Monthly Archives: November 2014

A TOWER OF VICTORIAN STRENGTH.

Baz [soon to be 70] phones – what about a walk on Sunday?

Yes, good idea and good forecast.

Where shall we meet?

Hmm .. Abbey Village, halfway point. Will sort out a route later.

See you at 9.30am. [early for me!]

We have had a lot of rain these last few days so I looked at the map for bridleways and ancient lanes, there are plenty in this area of Lancashire.

Our arrival times at 9.30 were impeccable. So after a short section through autumn woods we found ourselves at the  friendly cafe at Ryal Fold where, over coffee, we decided on a walk over Darwen Moor visiting Darwen Tower. It was good to see that area was extremely busy with hikers, dog walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

We have walked most of the paths in this area over the last 40 years or so but one can always find something different or forgotten. So we made our way up onto Darwin Hill and towards our objective of Darwen [Jubilee] Tower. The sky was clearing to blue.

Darwen Tower [the rocket!] was erected in 1898 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and the freeing of access to these moors. 85ft in height with an internal staircase to a viewing platform it must have been impressive for the local population of the cotton town.  Local subscriptions paid for a refurbishment in the 1970s. The tower dome was blown off in 2010!!!

 

 

A replacement in stainless steel was winched into place in 2012. It was up here today that we looked out over Lancashire. Morecambe Bay, Bowland Fells, Yorkshire Hills and a birds eye view of Darwen with the India Mill Chimney prominent.

From here it was quickly downhill to Sunnyhurst Wood which reaches into the centre of Darwen and is a popular recreational area. We lunched next to the old bandstand, an octagonal structure of eight stone towers and a stone flagged roof. This is an Edwardian structure presented by a Mr. Charles Spencer Greenway in 1912.  The tradition of private donation continues to this day as the metal bench, one of several, we were sitting on was a recent donation.

Out of the woods we passed through historic Tockholes and across vague field paths to emerge at Abbey Village conveniently close to the friendly Hare and Hounds! Only a short day but in lovely weather and visiting old haunts by some new paths, all of which helps to maintain ones enthusiasm for all things local.

CATS, FOOTBALL and the EGYPTIANS.

One of my most memorable trips abroad in the last ten years was a three week wander around Egypt, I visited Cairo, Luxor and Aswan using local transport. Some chance now. I was thoroughly captivated by the culture, the people and the food. I was able to visit most of the major sights at my leisure and uncluttered by any mass tourism. Amidst all the ruins, graves pyramids and museums  I was particularly impressed by many of the beautiful sculptures. The modern museum in Luxor stood out for their display. I became immersed in the world of past gods and their significances.  Cats were revered 4 – 5 thousand years ago and given god like status.  I came home with several reproduction stone and pottery feline figures. My cat, aged ten, had recently died from feline leukaemia and I therefore on my return took up the offer of a couple of delightful  kittens from a local farm. The female I named Bastet [Egyptian cat goddess] and the male Seth [Egyptian animal god]  good and bad, noble and dark, ying and yang. They have been constant companions and live up to their names.

Bastet and Seth.

 

This week I visited the Atkinson Arts Centre in Southport once again, this time to view the recently opened Egyptian Gallery. Seth and Bastet were well represented, much to my delight.

Bastet.

Bastet figure.

This exhibition has a colourful background.  A Mrs Anne Goodison from Liverpool collected Egyptian artefacts on her travels at the end of the 19th century, before the tomb of Tutankhamen was even discovered, and displayed them in her home. One can now wonder and debate about the ‘ethics’ of this style of Victorian collecting.  She was the wife of George Goodison a well respected local civil engineer who had installed a sewerage system to the Everton area of Liverpool.  When the Everton Football stadium was built in 1892 his name was immortalised  in sport.

Anne died in 1906 and George having no interest in her collection sold it on for £400 pounds!! and it ended up in Bootle  Museum. This gallery closed in 1974 and the collection of over a 1000 artefacts has been in storage ever since. With lottery funding and some obvious passionate effort they are now to be viewed in a permanent gallery at the Atkinson.     Brilliant.

The exhibition is in a small intimate area and highlights some beautiful pieces. OK so you get the mummy but the main objects to relish are the small pieces – jewellery, beads, ceramics, shabtis [servant figures for the next life] rare ‘paddle dolls’ [fertility symbols] sandals etc.

There is a colourful and informative video presentation of two young children talking, in Lancashire accents!, about their life in the time of the Pharaohs in an attempt at reality. One a boy hoping to be a scribe, a very important person, and the other a humble peasant girl.

The exhibition is fascinating and enthralling partly because of its small scale and everyday objects but yet it displays the magnificent art work the Egyptians had achieved  up to 5000 years ago. This has to be an important addition to Egyptology study in this country. Its origins make me wonder how much more may be hidden in long forgotten or neglected private collections.

I highly recommend a visit to The Atkinson if you are in the area to view this collection.  Remember ‘small is beautiful’.

Seth on a Gold ring.

Seth on a Gold ring.

 

 

A NEW KID ON THE BLOCK.

On one of my walks up Longridge Fell this week I came across a new sculpture installation on Jeffrey Hill just below the car park at Cardwell House.  [SD639403]

This stunning carving is part of a cluster sculptured by Halima Cassell entitled Sun Catcher.  The central piece is carved from a mighty 150 year old oak. Its strong lines catching the light in different ways and forming a focal point to the natural Bowland Fell backdrop.

The smaller pieces have a fern like appearance in wood and stone.

Having been away I missed the publicity for the launching of this sculpture and it was a pleasant surprise discovery, I feel it fits well into the situation which is a popular beauty spot without being over-intrusive.

Reading the information board it turns out that there are four Landmark art installations to commemorate 50 years of The Forest Of Bowland being recognised as An Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty.   The others are at Beacon Fell, Langden Intake and Gisburn Forest.  See http://www.forestofbowland.com/bowlandrevealed   and look at latest updates, from where you can download a leaflet covering all four.

I am not sure how permanent these installations are meant to be so I had better get around to seeing the rest. It has just struck me that if they were to become permanent it would be interesting to create a walking route linking them, I’ll have to speak to the powers that be.

 

BACK ON HOME GROUND (Should that be bog)

After two weeks out in a hot and sunny Spain it came as a shock to find myself walking across a boggy Lancashire hillside.

North of Great Hill.

North of Great Hill.

I had not been to Anglezarke for several years, which is where I had arranged to meet Alan. The large carpark has now a barrier on it which is closed at 5pm and that made me nervous, would we be back in time. At least it hadn’t become pay and display. We opted for roadside parking, as had many more, wondering about the local authority’s parking policies for what is a popular walking area. When I think about it – it’s probably water board land.

Golden Tower, Anglezarke.

Golden Tower, Anglezarke.

A bright Autumn morning …….. as we wandered along by the reservoir joggers, dog walkers and mountain bikers all mingled happily. Walking under Stronsey Bank we reminisced over summer evenings there. Several of us would meet every Wednesday evening after work in one or other Lancashire quarry for a a climbing session. Wilton, Anglezarke, Denham, Troy and Cadshaw were the most regular venues. They were all popular with climbers, less so nowadays I fear. The rock up in Stronsey was not the best but it had a pleasant outlook. Interestingly a new guidebook to Bouldering in Lancashire has just been published and smaller bits of rocks scattered about these hillsides are given prominence.

Stronsey Bank.

Stronsey Bank.

The paths follow the Goyte ‘canal’ which links the reservoirs here to those near Abbey village.

White Coppice.

White Coppice.

Soon past the delightful White Coppice cricket pitch and on into Brinscal Woods.tmp_SAM_57191949540485

Within this setting there are many derelict buildings. Their origin has always been a mystery to me but no longer, I’ve just found this wonderful little website dedicated to the history of the area. In detail and with good photos it delves into the origins of the ruins hereabouts. Fascinating, well done whoever you are.

http://www.white-coppice.co.uk

Confusion set in for the next hour as we tried to navigate eastwards across the fell, walls didn’t seem to be going the right way and the farm ruins were all in the ‘wrong’ place. Solomon’s Temple ( despite the name only some farm ruins) was our saviour, from there we picked a way across the surprisingly boggy ground.

Solomon's Temple.

Solomon’s Temple.

Crossing the A675 we disappeared into more waterlogged ground in the woods on the other side. A stream in a glen was a pleasant diversion before we started the climb up to Great Hill.

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Looking back to Great Hill.

Again we passed several ruined farms in outstanding situations, maybe the hard living there would not have been outstanding!.

By the time we were back at the car tiredness was creeping on and we glad there was no panic with a 5 o’clock parking deadline. The nights are drawing in and it was distinctly cool. We called in at an old haunt, The Bay Horse, for a pint and discussion as to how far we had actually walked today!  Maybe 10 maybe 12 miles, but they were rough and boggy so we were satisfied. (Moreso now I’m able to read the history of the land)