#4 Rivington Country Park

15 06 2010
15th June 2010
solo
4.7 miles
Explorer 287 (West Pennine Moors)
Sunny, cool for a sunny June day
Rivington Pike Tower, and Winter Hill

Rivington Pike Tower, and Winter Hill

The first walk of my ‘World Cup’ leave. I’m hoping to do 5 over the next fortnight, although they may not all be from the book. As at this stage of the World cup there are games starting at 12:30 – it’s early starts for short walks. The Bolton area is a pain to get to from Southport, none of the roads seem to go in the right direction so I have to cut across a number of country lanes, eventually arriving at a carpark near Rivington & Blackrod High School.

The climb is at the front end of this walk, so after walking past the school I start to climb – first up a lane, then up the drive towards Higher Knoll Farm, and then finally onto a track through fields of horses, including some sweet but stubborn Shetlands.

Pigeon Tower, and Yarrow and Anglezarke reservoirs

On reaching the top of the pasture I crossed a roughly cobbled track and then proceeded straight up the face of Rivington Pike towards the tower. The book decribes this route to the top as the hard but shorter alternative, although I’m not particularly good on steep sections I elect to take it as the ‘easier’ route is made of rough stones and is a pain to walk on. (Perhaps by boots aren’t stiff enough – I’ve got some new ones on order so we’ll see.)

On reaching the top the view is good but not amazing, I can see the Reebok Stadium south, and a series of reservoirs to the west and north-west. In the distance to the south-west is Fiddler’s Ferry power station. Winter Hill is to the east, and is not that much higher than Rivington Pike, and I’m surprised to see (and the map confirms) that Anglezarke to the north is smaller. I sit a while at the top and watch a mountain biker struggle up toward the tower.

Rivington Pike from the reservoir

After a short descent I find myself back on the roughly cobbled track and at the Pigeon Tower, a listed building which marks the top of Lord Leverhulme’s terraced gardens. Passing the tower I descend a twisting rubble track, the going is very difficult, but after a while there is an informal footpath on a raised bank that helps tremendously. At the end of the track is another carpark and the start of a much friendlier path passing through a couple of fields, and then a pleasant track which brings me to Rivington Hall Barn, and onto the straight wide tree-lined avenues of the country park.

I follow these avenues until I reach the road, and then track this towards Great Hall Barn (I wonder how often people have got these two similarly named places mixed up?) This barn is very popular with cyclists of both the motor and human powered variety, drawn in by the large cafe and array of picnic tables. Given the opportunity I invest in some pistachio and vanilla ice-cream which I eat as I wander towards the reservoir, passing underneath a series of “Go-Ape” obstacles.

The reservoir has some nice little secluded ‘beach’ sections, so I sit for a while to finish my ice-cream and watch some sort of outward-bound sailing course going on on the far side of the reservoir. I continue the walk only to be harrassed by a dog; I’d seen a lot of dogs on the walk and was quite happy when a large terrier bounded up to me – just the sort of dogs I like best – I asked the owner if he was friendly, she said that he was and so I went to stroke him as he jumped up at me: the little bugger tried to nip my hand and then started barking furiously at me. I walked briskly on, perhaps it was my own fault, but at least I wasn’t bitten.

The last part of the walk is a little bit of a surprise, Liverpool Castle is an odd thing; too large to ignore, but not impressive enough to warrant much more than a quick look. It’s actually a folly, a scaled down replica of the original Liverpool Castle (in Liverpool!) A bit odd too that it was built (although never finished) in the early 20th century, whereas Liverpool Castle itself was demolished in the 18th century, the more I hear about Lord Leverhulme the more I like him. The folly doesn’t ring true though, even too my untrained eye I can see that the stonework is nowhere near old enough, it’s too neat; and it’s a shame that the only people who seem to still use this place are those that visit it after dark and leave campfires, beer cans and worse behind them.

Another stroll up a wide avenue and I’m back at the car. Managed to get home having missed only 15 minutes of New Zealand -v- Slovakia (may as well not have bothered mind!)

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