Completion of Penwortham By-Pass: The New Ribble Bridge

Since my last post (1) I have walked the proposed stretch that will join the newly proposed route of Penwortham By-pass to a new bridge over the river Ribble.

By-pass to new Ribble Bridge - CopyWhether this will be built is open to conjecture at the moment. However what makes it significant is that the completion of Penwortham by the new route will only work if it is built. There are many flaws with this.

It needs to pass Howick Cross electrical substation.

Seen in the background, far left.

Seen in the background, far left.

It will destroy an area of natural coastline.

Natural Coastline River RibbleIt will run through Lea Marsh, which is a Biological Heritage Site. I have learnt through LERN (2) that this is a grazing marsh composed of salt marsh grasses and rushes. It is the home of two rare species; long-stalked orache and meadow barley.

Through the Lancashire Wildlife Trust I have found out downstream lies The Ribble and Alt Estuary Special Protection Area. Unfortunately Biological Heritage sites are nowhere near as well protected. In this case, if a bridge was built it would be acceptable for saltmarsh and mudflat to be restored elsewhere.

Personally I don’t agree with the argument that it’s acceptable to destroy a piece of land so long as a similar habitat is created somewhere else. It won’t be the same. In fact this is an insipid cover for the fact a unique piece of land will be ruined, its grasses gone for good, its birds and wildlife dehomed.

I’ve been in touch with the RSPB but they haven’t got back to me about the different birds who live in the area yet. However a walk down the river reveals this is the habitat of herons, cormorants, oyster-catchers, lapwings and a variety of gulls.

Heron and sea birdsIs the destruction of this natural coastline, its vegetation and the homes of many birds worth an extra ten minutes off travel time to the industrial sector at Warton, for those privileged enough to be able to afford to own cars? My answer is no.


I’d like to thank Nik Bruce at LERN and David Dunlop at Lancashire Wildlife Trust for their quick replies to my e-mails and making this information avaible.

Planting a Woodland Burial Ground

Penwortham Woodland Burial Ground





A handful of oak saplings are mine to plant,
squatting where other feet already wait.
Many hands on the well-worn spade
dig down, hammer in the stake,
nurture the spriggy guardian
into place.

In the rabbit wire’s mirror
I see a familiar face.

Counting down the trees
I do not know
which will be mine,
tomorrow or in fifty years,
when each caretaker will come to sleep
in the shelter of broad oak shadows.

Penwortham Woodland Burial Ground

Blind Hound Over

Annwn, not-world, the otherside
always calls me over,

twitching in my dreams
like the nerves of every animal,

twisting through my veins
like the cords of every tree,

when the horse lies down
and hawk goes to nest

little rabbit cannot run fast enough
nor the girl in the crimson hood,

for the stench of all the wildwood
wrests me from my sleep,

calls the blind hound over,
lures me free.

Fairy Lane


Temple of Nodens 21st C

Dream source comes powering back
over the land in heavy rain,
primal point from which this world emerges

the injured or insane lowered into the abyss,
waves crashing over them
in the sanctity of Nodens’ Temple.

In every bed sleepers descend,
dreaming a storm where he teaches them
how to man a coracle, with catching hand fling out a net,

the unflinching trajectory of a steadfast spear
knowledge of the wound that heals them,
licked clean by his eager hounds,

the necessity of his lost arts
beneath the dizzying calls of two tawny owls
where culverted rivers roar under tower blocks

and roads strain on concrete scaffolds.
In every bedroom lights are out,
windows closed, shutters down,

behind the sheet rain a land of sleepers
is dreaming a panacea in the not-light
of his twenty first century sanctum.

Sea Serpent

The water fountain is referred to locally as the Dolphin Fountain, even though the water feature affixed here for many years from the 19th century was sea serpent in character.’
– The Dolphin Fountain, Avenham Park, Preston

It came down from long mountains,
unmeshing its skeleton, shedding its scales,
fine droplets of tiny water,
what a glitterer it was!
swaying like a cobra
with blue diamond eyes,
an infatuation of ruff and gill,
pipe-mouth spilling
a vision of words and water
swimming against the backlashes of my eyes,
splashing up an underground sea world ruled by Nodens,
spikes and spines of things like tritons,
zigzagging fish, shoals of dolphins,
stones, shells, in its midst
this great acrobatic tumbler supple tailed,
knowing all the tricks, bubbling up;
a sea serpent coming to call.

Sea Serpent, Avenham Park

Sea Serpent, Avenham Park

Source of natural spring

Source of natural spring

The Dolphin Fountain and course of natural spring

The Dolphin Fountain and course of natural spring

A Million Cats

Their lithe minds twist
around corners

in the nook of each bed,
tucked into shelf and drawer,
ears pert atop coat stands,
they fold themselves into mirrors,
posit their existence,
sleep themselves there,


a violent tremor
reverberating from earth’s core.

Curled beside me
they are hot as coals,
yet kitten-soft
in a slumber of mystery

whilst lambent eyes slink
down ancestral roads

and in lanes of cat’s eyes
a million felines are mirrored,
stretching through the night,
returning home.