Rivington Pike

Photo of Rivington Pike from the south
Those steps!

Where is it? Near the towns of Horwich and Bolton, Lancashire

How high is it? 1,191 feet.

In which area or park: The West Pennines

Write up

Small hill, big profile. Rivington Pike is probably one of the most accessible hills in the north west, you can park within 3 miles of it! As such this is one popular hill, but it is not merely for its convenient location that this particular summit can be a crowded place most weekends of the year. The first Lord Leverhulme – who made his fortune via washing powder spent a huge wedge of cash hiring one hundred landscape gardeners in a bid to create The Japanese Gardens here – just one of the attractions on the way up to the summit.

The paths here can be either flat as a pancake, a mixture of a layer of large stones then a layer of small sones then a layer of sand and the whole thing compacted, or the more hardy, dried-out river bed type that can be almost painful to walk upon with cobbles and rocks that have gone through widely varying states of erosion. This second type of path tends to stay the coarse much longer than the first as it is less susceptible to being rained down the hill! There are many routes up this hill as one would imagine with so many people trampling over it every day of the year shortcuts emerge that turn into scars that ultimately get become so ingrained upon the hill that the grounds staff have to put in a new path altogther to disguise what mess has been made.

The steps.

Although walkers are free to sumunt the summit via the grassy hillsides, few seldom do undertake this route. The final attack upon the summit of Rivington Pike almost always involves thrusting one’s way up many, many steep steps. Other hills have a kind of rural staircase to them (Pendle Hill and Catbells both spring to mind) this hill’s steps are more like a stone escalator and you provide the power! You can not begin to imagine the steepness of the final steps, I have seen people in such a state of muscular cramp that they can’t even lay their feet upon the last few steps. It’s wonderful to observe and hell to experience! Without the steps erosion would set in and given the number of visitors to Rivington on an average bank holiday or on a typical sunny Sunday then this would soon turn into really ugly hillside scarring. If the challenge does not already exist I would like to put forward this one:

From the horizontal road near Pigeon Tower, try to make it all the way to the summit without stopping. I have now done this twice – I had to do it again to prove that the first time was not purely a fluke! It is exceptionally hard-going, whilst conversing with a companion it is nearly impossible and try not to hold up the people behind you!

This hill is one that warrants an early morning assault as the summer sun casts a lovely light upon the slopes that is beyond this author’s ability to express in words. Arriving early will afford you the opportunity to park at the higher car park as featured on the map below. You will then be at the start of the most straight-forward route to the summit, although there are a couple of turn-offs from this main “driveway” which offer steeper routes (and slippy ones too as one involves climbing up dew-covered grass)


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