Winter Hill is the highest point in the West Pennine area and towers over Rivington and its surroundings, although it is not tall enough to be classed as a mountain. Winter Hill is really a large, raised plateau of moorland with several summits named as hills in their own right, one being Rivington Pike. There are several other notable hills including Counting Hill, Noon Hill, Crooked Edge Hill, Adam Hill, Brown Hill and more. The summit of Winter Hill itself is rather understated and tucked away at the very end of the mast road behind the smaller radio masts and is marked by an OS trig point.
The name Winter Hill is probably derived from Old Norse, the first recorded name for the hill being Wintyrheld which would mean literally Winter Hill. However, “winter” and its variations certainly had the meaning “wet” in the old times and therefore means “the wet hill”, rather than our modern associations of cold or snow. Colloquialisms like “winter pasture” meaning poor agricultural land, probably at one time meant wet land that could not be farmed but could be used for pasture if necessary.
Between those times and now, it seems Winter Hill was shown as Egberden Hill on antique maps,, which would be derived from the Egbert’s Dean, which is the area now known as the Smithills Estate. The valley (dean from OE denu) reaches quite far up the hill and was once a prosperous area so passing cartographers seem to heard the place referred to as Egbert’s Dean Hill. Egbert’s Dean has a defined boundary in the SE quarter of the hill and should really refer to that area only.
The transmitter access road on Winter Hill is a private road once past the gate at the first cattle grid on the way up and motorised vehicles are not permitted except those attending the transmitter station. I believe also Bolton Soaring Club arranged access some time ago. However, there are quite a few vehicles seen on the road and in the various off road flat areas or bits of tarmac. This situation has been exacerbated by the decline to an almost unusable state of the small parking area before the first gate. If you’re going to drive up the hill then take care because the transmitter road is a popular footpath for walkers including those with young children as the road is tarmac and although steep, an easy walk without entering the boggy moorland beside. There is crowded but legal parking nearby at Wilderswood and rough parking just further on around the corner.
Lat: 53.629844 Lon: -2.515882
Marker type: Place
The site of a small hamlet and fireclay works high on Winter Hill, once housing families employed in the local quarrying, mining and fireclay industries. Often passed by walkers on their way up the hill, there are a number of interesting industrial remains hidden in the moorland grass.
High on the summit of the often foreboding Noon Hill is a Bronze Age round cairn topped by a more recent cairn of uncertain age. The round cairn was excavated in the 1950’s/60’s and yielded several cremations and funery ornaments now in the possesion of Bolton Museum. This site is rumoured to have been put to use in more recent times as a secret meeting place for persecuted Christians.