#27 Anglezarke, White Coppice and Great Hill

20 10 2010
20th October 2010
solo
9.3 miles
Explorer 287 (West Pennine Moors)
Sunny, breezy

Anglezarke Reservoir

I’d been considering taking Friday off work and going for a walk – but yesterday I checked the BBC weather forecast and couldn’t resist this cloudless Autumn Wednesday for what I think is the second toughest walk in the book.

An early start for me, arriving at Anglezarke Reservoir car park shortly after eight. The lack of cloud made for a very cold start, crisp is probably the best word for it. Dressed in t-shirt, fleece and jacket, with gloves, beanie pulled right down and a buff pulled up over my nose – I made my way up along the easter side of the reservoir. For much of the first hour of walking there is upland to the east and so I am walking almost constantly in the shade. The path twists and undulates across woodland, pasture and lakeside paths before at the top of the reservoir I make my way between The Goit (a stream) and Stronstrey bank (a cliff face). Many more sheep later I briefly cross the Goit to take in the village of White Coppice, and more specifically the beautiful cricket  ground.

From the village of White Coppice the path climbs reasonably steeply up White Coppice itself. This was particularly tough going for me as the sun sat exactly on the horizon in front of me – which made choosing my footing tricky. As I reached the top of the cliff the route turned slightly northwards and I began to make good progress across the moor, here in the sun I begin to warm up and can put my coat away. A good path cuts across the upland towards the derelict farmhouse of Drinkwaters where there is a bench in memory of the late chairman of Chorley Ramblers. I’d have loved to take advantage of it but it is covered in frost. After Drinkwaters there is a boggy section and a short steep climb to meet the path from Brinscall in the north.

At Drinkwaters, looking across Dean Black Brook towards Black Coppice

I follow this path to the east as it climbs easily up towards Great Hill. Towards the top of the hill the wind picks up and it gets a little chilly. The summit of the hill houses a stone cross with  built-in low seating so that one can cower down, sheltered from the wind. To the north-east is Darwen Tower, and to the South are the prominent antennas of Winter Hill. I head off towards Winter Hill along a peculiar paved path, large flags (approx 5 foot long by 3 foot wide) run across the ridge for over a mile. It’s quickly obvious why this paving exists, the land on both sides is extremely boggy, probably impassable, and certainly not passable without a great deal of time and effort. Every now and again I encounter a sunken flag which I long-jump, which is all part of the fun.

Rivington Pike from Simms Farm

At the end of the path I meet a man and his dog training for the 3 peak challenge, he explains that he has the full kit on and a full rucksack as part of the training. The path across Spitlers Edge is then marked by a semi-fallen down wall, the moor on either side is still very boggy so I walk along the remainder of the wall until it becomes too high and precarious – when I elect to walk along the western edge of the wall – sometimes right next to the wall (to take advantage of the stones that have fallen off the wall), and sometimes up to 30 yards from the wall (in search of firm ground).

After crossing a stile I start to drop down towards the Belmont Rd at the foot of Winter Hill. The book tells me to look out for a path on the right – I misjudge this path and end up about 20 yards higher than I should but it’s a fairly easy correction. The path eastwards drops down past the remains of a number of farm buildings, crosses a stream and then climbs briefly to Lower Hempshaw’s farm – where I make a mistake. The book is ambiguous, it says “…if you stick to what has become a farm access…this will loop you out across the moor to Simm’s farm”. I took this to be the only option – but was confused as to whether the track to the west or the north was the aforementioned ‘arm access’? Looking at the map in the book it suggests that I should be heading more west than north so I follow the path to the west. After five minutes it becomes clear that there is no path here, and I can see the track curving round a quarter of a mile to the north. In retrospect I thin there must have been a path to the south of me that I can’t see – and the book is giving me both alternatives (one in the text and one on the map) but whatever it is – it isn’t clear. I should have retraced my steps but instead I consulted the OS map and decided to head due north in order to meet the ‘farm access’ without running into a stream to the west. The going was tough as the long grass hid the uneven ground beneath, I sensibly took it slowly for quite a while but eventually lost patience and stomped around a bit – until I went over on my ankle. I managed to stay on my feet which saved me from getting wet and cold, but I knew I had tweaked it. Fortunately it wasn’t too bad and after a couple of minutes I was able to walk, I still had to jump across a stream (making sure I jumped onto my good foot) before I reached the access track. I really was quite lucky, although it was with some relief that I realised that there were at least two other walkers within shouting distance.

The track headed further west pas the ruin of Simms farm with views to the south of Rivington Pike and Lady Lever’s pigeon loft sitting on top of a very red moor. I crossed a field of cows with a massive white bull in the middle before arriving at the southern edge of Lead Mines Clough where I took my lunch and gave my ankle a rest. The clough, with its busy stream, and sharp hills covered in rusty trees is quite a site. I descended quickly and made my way alongside the stream until it flowed into the top of Yarrow Reservoir. Out on the road now I skirt across the top of Yarrow, back to the eastern edge of Anglezarke Reservoir and then back to the car 4 hours after I started. A really good walk – and it gave me plenty of time to go home and have an afternoon nap!

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