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The Beacon Country Park West Lancashire-- Part One.

Updated on August 5, 2015

Notes from a Lancashire Countryman.

The Beacon Country Park is situated near my home village of Upholland , West Lancashire in the north west of England. It consists of rolling meadows, woodland, nature trails, bridle paths and splendid panoramic views of the Lancashire Plains to the west and the Pennine hills to the east. At various other points around the 260acre park there are views of the Welsh mountains and the Peak District. The park offers an adjoining public golf course, driving range, visitor centre with refreshments and public bar and a recently developed play area for children. In 2008/2009 the park once again scooped the Green Flag Award. The accolade recognises the natural beauty of the park, for its welcoming safe and maintained environment and its community involvement.

Alot of hard work is involved in gaining this status much of which is carried out by the Countryside Ranger service who maintain and patrol the park { along with nine other sites } throughout the year.  As a volunteer ranger I have been involved with the park for many years and I thought I would share some of the parks natural beauty and wild life with you.  This is the main site for the West Lancashire Rangers service and they are based here. The aim of this hub is to give a visual guided tour starting at the main car park at the far end of which the rangers compound is located. If you arrive by car it is accessed via a small lane which itself is accessed via Beacon Lane Upholland. 

Elmers Green Lane

The car park is accessed from Beacon Lane Upholland.
The car park is accessed from Beacon Lane Upholland.

Elmers Green Lane

Elmers Green lane runs down hill to the car park which is on the left, while the lane itself carries on further down the hill, however access to vehicles is denied by way of a barrier.. It is just beyond this barrier that we begin our tour. On the right hand side of the lane there is situated the magnificent scenery of the public golf course. On the left hand side of the lane as we walk down the hill is the back of the driving range building which is obscured from view by the trees.  I have walked down this lane when everything is touched with the spirit of spring, the fresh cut apple smell of a spring dawn, when the trees are clad in their new greenery, the ambiance tranquil and wholly absorbing, when the air is sweet to breath and all living things are vigorous an orchestration of new life. Bees hummed and bird song cascaded down from lofty boughs. What a change from the bitter uncompromising winds of winter and hail that stings the face. They are now a far off memory eclipsed by the warmth of the sun on my back and the flowers of spring that brighten the lane.

One of the first flowers to rise from the barren leaf litter is the coltsfoot which displays single dandelion like flowers on stems that have a purplish hue because of the leaf like bracts that spiral up the stem. There will be no sign of leaves at this stage because they only appear when the flowers have faded. This gives rise to one of their country names "sons before fathers". The plant has been used medicinally for centuries in herbal tobacco that helps relive the symptoms of asthma. The leaves and flowers were employed in a syrup that relieves the symptoms of coughs and colds. The stems of the flower were once candied and sold in chemists as a hard stick of toffee, also to help colds and chest infections. It is the rounded shape of the leaves which give the plant its common name being superficially similar in shape to a colt's foot. Red campion also flowers in early spring displaying its pinkish red flowers to brighten the hedgerow. Within twenty meters or so on this same side of the lane we will encounter during the months of June and July the large foliage, stems and flower heads of the giant hogweed. This member of the parsley family has some dangerous qualities in particular the sap which can cause severe, slow to heal blisters should it come into contact with the skin. The plant which may well attain the height of 13-15feet tall is impressive to look at, and there is no doubt it was this quality that tempted the Victorians to import the species for ornamental garden plants. However, like many other species this one escaped over the garden wall and became established in the country side. The leaves of this plant are allowed to grow for educational purposes at the park but the stems are cut down long before the plant has the chance to set its plethora of seeds.  

The public golf course.

The golf course is set in pleasant countryside
The golf course is set in pleasant countryside

Deep in the dell.

As our journey continues down this leafy lane we come upon a dell on the side of the lane near to the golf course.  The dell falls away from the lane and the golf course to a depth of 20 feet or more. In the basin of this dell water tends to collect after draining off from the lane and golf course. These little rivulets of water has a million twinkling stars created by the dapples sunlight has it penetrates the canopy of the trees. Because of its wet nature in the basin it is an ideal situation for one of our most poisonous plants to take anchor-the hemlock water dropwort. This species a member of the parsley family has foliage and thick stems that have been mistaken for wild  celery with fatal consequences it is a plant to avoid.

At the side of the lane , looking down over the dell is another spring plant the garlic mustard known to country people as Jack-by the -hedge. It is the only member of the Brassica family to smell and taste like garlic, all others that do so belong to the onion family. The plant attains the height of 90cm or more sporting white petalled flowers at the tips of the stems.

Rising up from the base of the dell stand dead trees which have been utilised for many years by the great spotted woodpecker as a nesting site. Other members of the feathered fraternity also frequent the copse especially in spring when species like the tree creeper, members of the tit family, thrushes and finches may be encountered. 

Dead trees -not a dead loss

The holes made by the greater spotted wood pecker can clearly be seen.
The holes made by the greater spotted wood pecker can clearly be seen.

On we go---

On the opposite side of the lane to the dell there is a deep dividing ditch that separates the lane from an old banking which rises up to the woodland. One of the plants that tenant this bank is the wonderful wood sorrel. This low growing plant with its clover like leaves and white flowers covers wide areas especially on woodland floors and similar shady aspects. The flowers petals are veined delicately with a lilac colour. The leaves of this plant are utilised in cooking in such situations that would require lemon juice, particularly in the cooking of fish. The plant is not related to the true sorrels but has the same sour flavour produced by oxalic acid. Another species that tenants the bank is the lesser celandine {see My hub A THOUSAND MINIATURE SUNS}.  On the opposite side of the lane as on we go the golf course is now obscured from view by a narrow strip of woodland. Many of the trees in this locality are clad with the tenacious stems of ivy. This plant is capable of reaching the top of the tallest trees in its endless search for light. Its lofty ambitions are well documented. Nearer to the ground another plant has lofty ambitions, the honey suckle, binds its way around other vegetation . The wild honeysuckle during the summer produces flowers that fill the evening with sweet scent. At ground level by the feet of the trees during May and June the yellow flowers of the nipplewort are encountered while on the side of the dividing ditch the small yellow flowers of the yellow pimpernel occur during the summer months. 

The Lane and Some of Its Flora

The lane in dressed in its dreary winter garb
The lane in dressed in its dreary winter garb
The flowers of coltsfoot brighten the lane during early spring. Note the lack of leaves. Picture courtesy of Andreas Trepte
The flowers of coltsfoot brighten the lane during early spring. Note the lack of leaves. Picture courtesy of Andreas Trepte
The pinkish red flowers of the red campion enhance the spring flora. Photograph courtesy of Etxrge
The pinkish red flowers of the red campion enhance the spring flora. Photograph courtesy of Etxrge
The dangerous giant hogweed is usually found by rivers but they also frequent other situations. Photograph courtesy of GerardM
The dangerous giant hogweed is usually found by rivers but they also frequent other situations. Photograph courtesy of GerardM

We Leave the Lane---

We soon come upon one of the many sign posts that are strategically placed around the parks many acres. The lane continues down the hill towards an underpass above which a main road runs parallel to the parks boundary. By this sign post we are to enter upon the first of the parks many rolling meadows by turning left. However, this will be the subject of a future hub {part two}

Greater spotted woodpecker this avian carpenter freqents the trees by the dell. Photograph courtesy of Steffan Hannert
Greater spotted woodpecker this avian carpenter freqents the trees by the dell. Photograph courtesy of Steffan Hannert
The tree creeper is found wherever there are trees at the park. However, it is not easily seen as the bird is well camouflaged. Photograph courtesy of Mdf {G.F.D.L.}
The tree creeper is found wherever there are trees at the park. However, it is not easily seen as the bird is well camouflaged. Photograph courtesy of Mdf {G.F.D.L.}
The sign post marks an end to our first exploration of the park
The sign post marks an end to our first exploration of the park

Comments

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    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave 

      8 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Ju,stine76 Thank you for reading and taking the time to leave a comment.

    • profile image

      Justine76 

      8 years ago

      What a beautiful place to be. Thank you for sharing this! I love the close ups of the flowers, as its the middle of winter here now.

    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave 

      8 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      HI,DOLORES-Glad you enjoyed the trip and thank you for your kind comment.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      What a lovely trip through a beautiful park. The pictures were a great addition to the hub. It must be wonderful to be a volunteer ranger. The world needs more people like you!

    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave 

      8 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Thank you akirchner for reading and for leaving your comment, which is much appreciated.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Gorgeous - wish I was there right now! It makes you peaceful just looking at the pics though and reading.

    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave 

      8 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      jayjay40 thank you for reading and your appreciated comment.

      hypnodude I thank you also, and thank you for your encouraging comments

    • hypnodude profile image

      Andrew 

      8 years ago from Italy

      You not only write great hubs, but passion shine through every word. And wonderful pictures. Very good hub, well done.

    • jayjay40 profile image

      jayjay40 

      8 years ago from Bristol England

      I feel like I've walked with you around the park now I've read your hub. A lovely breath of fresh air, thanks D.A.L

    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR

      Dave 

      8 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Darlene thank you so much for your kind comments they are very encouraging. You say the nicest things. The photographs are mine unless mentioned -by courtesy-to the photographer. I am so glad you like nature.

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 

      8 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Oh My what a wonderful article, you write so perfect, I look forward to your new hubs, they insire me and delight me. Do you take your own pictures? Simply breathtaking. We can share your joy through your eyes and narrow it down to your writing. I love nature as much as you, however I cannot share my feelings like you can, on paper you are my hero.

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