After our walk up to Rivington Pike in July which took us through the edge of the terraced gardens, I really wanted to go back for a proper look. We eventually did so on the lovely sunny Sunday of the August Bank Holiday weekend.
The first part of the walk takes you through Breres Meadow where the tree line marks the start of the gardens. The Terraced Gardens were built by William Hesketh Lever, Lord Leverhulme, in the early 1900s. Before he planted trees and shrubs, and built waterfalls, rockpools, terraces, bridges and towers, there was nothing but open hillside and moorland.
We were following a self-guided trail using the red waymarkers to show us the route.
At various stages there are numbered posts to show you where there's information in the trail guide.
Here we're looking at one of the many garden shelters. It was built in 1922 to look out over Breres meadow, though there are too many trees to see the meadow these days.
Next stop is the Ravine.
All of the waterfalls and the stream going down the hillside are completely manmade, all designed by T H Mawson. Some areas you could guess have been constructed but others, like the part above, look really natural.
The lake is part of the Japanese garden, built in 1922, which was surrounded by exotic plants and shrubs and flamingoes! I don't know what they would have made of a windswept hill in Lancashire!
There would also have been ornamental lanterns and tea houses but these have long since disappeared.
At one time the area had been completely taken over by rhododendrons but most have been cleared away: there are just a few remaining.
Time for a quick sit down to consult the map before we continue onwards.
Next on the trail are a range of ruined garden buildings which would have been storage sheds.
We're now at the bottom of a flight of stairs known as the Long Walk.
Just through the archway, there's an open area. To the right, a garden shelter overlooking what was once the tennis courts.
You'd struggle to find your ball among all the bilberries now!
On the right, another garden shelter.
This one overlooks what would have been the Great Lawn, where Lord Lever held several open days.
Continuing on to the top of the Long Walk and turning left, we arrived at the site of the main house, known as 'the Bungalow'.
All that remains of The Bungalow are areas of tiled floor.
Below the site of the Bungalow was a bowls and croquet lawn.
In the far corner, only the base of the sundial remains.
Continuing on, we're reaching the highest point of the trail.
And arrive at the Pigeon Tower, constructed in 1910.
The lower floors housed ornamental doves but it's believed the top floor was used by Lady Lever as a sewing room. Would you ever be able to concentrate on sewing with those views in front of you?
What goes up must come down, so we headed off on the final part of the trail.
Another garden shelter. They all look a bit spooky with the entrances and windows covered with bars.
The last landmark is a large pond known as the Swimming Pool as Lord Lever apparently liked to take a dip each morning while in residence. He must have been a hardy soul!
And here's the man himself with his lady wife.
While writing this post, I learned that Rivington Terraced Gardens were recently named as one of the ten best 'secret lost' gardens by BBC Countryfile magazine. I also found out that an application is being made to the Heritage Lottery fund for money to preserve the gardens and to repair and conserve the buildings. The intention is not to restore it to its original state but to maintain the air of 'faded grandeur and mystery', which seems to me an appropriate approach to take. I do hope they're successful - they can definitely have my regular unwinnings anyway! x