very obviously a clear, constructed path that someone has had to spend money on for it to exist. I will return one day to take the path up the north west side of the hill.
After many more hundreds of yards another path on the left hand side came into view and I deduced that this must lead up to the summit of Noon Hill – I would definitely return to this in the future! A group of walkers came down off the path and we would swap leader roles until the end of my time on Belmont Road. All the time whilst on this track the views on the right hand side over Rivington, Horwich, Wigan etc just kept on getting better, the sun had broken through the clouds once more and I was beginning to enjoy myself once more…save for the on-going soundtrack of my right boot’s sole flapping against the rest of it. The junction of Belmont Road and the track then takes one to the right and down an highly stony track marked the end of my time in the moors for this weekend. It was 16:35 hours when I reached my parked car on the driveway lane in front of Rivington Barn.
Was I disappointed to have not ascended and descended Winter Hill, Two Lads and Rivington Pike? Yes, but at the same time as I sit here now typing this I am equally as pleased that I didn’t tear a muscle through effectively trying to hop up one of the steepest hillsides in Lancashire. I had owned those boots since 2009 and they can be replaced and when all is said and done I had finally rounded off the walk from April 29th by ascending Great Hill. The walk in total was something like ten miles in length – still not longer than my “Moss and Birkdale” walk in April – but at least the scenery had been better by tenfold!