Winter Hill & Two Lads Sunset

19th February 2023

No big fells this weekend due to work and a morning of chores at home followed by a four mile dog walk with Brad and Holly. During the rare occasions I don't get to the fells I nearly always walk Winter Hill be it sunny or horizontal rain and blowing a gale.

I've walked Winter Hill more times than I report on and todays walk looked like it was going on the unrecorded pile but for prosperity, I usually take a few pics anyway. It wasn't until I saw how the light changed during the last half hour did I realise I was in for a nice sunset and I wasn't to be disappointed, in fact it was one of the nicest I've been lucky enough to capture.


Ascent: 601 Feet - 183 Metres
Summits: Winter Hill - Two Lads
Weather: Overcast To Start Turning Bright & Sunny Towards Sunset. Highs of 12°C Lows of 9°C Freezing Above The Summits
Parking: Parking Spaces, Wilderswood
Area: West Pennine Moors
Miles: 4
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: Explorer 287
Time Taken: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Route: Wilderswood - Rotary Way - Smithills Moor - Winter Hill - Rotary Way - Two Lads - Pike Cottage - Wilderswood

Map and Photo Gallery


Winter Hill across Smithills Moor 16:00pm 12°C
We're at that time of year when we can drag an extra hour out of the afternoon and I know that because this time last month I'd be driving home in the dark. I had an hour and a half to play with before sunset and thought I'd walk a tried and tested that I'd come to love these last few months parking at Wilderswood and heading straight for Winter Hill via Smithills Moor.

I grabbed the last parking spot back at Wilderswood before heading up the footpath for Two Lads which I flanked for Rotary Way just a short distance away. Leaving Rotary Way I joined the prominent path over moorland whilst coming to the realisation that I think I should have brought my gloves after all.

Looking back on Adam Hill and Burnt Edge.
It hadn't rained for a few days and the moorland was semi dried with the exception of a few areas where possessing the skill to hop, skip and jump came in handy.

Winter Hill summit and transmitter mast.
Even though todays walk was relatively short it didn't take long for me to forget lifes woes and begin to absorb my surroundings. I couldn't actually pin point when one left the other but on reflection that's how it happens, one minute your re thinking I still need to do that skip run the next your heads in the moorland. Brilliant.

Cable Anchors and distant coast.
For a Sunday afternoon it wasn't too busy around the transmitter station which is the place where folk normally congregate or have a bite to eat. Other than the trio behind me who turned around on reaching the transmitter I had the place to myself which gave me time to read the Memorial Plaque which ends with the line 'somewhere around the corner all is well' which always strikes a chord with me.

Distant views over Scout Moor.
It might be nice and bright but I totally under estimated how cold it would be up here this afternoon, never mind the views more than make up for it.

In the other direction.
Darwen Tower, Turton Moor and Longmoor Moor with Belmont village and reservoir below.

Winter Hill summit.
The difference in temperature from leaving the car to reaching the summit was probably around ten degrees I couldn't help but blame myself for not forgetting, but leaving my gloves at home because I thought I wouldn't need them needless to say I adopt the school boy look and walk with my hands fixed inside my jacket pockets. The sun had descended into a bank of thick black cloud and besides the loss in temperature I lost the light too.

But every cloud has a silver lining.
And as soon as the cloud past the sun came back out illuminating the moorland wild grass in a tinge of gold.

Cable Anchors.
Hands firmly tucked into jacket pockets I left Winter Hill summit where I was able to view a scarce Rotary Way with the sun descending beyond.


Brilliant light.
With a clear line of descent the sun spilled out its light leaving the moorland in a golden afterglow.

Winter Hill.
The light show continued as I left Rotary Way for Two Lads.

Two Lads summit.
The light show continues.

Looking back on Winter Hill from Two Lads 17:10pm
I could have stayed at Two Lads then made the short walk back to the car but with such a nice sunset unfolding I decided to walk over Crooked Edge Hill and spend the next twenty minutes watching the sunset.

Sunset over Lower Rivington Reservoir.


Sunset over Lower Rivington Reservoir.


Sunset 17:35pm
I backed off the gas again as I watched the sunset unfold not quite believing how good it was turning out to be. I hovered out of sight just above Pike Cottage sighting folk making their way back from Rivington Pike stop and watch too. Two fell runners pass through the gate below me seemingly oblivious to the sky behind them their task at hand no doubt. The sun disappeared leaving a fiery afterglow and I joined the ranks at Pike Cottage some huddled around outside seating others watching from the fence lined track as if they were watching a football match. It was cold now and those who couldn't stand any longer returned to their cars whose windows reflected back the afterglow. I could have driven myself crazy taking picture after picture each new image better than the last.

My car was just a five minute walk away now, Wilderswood less, where the tree tops created the perfect frame for another photo opportunity but I resisted. The parking spaces can hold anything up to ten cars but including mine, there was only two cars and a transit camper van whose black tinted windows had turned orange. The light wouldn't last, perhaps another ten more minutes before dusk begins to take over. I threw my down jacket along with my beanie on the passenger seat before blowing warm air into cupped hands and started the engine. From the track I joined Georges Lane feeling envious over a row of cottages whose front windows looked out over the sunset every evening. The engine laboured as I drove up the steep hill dropping down a gear passing horse paddocks which over looked Horwich below. Cars lined Georges Lane as if it was a Sunday morning were couples and even the odd boy racer held their phones watching the last embers of the day before dusk finally took hold.

Georges Lane sunset.


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