The Clock Face Country Park can look beautiful when it snows - photographed in February 2007
The site was reclaimed by St Helens Council as a community woodland and public open space in the late 1990s. Measuring fifty-seven acres, the country park contains developing woodlands, footpath networks, meadow areas and a fishing pond. It’s linked to the Sutton Manor Woodland, another former colliery along 'Miners Way', a reclaimed mineral railway route.
The Country Park fishing pond managed by Clock Face Anglers Club - photographed in May 2013
The present pond is one of three that the old Clock Face Colliery employed to store water that had been pumped out of the mine shafts. During the 1990s, fishing platforms were installed and new access paths were created. The re-established pond – sometimes called ‘Clock Face Pit’ - soon became a popular fishing spot with roach, tench and bream, amongst the available species. In 2009 Clock Face Anglers Club was formed and day tickets are available for non-members. Around the water’s edge you’ll find water lily, reed mace and flag iris, amongst other aquatic plants.
Birds of prey can often be seen in Clock Face Country Park. Buzzards soar high overhead as they look to prey on rabbits, while kestrels hover over the grassland seeking out small mammals. The elevated areas to the south of the site look down upon farmland, offering sightings of animals such as hares and foxes.
A jogger on a perimeter path in the Clock Face Colliery Country Park, St Helens - photographed in May 2006
Wild flower meadow in the Clock Face Country Park, St Helens - photographed in June 2013
During November and December 2012, a toposcope, interpretation panels and new signage were installed. Clock Face Country Park is a fabulous place to walk the dog, exercise or simply relax. There are many benches where one can take a moment and enjoy the beautiful trees which have grown considerably over the last few years.
Maypole Wood by Clock Face Colliery Country Park
Wildlife that is known to inhabit Maypole Wood includes dragonflies, rabbits, foxes, roe deer, kestrels, buzzards and sparrow hawks. There are a number of benches which have been installed at designated points, so that walkers can take a break and admire the rapidly growing trees, as well as enjoy the birdsong and wildlife. Maypole is sandwiched between the large country park and Griffin Wood, at the bottom of Hall Lane, with its remarkable sculpture trail. Combining the three together makes for a superb walk or cycle.
Some of the young trees in Maypole Wood - photographed in February 2005
The trees in Maypole Wood are flourishing - photographed in May 2007
The Forestry Commission's notices on the site state:
Welcome to this Forestry Commission community woodland. Whether walking the dog or riding through take a moment to relax amidst this mosaic of woods, grassland and wet meadow. Watch finches on the seed heads or buzzards hunting rabbits. Listen for the “little bit of bread and no cheese” call of yellowhammer or just the buzz of bees amongst the wildflowers and trees. In the centre are willow beds where different weaving varieties are being grown.
Bird box intended for barn owls on a tall, heavy pole in Maypole Wood - photographed in June 2013
Walkway which connects Maypole Wood with Clock Face Country Park - photographed in July 2013
In the summer of 2013 the Forestry Commission (FC) completed the installation of a raised walkway which connects Maypole with Clock Face Country Park. The main work took place in August 2012 when fifteen members of The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) worked with the FC to install a boardwalk over a pathway that had been eroded by water. This had come from an adjacent stream that is fed by a natural spring that runs through old mine shafts in the area. The boardwalk had to be constructed from within the stream, so the workers were waist high in water at times.
The flourishing Maypole Wood photographed from Clock Face Country Park in May 2011
Wheatacre Community WoodlandIt's worth also mentioning Wheatacre here as like the other community woodlands, it's in close proximity to the Clock Face Colliery Country Park. The main entrance is off Gorsey Lane and the site is sandwiched between Colliers Moss and Burtonwood and runs alongside the Bold Business Centre. It's named after Wheatacre(s) Farm which in 1862 covered 64 acres. The Forestry Commission acquired the site in February 1998 and converted it into a woodland. Click here for Mersey Forest's Wheatacre walking map fact sheet.
An entrance to the Wheatacre woodland photographed in June 2009
The Forestry Commission’s notices on the site state:
Created from farmland and now open for everyone to enjoy, there is something for you here whatever your age. Kick a ball about, gather with your mates at a bench or just stroll through listening to the larks. Walk the dog or admire the wildflowers and ponds, butterflies and dragonflies. Or ride your horse or bike through to other nearby open spaces.
A high-angle view of Wheatacre woodland with Fiddlers Ferry power station in the background
Heritage: Clock Face Colliery; Colliery Photo-Album; Education: Clock Face School / St.Aidan's School; Streets & Placenames: Origins of Clock Face;
Download October / November 2014 St.Helens 'Get Yourselves Outdoors' Walks Brochure
• In June 2013 a member of the public reported seeing an adder in the Country Park. Although this has yet to be confirmed, St.Helens Council recommend that visitors be observant at all times and keep dogs under control or on a lead. Sightings of adders or other snakes should be reported to St.Helens Council's Contact Centre on 01744 676789 or telephone the Ranger Service on 01744 676123 (01744 676728 out of office hours). Adders are the only venomous snake native to Britain and if you are bitten by any snake you should seek immediate medical attention.
• St.Helens primary school teachers took part in a 'Forest School' taster day at the Clock Face Colliery Country Park in July and November 2012. The event was organised by The Mersey Forest as part of their Access to Nature programme. Forest School is an approach to education that was first pioneered in Scandinavia during the 1960s which helps children reconnect with nature through regular outdoor lessons in woodland environments. One teacher said: "It's been great to stimulate my imagination, and learn about activities which I can take back to use with the children." The Mersey Forest will now support the teachers to receive further training to become accredited Forest School leaders and make outdoor lessons in their local woodlands a regular feature for their pupils.
St.Helens Council Civic Pride & Community Spaces Section: Tel. 01744 456123
Forestry Commission (responsibility for Maypole & Wheatacre) 01606 884937;
FC Site Ranger: Phil Lee Tel. 075543 33548 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please do contact me if you can provide any further information and / or photographs concerning Sutton, St.Helens. You might also consider contributing your recollections of old Sutton for the Memories pages, which are proving very popular. Sutton Beauty & Heritage strives for factual accuracy at all times. Please do also get in touch if you believe that there are any errors. I respond quickly to emails and if you haven't received a response within 12 hours, check your junk mail folder or send your message again. Thank you! SRW