It was around this time last year that we were chasing snow while seeking adventures. And we found them in the form of snowy views on a circular walk in Littleborough. I remembered suddenly just a moment ago that I hadn’t written it up when I was planning a compilation post. So here we go. It might be a bit vague in places, being that it is over a year since the walk. But I hope it will inspire you all the same to get outdoors this winter.
Snowy views on a circular walk in Littleborough
I think the hilly side of Littleborough often gets overlooked in favour if the flat and waterside Hollingworth Lake walk. Yes, it is absolutely lovely walking around the lake. We do it very regularly, but if you’re looking for something with some stunning views and leg working angles, you need to sideline that lake. So sideline is a bit harsh as you do start the walk by passing part of the lake, but you get my drift. Snow. Drift? (boo, hiss!)
As beautiful as the lake is, you will be able to enjoy views over the hills, through the motorway and over into the water from afar. I promise that it is worth it.
The best place to start and end the walk is in the car park of the visitors centre. It is paid for parking, but with it you do get access to the shop (for maps), a cafe and of course toilets. I think it is a small price to pay to have access to facilities, especially on a cold winter day.
The walk takes you along the side of the lake towards Hollingworth Lake campsite. This is where you head away from the many people there for the short lake circular. It gets quieter and you have much more space to look around, which I think is a lovely way to start a walk.
It is amazing how quickly you find yourself ascending the into hills. Considering your starting point is by a lake, you are not far from the hills at all. I remember it being rather treacherous getting up the hill due to the amount of ice and frozen ground beneath our feet. Taking each step rather carefully, yet with speed to keep up the momentum. Slowing down had the inevitability that we would be sliding right back down again.
I think one of the nicest things about walking in winter is that there are much fewer people on the route with you. Not that I have an issue with that, but sometimes in the warmer weather queues can form near gates and obstacles which can slow you down.
Remember how I mentioned the lake and how the hills offer a better opportunity for views. That hill brought us right up to the top of the hill and to the most fantastic view of the lake. Just check out this view – and all in a short up hill ramble from the road.
Hard standing making it hard
Although a lot of the terrain is grass and soft surface, there are still areas where you are on hard standing. Despite thinking that these areas would be easier to navigate, they weren’t so much. With the icy surface and slippery slush, we found ourselves trying to bypass many in order to stay upright. That is certainly not to say that the soft ground was much better, but I will get to that later in the post while we’re wading beneath the motorway.
Because of the way that the route goes up and down the hills, I have the “Grand Old Duke of York” playing in my head as I type. The next part of the walk, you’ve guessed it, takes us down the hill again. But not just any hill, one that runs right next to the M62 motorway. Reflecting on my walks over the last year and a bit since starting The Urban Wanderer, I have spent a lot of time on, next to or under motorways. I’m thinking it is becoming a bit of a ‘thing’. I wonder which ones I’ll walk under this year? Any recommendations? Pop them in the comments if you have.
Anyway, back on track…
And down the hill we went. Stepping into each patch of snow carefully so as not to slip all the way down. Surprisingly, even though it was steep, it was fine to walk on. I think there were plenty of footholds made from the previous wet weather that had frozen into steps which make it a lot more steady underfoot.
Around and down we went in what looked to be the final part of the walk (when not consulting the map) as I spotted the sports field which was near to the campsite. But no, we were following a path which was taking us back to the motorway instead.
I have to admit that this stretch of the walk was pretty horrible! There was deep concealed mud beneath the ice and snow. The previous walkers had managed to churn up as much as we were trying to get across and it made for a rather humorous, if hairy, hike across the hill and around the bends. You couldn’t plan the route until you had submerged your foot deep within the freezing cold mud.
Even with the challenge of beating the ice/mud/snow path, we made it to the other side still smiling and that was the main thing. Especially as we still had the second half of the walk remaining.
And there was more…
It was also the point that we discovered more sludgy muddy concealed by ice and snow areas to walk. With laughter in the air as we slipped, slid and stumbled we carried on towards the impressive structure that is the M62 bridge.
I guess one benefit of it being sludgy in both directions was that it was better to go forwards to experience new sludge instead!
Once we discovered a slightly less muddy route we were able to get into our stride. In what felt like no time at all, we were standing at the foot of the bridge. In absolute awe of the sheer height and size of the structure, as well as the sound that reverberated down as the lorries and vehicles passed over head. To look down though, there was a stream in the gully. A huge contrast depending on the direction of your gaze.
Looking back toward the way we had come and over in the direction of Hollingworth Lake, you can really see just how large the bridge structure is.
Light beginning to fade
As you can see from the pictures, the light was beginning to fade by that point in our walk. We had to pick up as much pace as we could muster considering the slippery conditions. Luckily the walk was way marked from that point, so along with our ma it was easy to navigate the final miles of the hike.
As we ascended into the hills again, we still had to make time to enjoy the stunning views. For those of you reading this who have just done the lake, I honestly recommend you head to the hills on your next visit. Even if it is just for a short while.
We determined from the map that we had jut one remaining steep hill to climb before it was down hill. I think by this point we had become accustomed to the slippery surfaces and had adapted our walking to cater for it. We were able to keep our speed while keeping in an upright posture. This meant that we could cover the darker part of the walk while we still had the light.
The final stretch
As the day slowly drifted we made our way onto the final stretch of the walk. A final few curves and the walk down hill back toward the lake. Our snowy circular walk in Littlebrorough was almost at an end.
Our final glimpses over to the M62 bridge as we turned the corner and began our descent to flat ground. Not before greeting a lone horse seemingly on it’s way home after a day out. (see my video from the walk!)
Just as the darkness took hold of the sky and the visibility started to fade, we were greeted by glowing street light in the dampness on the road where we began our walk. That orange tinge drawing you back towards the lake and the prospect of a delicious warm tea in the car.
It might not have been as snowy as we’d have hoped, but it was certainly worth the slipping and sliding to enjoy the stunning views. To be honest, it was probably a good thing it wasn’t too snowy as we were in jeans for some unknown reason! (nutters!) I am certain that we will be doing a circular walk in Littleborough again soon, whether it is this the Rakewood Circular or the others that we have discovered since. Note to self, dig out the walks book and OS map.
I do enjoy snow walks. It seem too give an even more magical feel to them. And, in that way, it is easy to forget the muddy legs, scold toes and soggy trousers. I’ll certainly be out again when we get our next snow.
Do you enjoy walking in the snow? Have you done a circular walk in Littleborough? Where is your favourite snowy view walk?
Let me know in the comments as I love hearing about your adventures too.