The meaning of the name Rivington indicates the presence of a “rough hill”. Thanks to the efforts of Bolton born William Hesketh Lever the hill is not so rough as it used to be and is an excellent place to drive to and enjoy a stroll and partake of a substantial snack.

Lever was born in 1851 and he followed in his father’s grocery business before setting up his Sunlight Soap factories. These became part of the massive Unilever empire, still one of the largest companies in the world.

In 1889 Lever bought Rivington Hall and its estate. He kept 45 acres (18 hectares) for his own use but in 1902 he gave the rest of the estate for the people of Bolton to enjoy.

Lord Leverhulme, as he later became was fanatical about preserving heritage and one of his pet hates was the fact that the expanding city of Liverpool had demolished its once powerful castle.

William looked out over Lower Rivington reservoir which had been completed in the 1870’s and in 1912 he set about constructing a replica. This still stands on the banks of the reservoir.

There are also two wonderful old barns to be explored. These are known to date to the 18th century but some of the beams have been dated to Anglo-Saxon times.

Lord Leverhulme’s idea was to have the barns renovated and used as refreshment rooms for visitors. This did not happen in his lifetime but one is now used as a cafe and bookshop. During the second world war both barns were used to store rations and were guarded by units of the Home Guard.

My Walk

From the car park bear left and pass close to the Go Ape tree climbing complex so beloved by youngsters. The trees hereabouts are also loved by birds. When i did this walk in May, I spent ages watching the antics of a young tawny owl. From my “Go Ape/Go Owl”wood sweep left down a path and cross over a small stream.

Follow the very obvious bridleway, ascend a gentle incline and reach the reservoir back on the right and which is seen through yet more trees.

Be sure to keep to the lower path which passes close to the reservoir. All around this woodland walk there are seats, some of which have been donated by those who loved the area. Look up to see the hills on the left. Here are the Levenhulme pigeon tower and the square tower which is Rivington Pike to the right of it.

The path winds its way around a replica of the ruined Liverpool Castle. From the castle the track leads straight ahead through woodland and eventually leads to another car park but do not go so far.

Look out for an obvious footpath leading off to the left. Continue through the woodland and take time to enjoy the bird life.

Look out for seats alongside the path. One of these is dedicated to a lady called Edna Parker and from this seat take the second footpath to the right. Follow the upper footpath which winds its way gently with the reservoir on the left and return to the starting point.


1) The visitors centre close to the barn has leaflets and displays showing the history of Rivington. The centre is often closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

2) Do not miss visiting Rivington village. There is a village green with stocks and the parish church of Holy Trinity rebuilt in 1541 re-using some of the stone of a 13th century church. Nearby also look out for the old grammar school.