Winter Hill Mass Trespass – 125th Commemoration Walk Sunday, September 5th, 2021

The mass trespass of Kinder Scout in 1932 is famous as the time working people asserted their right to roam when they challenged the landowners who wanted to close off ancient footpaths.

In fact, a protest took place 36 years earlier on Winter Hill above Bolton in September 1896 when wealthy landowner, Colonel Richard Ainsworth, erected a gate across Coal Pit Road, an ancient route the people of the town had used for years, in order to protect his grouse shooting. 10, 000 people turned out to stage a mass trespass.

Access to our countryside and our open spaces is sadly still an issue today.

A commemorative walk is planned to mark the 125th anniversary of the original ‘mass trespass’.  It is taking place on Sunday, September 5th, 2021, and many organisations and individuals will be walking with us that day.  We would welcome all Ramblers to join us for what will, hopefully, not only be an enjoyable, happy walk through some beautiful countryside but one which will affirm what  the Ramblers, as an association, stands for.  The Ramblers’ president, Stuart Maconie, is hoping to join us at some point (he is doing a radio programme at Salford early that morning).

The walk will start from the bottom of the A6099, Halliwell Road (SD716103 on the OS map 287) which is approximately a half hour walk, north, from Bolton Bus & Train Interchange in the town centre.  Buses will be at the Interchange to meet the 9 o’clock train from Manchester Victoria and the 9.50am train from Manchester Piccadilly to take participants to the start of the walk.  There is car parking in the streets around the bottom of Halliwell Road and in the car parks in Bolton town centre (charges apply).

People will start rallying at the start point at 10am when there will be some live music and some short speeches.  At 10.30am, the walk will move off and will proceed to the top of Halliwell Road, cross the A58, Bolton Ring Road, Moss Bank Way, and continue north along Smithills Dean Road, past Smithills School to Smithills Hall & Museum (SD699117).  Expected time of arrival will be around 12 midday.  The walk will only pause briefly at the Hall but it is expected that a number of people will join the walk there.  There will in fact be a number of events going on at the Hall from 11am to about 3pm, including live music and performance art, dance, workshops, a mobile cafe and a variety of stalls, including one promoting the Ramblers.  Car parking is available along Smithills Dean Road.  The Hall has its own car park but it is likely that this will fill up quickly and early.

The walk carries on to the next road junction, with Scout Road and Colliers Row Road, and passes straight over into Coal Pit Road, still heading north-west.  As Coal Pit Road bends to the left, the footpath where, 125 years ago, the gate was erected to keep walkers out (at SD675133) – now a Public Right of Way – bears off north-west.  At this point there will be another pause to recognise the significance of the spot, and then the walk will carry on over the moors to the summit of Winter Hill and the Radio/TV Mast & Station.  It then continues on downhill, north-east, to Belmont and the A675 where refreshment can be obtained at a restaurant or pub.  Expected time of arrival is between 2pm and 3pm.  Buses will be available to ferry walkers back from Belmont to Smithills or to Bolton town centre.

The walk is about 6 ½ miles long and includes walking on roads and on rough moorland tracks.  The weather in this area can be very changeable so bring sturdy walking gear, water and any refreshment required.

Bolton Ramblers look forward to seeing you on the walk.