Monday, 19 March 2012

Winter Hill: Coope’s Dozen Recce – 17 March

Coope’s Dozen is a long established Horwich RMI club run that is now open to friends and guests as well as club members. The route is more or less established but a number of variations have been used over the years and there might still be others worth investigating. This morning’s plan is to finally establish the best of the new variations to the summit of Counting Hill and to have another look at the route from Sugar Loaf that Albert took me on in 2009.

The low cloud made finding Rivington Pike tricky so I wasn’t optimistic about the next 10 of the dozen until the clouds started to lift and blow away.

20120317-winterhill-3The “Two Lads” under heavy grey clouds as the last of the lower clouds blow away

20120317-winterhill-7Bolton under high clouds

Far from finalising the best route to Counting Hill summit I found the worst new line of all the ones I have looked at over this winter. As with almost all of them it starts out looking very good, becomes a little vague and finally disappears – this one didn’t finally disappear until it was in the middle of, what will be in July, the worst of very bad bracken. This was disappointing, not least, because the whole point of this it to avoid the bands of bracken or find a way through them. This needs yet another recce.


20120317-winterhill-12Belmont Village

20120317-winterhill-24Finger Post on Great Hill points to Darwen Tower which can be seen in the distance

After Counting Hill the route over Winter Hill, Old Adam, Spittlers Edge and Great Hill is fairly straightforward. Sugar Loaf seems to float on a peat bog – especially if you are running down to it from Great Hill. From its summit faint and not so faint paths radiate out in almost all directions. I knew roughly the direction I wanted and I also knew Albert had some trouble find the route so I set off following a faint trod running in the right direction. Before long I realised why Albert had route finding problems here – there isn’t a route. Eventually I decided it would be better to cross Hurst Hill than to try and contour round – I also hoped I might be able to see the farm at which I should join the road. It might have been better crossing Hurst Hill but it wasn’t good, the ground is quite difficult.


20120317-winterhill-26Twin Cairns on Hurst Hill with Winter Hill in the distance

Beyond the summit the ground is no better and quad bike track I followed added a mile or so to the route and completely convinced me I won’t be coming this way again on my own. 0/2 for route finding this morning but I haven’t been on Hurst Hill before and hadn’t seen the cairns so that was fine. The above shot of the cairns was quite pleasing so I felt I had enough useable photos and thought I might just add one of the Waterman’s Cottage at Heapey.

20120317-winterhill-29Waterman’s Cottage at Heapey overlooking a somewhat depleted reservoir

Standing by the wall looking at the cottage I thought I saw something move just below me. A second glance revealed nothing and just as I had convinced myself there was nothing to see, I took another look, just to be sure and . . . .


20120317-winterhill-28A weasel has another look to see what I am doing

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