Posts Tagged ‘halo’

Weekend Hill Climbs

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

How many times do you have to repeat an activity for it to be classified as a habit? Over the past few weekends Sir Pubert Gladstone and I have started a trend of packing a picnic lunch and driving to a ‘thing on a hill.’ We have visited three ‘things on hills’ now – is that verging on an addiction? At least it isn’t drug related, although large amounts of cheese are involved. 

A friend from my office had told me about the panopticon sculpture series that is dotted throughout Lancashire. There are four sculptures perched on various hills delivering panoramic views (hence panopticon) of the surrounding lumps and bumps of the region. You can’t beat a free panoramic view so we got our picnic lunch together, bought some Maltesers in case we got stuck up the hill and had low blood sugar levels, and headed off in search of The Singing Ringing Tree.

We had looked at the four statues on the internet and decided that The Singing Ringing Tree, designed by Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu, was going to be the most exciting. However, it was also quite mysterious as no websites gave away its exact location and it wasn’t on Google maps. “Above Burnley” was the closest we got, along with some grammatically incorrect driving directions and the instructions to look out for “a brown sign”. Thanks to a random stab at a potential location and a lot of good luck, we found The Singing Ringing Tree. We also found the brown sign which was on the far side of the road and pointing to the carpark next to the statue. Handy.

As we walked along the dirt track to the statue, we both made the observation that it was a lot smaller than we expected. The images on the website suggested a much bigger tree but I guess that’s what online advertising is all about. The statue is made from multiple metal pipes piled on top of one another to form a twister-like shape. The tubes act as musical instruments as wind blows through and past them, hence the singing. Through some sort of miracle, we had managed to come on one of the very few non-windy days and the tree was silent. So it was a silent and slightly smaller than expected metal tube tree.

A very quiet singing tree.

A very quiet singing tree.

It was a nice silent tree though – I really like the fact that it exists as an open-air artwork for people to enjoy. And the view over Burnley was wonderful. We sat at a table next to the statue and had our picnic in the sunshine with views over Lancashire. Lovely.

Pubert makes a might fine sandwich.

Pubert makes a mighty fine sandwich.

We had some time to burn so we decided to hunt down another of the panopticons. Thanks to an excellent 3G connection “above Burnley” I googled the approximate location of the Halo (again, a distinct lack of location/directions) and we were off. Our search for the Halo took us up a very narrow, winding road “above Haslingden” although there were a few more brown signs pointing us in the correct direction this time.

The Halo is a large satellite dish structure, located on a landfill site, that apparently lights up at night. During the day it is grey and there was a distinct smell of urine. The structure was quite interesting and the views were good but definitely less impressive than the Singing Ringing Tree. The secluded location on the top of a hill and the difficult to access road suggested it would be a great place for teenagers to come and ‘hang’ at night. Plenty of KFC packaging scattered around too. In fact, both locations had a worryingly large amount of fast-food containers and general rubbish floating around. Considering both statues were in relatively remote areas and surrounded by nature it was horrifying to see how much rubbish had been left by visitors. For shame.

The Halo.

The Halo.

So that was one Saturday. The following Saturday we decided to head to a very distinct tower on a hill that we had seen on our previous weekend drives. The tower was reminiscent of a tower on a hill that local Mancunian artist, Lowry, had painted in such artworks as A Landmark. We googled whether or not it was the same tower but it turns out it probably isn’t. But who cares? Let’s drive there anyway! Picnic made, Anzac biscuits packed – we were off to Peel Monument.

Our drive took us to Ramsbottom, a town I have wanted to visit for some time purely because of its name. And there is also a pub with particularly good looking food that I want to eat at. We saw the pub but didn’t go in, and instead walked up a steep and winding path in the warm sunshine to reach the tower on the hill. There were quite a few people who had had similar ideas – Peel Monument is a popular spot for families and sporty-types. There was no signage to explain what Peel Monument was and you couldn’t go inside but once again the view was great and we had a nice picnic in the sunshine. (I have since Wikipedia-ed Peel Monument and it is believed to be a memorial for Sir Robert Peel.)

Tower on a hill.

Tower on a hill.

Where our next ‘thing on a hill’ will be, I’m not sure. But any local suggestions are very welcome.