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Winter Hill fire still smoking at Smithills

Smithills Estate, our largest site in England, has been seriously damaged by the Winter Hill fire. The fire had officially been declared out, but after smoke was spotted again, we’re urging visitors to take care of the site and themselves.

Smithills remains open

Following more than a month of flames, the Smithills Moor is open again to visitors. But they should still take caution.

We ask the public to keep to public paths to allow environmental recovery. Although the Smithills Estate is open, there are still risks and closures to be aware of.

Bridges and board walks that carry the footpath across the wetter areas of the moor have suffered fire damage (Photo: Russell Hedley)
Bridges and board walks that carry the footpath across the wetter areas of the moor have suffered fire damage (Photo: Russell Hedley)

Potential for fire to restart

Since the statement last week about the fire being out, our volunteers and members of the public have reported smoke from Smithills Moor. This is due to the peat still being alight deep under the surface.

The advice from the emergency services is that if smoke rises in areas without vegetation it is unlikely to catch. But if there is unburnt vegetation around the area, there is potential for the fire to catch.

If you are visiting Smithills and see smoke, please phone the emergency services on 999.

Repairs to fire damage

After assessing the damage caused by the Winter Hill fire, we’ll be keeping one of the public paths on Smithills Moor closed for three weeks.

Bridges and board walks that carry the footpath across the wetter areas of the moor have suffered fire damage. To keep our visitors safe, we are closing this path to the public.

The affected route is highlighted on the map (larger map available here). It starts at the Trespass Stone off Coal Pit Lane and finishes near the Winter Hill television mast.

The highlighted route will be closed for three weeks (Image: Woodland Trust)
The highlighted route will be closed for three weeks (Image: Woodland Trust)

How to support Smithills

Only one of the paths is closed, but damage elsewhere on the estate is significant. We don’t know the total cost of the recovery yet, but with your help and our partnerships with our tenants, neighbours and emergency crews, the moorland at Smithills will thrive again. The future of the whole estate remains bright. 

The Smithills Project is match-funded with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The funding is helping our five-year project to plant thousands more trees, add new interpretation to the site, manage the countryside and engage with the local community. 

HLF logoWe’re committed to the long term restoration of Smithills. As this project is match-funded, we need your help to match what the Heritage Lottery Fund has provided. If you can help, please donate to our Smithills appeal, or call us on 0330 333 3300 quoting the code A17NP4GEN - this will make sure your generous donation goes directly to helping the Smithills Estate.

Read more about our future plans for Smithills