Penrith Beacon visible once again thanks to joint-working
Beacon Hill above Penrith, standing to the north-east of the town, is an iconic landmark for the town and the area with the stone-built Beacon Pike on its summit.
In the past, people who walked up to Beacon Pike were rewarded by a splendid view to the south-west stretching from Shap Fell, Lowther Castle, High Street, Ullswater, Helvellyn, Keswick, Blencathra and to Scotland.
However over recent years, the view from the Beacon has been obstructed by the growth of the trees around the summit and this growth has also removed the sight of the Pike on the summit, particularly from the town and when travelling north on the M6.
There has been much comment in recent years about the loss of the view and its impact and now a number of organisations have come together to organise and fund the clearance of the trees in order to regain the view.
Lonsdale Settled Estates (LSE) & Viscount Lowther Trust (VLT) – the Estates of Hugh Lowther, The Earl of Lonsdale, who own the area around the summit have organised the work and contracted Eden Treescapes carry it out.
Funding for the tree clearance, which has cost £3,500 has been provided by Eden District Council, The Old Codgers, Penrith Chamber of Trade, Penrith Rotary Club and Penrith Partnership. There was also help, on the ground, from members of the Eden Valley Mountaineering Club.
The work has entailed the full clearance of the first 15 metres of trees and the creation of key view avenues looking towards Lowther Castle, Blencathra and Scotland and a thinning of the trees in between.
Councillor Mike Slee, Eden District Council’s Commercial Services Portfolio Holder, said; "We are pleased to support this project which has brought back the iconic view of the Pike from below and afar helping to promote Penrith."
Historically the Beacon has been the place where countless beacons were lit over the centuries to warn the population of potential raids. It was one of a chain of beacons operating down the Eden Valley.
There have been more recent beacons to celebrate special occasions, such as the Queen’s Jubilee. A beacon is planned to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War 1, on 11 November 2018.
Ron Kenyon from Penrith Partnership, said: "The Beacon is an important part of Penrith’s history and we hope that this work will encourage locals and visitors alike to visit and enjoy the fantastic view from the summit."
Notes to Editors
The Pike was built in 1719 and replaced an earlier structure on the same site. It is likely that a beacon in some form or other has been sited here since 1296.
At a height of 286 m (937 ft) above sea level, the lit beacon would have been visible for a considerable distance and was one in a chain of beacons operating down the Eden Valley. In 1468, it was listed as 'communicating' with neighbouring beacons at Kirkoswald to the north and Orton Scar to the south.
The last serious firing of the Beacon was during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion. It was also recorded as ‘flashing’ a warning during the Napoleonic Wars in 1804.
In the 1920’s there was a devastating fire on the Beacon. A black cloud hung over the town for many days as the fire took hold, many trees were destroyed. With the replanting of the tree the tree covered hill returned. The area around the summit has, for long, been accessible by the public with a path leading up from Beacon Edge.
A viewing plaque was placed near the summit, by the Penrith Lions, in the 1990’s - this shows a 360 degree view, which has never, at least recently, been possible from the summit. Photographs for the creation of the plaque were taken from part way up one of the masts to the south end of the Beacon. The recent clearance of the trees will however help to see and identify the features of "that view".