Here’s something that you don’t see often, “Winter Hill” and “a fine expedition” in the same sentence. And yet that was my impression of today.
Yesterday I could see a “free” day ahead and naturally I thought of a SOTA trip. My wife even offered me the car. However I decided to try another public transport trip. A few minutes on Transport Direct
showed that several summits were not practical (Raw Head and Moel Gwy). Arnside Knott is fun by train but the fare was too expensive. I then remembered the GMPTE Wayfarer Ticket. This allows unrestricted travel in a given area after 09:30am for £9.20
A glance at the map GMPTE map showed several possibilities but the one that caught my eye was Winter Hill. I realised that the northern limit of the ticket would get me to Belmont and a plan started to form. At first this involved a round trip based on Belmont but this was “car” thinking. I was not so constrained and the idea of a Grand Traverse came to me. The plan was thus:
Travel to Belmont using the wayfarer ticket (two trains and a bus)
Ascend Winter hill and activate
Descend to Horwich
Return home (bus and two trains).
The outward journey went well and I arrived at Belmont at 11:10. There was lots of snow about so I opted for a fairly direct ascent. I had done this in the summer and knew that it could be hard going (very wet with awkward tussock). With the snow on the ground it was far easier and I enjoyed an ascent on undisturbed snow about 10cm deep. It was still hard going though with the combination of soft snow and tussock proving hard work.
Just less than 45 minutes and I was at the top. I followed the road to just south of the TV mast and set up to activate on 2m FM. I soon realised that the VX110 was really struggling with the strong signals up on the hill. I could hardly hear most of the stations that called. My choice of a vertical was a poor one. I really needed a beam. After a while I gave up and enjoyed my sandwiches and coffee in the sun and snow.
To descend I followed the road. I have never driven up Winter Hill and was interested to see what the road was like. I ended up in Horwich on the main road just as the bus turned up. A trouble-free journey saw me back in Macclesfield by 15:00. All in all a fine expedition across Winter Hill.
Incidentally, the Wayfarer seems to open up several nice routes. Snake Pass Inn to Edale looks tempting. Even Billinge Hill might be done.