The Wrinkly Rambler

Pleasant walks with camera and three dogs

Smithills Moor and the Dean Ditch

I had ideal walking conditions for this afternoon’s walk across Smithills Moor following the old Dean Ditch. It was nicely warm, but not too hot, and with a gentle breeze. After parking the car on the Winter Hill road I walked with Brett, Molly and Sam up to the stone cairns on Two Lads Hill, then continued over Rivington Moor to reach the telecommunications masts on top of Winter Hill. From there we walked eastwards following the old stone wall of the Dean Ditch over the undulating expanse of Smithills Moor. After reaching and walking around the old Dean Mills reservoir (where Brett, Molly and Sam spent some time playing in the water) we took the return path westward over Smithills Moor back to the top of Winter Hill before descending Rivington Moor back to the car.

View from Winter Hill of Belmont village with Belmont Reservoir behind and Turton Moor in the background.

View from Winter Hill of Belmont village with Belmont Reservoir behind and Turton Moor in the background.

Following the old wall known as the Dean Ditch over Counting Hill on Smithills Moor.

Following the old wall known as the Dean Ditch over Counting Hill on Smithills Moor.

There is an excellent booklet about Winter Hill and the surrounding moors by Dave Lane (Winter Hill Scrapbook) that you can download or buy a papaer copy, that gives the following information: “….The dry-stone wall follows the route of an ancient ditch which although today is known as Dean ditch, it was originally called Dane or Danes Ditch. A number of place names in this area indicate that the Danes once settled in this part of Lancashire (and don’t forget the Scandinavian stone axe found in Tigers Clough dating from before 2,000BC) and from pollen analysis we know that much of the deforestation of the moor took place around this period so perhaps the name Danes Ditch may not be too wide of the mark. The ditch is not visible for the full length of the wall but even when it vanishes, its route can be traced through the slightly differing colour of the vegetation seen at certain times of the year….”

Time for a quick paddle for Brett, Molly and Sam.

Time for a quick paddle for Brett, Molly and Sam.

Looking back towards the masts on top of Winter Hill.

Looking back towards the masts on top of Winter Hill.

Of course Brett, Molly and Sam couldn’t resist having another paddle.

Of course Brett, Molly and Sam couldn’t resist having another paddle.

After a long downhill stretch beside the wall we had our first view of Dean Mills Reservoir on the other side of the wall.

After a long downhill stretch beside the wall we had our first view of Dean Mills Reservoir on the other side of the wall.

When we reached the reservoir the three dogs were quick to have a good charge around in the water.

When we reached the reservoir the three dogs were quick to have a good charge around in the water.

On reaching the far end of the reservoir I came upon this long since abandoned piece of machinery. It may have been part of a mechanism to open a sluice gate to let water out of the reservoir.

On reaching the far end of the reservoir I came upon this long since abandoned piece of machinery. It may have been part of a mechanism to open a sluice gate to let water out of the reservoir.

We soon left the reservoir behind to meet up with the path for the return trip westward across Smithills Moor.

We soon left the reservoir behind to meet up with the path for the return trip westward across Smithills Moor.

We eventually reached the top of the path near the telecommunications masts and descended back down Rivington Moor to the car. On the way we passed by a couple of small moorland fires that had sprung up, and a little further along we were passed by a fire engine on its way to attend to the fires.

We eventually reached the top of the path near the telecommunications masts and descended back down Rivington Moor to the car. On the way we passed by a couple of small moorland fires that had sprung up, and a little further along we were passed by a fire engine on its way to attend to the fires.

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This entry was posted on March 28, 2012 by in Diary and tagged , , , , , , , .

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