Rivington Pike

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Rivington Pike
Rivington Pike Winter 1.jpg
Highest point
Elevation1,191 ft (363 m)
Prominencec. 50 ft
Coordinates53°37′11″N 2°32′28″W / 53.6196°N 2.5411°W / 53.6196; -2.5411Coordinates: 53°37′11″N 2°32′28″W / 53.6196°N 2.5411°W / 53.6196; -2.5411
Rivington Pike is located in Lancashire
Rivington Pike
Rivington Pike
Shown within Lancashire
Rivington Pike is located in the Borough of Chorley
Rivington Pike
Rivington Pike
Shown within Chorley Borough
LocationLancashire, England
Parent rangeWest Pennine Moors
OS gridSD643138
Topo mapOS Landranger 109

Rivington Pike is a hill summit on Winter Hill, part of the West Pennine Moors, overlooking the village of Rivington in Lancashire, England. The nearest towns are Adlington and Horwich. The Pike is a prominent local landmark which derives its name from the Old English hreof plus ing meaning the rough or rugged hill and pic, a pointed eminence. The hill was recorded as Rovyng in 1325 and Rivenpike in about 1540. Saxton records the name as Rivenpike Hill on his 1577 map.[1]

Geography and geology[edit]

Looking towards Lever Park and the reservoirs.

The pike at 1,191 feet (363 metres) high is the most westerly high point of Winter Hill in the West Pennine Moors. The high moorland is underlain with Carboniferous rocks, the Millstone Grit, sandstones and shales of the Lower Coal Measures which rise high above the Lancashire Plain to the west and Greater Manchester conurbation to the south. The humped shape of the summit coincides with a coal seam of the Lower Coal Measures at around 1,148 feet (350 metres) that outcropped and was mined around 1800. There is evidence of bell pits close to the summit.[2]

The natural vegetation is characterised by areas of blanket bog, impoverished upland heath and acid grassland.[3]

An extensive network of footpaths leads to the summit.[4] The highest part of the route to the summit is a footpath and steps built in the 1990s to combat erosion and prevent further deterioration. From the summit it is possible to see Blackpool Tower, the Lake District mountains, the Welsh mountains and as far as the Isle of Man on the clearest days.[5]


A long-range view of the Pike from the west

There are prehistoric sites at Noon Hill tumulus on Winter Hill, at Coblowe hillock by the Lower Rivington Reservoir and it is possible that a standing stone occupied the summit in the prehistoric period.[6] An archaeological dig found evidence of prehistoric activity at nearby Winter Hill but Rivington Pike summit has never been subject to an archaeological survey.[2]

In 1904 author, Fergusson Irvine described the Pike as "the curious hog-backed mound which crowns the summit of the hill and on which stands the Beacon, shows signs of having been at least shaped by artificial means. No doubt it is mainly a natural feature, but there are distinct traces of its having been trimmed and the approach steepened at several points".[6]


The prominent summit of Rivington Pike was the site of one of a series of beacons spanning England as an early warning system. The beacon system was put in place by Ranulph de Blundeville, 4th Earl of Chester around 1139,[7] following a Scottish raid in 1138, when a small Lancashire army was defeated near Clitheroe by a much larger Scottish force. The beacon was lit on 19 July 1588 to signal the Spanish Armada was heading towards English shores.[8] Beacons were lit near to the tower for the coronation of King George V in 1910, at the end of the Great War in 1918 and in 1977 and 2012 to celebrate the Silver and Diamond Jubilees of Queen Elizabeth II.


Rivington Pike Tower

The landmark Pike Tower is a Grade II* listed building on the summit. John Andrews of Rivington Hall built the tower in gritstone on the site of the beacon using its stone for the foundations. It was built as a hunting lodge. Square in plan with sides 16 feet (4.9 m) in length and 20 feet (6.1 m) high, it was built with a wooden roof, three windows and a door all of which are now blocked up. The roof was hidden by a parapet with pointed corner and intermediate steps. Inside its only room retains a fireplace and once had a chimney. The room is 13 feet (4.0 m) square with a cellar underneath its stone flagged floor and was originally wood panelled.[9] It had a 1733 date stone marking the year of its completion which has been removed.[10]

William Lever gifted land at Lever Park in Rivington to the people of Bolton which included the Pike Tower which was subsequently owned by Liverpool Corporation as part of an agreement for water supplies. The corporation neglected the tower and planned to demolish it in 1967. After a public outcry and legal action the land was transferred to Chorley Rural District Council who restored the building in 1973 and completed further work in the 1990s.[2] The land is now owned by United Utilities.[11]


Steps up the final ascent to the Pike Tower.

Rivington Pike Fair held annually on Whit Saturday was moved to Good Friday in 1900. It was held at the highest part of George's Lane, close to the summit. The fair attracted people from Horwich, Chorley and further afield. During the 1830s an increase in drunken and riotous behaviour following the fair brought prompt and stern measures from the local authorities. Two men from Bolton were charged with "Neglect of Divine Service".[8] The arrival of the Manchester and Bolton Railway's extension to Preston and the opening of Blackrod railway station in 1841 brought more visitors which was sustained until the introduction of seaside excursions in about 1860 resulted in a decline in visitors.

In the early 20th century, car and motorcycle races were held up on the pike. From 1906 to 1912, Bolton motorists witnessed the performance of cars and motorbikes in the hands of some notable drivers of the day on the private roads of the Rivington estate. Under the auspices of the North-East Lancs Automobile Club and the Lancashire Motor-Cycle Club, the first hill-climb races took place on 25 July 1906. Competitors were limited to members of the club, and the race was divided into 10 classes according to the list price of the car.[12] In 2011, 4x4 cars caused significant criminal damage in the Chinese gardens and around the pike.[13]


Music festivals and north country fairs were held in the Chinese gardens on the slope of the pike in 1976 and 1977 and locally named "flower power invasions".[14] Bands included Body, Tractor, The Damned and Here and Now. The 1976 festival inspired a group from Rochdale to launch the Deeply Vale Festivals in mid September 1976.[15]


The Rivington Pike Fell Race has been held on the Saturday before Easter Sunday since 1892. The fell race originally started from Horwich railway works, but since 1930 from the park entrance at Lever Park Avenue. It attracts around 400 runners. The course is 3¼ miles and has a 700-feet ascent.[16][17]

The area is popular with walkers and an extensive network of public footpaths provides access to the hillside and surrounding moorland.[18] Many walkers continue the Good Friday tradition of walking to the pike summit.[19]


According to folklore, the area around Rivington Pike was the haunt of a spectral horseman, described as demonic or revenant from which a young man is said to have had a lucky escape from in the 1700s.[20]

Nearby hill summits[edit]

Name Locality Elevation OS grid reference
Winter Hill Rivington 1,496 feet (456 m) SD659149
Counting Hill Smithills/Belmont 1,421 feet (433 m) SD671141
Two Lads Hill Horwich 1,276 feet (389 m) SD655133
Noon Hill Rivington 1,247 feet (380 m) SD647150
Crooked Edge Hill Horwich 1,230 feet (375 m) SD654134
Rivington Pike Rivington 1,191 feet (363 m) SD643138
Adam Hill Horwich 1,181 feet (360 m) SD660126
White Brow Horwich 1,175 feet (358 m) SD661124
Whimberry Hill Belmont 1,115 feet (340 m) SD686139
Egg Hillock Belmont 1,076 feet (328 m) SD684142
Brown Hill Rivington 1,066 feet (325 m) SD644135
Brown Lowe Smithills 1,066 feet (325 m) SD669130
Burnt Edge Horwich 1,066 feet (325 m) SD667125
Denotes walker's cairn or similar.[21]



  1. ^ Mills 1976, p. 126
  2. ^ a b c Winter Hill Scrapbook Vol 2 (PDF), daveweb.co.uk, pp. 10–16, retrieved 24 May 2010
  3. ^ The Evolution of Lancashire, Lancashire County Council, retrieved 16 December 2010
  4. ^ Country Walking (PDF), Live for the outdoors.com, archived from the original (pdf) on 8 October 2011, retrieved 13 May 2011
  5. ^ Rivington Pike, Manchester's Countryside, archived from the original on 24 March 2012, retrieved 13 May 2011
  6. ^ a b Fergusson Irvine 1904, p. 8
  7. ^ Pike, bolton.org.uk, retrieved 24 May 2010
  8. ^ a b Hampson 1893, p. ?
  9. ^ Historic England, "Rivington Pike Tower at SD 642 137 (1072505)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 9 June 2016
  10. ^ Hampson 1893, p. 146
  11. ^ Warrington to provide a sparkle for Diamond Jubilee, United Utilities, retrieved 8 April 2012
  12. ^ Races to the top of Rivington Pike, thisislancashire.co.uk, retrieved 4 May 2010
  13. ^ Chris Gee (4 March 2011). "4x4 rampage damages Rivington beauty spot". Lancashire Telegraph. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
  14. ^ Smith 1989, p. ??
  15. ^ Rivington Pike free festivals AKA North Country Fair 1976-78
  16. ^ Running Diary, Running Diary, retrieved 2010-06-02
  17. ^ Cornthwaite grabs success at Rivington Pike Fell Race, Lancashire Telegraph, retrieved 2 June 2010
  18. ^ Moorland Fringe, Lancashire County Council, archived from the original on 30 October 2010, retrieved 3 May 2011
  19. ^ Thousands step up for Good Friday Pike trek, The Bolton News, retrieved 13 May 2011
  20. ^ Codd 2011, pp. 131–132
  21. ^ Fields, p. 17


External links[edit]