Summer is starting to set on us here in in North, if we ever saw it at all, so we’re thinking about getting out and about as much as possible before we couldn’t think of anything worse. Luckily, a gorgeously green wonderland sits waiting for visitors all year round, and it’s knocking at the door of Greater Manchester. Straddling the border of Bolton and Chorley, Rivington encompasses a huge area which includes a quaint village, several reservoirs, vast woodland and wide open green spaces.
With many parts such as the terraced gardens founded by the infamous Lord Leverhulme, founder of Unilever and Bolton tycoon, giving his title to many sites in the town including Leverhulme Park, the area has such rich cultural history and really played a part in much of the local history too.
The reservoirs in Rivington amount to an astonishing seven, including Anglezarke and Yarrow, as well as Upper and Lower Rivington, making for some great, green walking routes around the water. Much of these routes consist of purposefully yet sympathetically cleared pathways, through woodland and lush green fields, with a selection of difficulties and lengths – perfect for a stroll with the family.
Maps and signage can be found throughout the expanse, even if you sometimes feels as though you’re completely in the middle of nowhere. There are also activities galore through the spring and summer months, including kayaking and sailing on the reservoirs and the dedicated Go Ape site where you can swing through trees and zoom down ziplines to your heart’s content.
Rivington, of course, also houses Rivington Pike on Winter Hill, part of the West Pennine Moors, on top of which a hike is beautifully rewarded with the most stunning of views overlooking the North of England and Wales. Rivington Pike Tower is a great spot to take a photo and celebrate your achievement, taking in the view, or more likely getting blown away by the gusts up there! On your way down, stop off at the whimsical-looking, almost Harry Potter-esque Pigeon Tower, as well as the Italian and Japanese gardens, decked out with gorgeous landscaping including lush ponds and architectural features.
The variety of eateries, cafes and street food in and around Rivington is the stuff of dreams, and is only expanding. Pop into the beautiful Spring Cottage or Great House Barn for a spot of lunch, afternoon tea or just a cuppa and a chat, all within the confines of the surrounding elegant foliage and quaint design. If it’s something more substantial you’re after, Curley’s Dining Room will do the trick, with hearty fish and chips, burgers and pies on the menu. Pop down into Horwich after a big walk and get as cosy as possible whilst looking out onto Curley’s very own fishery.
Back to Rivington, though, and everyone knows about the bowling green. With its humble cafe and elevated position above one of the reservoirs, Rivington Bowling Green is a staple for walkers and locals, serving hot drinks, soft drinks, ice cream, cake and sandwiches for when you get a bit peckish chasing after the dog or getting a bit too competitive on the green. Plus, the staff are just ridiculously lovely.
The newest addition to Rivington’s collection of businesses stands just across the reservoir. Rivington Brewing Co is the area’s very own micro brewery and tap room, offering craft beer and good vibes. Not only can you sit in, have a drink and some casual food with mates, but the outdoor space at the brewery makes for an absolute paradise when the weather picks up. The social space is perfect for gatherings, parties and small catch-ups alike, and is just heaven after a couple of hours walking around the local area.
Make sure to walk or drive through Rivington Village, too, as it provides that lovely warm feeling that comes with quaint English villages packed with history – and this one dates from an early settlement around 620-650 AD. Nowhere is that history more prevalent than on the green at the front of the village hall, where original wooden stocks still stand from the public humiliation of yesteryear.
Rivington is absolutely packed with things to do and see, whether you’re up for a hike or simply fancy a pint, so make sure to get out there on the next sunny day – or even a grim one. At just a 50 minute drive from Manchester, it really is worth it.