The walk tonight is in the Rivington estate bought by Lord Leverhulme in 1900. Lord Leverhulme was born in Bolton, made his fortune with Sunlight Soap which eventually became the world wide Unilever. Once purchased he started building the ornamental Terrace Gardens and bungalow residence. It is part of Lever Park one of the largest and most impressive examples of landscape design in Edwardian England. We will explore the ruins from which we can marvel at what sort of place it was with magnificent stone archways, flights of stone steps climbing up the hillside, numerous summer houses, ponds, waterfalls and grottoes, exotic oriental gardens which once had pagoda like buildings and a willow pattern footbridge
From the car park, we take the track behind Rivington Hall Barn, this very interesting building is said to have been built about 1550. It is what is called a cruck building as massive split oak trees stand on stone pillars to support the roof. It was restored and enlarged by Lord Leverhulme. We then pass behind Rivington Hall a grade 2 listed building. Once through the woods and up the field we enter the Ornamental Terraced Gardens. We pass the few remains of South Lodge before taking the lower and less steep way to see how amazing these gardens are. We soon come to the absolutely beautiful Cascade and then the Japanese Lake before seeing the remains of kitchen gardens and bothies.
We then take the stony track out of the Gardens on our way to Rivington Pike. This is the site of an ancient beacon which was lit on July 1st 1588 to warn of The Spanish Armada. The Tower was built on the beacon site in 1733, some of the stones to build the tower are from the beacon. The tower was used originally as a shooting lodge. It is a grade 2 listed building.It is a marvellous viewing point, on a clear day the hills of Wales and the fells of the Lake District can be seen as well as the Flyde coast line. In the far distance in line with Blackpool tower is Snaefell on the Isle of Man.
We then go down the steps, and across the stony track to return to Rivington Gardens. At an open space we can see some old tiles which are the only remains of ‘The Bungalow’ which was Lord Leverhulme’s garden residence. The bungalow was wood and burnt down by suffragettes in 1913. It was replaced by a stone bungalow, but this was demolished after the 2nd World War. We go down the concentric stone steps to what was once The Orchestra Lawn. The base of the sundial still stands in the far corner.
From here we follow the footpath to The Pigeon Tower. The Pigeon Tower was originally a dovecote with 4 rooms and a spiral staircase with lady Leverhulme’s sewing room on the top floor. We then go down the steps to follow the path at the side of the Italian pond where Lord Leverhulme and his guests took a morning swim. We then turn down the main steps and over the seven arched bridge. From here we continue going down by taking every footpath going right and finally back through the kissing gate, field and woods to the car park..
This is a leisurely walk with lots to see and marvel at and to imagine what it was like 100 years ago when Lord Leverhulme was walking in these grounds.