It’s the fifth of November, Bonfire Night. What better day than to go for a stroll in Beacon Country Park where centuries ago real bonfires were lit.
Ashurst’s Beacon is situated on a broad ridge on the western fringes of the Pennines close to the village of Dalton near Skelmersdale. The beacon on top of Ashurst Hill once formed part of a chain of signalling beacons forming a communication chain stretching from Everton Brow in Liverpool to Lancaster Castle. The current structure dates from 1798 when Sir William Ashurst built a permanent structure in preparation for the Napoleonic Wars.
We started our walk the car park adjacent to the golf club and walked through woodland and then across fields to Roby Mill. More field walking led us down to the Douglas Valley with the viaduct of the M6 straight ahead.
At Gathurst we passed under the viaduct and then crossed the River Douglas to join the towpath of the Leeds – Liverpool Canal. At the locks we found a bench where we sat and ate our lunch. It was quite peaceful. Peaceful that is if you could ignore the constant roar of the traffic hurtling along the M6 above us.
It was interesting to contemplate the different forms of transport. The busy M6 carrying thousands of card each hour. The commuter trains crossing the railway bridge just beyond and the narrow boats on the canal.
The next couple of miles were along the canal towards Appley Bridge. Here it was peaceful with just a couple of swans for company.
Leaving the canal we began our steady climb towards the beacon crossing several muddy fields and a short but steep section along a lane. We emerged from some woodland close to the Toposcope with Ashurst’s Beacon directly ahead of us. Ashurst Hill is only 570 feet (170m) in height but it offers wide ranging views. To the south lies Liverpool and further in the distance the Clwydian hills can be seen on a clear day. To the north-east I could see Winter Hill and Rivington Pike.
It was now downhill all the way, back to the road and then alongside the golf course back to the car. An easy 8 miles on a beautiful November day.