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M61 junctions 6 to 3

[six lane motorway]

32k GIF 235k JPEG The M61 from junction 3 towards junction 4. May 1996

The M61 was the original Manchester to Preston trunk road, and cuts from North West to South East of Bolton Metropolitan Borough. For some travelling though from the North and West to Manchester or Yorkshire, this may be the closest they get to Bolton.

If you're travelling from the north, down from junction 8 (there is no junction 7), the first landmark you see is the Winter Hill TV mast on your left, as you approach Bolton West motorway service station. This is the highest westerly point of the West Pennine Moors at 456 metres (1468 feet) above sea level. You should also be able to make out the Rivington Pike Tower which is 363 metres (945 feet) above sea level.

[motorway and horizon]

25k GIF 77k JPEG View south of Blackrod from M61 May 2000

Nearer the services, on the right you'll see the tower of St Katharines in Blackrod, and it's easy to see why that spot was chosen. Passing the services (formerly Anderton Services, then Bolton West) you get the first glimpse of the Bolton Wanderers Reebok Stadium at Middlebrook, and more to the left if it's clear you'll see the Rivington Pike tower much closer.

When you've passed the embankment, and the stadium is clearly visible, you should be able to see the long brick railway building sheds of the old Horwich loco works. In the foreground is Red Moss. You're approaching junction 6, also signposting Wigan Pier, and a look to the left you can see the whole of the Middlebrook retail and leisure area under the shadow of Winter Hill.

After passing junction 6, on the horizon on the right, you can see Hunger Hill, and the green pointed top roof of the water tower converted into a house. You can also see the spiraled chimney of the 'Metal Box' factory, and beyond that is the town of Westhoughton. In the valley to your left is Lostock. On the horizon you can see a mill, one of the last few remaining reminders of Bolton's past at Chip Hill. [motorway]

18k GIF 57k JPEG M61 south towards junction 5 March 1997

The approach to junction 5 is signposted for Smithills Country Park, Last Drop Village and Haigh Hall Country Park near Wigan. Junction 5 takes you to the A58.

After that junction on the left is Hulton Mount with the water towers supplying Bolton, and a number of cellular phone antennae. Along the ridge is Plodder lane, leading into Farnworth, on the right, a clear view south. If it is very clear you may see Jodrell Bank telescope and the odd plane landing or taking off from Manchester Airport.

[six lane motorway]

20k GIF 82k JPEG M61 view east from Whitegate Brow May 1999

Towards Junction 4 will take you onto Plodder Lane towards Farnworth, to Four Lane Ends, or to Little Hulton.

Junction 3 leads you to Kearsley, Farnworth and into Bolton. The M61 then leaves Bolton to go onwards to M60 Manchester and Bury, M60/M62 Leeds and Yorkshire, M62 Warrington to Liverpool and the M6.

The journey from the south from the M60 or M62 is similar in reverse starting at junction 2. It's not possible to join the M61 at junction 3. On your right as you progress in an easterly direction towards junction 4 are the Water towers of Bolton on the right, and behind them the TV mast of Winter Hill. The ridge on the right is Plodder Lane, which you can join from junction 4 leading into Farnworth and Four Lane Ends.

[six lane motorway and exit sign]

20k GIF 91k JPEG M61 view west from Whitegate Brow to junction 5 May 1999

Towards Junction 5, just to the left you can see Hunger Hill with the water tower turned into a house, and further to the left is Westhoughton. To the right is the chimney of 'Metal Box', and beyond that you should be able to see the tower of the church of St. Katharines at Blackrod.

[M61 north towards junction 6 March 1997]

17k GIF 50k JPEG M61 north towards junction 6 March 1997

After junction 5, St. Katharines tower is much clearer, and further to the right you can see the Reebok Stadium at Middlebrook which you get to from junction 6.

After junction 6 is the Bolton West motorway services (once Anderton Services), the tower of St. Katharines is now to your left, as you head northwards to Chorley to the M65, the M6 and Preston. Bolton West services was one of the sites used to film That Peter Kay Thing. It is possibe for private cars and pedestrians to access both sides of the services by use of a small bridge.

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