More than a 1,000 people followed in the footsteps of those who came before as they commemorated the role Bolton played 125 years ago in opening up the countryside for all to enjoy.

Just like in 1896, people gathered at the bottom of Halliwell Road to commemorate the Battle for Winter Hill, when the people of Bolton staged what remains the country’s biggest rights of way dispute.

Ten thousand people marched in protest after Colonel Ainsworth closed public access to Winter Hill ­— to hold private grouse shooting parties with his friends.

Speeches were held at the bottom of the road, before walkers started the trek to Winter Hill.


Winter Hill 125 Walk from Halliwell to Winter Hill. Photo by Karen Hope, September 5 2021.



Mayor of Bolton Cllr Linda Thomas (pictured) said: “This is the battle ground for the right to roam, which was forgotten and it was Paul Salveson, a brilliant historian, to remind us of it.”

She added: “Bolton people have a great sense of justice.

“This is my ward which I represent, Halliwell, and am really proud that 125 years ago from the bottom of Halliwell Road to the top of the road, at the Ainsworth Arms, 10,000 people gathered, how amazing is that.

“It was very brave of the ordinary folk to defy the landlord and the police.”

The walk also served to remind people of how little of the country’s beautiful countryside is actually to open to them.


Winter Hill 125 Walk from Halliwell to Winter Hill. Photo by Karen Hope, September 5 2021.


Guy Shrubsole (pictured) who also spoke at the gathering, said: “It’s an incredibly important part of the history of the right to roam movement in this country.”

He said the right to roam was not about trespassing in people’s garden.

He added: “I don’t want anyone to trespass in gardens, we are talking about 100,000 acres outside of those gardens that people don’t even see or know about.”

People came from across the North West to take part in the walk, with some not having heard about the mass trespass of Winter Hill until this year, as anniversary celebrations got under way.

Smithills Hall staged a fun day as part of the day.

All pictures by Karen Hope