Rivington Reservoir Walk
Quiz question: In what field did Thomas Hawksley rise to prominence? Answer: Water engineering. Why is it that water engineers seem so invisible outside the water engineers’ fan club? Yet their contribution to the well-being of the nation was as significant as the development of medical science. By the 1840s it was beginning to be acknowledged that the inadequate supply of water to the growing towns and cities of the UK may have been responsible for their high mortality rates. Typhus and cholera epidemics killed urban dwellers in their thousands. Manchester and Liverpool had to look far afield to secure water collection and supply – upland areas that had high rainfall – the Pennines, the Lake District and North Wales. The Rivington Pike scheme was under the direction of Thomas Hawksley (1807 – 1893) who designed a chain of reservoirs nestling below the West Pennine Moors to supply Chorley (after all it was their water ion the first place) and Liverpool.  Despite their highly practical purpose, the area – an artificial lake district – has become a magnet for visitors, especially walkers. We put up statutes for admirals and field marshals – isn’t it about time we honour our water engineers?

Start: Rivington Great House Barn BL6 7SB.

 

Confusingly there are two Rivington Barns - Rivington Hall Barn which is set well away from the road to the east of Rivington Lane and the Great House Barn which is on Rivington Lane. I mention this to alert walking group leaders arranging a meeting point. Last month the Dotcom walkers seemed to be dispersed over a wide area at the RV time when we checked the route out.

 

Fact File:

Distance: 7 miles
 

Time: 3 - 4 hours

Grade: Mainly easy

Maps: OS Explorer 287 West Pennine Moors

Directions:
1. From the car park behind the barn, tea room and information centre take a track into woodland passing the "Go Ape" office/hut and soon after branching right on a course parallel to Rivington Lower Reservoir.

 

This will take you to Horrobin Lane close to the primary school. Turn left

 

and cross the causeway separating the Lower and Upper Reservoirs. But for this feature - necessary to ensure there was convenient access from Chorley to the village - there would be just one reservoir. At the far end in front of Horrobin Cottage

 

turn right onto a service road. (Horrobin Cottage was built as a waterman's residence - note the symbol of the Liver Bird on the chimney breast. Keep on the road as it passes a drive to a house on the left and crosses an overflow channel to bring you in another half mile

 

to Knowles Lane. To the right the causeway divides Anglezarke Reservoir from Upper Rivington Reservoir. Cross the road to a wooden kissing gate

 

and through it keep ahead on a path leading alongside a wall to the right

 

which encloses a slither of woodland. Further along the wall is replaced by a fence with a more open view of the reservoir. Always with the fence on your right follow the side of a large embankment

 

until you reach a narrow lane.

 

Turn right and continue passing two farms on the left turn right just beyond a corner of the embankment onto Kay's Farm Drive. As you reach the farm

 

turn left onto an enclosed track that is a public bridleway (waymarked with blue arrows). 

 

Keep on this for half a mile and then turn right onto a public footpath

 

leading to a metal gate

 

on the edge of woods. Have a care down the slope as after wet weather it will be slippery. Also a fallen tree makes for an awkward though not insurmountable obstacle. The path descends

 

close to the water's edge

 

not far from Moor Road at the northern end of Anglezarke Reservoir and the half-way point of the walk.

2. Turn right on the lane

 

and follow it pass a handsome waterman's cottage

 

- this one in mock Tudor style - to cross a watercourse known as the Goit. A goit is a rather archaic name for a channel but why this one should be elevated with the use of the definite article is not known to this writer. After it turn right through a gate

 

into woods. The path leads upwards on a stepped slope

 

and after levelling out continues to a gate

 

leading into close cropped pastureland. Here you'll admire a fine view across Anglezarke Reservoir - see if you don't!

 

Keep on the path to re-enter woods on a course that takes you away from the reservoir as the route crosses the neck of a peninsular below High Bullough Reservoir. Keep on the main track as it climbs to High Bullough Reservoir

 

which use to be known as Chorley Reservoir and pre-existed Thomas Hawksley's scheme . The track descends through woods to water level of the main reservoir and continues

 

to meet Knowsley Lane. Walk along this until you almost reach the causeway then take a path that switches back

 

to climb alongside the most obvious engineering feature encountered thus far - the

 

giant's staircase that is an overflow from the Yarrow Reservoir. The path climbs up to the embankment below the reservoir.

 

Here turn right on a broad path that gently descends a junction of tracks.

 

Turn right and in 600yds reach

 

Horrobin Lane close to the causeway. From here retrace your outward steps.

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