Following days of heavy rain, and serious floods in other parts of the country, today was forecast to be sunny, cold and dry. This proved this to be correct. After a mornings work I was keen to make the best of the afternoon. A quick trip up to ‘Craig Y Longridge’ showed me there was still too much seepage for bouldering so I decided on a short walk on and around Beacon Fell. The tracks up there would at least be better than the sodden fields elsewhere. I can see Beacon Fell from the back of my house and subconsciously check it out for clear weather most days.
Today was perfect. In the summer months I have often used a circular walk through fields from home up to Beacon Fell and back. These tracks are a small part of my Longridge Skyline Walk which takes in Beacon Fell, Parlick, Fairsnape-Totridge, Kitcham Hill, Waddington Fell and Longridge Fell, a round of over 60k. More of that another time.
Beacon Fell has been a Country Park since 1970. The good visibility of the fell made it a good location for warning beacons. These have been recorded for nearly a thousand years. Until the beginning of the last century it was rough farmland and then was acquired in 1909 by Fulwood Council as a water supply. Water was collected in Barnsfold Reservoir and from there piped to Fulwood via Horns Dam and Haighton. Conifers were planted to help drainage. After 1959, no longer required for water, it was left unattended until acquired by Lancs County Council and opened as an early Country Park. It seems to have gained in popularity ever since.
At 266 metres (873 ft) above sea level, small compared with the neighbouring fells, its position offers commanding views over the flat plain of The Fylde and Morecambe Bay to the west, the Bowland Hills to the North as well as the Pendle, Longridge Fell and the Ribble valley to the south-east. On clear days, as today, the Welsh hills, the Lakeland Fells and the Isle Of Man are visible.
The park is well served with a welcoming visitor centre and cafe, open all year. From these car parks tracks wander all over the fell and forest. Pick up a leaflet if you are unfamiliar with the area. Today I was keen to climb to the top for the views but decided to seek out along the way a series of sculptures by local artist Thompson Dagnall. The first is just above the centre, Orme Sight, a grotesque face with a drill hole sighting through his eye onto the N. Wales coast.
As you walk up through the trees you come across the Walking Snake, a remarkable 50ft long, winding, wooden snake which kids love to balance along until they come eye to eye with head!
Close by is an unusual use of trees uprooted and ‘replanted’ upside down to create the Spruced up Heron. I think this has changed from its original and now gives the impression of the bird part buried in an inverted position. Needs a new name.
Unfortunately the Hanging Bat in trees near the top of the fell has been dismantled because of rotting timbers and won’t reappear. Further down the fell you may find the scary Black Tiger and Kissing Seat.
Anyhow, to get back to the top of the fell and the trig point there were a gaggle of people staring out at the very clear views to the west.
As it says ‘on the tin’ there were commanding views in all directions — I don’t think I’ve seen them so clear! Snow on the Lakeland tops, lots more wind turbines in the Irish Sea, Isle Of Man looking very close and some heights to its left in the distance — must have been Northern Ireland. Unable with my camera to capture this scene, but no problem with the closer and impressive Bowland Fells of Fairsnape and Parlick, Waddington Fell, Pendle and Longridge Fell.
I continued my walk around the northern slopes of the fell, on past the pond with lots of ducks and through avenues of spruce back to the Visitor Centre. Interesting displays about Bowland and surroundings took my attention. In particular photos of lime kilns in the Chipping area, the volunteers manning the display were knowledgeable and interesting to talk to. By the time I emerged the sun was going down low over the Welsh hills, giving a fittingly beautiful view to end the day. Looking just like a watercolour wash.
So a wonderful afternoon, some of the clearest views I’ve seen from here, a sculpture trail and added interest from the Bowland Visitor Centre. Did I mention you could see Blackpool Tower?
Looks good for tomorrow too ……..
PPS Have a look at my May 2014 post http://bowlandclimber.com/2014/05/20/beacon-bivi/ for more sculptures on Beacon Fell.