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West Pennines & Rossendale - Summits

Winter Hill

Winter Hill is one of the best known and, thanks to its array of masts, one of the most recognisable Pennine hills in Lancashire.

Height (m) 456
Height (ft) 1496
Grid Ref: SD659149
Classification: Marilyn, CoUa
Trig Point: Yes
No. of Visits 1, 2

Winter Hill Gallery: Click on the photos below to enlarge.

Winter Hill from Spitlers Edge
The trig point on Winter Hill looking towards Darwen Moor
Winter Hill from near the Crookfield Road car park
Winter Hill towering above Belmont
Belmont from Winter Hill
Approaching the TV mast via the access road
The plaque commemorating the 1958 air disaster on Winter Hill
The Scotsman's Stump
The cairn marking the Bronze Age burial mound on Noon Hill
Two of the three cairns on Crooked Edge Hill, somewhat confusingly marked on the map as Two Lads

More about Winter Hill: Winter Hill is the highest point in the area known as the West Pennine Moors. It is a hill steeped in history and even more than most Pennine hills it has been heavily marked by the hand of man. No better example of this is the 1000ft high TV transmitter mast near the summit, a feature that helps identify the hill from a great distance. Winter Hill's summit is the modern day county top of the Blackburn & Darwen Unitary Authority while under a third of a mile to the south east is the highest point of the Bolton Unitary Authority.

The giant TV mast is just one of a number that adorn the summit area, there are also numerous other masts including telecommunications and police masts. The masts along with their associated buildings make the summit area quite unusual (some would say garish). The trig point, often the sole adornment of a summit is here rendered quite insignificant and its siting between various fences is not the most inspiring.

There are a couple of notable memorials near the summit. The first is a plaque on the television mast building which commemorates an air disaster that occurred on 27th February 1958 when a flight from the Isle of Man to Manchester crashed near the summit with the loss of 35 people and another seven injured. There have been a number of other air crashes on Winter Hill but as far as I am aware this is the only one memorialised on the hill itself.

The other monument is the iron post known as Scotsman's Stump. The words on the post are as follows, "In Memory of George Henderson Traveller Native of Annan Dumfrieshire Who Was Barbarously Murdered On Rivington Moor At Noonday November 9th 1838 In The 20th Year Of His Age." Apparently the case remained unsolved and the killer was never apprehended. The current post was erected in 1912 to replace an earlier tree that had been planted on the spot in memory of the unfortunate Henderson.

Winter Hill is also the site of two bronze age burial mounds, one not far from the summit and another on the area known as Noon Hill. The latter is known as the Noon Hill Saucer Tumulus. Excavations in 1958 revealed the burnt remains of the bones of at least two humans. These remains were dated to around 1100 B.C. Today the tumulus on Noon Hill is marked by a cairn and there is little obvious sign of the burial mound below ground.

On the western flanks of the moor are the popular subsidary summit of Rivington Pike and the equally popular Lever Park. Finally mention has to be made of a mass trespass that took place on Winter Hill in September 1896. Much less well known than the 1932 mass trespass on Kinder Scout the Winter Hill trespass occurred after Colonel Ainsworth of Smithills Halls closed the moorland footpaths to protect his grouse shooting interests. This action caused considerable outrage and it is estimated that about 8,000 people took part in the protest which saw them climb the hill via Smithills Moor before descending to Belmont.

In addition to all the features above Winter Hill is also supposed to be one of the few places where one can see the summits of four different National Parks (the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales, Lake District and Snowdonia). Unfortunately on neither visit I've made was the visibility particularly good. Personally I find Winter Hill fascinating and it is definitely somewhere I imagine returning to again.

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West Pennines & Rossendale