A troglodyte in the making

People seem to either love or to dislike caves. We’ve used them as homes and for storage. Used natural ones and we’ve made new ones. Some people find them foreboding. Perhaps it’s the darkness or the stories of supernatural beings and devilish goings on. It might stem from some prehistoric memory of trying to use a cave and finding it occupied by an annoyed bear. I like caves and the recent warm weather reminds that caves near the Earth’s surface are usually cooler than the outside environment. Here we have three quite different sandstone caves.

 

This first is a small cave originally on two levels. Much smaller now than it was when Mad Allen made it his home in the nineteenth century, due to the collapse of the roof.

Mad Allen's Hole

Mad Allen’s Hole, Bickerton

Since the advent of wikipedia the cave is often associated with John Harris who also made a cave his home. This seems to be because Harris was said to have moved to “Allenscomb’s Cave”. There are no records of the cave at Bickerton Hill having that name, indeed the earliest records of it having a name are two hundred years after Harris’ time. Very little seems to be known about Allen except that he lived here and when the cave is first named it is as a result of his occupation.

 

The second cave is man-made.

Beech Quarry

Beech Quarry

The sandstone was extracted from Beech quarry by the stall and pillar method. Much of the stone is likely to have been used in the building of Trentham ‘New’ Hall. Estate documents record payments for stone to be carried from Beech to the Hall in 1633 and then small quantities in the next few years. An unconfirmed rumour suggests the caves were used to store munitions in WWII but there is no actual evidence to support this. The caves were certainly used by the Home Guard. Today they are used by the local youths for parties. These youths will tell you stories of a coven that meets there and that there is a pentagram on the floor.

The last of todays caves are natural but were exposed by quarrying activity.

Frodsham Caves

Frodsham Caves

 

Probably the most interesting of this small set as it’s unusual to have such easy access to sandstone caves that were shaped by an underground river. The shapes are reminiscent of those you’d see in limestone caves. I’ve no idea if anyone has ever lived in these but the cattle, normally in the field below, make use of them for shelter. There is much evidence of the local youths using them for parties but much less litter and obscene graffiti on the walls.

A few years ago two lads went to explore the caves and found the decayed remains of a local man who had been missing for some time. The cause of death was never ascertained due to the condition of the remains.

Shells

For as long as I can remember there have been wrecks of boats along the River Wyre. On a recent visit to Skippool Creek and Fleetwood Marsh things were very much as I remember them from childhood. Skippool was once an important trade centre as well as being known for smuggling and a popular haunt of the ‘press-gangs’.

MV Good Hope

Walking further along the Wyre there are scattered remains of other boats. From single ribs of wooden hulled trawlers to partially cut up steel hulls.

Trawler remains

Trawler remains

Whilst in the area I went to have a look at ‘Mary’s Shell’. This is a sculpture on the beach at Cleveleys and was installed as part of the ‘Cleveleys Mythological Coastline’ project, which aims to regenerate the coast through the Arts. In Cleveleys, the project creates a legacy to follow the sea defence works, and a story that’s Cleveleys very own for the future. In 2011 each primary school child in Wyre was given a copy of a book called The Sea Swallow. This is a fairy tale based on local features including the shell.

Mary's Shell and coastal defences.

Mary’s Shell and coastal defences.

A brief stop at Lytham St Annes on the way home to have a look at the windmill (now a museum) and the old lifeboat station.

Lytham Windmill & Old lifeboat station

Lytham Windmill & Old lifeboat station

 

Almost sunset

With the prospect of a colourful sunset Ewan and I set off for North Wales. Plan A was to go to Talacre Lighthouse but plan B went into operation when I realsied we had plenty of time to get to Llandudno Bay or maybe further. We arrived in Caernarfon and parked up next to the castle then strolled over the bridge to get a better view over towards Anglesey. Another photographer had the same idea and I spent some time chatting to him whilst Ewan took photos of the bridge and moon. The orange glow was lighting the castle.

Caernarfon castle in the evening light

Caernarfon castle in the evening light

Looking the other way towards the setting sun there was very little moisture in the air to give a full spectrum of colours but the oranges made the scene look quite tropical.

Anglesey Sunset

Anglesey Sunset

The tide was an hour or so away from high tide and the breeze making it lap gently on the shingle. Soon the sun was all but gone but we were in no rush to leave.

Anglesey Sunset

Anglesey Sunset

 

Time for a few photos of the castle and harbour though the wind was getting stronger and a lot cooler.

Caernarfon castle at night

Caernarfon castle at night

Caernarfon harbour at night.

Caernarfon harbour at night.

 

Quite a lot of driving for a short time walking and taking photographs but the effort was rewarded with some good images unspoilt by the summer crowds.

Wood Works

There are around 37,000 churches in England.

…………………..Of these, only 27 are timber-framed.

Warburton St Werbergh

Warburgtune (as it was recorded in the Domesday record) has two churches and both are dedicated to St Werbergh. It’s an unusual dedication more commonly seen around East Anglia where the remains of the Abbess of Ely were first interred. The remains were subsequently moved to the abbey of St Peter and St Paul in Chester, which was later rededicated to St Werburgh.
The newer building is the current parish church and was built in the mid 1880’s because the older church was in need of repair. Some of the contents of the old church were transferred to the new one. Despite this, the necessary repairs were completed in 1884 before the new church was actually finished.
Warburton Old church is one of the 27 timber-framed examples and remains a consecrated building (though officially redundant since the 1970’s).

Standing within a three-quarter circle of mature yew trees the churchyard and Grade I listed church are a small oasis of tranquility.

As well as the main timber frame there is some timber framing with wattle and daub infilling in the north wall. The other walls are of sandstone or brick. The tower, unusually at the East end, and hearse house are built from brick

 

Warburton St Werbergh

 

The lych gate, built in 1887, is Grade II listed.

Warburton St Werbergh

Warburton St Werbergh

 

 

The benifice of Warburton was jointly held with Oughtrington, St Peter.

The path to Badgerville

Two weeks ago I found myself close to Wootton Bassett after a day taking photographs on the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway. I’d not seen my good friend Paul for quite a while so a small detour to Bassett would be good. No need to rush back home so an overnight stop was in order. The following day Paul and I decided to go for a walk on the Southern Escarpment of the Ridgeway close to Broad Town before I had to set off home. An interesting area with a ‘chalk’ horse, ancient hill fort, medieval churches and a lot of medieval strip lynchets.

lynchets

Lynchets (known as ‘raines’ in Yorkshire) are the result of repeated action by a plough’s mould-board turning soil outwards and downwards. This forms a level strip for cultivation with a a ‘riser’ (slope) down to the next strip. They are quite common around the South West but do occur all over the country. They are much easier to see from above. The following image is of the same escarpment a little further around from my photo above.

image via Google

(image via Google Earth)

The majority of features that remain from these ancient times are things that tell us something about the upper classes. If you come across lynchets like these then pause for a moment and think of the peasants who would work together to cultivate this otherwise unwanted land. With the Acts of Enclosure even these small bits of land were taken away from ordinary working class people.

 

Before looking at the lynchets we had walked down an ancient path which lead through an area that showed intense badger activity.

The path to Badgerville

Paul’s camera bag went home loaded with badger bones and other assorted items he will use as study pieces for his illustrations. Reminder – take more containers for finds next time Paul!

 

 

The cream

Whilst taking photographs with an ‘Operation Overlord’ theme at the Churnet Valley Railway an old truck went past Consall Station. It was a Bedford Type O truck loaded with milk churns. Much nicer than modern tankers.

Bedford1

The owner had parked just a short walk up from the station at Consall Forge. We sent Joe to invite them to come onto the railway property and have some photos taken. The registration shows it to have been registered in the 1950’s but the design is certainly in keeping with our theme for the shoot.

'Operation Overlord'

The gallery from the day shows images of United States Army Transportation Corps S160 class 2-8-0, No. 6046 hauling a short rake of flats and wagons representing a typical wartime load. Extra realism was lent to the scene by members of the 1st Infantry Division Living History Group who traveled with us, as well as bringing some of their vehicles along for the day.