The television mast atop Winter Hill rises like a sentinel gazing vacantly down on my small car whenever Small Keefe and I are doing the school run. It’s visible from just about everywhere in the North West of England, and I used to think that it was so named because it so high that it was always topped with snow.
The trip here, a mere 32 or so miles there and back (hey, who’s counting?), was a let’s – go – to – Mordor – style journey of epic proportions. Three points: first of all, I chose the hottest day of the year to do so. Secondly, I did it on my birthday. Thirdly – and most importantly, if you’re thinking of doing it yourself – it involves A CLIMB. Hell, you’d think that point 3 would have been pretty uppermost in my mind, wouldn’t you? I blame point two, I guess.
I’ve mentioned my fascination with churches before, right? Well here’s St. Mary’s in Chorley, overlooking the town centre:
I particularly liked the little surprise around the back. I’m by no means a Catholic anymore, thanks to my hippy and punk roots. You’d call me a pagan, or a tree- hugger, if anything, but still, finding things like this always blows me away:
Back on the road, and the path began to rise. And rise.
Useful information: don’t be too proud to stop and ask people the way. Although you can see the summit, the way up it’s never obvious. Anyway, back to the journey…
From here, things began to get rocky. And not like listening to Twisted Sister.
This handsome fella obviously had some questions as I staggered by:
Still, if Trigger’s wheels weren’t turning, then the wheel of life certainly continued to do so:
A quick pause for breath, almost at the top:
And eventually, we’re there, above the world:
So this is the view from the summit of Rivington Pike, 1,191 ft above sea level. A beacon once stood here, and it’s now the site of a grade II listed tower:
Across the way lies Winter Hill, where the TV mast stands. There’s evidence of prehistoric activity and burial mounds there, and the ghost of a spectral horseman is said to traverse its slopes. Good luck to him, I say. It took me half an hour to get up there with Trigger on my back. I’d hate to have to carry a horse up it, ghost or otherwise.
The journey downhill was also of the rocky variety, which meant that I couldn’t simply leap on Trigger and coast down. In fact, at times I wished I’d been bitten by a radioactive spider. Still, there were rewards, of a kind. This place, for example:
This is the Dovecote Tower, also known as the Pigeon Tower. Built in 1910 by Lord Leverhulme for his wife to use for sewing (with a nice relaxing view of the lake, I believe), it was also used in later years as a pigeon loft.
My back almost doubled in the saddle, hips grinding as though they were made of tin, I downed the last of the bottled water and set sail for home under the afternoon sun, allowing myself to look back just the once:
A long ride, but great if you’re into fell walking or similar activities. The view’s wonderful, and prepare to have your mind blown when see how many people are already there waiting as you reach the summit.
Just don’t build your hopes up for snow, though.
Til next time,