Rivington Pike, a Hill with a Past

Rivington Pike, a Hill with a Past

A short drive from Manchester, Rivington Pike sits at the most westerly point of Winter Hill on the West Pennine Moors. A popular walk throughout the year, this place has played a key part in the UK’s communication past.

Think back to a time when the internet and phones and electricity didn’t exist. This made the whole keeping in contact and passing urgent messages like ‘we are under attack send help’ a little bit more difficult than it is now.

While letters and occasionally word of mouth messages often got the job done sometimes something a little quicker was needed.

Introducing the humble beacon.

Dotted upon the tops of hills up and down the country these beacons would be used to pass messages over large distances quicker than any person could by a horse.

They basically worked by making a huge bonfire and the subsequent light and/or smoke could be seen for miles around and so everyone would know what was happening.

Such beaconry was used in the defeat of the Spanish Armada, to warn or an imminent Scottish/Welsh invasion/raid.

Now, however, they are occasionally lit for celebrations and ceremonial occasions such as for the Queen’s Jubilee. More frequently they provide the those of the outdoorsy persuasion with a good walk.

Rivington Pike is one such good walk.

Rivington Pike
Beginning of the walk

Most people choose to start their walk at Rivington Hall Barn (because it means you finish there and there is a nice little cafe). From there it’s up to you really.

There are lots of different walks, not all of them taking in the Pike. You could just venture up to the Japanese gardens, the kitchen gardens, and the summer house before heading up to the pike.

There is also a shorter more direct route up to the peak of Rivington Pike, but just as picturesque.

Rivington Pike tower
The approach to the tower at the peak

The Beacon itself was replaced by a tower in 1733 which still stands today and is a grade II listed. It was built by John Andrews of Rivington Hall as a watchtower and a lodge for shooting parties.

On a good day, you can see for miles in all directions. If you’re lucky you can see as far as the Lake District, Cheshire and even the Isle of Man.

Don’t despair if you haven’t got clear blue skies though because even on a cloudy day you can still get decent views of Winter Hill, Horwich and the Macron Stadium (Bolton Wanderers FC).

Rivington Pike views
The views on a cloudy day

Rivington Pike is super popular with families and dog walkers but never feels over-crowded. That is, apart from the car park. For this reason, I would recommend a morning walk when not only is it quieter but you also avoid the stress of finding someplace to park.


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