The walk with Southport Ramblers on 22nd February, 2015
Sometimes you just have to ‘step it up’! A couple of weeks ago whilst waiting for the bus to take us to Saint Asaph I happened to be made aware that quite soon the Southport Ramblers group would be going to Rivington for a day’s walk. As this is one of my favourite areas I was obviously interested and booked a place on the coach at the first chance. In the interim the only other walking that I had done was my Darwen Moor and Coastal Road walks which as it would later turn out, would stand me in good stead.
We arrived at the lower Rivington Café (I don’t want to confuse things by referring to Great Hall, Upper and lower halls etc) at around 10:00 and had a cup of coffee before heading off across the road and up the lane which leads to the main car park and the building to which people refer to as “The Barn” – this is where the bikers hang around on Sundays and Bank Holidays but for some reason it was somewhat devoid of Bikers today. From here the ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ walks all split off in other directions, I don’t know where the ‘C’s were going (must find out) the ‘A’s were off to Rivington Pike and we headed back down the lane, over the road and towards first the Lower Rivington Reservoir and then the Upper Rivington Reservoir – both of which were quite stunning to look at and I do wish that we’d had time to take some photographs. It has to be said that we did keep a fair old pace going, I resolved to stay as close as possible to the front of the pack – sixteen of us. I always admit to being something of a slow-set-off kind of person, it’s usually a good mile or even two into any walk before I pick up any kind of pace, however, given that on Saturday I posted my entry form for next Winter’s Anglezarke Amble, then now would be an ideal time to get fitter and less of a slow-starter. So I knuckled under, told my shins that any splints would just have to wait and carried on at this good pace which must easily have been three miles an hour.
By the side of the reservoirs the weather, whilst not exactly tropical felt slightly warmer than the seasonal average and humidity was definitely on the higher side – we’d felt the odd tiny snow flurry at the barn, but there was more to come…I wondered how the ‘A’s would get on en route to Winter Hill via Crooked Edge Hill as it can be a bit hazardous without snow let alone with it. The walk was turning into a really pleasant day out – we took a wrong turn and had to retrace our steps (I’ve only pointed this out because it’s something that I do every so often and usually pay the price much later when I am confronted by impassable gullies and the likes), no harm no foul, we were soon passing the far side of the hidden-from-view Yarrow Reservoir. Round a gate and the snow switch was turned onto full. It was really quite scenic but the wind that accompanied it was ferocious, which was a bit of a shame really as this area was all-new to most of us…maybe I’ll return when there is more of a chance of calmer weather – just to see what can be seen.
We now began to climb at a much more noticeable rate and it was oddly enjoyable, something to get one’s walking teeth into (insert better metaphor here)! Parts of the landscape were obviously former quarries (quarrys?) as we were now striding out through a pair of Bulloughs (Parson’s – Wilkinson’s) and into the area known as Simms, which, if memory serves me right; expands over to Great Hill in a northerly direction but we were heading west…into the snow and wind. Edit: Actually that is ‘Pimms’ which is north east of Great Hill. John had mentioned a need for us to stop en route to have lunch – even though to stop anywhere would be to start to lose body heat quite quickly in this snow gale, to go without fuel would be stupid…it’s the sort of stupid thing that I have done previously and paid for in terms of performance and hydration. Good call John. Individually we found parts of walls to site behind which would keep most of the gale off us…for me this mean kneeling down, which then meant my overly tight gaiter’s gaining one more step towards total freedom from my legs – I need to find wider gaiters…or lose weight from my calves. We spent no more than fifteen minutes eating our lunches, this was my first time out with my new half litre flask and pouring the drink in this wind was an exercise in pouring coffee on one’s legs- the flask needed to be nearer the cup!
Lunch over; we set off back on the path once more, however at this point the path gave up all pretence of being anything other than terrain where others have trod; and as we began to ascend towards Will Narr – the reputation of the area was justified. This was now an exercise in walking through typical Pennine moorland – wet, slippery and… well do we need another hazard? It was here that we met with the ‘A’ group who had been blown and skidded down the north face of Winter Hill – I’ve had experience of coming down the track that they had taken – it’s a bit hair raising in dry weather, in snow it must have been treacherous! We spent a couple of moments chatting, they had done most of their hard work now and would return the way that we had left. Our route would now be a gentle slide down the last few feet of Spitlers Edge then a walk down Belmont Road/Rivington Road/Lane! The friends of the River Yarrow have a commemorative plague here to mark the beginning of the River Yarrow, in all honesty it’s not a big thing, today with the snow and the wind, we passed by it with barely a second thought, not even a photo.
Rivington Road/Lane/Whatever it’s called, proved to be at one and the same time a brief method of getting from A to B and an exercise in road safety as quite a number of cars passed by at a much reduced speed than one would normally be passed on this road in Summer for example. We next exited the road to go across country, passing down an area which at one time or another must also have been a quarry and emerging at the other side of this little ravine no more than an hundred or so yards down the road – most rambling routes seem to take as much of an avoidance of roads as is possible (unlike my routes which rely on roads to avoid getting lost!).
At times the mighty Winter hill loomed in and out of view. The distant trees I had spotted what seemed like miles ago suddenly got a lot bigger and we headed off along a snow bound pasture to what I will refer to as ‘Stile World’. Both of the stiles were quite big it has to be said, one practically impaled one of my fellow walkers in an highly uncomfortable way! Although by this time we were not at the end we where at least on the run up to the end of the walk as our surroundings suddenly got a lot more familiar – even though I have not walked much in this vicinity I have peered over at it from the Belmont track and from Noon Hill, we were just south of Catter Nab. Finally (for some) at the joining of paths with roads, near the car park at Hall Lane; four of our number opted to take the route back down to the barn – we’d had a casualty, given the underfoot conditions it’s a miracle that we didn’t have more, and we waited a few moments whilst John got them to the path which leads down to the side of the barn.
Once reunited with our leader, we set off for the Japanese Gardens via the stony path (although not as stony as the path that for a time runs near parallel to it) which heads south towards the Dovecote or Pigeon Tower. Before getting to the tower we would take a right hand turn and take the muddy path around the small lake that Lord Leverhulme had Thomas Mawson design close to one hundred years ago. Now we were on the home-ward stretch, we took a winding path – which I’ve never considered using prior to this walk, that quite rapidly dropped us down to the lane but not before passing through a Pinateum (apparently this is like an Arboretum but mainly filled with Pine trees and conifers) which was a nice end to the walk. We arrived back at the coach not much after two o’clock having done something in the region of 8.4 miles and roughly 1,000 feet (not recorded by any instrument of mine as I still have none!).
In conclusion, I’ve done harder walks – Great Gable, the Sca fells and it has to be said – once up the Barley steps to Pendle is a bloomin’ hard walk, but I’ve also done easier walks: last week’s Coastal Walk aside from the distance has little in the way of challenges – other than not being run over by cars crossing the roads or cyclists – being cyclists! I’m very glad to have stepped up from being a ‘C’ walker to a ‘B’ walker and feel that the decision was made at the right time if I am to successfully complete the A.A. next year in under ten hours. It was a great walk in many ways – the scenery given a snow coating was breathtaking (or maybe that was just the wind!) and I must return in Summer to see what it looks like without snow in my eyes. All in all, a good Ramble.
Next time out for me with the Ramblers will see my return to the lovely village of Chipping on the border of Bleasdale – home to Parlick and Fair Snape Fell…hmmm? My next journey out walking however, should see another return…to Cadshaw where myself and Karl will familiarise ourselves with another section of the A.A. route – the ascension of the notoriously soggy Tutron Heights and a loop of the Turton and Entwistle Reservoir.
Walks this year: Five
Mileage: 56.1 (not including walking to and from the bus stops everyday)
Some pictures of the day: