5:00 PM 26th January 2021
Heritage Walks: Jubilee Tower, Quernmore
There are many follies and towers that decorate our landscape: some, like the Darwen Tower or Peel’s Tower are widely recognised. Others, like this small folly located by Quernmore, remain less well known. Jubilee Tower, not far from Lancaster, was brought to my attention by a good friend who, when out on a hike, enjoys visiting ruins and monuments, all to be ticked off our ever-increasing “to walk” list. So, whilst still stuck at home for lockdown, it is a good time to start planning for day trips and walking routes later in the year.
Photo courtesy of Jill Cross
Jubilee Tower is found on the minor road between Rakehouse Brow and Quernmore Brow, just outside Quernmore. The closest postcode is LA2 0QR (the Tower is shown on Google Maps) and for the walk itself, you need the OS Explorer Map OL 41. There is a car park built beside the tower, a convenient place to start and it is not too far from the M6 motorway, junction 33.
A relatively short walk from the tower car park that takes in the nearby peak of Grit Fell is just over 8 miles long. It is known to be difficult terrain, plenty of bogs and heather in places, so a sturdy pair of boots is a must! The route initially heads north-east towards the visible boundary stones atop Grit Fell. As you climb, on a clear day you should be able to see Morecambe Bay to the west. At first you will follow a fence line, when this ends you will see a stile to your left, but instead, orientate right over the top of the Fell. (You could climb over the left-hand stile, which would take you across Plover Moss towards Clougha Pike. From the summit there, you could descend in a north-westerly direction towards Windy Clough and Rigg Wood as an alternative option.)
Photo courtesy of Jill Cross
Heading east from Grit Fell, you will instead come to a track at approx. GR SD 565 586. This takes a long descent passing the curiously named Luncheon Hut and Margery’s Hill before tracing the edges of Lee Plantation and coming to the main road close to Rakehouse Barn.
Turn left at the road, walk for a short distance then cross and follow the track opposite, just before the stream. The path comes to then follows Tarnbrook Wyre and brings you to a small settlement called Abbeystead. Turn right along the road, and when it makes a distinct 90° turn, beside Abbeystead Reservoir at Bank Wood, look for a path continuing straight ahead. This passes a barn and crosses fields to emerge beside a church and war memorial.
Turn left along the road for a short distance, then take a path on your right across more fields towards Meeting House Farm, so named due to the strong presence of Quakers in this part of the county. Meeting another road, continue opposite passing Tills Farm, heading north west towards Lower Moor Head (another farm). Keep straight on at the path crossroads; your next point of orientation is called Lee Tenement, shortly after which you can turn right at a track to return to the tower and the start.
Suggested route map
The tower stands at about 940-50ft above sea level, so it is natural it was built to enjoy the vistas it offers. Lancaster is visible quite close by and to the north, on a clear day, you can see into the Lake District and its southerly mountains. The tower was originally built as a folly by a wealthy shipbuilder called James Harrison, who had amassed his fortune in Liverpool but lived nearby in the village of Hare Appletree. He commissioned a local stonemason to build the structure to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887. It remained in private ownership until 1973 when it was gifted to Lancashire Country Council and they began to build the car park, during which they discovered the Quernmore Dark Age burial which these days is housed in Lancaster City Museum.
A digger at the time appeared to unearth some boat-shaped pieces of wood, which turned out to be the remains of an oak coffin, dating to the Dark Ages, or approximately 600-700 CE. Inside the coffin they discovered remnants of a woollen cloth – this was a burial shroud, however the skeleton had long-since disintegrated in the acidic soil with the exception of the person’s hair and nails – these are made of keratin that lasts longer than bone.
A quick glance at the map will reveal a multitude of places and pathways to follow; this area is, of course located in the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, known and loved by both hikers and cyclists alike.
Further information can be found online: