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.
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.
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.
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.
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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