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Things to Do in Lancashire

Updated on August 30, 2012

The activities listed here take generally less than half a day. However there are plenty of options if you want a full day out in Lancashire too.

The Singing Ringing Tree, Burnley
The Singing Ringing Tree, Burnley | Source
View from Crown Point with the Singing Ringing Tree
View from Crown Point with the Singing Ringing Tree | Source

Listen to the Singing Ringing Tree

When to Go – all year on a breezy or windy day

Cost - free

Time Taken - Allow 40 minutes if parking at Crown Point

The Singing Ringing Tree is one of four Panopticans which were commissioned in East Lancashire. Panopticans are sculptures with a view, the aim being to provide a focal point from which to enjoy the landscape. The Singing Ringing Tree is Burnley’s Panoptican and is my absolute favourite. Situated at Crown Point on a hill above the town, you get a great feeling of space and panoramic views. From a distance it looks like a whirl wind which is appropriate because there is usually either a breeze or an outright gale blowing up there! Get closer and you see that it is a tubular sculpture and there is a moaning, humming singing sound emanating from it. It sounds best on a gently breezy day and is silent on a still day, because the sound is caused by the wind blowing through some of the pipes which been intentionally cut with a slit through them. It has been ‘tuned’ to produce a harmonious rather than discordant sound.

Architectural Practice Tonkin Liu designed the structure.

How To Get There

There is parking on Crown Point Road under ½ a mile away from the Ringing Singing Tree which is at the end of quite smooth track or you can walk from Townley Park following the Wayside Art Trail which was created by professional artists collaborating with local people. There is a ceramic map and waymarker to follow and carved oak sign posts.

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Meadow vetchling and Common spotted orchid
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Meadow vetchling and Common spotted orchid
Meadow vetchling and Common spotted orchid | Source

Find Wild Orchids in Burnley

When to go – The last two weeks of June and the first two weeks of July

Cost – Free

Time taken – variable, depending on how many sites you want to visit.

Before you get excited and start imagining the sort of blooms your find on tropical orchids, let me assure you that British native orchids are very beautiful, but far less flashy than the orchids commonly for sale as houseplants. British orchids are terrestrial rather than epiphytic, so they grow from the soil. The orchid you will most commonly spot around Burnley is handily named the common spotted orchid. It comes in a range of hues from white and pale pink to purple. Burnley is far and away the best place for common spotted orchids that I have ever lived in. There are several sites on the edge of town where they grow prolifically and plenty of places where you will see the odd one or two.

Common Spotted Orchids in Burnley

show route and directions
A markerBillington road Burnley -
Billington Rd, Burnley, Lancashire BB11, UK
get directions

You need to go to the footpath which goes of to the left about 200 yards down the farm track at the end of the road.

B markerMolly Wood Lane, Burnley -
Molly Wood Ln, Burnley, Lancashire BB12, UK
get directions

You need the around the stream on the right of the lane if approaching from Liverpool road.

C markerRowley Lane Burnley -
Rowley Ln, Burnley, Lancashire BB10, UK
get directions

Bilberry on bilberry shrub.
Bilberry on bilberry shrub. | Source
Things which make you purple - bilberry picker's hands.
Things which make you purple - bilberry picker's hands. | Source
Blueberries and Bilberries (left)                       (right)
Blueberries and Bilberries (left) (right) | Source

Pick Bilberries

When to go – August, but I have picked them as early as late June.

Cost – free

Time taken – You will need to allow at least an hour to pick a worthwhile amount.

Where to find bilberries – bilberry (Vaccinum myrtillus and V. uliginosum) are small shrubs, common in Lancashire. They can be found in many areas of peaty moorland and beside country lanes around the county. It prefers acid soil and is often found growing alongside heather.

Bilberries are a native wild fruit similar in taste, but much smaller and tarter than the blueberry. Unfortunately it has to be said that the bilberry is not a generous plant and doesn’t flaunt its wares either. The fruits occur in ones and twos, often hidden under leaves. The bilberry bush is usually no more than ankle high, though sometimes gets to knee high if not grazed by sheep. Suffice to say you can spend a lot of time picking for very little reward. But don’t let that put you off. The bilberry is very delicious combined with apple for example in bilberry and apple crumble. This way you don’t a load of bilberries to appreciate their flavour.

You will recognise fellow bilberry pickers by their slightly stooped walk, their intent interest in an unremarkable apparently patch of moorland and their purple fingers.

Upper Coldwell Reservoir
Upper Coldwell Reservoir | Source
Gritstone boulder, Boulsworth Hill
Gritstone boulder, Boulsworth Hill | Source
View from Boulsworth Hill
View from Boulsworth Hill | Source

Walk up Boulsworth Hill

When to Go – all year

Cost – Free

Time Taken – allow yourself two hours from Coldwell Reservoir.

Whilst Pendle Hill is very well known, partly because of its association with the Pendle Witches, if you want a change from Pendle and a walk which much less frequented by other people, Boulsworth Hill is well worth a visit. The walk is less strenuous than Pendle, but the views are excellent whilst walking and from the top. It also takes you pretty much to the boundary between Lancashire and West Yorkshire.

Please note that some sections of this walk are boggy even in dry weather. Also some of the area is open access land for walkers, but dogs aren’t allowed on it. However the route given below is open to walker’s with dogs.

The Route – The walk is about 4 ¾ miles

There is some room to park on the roadside near Upper Coldwell Reservoir.

1) Take the track which runs alongside Upper Coldwell Reservoir, it crosses several streams and then you pass two farm houses (Boulsworth Dyke and Sproutley Lumb)

2) Shortly after the second house take the footpath on the right which goes up the hill, past some boulders known as ‘Little Chair Stones’ then bear right.

3) Head towards some large boulders, called ‘Weather Stones’ and ‘Lad Law’ which is marked by the Triangulation beacon at 1696ft above sea level and the highest point on the walk.

4) Heading right again, the route down is marked by wooden posts. You pass more gritstone boulders on of which is ‘Abbot Stone’. There is one stile to cross before the bottom and then you come out on the track you started on.

5) Turn left and follow the track back to Upper Coldwell Reservoir.

decorative items bought very cheaply at auction.
decorative items bought very cheaply at auction. | Source

Attend an Auction

When - Clitheroe auction is on a wednesday year round but check other venues websites for their auction dates.

Cost - around £3.00 for a bidding number which lasts all year plus spending money.

Time Taken - 1 - 5 hours

Don't worry, I'm not talking about big spending at antiques or property auctions here. The sort of auctions I love to attend are the ones which sell stuff from house clearances, a bit of stock from liquidated businesses and bits and pieces that people decide to sell if they're having a clear out and can't be bothered with Ebay. Two of my favourite auction houses are Walton and Walton in Burnley and Clitheroe Auction Market.

What to Do

  1. View the lots
  2. Note down any lot numbers you want to bid on and your maximum bid.
  3. Register and get a bidding number from the auction office. This usually costs around £3.00 but lasts for the year.
  4. When your lot comes up you bid by waving your bidding number (you can be quite subtle about it) or raising a finger. Once the auctioneer knows you a tiny movement with do, but if you're new a more definite bid is needed.
  5. Pay for any lots you win at the office.
  6. Collect your goods. At some auctions it is possible to collect early lots before the auction ends or to wait until the day after to pick them up.

At Clitheroe auction you need to turn up half an hour to an hour before the start to see what people have brought in and can end up scurrying between areas to bid on items, because they often have 2 or 3 auctions running at once as well as a poultry auction happening in the background.

At Walton and Walton you can go in the day before and check out lots and if you want, you can leave a 'proxy bid' on any items you fancy with the auctioneer. This means you don't have to attend the auction itself. I thoroughly recommend attending at least once though, because it is terrific fun seeing what people bid for and wondering what there is in a nondescript box of mixed items that makes it go for a higher price. The chances are you won't be able to resist bidding on something unexpected and it can be quite surprising what you end up with. I went slightly mad over small tables once and somewhat filled my house with them.

The range of things you can buy is pretty much endless. Some of my purchases include boxes of books - often as many as 100 books for £4.00, wooden 2 drawer filing cabinet for £7.00, reconstituted stone garden planters for £5-£10 each, decorative plates from boxes of crockery costing £1.00. The pleasure is two fold, getting a bargain is great and finding the occasional treasure even better - either something which turns out to be worth more than you expected, or an item amongst a boxful which you hadn't noticed when you bid for the box, but are pleased with none the less.


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The swan feed, Martin MereWhooper Swan, Martin Mereincoming shelduck, Martin MerePink footed geese, coots, mallards and swans Martin mereSunset after the swan spectacular, Martin Mere
The swan feed, Martin Mere
The swan feed, Martin Mere | Source
Whooper Swan, Martin Mere
Whooper Swan, Martin Mere | Source
incoming shelduck, Martin Mere
incoming shelduck, Martin Mere | Source
Pink footed geese, coots, mallards and swans Martin mere
Pink footed geese, coots, mallards and swans Martin mere | Source
Sunset after the swan spectacular, Martin Mere
Sunset after the swan spectacular, Martin Mere | Source

Watch the Swan Feed at Martin Mere

When to Go – 3pm between November and March

Cost – Adult £9.50 Child £4.6

Time Taken - Allow at least 1 1/2 hours

Martin Mere is one of the Wildfowl and Wetland Trusts sites. It has a great collection of rare species of ducks, geese and swans which are being captive bred to help preserve the species. There is also an extensive area of wetland habitat which is managed to maximise its attraction to native wild birds. There are loads of hides around it for bird watching. A huge number of migratory wildfowl overwinter here and a big attraction is the ‘Swan Spectacular’. Up to 2000 wild whooper swans overwinter at Martin mere and The Trust feeds the swans on grain and potatoes to supplement their wild diet and to encourage them to stay on the reserve rather than eating local farmer’s crops! Other wildfowl such as shelduck and wigeon take advantage of the food too.

I would advise you to be in place at one of the hides ½ an hour before the food goes out, especially on weekends when the hides can get very full of observers. It will be worth the wait and there will already be plenty of birds around to watch. The feed happens at 3 and 3.30 depending which hide you are at and food is spread out 20 foot away. It is an incredible experience to see and hear hundreds of whooper swans, wild geese and wild ducks almost within touching distance of you.

Where to Find Things to Do in Lancashire

show route and directions
A markerRinging Singing Tree -
Burnley, Lancashire BB11 3RT, UK
get directions

B markerMartin Mere -
Martin Mere, Burscough, Lancashire L40, UK
get directions

Swan Spectacular

C markerUpper Coldwell Reservoir -
Upper Coldwell Reservoir, Burnley, Lancashire BB10, UK
get directions

Start of the Boulsworth Hill Walk

D markerPendle Hill lancashire - bilberries -
Pendle Hill, Nelson, Lancashire BB9, UK
get directions

The road side from Sabden past Pendle and from Barley to Downham past Pendle are both quite good for bilberries.

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    • bac2basics profile image

      Anne 4 years ago from Spain

      Hello nettlemere. Really enjoyed this latest hub. I was pleased to learn about auctions as would love to go to some when I return to lancashire, but was always a bit put off in case I either got carried away, or bid for something I didn´t mean to buy. I will have more confidence now. have you ever visited the huge Sunday boot sale at Billsborough? Think it´s Billsbrough ( I have been away from Preston for a long time now and you do forget some things) Like all boot sales there´s a lot of junk...but also plenty of bargains if you get there early enough, and it is in a lovely spot, not too far from Glasson dock. On the orchid front..I have a few Bee orchids growing wild in my garden here in Spain. They must be Bee orchids because that´s exactly what they look like. Voted you up as always.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I like the tree and the waterfowl feed. Between both of them, that would keep me busy all day.

    • profile image

      molmin 4 years ago

      I think the Singing Ringing Tree is both beautiful and amazing. A wonderful almost eery sound but combined with the architecture and views, it is something special. Having been shown some of the wild flowers in Lancashire, I would definitely agree that Lancs has some real hidden gems. A great hub which celebrates the uniqueness of the British countryside. Well done again.

    • Mmargie1966 profile image

      Mmargie1966 4 years ago from Gainesville, GA

      Wow, Nettlemere! This is a great hub! The singing ringing tree video is a bit spooky. I would love to see it! Lancashire is so beautiful. I thoroughly enjoyed the pictures. I'm dying to try a bilberry.

      I voted up and awesome!

      Also, I didn't want to put this on my hub, so I will just tell you here; Witch's Castle is a basement type of room with pipes in it. When you drive up to the wall and look in the window, you can see the silhouette of some type of water pump. Many people think it is the witch at first glance.

    • Nettlemere profile image
      Author

      Nettlemere 4 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Bac2basics - I'm glad you enjoyed it since you know the area well. I haven't been to the Bilsborrow car boot, but might well take a look sometime.

      Avian Novice, thank you for commenting, you would definitely love the bird centre at Martin Mere!

      Molmin - thank you for coming by and joining in the support for the attractions of Lancashire.

      Mmargie, thank you for reading and revealing the mystery of Witch's Castle specially for me . It's intriguing how local legends begin!

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