It is amazing how you come to discover things? The other day, I was waiting for Jit at Media City for our daily walk back to town when I heard a voice asking if I was The Urban Wanderer. It turns out, that one of my Instagram friends was there taking some pictures too, so we got chatting. During this chat, he recommended that I head over to Winter Hill (which you can see in the distance). With this information fresh in my mind, we planned it in for our Sunday jaunt. Despite promising to do some gardening!
A bit about Winter Hill
Winter Hill is part of the West Pennine Moors, but is not as bleak as you would imagine moors to be, as there are a lot of different plants, buildings and history as well as the stunning views all around the area. The summit of the hill is home to a rather large TV mast which transmits the signal to most of the North West of England. It is also the location of the Winter Hill air disaster and subject to stories of UFOs. We didn’t see any UFOs on our visit, but who knows…
The blue shine in my picture could be a sign of our close escape!
Getting to Winter Hill
The drive from Manchester to Winter Hill is pretty simple heading to get onto the M61 and heading towards Bolton. You then leave the motorway and head into the A and B roads. These can be pretty hairy when there are LOADS of bikers about wanting to pic up speed on the narrow two way lanes, but not too bad if you take your time.
There is a car park located at the bottom of the hill at Lower House Car Park (free) just off Sheep House Lane at the end of Belmont Road. Keep your eyes peeled though as it appears out of nowhere!
Just be aware that there are no toilets here, so you might want to come prepared!
On our way
Before we arrived we downloaded a GPX route into View Ranger, a great little app if you haven’t already discovered it. You can create routes as well as use the ones that have been uploaded by others. You can download OS maps too (paid)
Anyway, the path leads straight from the car park and takes you straight to the building on the top. There are plenty of hilly bits on this part of the walk as well as lots of people – it quietens down as you go on though.
From the busy top, take your obligatory photo – here’s ours! It was pretty windy up there and the chill factor started to come through.
Then head to the right of the building and start to descend down the hill again.
The views over the bordering counties really is amazing – even on a less than clear day like when we visited. Make sure that you stop from time to time to enjoy it as you will spend a lot of your time looking at the uneven floor!
Despite the uneven and often loose footing, you can get along pretty quickly, covering a lot of ground in a short space of time. It is this bit that a lot of the people seem to tail off a bit and the route gets quieter and calmer.
The sun came out
Don’t let the sun coming out trick you into thinking it was warm up there. It is very exposed so even in the sunshine it was rather biting!
As we started to climb back up the moors it became apparent how far we had already walked in a short space of time. Even though there is a lot of ups and downs along the way, it isn’t too challenging.
Towards the mast
This second part of the walk was leading us up towards the TV mast and took s through lots of lush (and boggy) green parts of the marsh, past sheep and rock formations and up towards the summit.
The road to the mast
After sludging our way part way across the moors towards our route we had to detour to stay on solid-ish ground. We decided to make our way over to the road so that we could be sure of our footing and the direction too.
To be honest, it was nice to have some solid hard standing for a while as it meant that we could look up and enjoy our surroundings rather than taking care of where our feet were sliding.
As you approach the mast, you really get a feel for the scale of it – it is massive!
Just my kind of place
It is surprising how close you are allowed to get to all of the equipment considering the importance to the area. I loved that we could get up close with it, to really feel how big they are and also really experience being around them. It really does feel like a set from a film or part of a military base.
I have to say, though, that I did love that there was a little ‘factoid’ board there – it tickled my geekery!
Great for dog walking
One thing we did notice on our adventures around Winter Hill, it seems to be a favourite spot for walking dogs. And rightly so as there are few cars and lots of open space to get up some speed. I definitely think we’ll be bringing Cally next time we’re up that way. The dogs really do add to the character of a place, I think. Check out this cheeky chappy!
The second to last part of the walk is more characteristic of walking the moors. Lots of long grasses, hidden puddles and wobbly tuffets. At this point, if it has been wet at all, you will have to meander your route through the reeds trying to avoid the deep mud holes and aiming to keep to track as much as possible. There is no real track so finding your way can be a little bit tricky when following your route and watching your footing. We know this because we went terribly wrong when we thought we had found a guide path!
As we meandered around the moors (once back on track of course) the sun slowly started to go down. Although this made it really hard to see where we were going, it highlighted the landscape beautifully and also acted as a reminder to get out earlier next week after the clocks go back. Nobody wants to be stranded on the moors in the dark, especially where there have been UFO activity!
A curious house
As we were drawing to the end of our walk we came across a curiously tall house situated on the side of a terraced garden area (from what we discovered from the regeneration information sign) however there was little about the house itself.
As the sun went down
We made our way back to the almost deserted car park stopping every so often to admire the setting sun over the rolling hills and reservoirs. It is often so unbelievable that there are such gorgeous countryside places in less than an hour in the car from Manchester! That we have never visited in our 15 years of living here too!
Our first visit to Winter Hill and Rivington Pike is most certainly not going to be our last. A great combination of hills, flat land and views is more than enough to keep us coming back for more. Let alone the curious urge to head to the library archives on a wet day to research about the history and the buildings. I hate to say it, but I’m kind of looking forward to a wet day!
I’m also planning to explore around the area more too as there seems to be plenty to do there.
Have you visited Winter Hill and Rivington Pike? Do you like to get out and about in the fresh Autumnal weather? Where do you go?
Let me know in the comments below, I love finding other places to add to the bucket list!