Rivington, Lancashire Sunday 6th January 2013

Today’s Walks

Strenuous Leader: Dennis Cookson   Distance: 9.5 miles

Most of the ascent comes in the first part of this walk. We head first for Pigeon Tower and then across to Rivington Pike. We then start to descend to Pike’s cottage where we take a path to the left of ‘Two Lads’ to pick up the road to the top of Winter Hill (456 metres). From the top we take a short but steep descent which flattens out to cross the Rivington-Belmont road at Hordern Stoops. The path from the top may be very muddy and gaiters, together with the use of sticks, would be advantageous. Now we pick up the path fo Higher Hempshaw’s and then on bridle paths to Simms and Lead Mines Clough towards the Yarrow Reservoir. We then walk round the north and west of this reservoir to head for Rivington village and a well deserved cuppa and mince pie!

Moderate Leader: Jean & Leo Keenan   Distance: 8.5 miles

Leaving the Information Centre we head for Rivington Village, then skirt around the Yarrow Reservoir and down through Lester Mill Quarry and along Anglezarke Reservoir. From here we walk the track up the valley below Stonstrey Bank to reach White Coppice for a lunch stop (no cricket or tea room though). After lunch we head for Cliff’s Farm, Healey Nab and Grey Heights with views over Chorley and, hopefully, Ashurst Beacon, Parbold Hill and Harrock Hill. We then return the other side of Anglezarke Reservoir, passing Kays Farm, over the bridge, and back to Rivington Village.

Leisurely Leader: Sue Daniels   Distance: 6.5 miles

The paths we follow today are a mixture of well defined and firm underfoot but there are a couple that go over long grass fields so if it has been raining it is advisable to put gaitors on! Heading towards Adlington, and having watched the traffic go by as we cross over the M61, we follow a gradual downward path then flat fields towards Chorley Golf Course and follow path down to the Leeds/Liverpool Canal. Leaving the towpath, it will be very nearly lunch time and, if the weather is bad, the Black Horse pub in Limbrick has kindly said it will be okay for us to eat our lunch inside (a beverage or two will no douibt be sampled). Leaving Limbrick we follow the road to Anglezarke Reservoir and follow field and road paths back down into Rivington and it’s lovely Hall Barn.

Easy Leader: Sully Adam   Distance: 5 miles

A flat walk with few stiles, but plenty of mud!

Notes On The Area

Rivington and Anglezarke lie on the south-western slopes of the West Pennine Moors, an area of moorland and reservoir scenery. The passage of time and the influence of man has shaped the valley and hillside into the landscape we see today, which undoubtedly has the attraction of a mini-lakeland. Man has populated the area for centuries, remains of Bronze Age settlements and tumuli, long since raided, can still be found up on the moors. There is also evidence of an early influence in the area from place names of a Scandinavian origin.

Rivington has developed over the centuries under several generations of the Pilkington family, who purchased the estate from the de Rivington (or de Roynton) family over 700 years ago. During the early 1600’s the estate was sold to joint owners Robert Lever of D’Arcy Lever and Thomas Breres of Preston. A century later, in 1729, the manor passed into the sole ownership of John Andrews, a descendent of Robert Lever. The manorial rights remained with the same family until 1900, when John William Crompton sold the estate to William Hesketh Lever who created Lever Park and the Terraced Gardens. The estate was subsequently acquired by Liverpool Corporation to protect their water supply.

Shortly after William Hesketh Lever (later to become Lord Leverhulme) bought the estate, he began to lay out a series of ornamental gardens around his luxurious home ‘The Bungalow’. Lever made his fortune in soap. Born in Bolton, the son of a grocer, he began making soap in Warrington in 1886. By the time he died, Lever Brothers (the forerunner of the multinational Unilever) was the largest firm of its kind in the world, and the new town of Port Sunlight was founded. His grand estate included the mansion of Rivington Hall, dating from the later 17th and early 18th centuries, but later rebuilt and extended. Still standing beside the hall is the Great House Barn, a much older structure which may date from as early as the 11th century. It was used as a tithe barn, but is now a restaurant. The gardens themselves incorporate slanting paths and terraces, sets of steps, plus a range of grottoes, bridges and artificial lakes. Built of dark local granite, these features can look sombre on a dull day but are nevertheless intriguing. The gardens have had an eventful history. Lever’s Bungalow was burnt by suffragettes. The exotic plants and buildings fell into decay and became overgrown. In recent years conservation work has opened up the network of paths again. Although the gardens have not been restored to their former glory, their wild and abandoned character is nevertheless attractive and gives them a powerful atmosphere.