Winter Hill & Rivington Pike via Counting Hill

6th March 2021

Today I'm back on Winter Hill walking a route that I was meant to have walked last weekend (in hindsight I should have given the forecast) but being out on the hill isn't always about getting a suntan.

Sunny spells were forecast for the morning which never materialised but at least it was dry if not a tad gloomy with only the odd streak of light breaking through the thick canopy of cloud over head. Todays route entails collecting Winter Hill's satellite summits in Counting Hill, Noon Hill, Rivington Pike and Two Lads, it's a classic leg stretcher for those local to the area which after today, I couldn't recommend enough.


Ascent: 1,341 Feet - 409 Metres
Summits: 5, Counting Hill - Winter Hill - Noon Hill - Rivington Pike - Two Lads
Weather: Overcast Throughout Highs of 8°C Lows of 3°C Freezing Over The Summits
Parking: Layby, Colliers Row Road, Smithills Dean
Area: West Pennine Moors
Miles: 9.5
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: Explorer 287
Time Taken: 3 Hours 40 Minutes
Route: Colliers Row Road - Coal Pit Lane - Dean Mills Reservoir - Counting Hill - Winter Hill - Noon Hill - Belmont Road - Rivington Pike - Belmont Road - Two Lads - Holdens Farm - Coal Pit Lane - Colliers Row Road

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: BL1 7PJ
Grid Reference: SD 682 124


Map and Photo Gallery


Coal Pit Lane 09:15am 3°C
I managed to grab the last space at the lay-by at the bottom of Coal Pit Lane where I supped hot coffee from my travel cup before kitting up at the back of the car. The lay-by is quite small with three cars snugged neatly kerb to kerb - the other two cars were occupied by half a dozen women who had set of before me. With my car locked I crossed Colliers Row Road and took on the gentle incline of Coal Pit Lane as the murky views started to open up.

Two Lads (right) and Adam Hill (left) from Green Nook.
I'll be returning by Coal Pit Lane later by using a path via Holden's Plantation/Farm seen just left of Two Lads.

Passing the Early Mass Tresspass Stone.
Aside the ladies who left the lay-by earlier I haven't seen anyone yet, not that I'm complaining mind.

Two Lads and the Transmitter Mast on Winter Hill.
It's at this point I leave the path for Smithills Moor and head up the stone steps towards Dean Mills Reservoir. I think I spoke to soon regarding not seeing anyone yet as three walkers appear at the top of the steps below.

Heading towards Dean Mills Reservor.
Where I was passed by this fell runner who replied to my 'morning' with a wave from his left hand.

Winter Hill Transmitter Mast and Counting Hill from Dean Mills Reservoir.
Blimey, from golden sunshine last weekend to 'bleak is beautiful' today, what a contrast.

Winter Hill Transmitter Mast and Counting Hill from Dean Mills Reservoir.
The group of ladies were by now sat on foam mats drinking coffee next to the reservoir, I wondered where they'd got too, anyway a cheery 'morning' was shared by all.

Heading towards Counting Hill.
As you can see it's a bit boggier here today as oppose to the frozen turf I encountered last week but brilliant all the same.

What a place... may be dull and overcast but at least I have this fantastic path to ascend by all the while being accompanied by Lapwings who could be heard in the distance.

Boundary Stone, Counting Hill.
With the letters T I A inscribed, perhaps left behind by coal miners who mined this area up until the mid 1950's

Winter Hill appears.
Taken shortly after passing over Counting Hill summit.

Winter Hill.
The last 'gentle' push towards the summit.

Crowds start to appear as I near the transmitter mast.
Well, despite the lack of sunlight I really enjoyed Counting Hill, bogs an all!

Winter Hill summit trig point.
With Counting Hill now behind me I joined Rotary Way where I could take in the view as far as Two Lads, todays final summit. Despite signs of frost here and there the summit area was back to its familiar boggyness where I didn't waste any time hanging around as the temperature had taken a nosedive too.

Views over Belmont Reservoir towards Longworth and Turton Moors.
Taken from the most northerly point on Winter Hill summit.

Spitlers Edge and Redmond's Edge.
With Great Hill in the distance.

Descending towards Noon Hill.
With Yarrow and Anglezarke Reservoirs in the distance.

Winter Hill from Noon Hill summit.
The crossing between Winter Hill and Noon Hill was as boggy as expected, the key is to stick to the high ground seen right where a series of wooden stakes mark the route which at times can be vague. The direct route via the depression is extremely boggy as four walkers who left Winter Hill behind me are probably finding out right about now.

Pigeon Tower, Belmont Road (track)
I descended Noon Hill via Noon Hill Slack and linked up with Belmont Road (track) and headed towards the Pigeon Tower and Rivington Pike thereafter, it's starting to get busy now.

Rivington Pike.
The lack of sunshine hasn't kept the crowds away.

Rivington Pike summit.
A quick ascent via the Grand Staircase saw me at the summit with seven minutes after taking the last photo, it was a short but steep blast and right now my lungs are just about returning to normal!

Winter Hill from Rivington Pike.
With Rivington Moor in the foreground looking especially boggy for the few I can see making the crossing.

Looking back on Rivington Pike from Pike Cottage.
Making my way towards Two Lads now.

Looking back on Rivington Pike from above Pike Cottage.
The Pike Snack Shack was doing a roaring trade this morning so much so I had to weave through the queue to get to the wooden sty at the side of the cottage.

Two Lads is just up ahead.
Last push on the last summit.

Adam Hill from Two Lads summit.
From where I spotted this lovely light escaping through the dense cloud above.

Winter Hill as seen from across Smithills Moor.
With Counting Hill leading off towards the right. It looks like it's starting to clear up but I'm not holding my breath!

Crossing the footbridge at Holden's Plantation.
I left Two Lads and walked south until I reached the familiar cattle grid where I passed through the gate and started the slight descent by Holden's Plantation.

Holdens Farm.
With Burnt Edge seen over on the left.

Escaping Light.
I'd been hungry for the last hour or so and with that in mind I took out the two ham salad barmcakes I had stuffed in my pack and ate while on the move. The temperature had comfortably risen and my hands were no longer feeling the pinch of the cold and all that was left was the mile and a half walk back down Coal Pit Lane while feeling a little mesmerised by the light show overhead. Todays walk was probably one of the longest lock down walks I've walked which I aim to keep up until we can finally return to Lakeland, until then Winter Hill and its surrounding hills will continue to be my saviour.


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