I've grown up in the shadow of Rivington Pike and the adjacent Winter Hill and as a student at Rivington and Blackrod High School we were herded into the hills on an annual basis for a walk up to the peak.
Having not made the short walk through Lever Park in over ten years I felt that I should take a trip back in time and relive my school days and the history of the area.
Lord Leverhulme bought Rivington Manor in 1900 and the following year gifted Lever Park to the town of Bolton keeping 45 acres for himself to build upon.
Ready, Steady, Walk
Many walkers commence their tramp at the two cruck barns (Rivington Hall Barn and Great House Barn) which are along the road just past my old school. However I decided to start my walk further out at Curleys Fishery which is about a 20-30 minutes walk from the nearest railway station, Horwich Parkway.
After walking through the recently redeveloped Arcon Village, an old bleach works converted into stylish houses and apartments, I made the turn up towards the general direction of the pike.
Remembering the Winter Hill Plane Crash
There feels like hundreds of offshoot paths that lead you off across the moorland. Several cyclists were heading up one to a building which I was informed was where a memorial plaque was laid in memory of a 1958 plane crash on Winter Hill that killed 35 people. Due to the snowy conditions at the time of the crash the exact location is not known.
As the path widens and the view appears you can look down upon Bolton Wanderers' Reebok stadium and the nearby towns of Horwich and Blackrod. We shared the path with fellow walkers, mountain bikers and horses all enjoying the mild temperatures that were ideal for exploring.
Ancient Beacon at Rivington Pike Summit
We came to a turning point that led up some steps to the summit and home to one of a series of beacons that are spread across England that acted as an early warning system which has been around for over 800 years.
From the peak I could see as far as the Welsh mountains but too overcast to see as far north as Blackpool, which I always remember seeing when I'd previously visited.
Remains of Lord Leverhulme Estate
Close by was the Pigeon Tower which was part of Lord Leverhulme's estate, which I then headed off to. The remains of the estate are not very well signposted and you almost seem to stumble over things without realising what they were. I'd gone in search of Roynton Bungalow which Lord Leverhulme had lived in. I remember all that remained were some mosaic tiles that presumably had been the remains of one of the room's floor. Unfortunately I wasn't able to find it.
I did manage to come across an archway leading to Roynton Gardens and the Japanese Gardens. There did happen to be a small display of how the lake had originally looked and how, inspired by a trip to Japan, Lord Leverhulme had built three pagodas surrounding a lake with flowing waterfalls. Today, however there are no pagodas and no waterfalls and the lake was full of empty beer cans and by the side, a discarded tent and two used barbecues that had been lit underneath a pine tree.
The walk took me across the back of the school and up a steep hill before rejoining the path I had commenced on, finishing the morning with lunch at Curley's Fishery.
I really enjoyed the walk around Rivington but I'm disappointed in the upkeep of the remains of the estate. I'm not sure whose responsibility it is to look after the area but as a reminder of Bolton's past and as Lever Park was a gift to the town, it's a shame that it hasn't been better looked after.
Have you revisited somewhere from your past? Ever made the trip up to Rivington Pike? What did you think of the estate?