Winter Hill & Two Lads Sunset

20th August 2023

I worked yesterday, and today's Lakeland forecast wasn't the best, so I did what normal people do on Sundays: I had a lie-in and took it easy. I can see Winter Hill on my daily commute to and from work, and if I'm honest, these last few months I hadn't been paying it that much attention until a couple of weeks ago when I started to miss the moorland, but being busy walking in the Lakes just meant the pull got stronger.

Given that I'm kind of free today, what better way to spend the evening than to plan a short walk on a favourite hill to catch the sunset.


Ascent: 601 Feet - 183 Metres
Summits: 2, Winter Hill - Two Lads
Weather: A Little Cloud to Start Turning Bright & Sunny Towards Sunset. Highs of 24°C Lows of 22°C Light Breeze At Height
Parking: Parking Spaces, Wilderswood
Area: West Pennine Moors
Miles: 4
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: Explorer 287
Time Taken: 2 Hours
Route: Wilderswood - Rotary Way - Smithills Moor - Winter Hill - Rotary Way - Two Lads - Pike Cottage - Wilderswood

Map and Photo Gallery


Winter Hill Transmitter seen beyond Two Lads 6.30pm 24°C

I'd given myself a full two hours to complete a walk that usually only takes me an hour and a half, which meant I could switch my legs to the 'dawdle setting'. It had been a cloudy but dry day, and if the forecasters are correct, the best of the sunshine would come towards the end of the day.

Instead of gaining Two Lads first, I'll flank it and collect it on my way back.

Toughsheet Community Stadium.
More commonly known as the Reebok, which was the scene of a crime yesterday when local rivals Wigan Athletic put four goals past Bolton. I'm not gloating, honest.

I pass Two Lads.
The forecasters had predicted clear skies from 6pm but I'm quite liking the cloud dramatics.

Winter Hill Transmitter from Smithills Moor.
I left Rotary Way and joined the path through the moorland, which was surprisingly dry underfoot given the amount of rain we've had. Don't mind these two they're a little camera shy because they've just got back from the b'arr-bers!

The view beyond Adam Hill and Burnt Edge.
Towards Bolton and Manchester.

Cable anchor.
The sun is getting low now and is about to clear the cloud, the light is utterly fantastic.

A few words from Tony, volunteer of the Woodland Trust.
His wonderful take on 19th Century Lancashire.

Approaching Winter Hill summit.
With the moorland behind me, I linked back up with Rotary Way, passing the monitoring station and, shortly afterwards, the last two people who I thought I'd see for the rest of the evening.

Looking back on Counting Hill.
Ahhh here's another place I miss.

Transmitters from Winter Hill trig point.

The ground was a tad soggy as I left Rotary Way again in favour of a short walk over moorland just so I could take in the view over Counting Hill. Continuing on as the breeze began to nip, but not enough to untie the hoodie I'd knotted around my waist.

The view north from the summit over the village of Belmont was as always exquisite, even in the low light, as I tracked cars travelling along Belmont Road, passing the reservoir before slowing down as they entered the village. The longer I stood, the colder it got, so I returned to the summit, where I waited for the sun to finally dip below the cloud.

Winter Hill Transmitter.
Bleak is beautiful but when the sun shines over the moorland bleak is powerful.

The skies turn to gold.

As the sun sinks towards the horizon.

Stand off.
I think I best find another way around.

Sun setting.
As I made my way back down Rotary Way I was treated to this wonderful display of light.


With just twenty five minutes until sunset I make my way towards Two Lads summit.

Two Lads is just up ahead.
I know you thought everyone had gone home, so if you'll just let me through.

Not long now.

Sun setting over Rivington Pike.

I made my way onto Two Lads, which was the boggiest of the two summits, and arrived to find the summit deserted. This wasn't the same for Rivington Pike, where I counted over half a dozen walkers who climb the pike most evenings to watch the sunset; tonight was no different. As it turns out, I was not alone when I was joined by two electric off-road bikes who thoughtfully weren't tearing up the place and slowed down as they shouldered Two Lads Summit and free-wheeled down the other side.

Silence again in a slight breeze that nipped at exposed skin, so I wandered across the shoulder of the fell not just to keep warm but to see the sun directly above Rivington Pike. The shot looked perfect, but it didn't look as good as the real thing after I viewed it again when I returned home. Just minutes left before the sun would dip below the horizon, leaving just a faded pink hue. I hadn't noticed the cloud clearing, allowing distant stars to appear before pastel greys turned into the night.


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