Monday, 3 May 2010

Joe’s Cup – 01 May

Thwarted by a poor weather forecast for Saturday night in Cumbria I settled for a long run over Winter Hill and Darwen Moor returning over Great Hill for a second climb, from Horwich, up Winter Hill. Up out of Horwich just as the sun begins to burn off the mist.

Winter Hill-001One of the many disused reservoirs on Winter Hill

The clouds lifted too slowly to see anything from the top of Winter Hill and dropping down into Belmont it looked as though Darwen Moors might need longer to rid themselves of the clag.

Winter Hill-002 Over Belmont towards Darwen Moors


Winter Hill-003 Reservoirs in Belmont with Winter Hill in the distance 

By the time I reached Darwen Moors the clag had gone and some blue sky appeared with the Jubilee Tower, as ever, looking like a 1950’s rocket. (Wikipedia has more details.) The moorland shows little sign of spring growth with only the shortest grass seeming to be growing.

Winter Hill-004Darwen Moor with the tower on the skyline

Great Hill and the moorland south to Winter Hill drain into the Anglezarke reservoirs and when the land was purchased in order to build the reservoirs and provide drinking water for Liverpool all the farms on the land were closed and abandoned, including the ironically named “Drinkwaters Farm” on Great Hill. Many of these ruins have Oak trees nearby and these are my favourite ones.

Winter Hill-005 Ruined farm with Oak trees on east side of Great Hill

Drinkwaters Farm was so named because of a nearby spring which still flows, rather gently, just below the path from the summit of Great Hill. Not far from the farm ruins is a small, discrete memorial to a local fell runner, Joe Whitter (1939-1991).

Winter Hill-006

Joe, a member of Wigan Phoenix,  was one of Lancashire’s true fell running characters well known for his ultra-distance runs over these moors. The spring at Drinkwaters was used regularly by Joe and his companions on Sunday morning runs.  The February 1992 Fellrunner magazine contained an obituary where it was observed

“Joe Whitter was one of those essential characters that make fell running what it is. The Anglezarke Moors will be a poorer place without him and he will be sadly missed. Typically, Joe requested his ashes be scattered on the moors he loved, and there are many fell runners who will now be unable to run past Drinkwaters on Great Hill without remembering him.”

Why “Joe’s Cup”?

Winter Hill-007

Careful removal of a stone or two and the cup itself is revealed (before being carefully replaced) 


Winter Hill-008 Below Great Hill is the village of White Coppice with its delightful cricket club

Winter Hill-009A lone Canada Goose on another disused reservoir

Not many weeks ago, on a Saturday morning, I saw Pauline and her companions running below Winter Hill out of hailing distance and way beyond catching even had I been going in that direction. This Saturday an even greater surprise awaited us both – climbing out of Horwich for the second time I saw Pauline running ahead of me. Eventually, I caught her and we shared the last five of my 31 miles.


  1. Love the photo of the cricket club...quintessential English village!

  2. It is and you are not the only one to think so - it has "starred" in a TV program as the quintessential village cricket club.

  3. i really enjoy the local history you squeeze into your posts.

  4. Thanks Kate - I enjoy digging around to find it.

  5. great walk today up to Great Hill ... lovely scenery and many more walks to come :0)

  6. We were only discussing Joe's Cup a few nights ago. It's surprising how many people walk straight past without seeing the plaque let alone knowing there's a little local history hidden beneath.
    Now I don't want to be picky but just for the record White Coppice is a hamlet, not a village.

    1. You are right, picky or not, so I'll try to remember to refer to it as a hamlet.

  7. i walked past Joe at drink waters farm a long time ago he was sat at his spot looking at the view. Joe offered me a brew .every time i pass i wish i had stopped to talk to him and take him up on his offer . i was a shy lad .