The walk of Saturday the fifth of March, 2016
Ever since I was introduced to the route (February 2015 on a Southport Ramblers’ “B” walk), I had wanted to take my partner Christine on a walk around the reservoirs of Rivington, as part of a fairly none-strenuous route up to either Winter Hill or Rivington Pike. A combination of Saturday’s beautiful weather and the snow which had fallen a few days before had moved this route up the rankings, making it hard to resist.
We arrived at Rivington at the lane which leads to the Great Barn at around twenty five past eleven and were booted-up by 11:34 and on route. First we had to cross Rivington Lane and pass alongside Go-Ape – which looked to have a good number of potential clients today. The beginning of our route was not the hardest thing that I’ll ever have to navigate as it was simply a case of heading for the reservoir and then turn right before setting foot in it! It has to be said that this was the easiest walking of the day.
We passed the first of the four reservoirs – the Lower Rivington and then we quickly passed the other ‘Rivington’ reservoir (the Upper). Before very long we turned left away from the main bridal path and then walked alongside the Yarrow reservoir – there’s a frightening amount of water which gathers in this vicinity and with the recent snowfall, I surmised the ground was going to be saturated.Oddly enough, there was only a little bit of snow on one of the flanks of the reservoir’s outer banks, giving the impression that Olaf the snowman had simply given up the goat on an expedition! As featured on either side of this text, the views to a snow-covered Winter Hill were inspirational.
After the Yarrow we were in an area named Parson’s Bullough where resides yet another…reservoir, only a small one this time, in fact I don’t remember seeing or passing it. We passed through the gate at the point where Alance Bridge lies and took a very good path up into the area known as ‘Meeting of the Waters’ – so named as this is where the River Yarrow and Limestone Brook meet and then converge into the Yarrow reservoir. The going was not yet as bad as I had feared and we made swift progress up quite a steep incline as we headed easterly towards Wilkinson Bullough (some day I’ll research what geographical feature a ‘bullough’ is!).
Unofficially, we were now in ‘Sheep World’, well there was so many of them scattered about the path. Thankfully, none of the ovine gathered were feeling brave enough to tackle or us or cause us any kind of obstacle and we carried on across the wide open moorland. We had spied a number of other walkers some distance ahead (crossing what I assumed would be a soggy field), we seemed to be gaining on them. I had to make sure that I kept Chris up to date on where we were going (this helps, I’m the same when Karl and I go anywhere) and as we neared the part of the route where I had planned that we should bear left in order to ascend to Will Narr, I noticed that our path was an inclined quagmire! We took the right hand (straight on) path instead and practically ran straight into the distant walkers we had seen earlier. Actually it was sizeable group of walkers – I guessed around ten to fifteen. Assuming that they knew where they were going (was this wise as they seemed to have gone through one wet field after another instead of sticking to the relatively dry path?) we followed them.
Fortunately, the sight of Rivington Road (don’t get me started!) was never far from view so I knew that if only we could traverse this moorland up to the said road we would be able to progress unhindered. As luck would have it, there appeared to have been many recent walkers on route whom had left a great big black swathe of a path for us to follow. We just had to take our time hopping from one tussock to another in order to avoid the myriad of springs in the area and eventually came out on to Rivington Road. I had it in my mind to cross the road and locate the Belmont Road which would eventually lead us to very near the Dovecote / Pigeon Tower, but, as Chris had a severe case of wet feet going on, I decided against this and we turned left to take us all the way downhill towards Moses Cocker. On route I did spy across the valley a simply gorgeous, steep path that seemed to weave its way from the bottom of the gulf known as ‘Shore’ and up to Belmont Road (not the A675). Instantly, I took the vow to come back and do this wonderfully steep path. However, as we were now on a national seed limit road, featuring many a blind corner, I thought it best to not get myself maimed by taking photographs of it!
After dropping two hundred feet (or thereabouts) in less than a mile, our pace picked up enormously. I felt the need to slow down simply owing to the fact that we were going to be at the end of the walk too early. This road is not nice to walk alongside as I believe it’s an national speed limit one and there are many blind corners. Finally we turned left on to a road with no name (according to Bing maps) and wandered over to where I thought we would be turning in order to cross a paddock and drop down to the barn. However, I didn’t account for Chris suddenly wanting to take in Rivington Pike!
So, after a moment’s worth of debate, we set off back up the hill from a place that I know as ‘the meeting of the paths’ – under the shadow of Catter Nab. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I have now ascended this route – not always have my trips up here resulted in the seemingly inevitable climb up to the pike. On this occasion, we made haste for the bench at the start of the mildly descending drop down to the Japanese Gardens’ route and had our lunch. Refreshed and revitalised, we had already walked about six miles and a couple of hundred feet, we set off once more with the clear intent of making it to the pike.
We made quite swift process, before long the disused toilet block was in site (why isn’t something done with this building?) and within a few moments we were on the last stretch of steps to Belmont Road (the path). This was crossed and so for the second month in a row I was taking in the path which would lead to the steep little staircase up to Rivington Pike. I told Chris of my personal challenge: to never stop or pause once on the final climb up this hill and she was content for me to ‘bomb-off’ on my own up the steps. It only takes a few minutes but always atop the pike…it’s damn hard to catch one’s breath! I was somewhat astounded when just thirty or forty seconds after I’d finished the climb, up popped Chris! She too had not stopped on route and the sense of pride I had in her (without meaning to sound patronising) was almost overwhelming.
As usual, mother nature had a welcoming gale-force-wind atop the pike, we didn’t stand around talking much. I kept wanting to hug Chris and tell her how proud of her I was – this had easily been our longest rural walk for a good number of years, and those steps are seriously steep. We took a few photos and made our way back down the steps, weaved our way around the multitude of paths and before very long at all ended up at Rivington Hall Barn – which was closed. So, we decided to have something to eat across the road at the Great House Barn (gee, I wonder why I get confused with the names of things in these parts!)
Having started the walk at 11:34 we arrived at the Great House Barn at 16:15 having walked around seven hundred feet over roughly nine and a half miles. Not bad at all given the amount of ascending and distance.