6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

The ‘Do-it-Yourself’ approach of locals in Silverdale

PUBLISHED: 00:00 13 November 2017

Jon Carter, Visitor Experience Manager at RSPB Leighton Moss checking the reserves pond

Jon Carter, Visitor Experience Manager at RSPB Leighton Moss checking the reserves pond

Archant

This busy community might sometimes feel like the village that time forgot, but it’s full of people who help themselves. Martin Pilkington reports

Friends of Silverdale Station; Margaret Mackintosh (Chair), Margaret Robinson, Tom Mackintosh, Helene Donaghue, Bill Robinson and Frank Cranmer Friends of Silverdale Station; Margaret Mackintosh (Chair), Margaret Robinson, Tom Mackintosh, Helene Donaghue, Bill Robinson and Frank Cranmer

Silverdale sits nine miles from Lancaster, half that from Carnforth, and only a hill separates it from Arnside but there are times when it can seem like the village that time forgot.

That’s the candid view of the people who live there. For many, it’s great to be surrounded by the lovely countryside that creates an illusion of remoteness – less wonderful when you need simple jobs from the local authority, such as hedge cutting and street cleaning.

That probably explains who the villagers have adopted a ‘Do-it-Yourself’ approach. They will often stuck in and lead the way on projects that might otherwise be neglected.

A prime example is FOSS – Friends of Silverdale Station, which has a waiting room designed by the eminent Victorian architects Paley & Austin. ‘Two years ago we were waiting on the platform in a gale,’ says the group’s chairwoman Margaret Mackintosh. ‘We could see the trees smashing into the roof of the lovely 1860s building and feared that, for health and safety reasons, it would be demolished. We wanted to keep it so we formed FOSS.’

Dr Peter Standing (Events Lead for the Arnside and Silverdale Landscape Trust) with Natalia Walton, Jasper the dog and Roger Walton Dr Peter Standing (Events Lead for the Arnside and Silverdale Landscape Trust) with Natalia Walton, Jasper the dog and Roger Walton

Since the formation, they’ve had bins installed on the platforms, made improvements to the building, they’ll shortly have two benches in place using ends cast to be in keeping with the architecture, and are planning to have wi-fi available shortly.

‘The rail-link is important now as lots of people commute to Lancaster one way and to Barrow the other, and even on to Sellafield, and it’s vital for taking children to the schools in Lancaster,’ adds Bill Robinson, the group’s treasurer.

‘But it’s also a part of our heritage – the author Elizabeth Gaskell and some of the Brontë sisters used the station. Now it also brings walkers and people visiting the RSPB at Leighton Moss.’

They also have plans to use the waiting-room as an information point for visitors, promoting local businesses and attractions, foremost among them that RSPB site. ‘In the 1960s the society took over this land and has managed it specifically for wetland species like the bittern, and this year is the 30th anniversary of marsh harriers nesting here,’ says Jon Carter, the site’s visitor experience manager. ‘When they arrived here in 1987 there hadn’t been a pair in Lancashire in over 100 years.’

Cllr Terry Bond of Silverdale Parish Council Cllr Terry Bond of Silverdale Parish Council

Jon and his colleagues aren’t resting on their conservation laurels. ‘We’re always trying to attract families and a new audience with activities here like pond-dipping and mini-beast hunts, and improving the facilities – we’ve recently renovated the hides, and have the Sky Tower to give a great view of the whole landscape.

‘We have to look to the future and need to maintain environmental awareness - if you don’t have an interest in something will you protect it, will you vote to save wildlife? It’s also about confronting what’s being called nature deficit disorder. One study recently revealed prisoners spend more time outside than children!’

There’s no reticence about getting out and about for members of the Arnside and Silverdale Landscape Trust, which organises walks, lectures and volunteering activities to showcase and protect this beautiful corner’s special nature, and again shows local keenness to get involved. ‘The Trust is a supporter organisation of people passionate about the area, with over a 1,000 members,’ says one of its officials, Dr Peter Standing. ‘This is the third tiniest AONB in Britain, with the highest ratio of members per hectare of any. The level of support is astonishing.

‘It’s a magnet for all sorts of people mad about the environment and geology and so on. This area has a high percentage of people fascinated by this sort of thing, and it’s often why they moved here.’

Janice McGloine, Wolf House Studio Janice McGloine, Wolf House Studio

Peter, waiting to lead a walk to explore the walled garden of Roger and Natalia Walton, of Hazelwood Lodge, a normally private property, added: ‘We’ve done the total geography of Silverdale Parish, every aspect of the geology, geomorphology, the coastal features, the estuary, woodlands, flowers, mammals and so on. They’re not social but educational walks, though fairly gentle. We have an extremely educated population around here, the typical walk will have two or three retired professors and the odd fellow of the Royal Society!’

National Trust signs at every turn around the village indicate how special its landscape is, and the excellent condition of those sites is again in part attributable to local activism.

‘My wife and I volunteer for the trust every Wednesday,’ says parish councillor Terry Bond. ‘Jack Scout, Arnside Knott, Eaves Wood, Silverdale Lots, Heald Brow – this area has plenty of NT sites, and the average volunteer turnout here is about 25, which is pretty good compared to some other areas.’

He is keen to stress that Silverdale is a vibrant community as well as a picturesque location. ‘We’ve got great amenities for a village, including the school with a roll of 77 now, shops, three pubs – and a beer festival in October - the Gaskell Hall for the drama society and for loads of activities like fund-raising coffee mornings, scouts and guides, choirs, painting groups, the history society. It’s a good community.’

Silverdale Shore Silverdale Shore

But he also emphasises that its relative remoteness from regional decision-makers brings some problems. ‘We continually have issues with services like road-cleaning and hedge-cutting, and feel we’re sometimes forgotten out here.’

As it can take some time for an ambulance some time to reach Silverdale, the council is working on improving first-aider first responder provision. The village has been quick too in taking up what B4RN – Broadband for Rural North – can offer, bringing it closer, virtually, to the rest of the world. But as Terry says, remoteness brings other benefits. ‘We’ve had no serious crime reported for three months. A bigger problem is the damage done by deer!’

More from Out & About

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Ever wondered how Clitheroe Castle got that huge hole in its tower? John Lenehan might have the answer after this walk from Sabden.

Read more
Ribble Valley Walks

Overseas royalty and fashion designers have fallen in love with a not so humble Lancashire horse blanket made on the moors above Darwen.

Read more

While many people head north towards the Lake District for walking, the city of Lancaster has plenty on offer for ramblers.

Read more
Lancaster Canals
Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The trail of storm devastation wreaked on Lancashire’s Beacon Fell has cleared the way for a new era of care for our countryside, writes Cathy Darby.

Read more
Friday, June 1, 2018

You don’t have to travel abroad to enjoy a perfect summer holiday. Here’s a round-up of some fantastic destinations across the region.

Read more
Thursday, May 31, 2018

Children now spend less time playing in nature than their parents did, The Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Molly Toal discusses

Read more
Wednesday, May 23, 2018

There are few finer thing than exploring the countryside surrounding the many rivers situated across the county.

Read more
Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Hearty breakfasts and delicious dinners are just two reasons for walking in this stunning area, as John Lenehan discovers

Read more
Bowland Walks
Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Victoria Smith always loved horses but her high pressure job meant she had little time to ride – until she met a deer in the Forest of Bowland

Read more
Equestrian
Monday, May 14, 2018

Developments underway and planned around the city are celebrating its proud heritage and building for the future

Read more
Preston
Wednesday, May 9, 2018

For almost 25 years, outdoor writers and photographers Dennis and Jan Kelsall have produced guides and articles covering many of the country’s popular walking destinations. Here, Dennis picks five of his favourites.

Read more
Lancaster
Friday, May 4, 2018

Ramsbottom is well known for its food and drink scene, but Rebekka O’Grady meets some arty residents that will inspire your creative side.

Read more
Ramsbottom
Thursday, May 3, 2018

A devastating riding accident may have saved Katherine Beaumont from a life of anxiety and stress. Now she is sharing her experience.

Read more
Equestrian

A unique community musical in Wigan is taking one of George Orwell’s most famous works from the page to the stage and making a song and dance about social inequality.

Read more
Wigan
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Property Search