Sometimes, at low tide, you’ll find the tree stumps and trunk remains of a petrified forest on Cleveleys beach.
Our beach at Cleveleys moves around in time to the tides. Calmer seas and gentle breezes enable the sand which is carried by the sea to be deposited. Then rough weather and choppy seas scour the seabed, and sand is carried away by the tide with north shore drift.
After rough weather, on the lowest of tides as far out as the sea goes, you might be lucky enough to see some of these tree remains from hundreds of years gone by.
The petrified forest isn’t to be confused with the thick, wide brown mass which runs from right to left across much of the beach.These are Honeycomb Worm Reefs.
The petrified forest is just one of the local legends in these parts, and it’s been immortalised in the Sea Change book and mythological trail called The Sea Swallow.
History of the Petrified Forest on Cleveleys Beach
The remains of petrified forest on Cleveleys beach are part of local folklore. Similar to many others that can be found all around the shores of the UK, it dates back to prehistoric times. Sea levels were much lower back then, and the country was covered in trees.
Most people with an interest in the area have a knowledge of the petrified forest, and maps dating back to 1610 show prehistoric peat offshore.
The sea is said to have gained 3 yards of land every year dating back as far as 1788. That’s a lot of what used to be land, now submerged under a watery world. Local villages were said to be inundated by rising sea levels.
Your Sightings of the Petrified Forest on Cleveleys Beach
Because the beach levels rise and fall so frequently, the petrified forest isn’t always visible when you go out to low tide on Cleveleys beach.
You’ll stand a better chance of seeing it after rough wintery weather, which more often erodes the sand to leave the stumps and trunks visible.
In January 2018, Andy Blundell sent in these amazing photos showing the stumps and trunk remains of the petrified forest on Cleveleys beach –
In the photo below you can see that these pictures were taken roughly opposite Children’s Corner on the promenade.
Alison Wilkinson sent in the photo below –
And this photo is from Andy Ball –
Back in 2013 Visit Cleveleys was contacted by James Turner, who had a metal detecting hobby. James wasn’t looking for pound coins and things with current day value, but the history and heritage of the Fylde Coast.
James provided this information:
“What is for sure is that just about half way between the low and high water mark, out from present day Cleveleys, there was a forest. Some time after the above event occurred, whatever that event was, the sea again receded a little to the coast line we know today but still covered the forest when the tide came in. Sand built up around the tree trunks, the tops rotting away, leaving only the petrified stumps visible now at low water. Sand movements may cover or uncover these remains depending on tides and weather i.e. a big tide with gale force winds will more likely move sand on the beach.”
We were also contacted by Ivy, who added “In the mid 80’s after a fierce storm, our two lads and my husband went on the beach and found lots of sand had been moved.
“Lots of tree stumps and tree trunks had been uncovered, one was silver Birch. In the original ground there were horse hoof prints and they found a cast horse shoe which we still have, although we don’t know how old it is.”
Sunken Village of Singleton Thorpe
There’s also said to be a sunken village off the coast of Cleveleys, lost from a time long before the modern concrete sea defences which protect us today.
The power of the sea went unchecked then, and so the inhabitants of Singleton Thorpe had to flee from flooding.
There was an inundation in the mid 1500’s. It is widely thought to all be at the same time in one terrible night in September of 1554/5, but as few people wrote back then, evidence is sketchy.
12 villages were destroyed between Carlisle and Southport when what was thought to be a tsunami hit the West Coast of the UK in or around that year. Three of which were on our peninsula.
If you find this kind of local history fascinating, join the Thornton Cleveleys Past Facebook group. There, you’ll learn the most amazing things about this area.
Why does the beach move about so much?
A number of different weather and environmental processes work together to make beaches change so much from day to day.
If you find this fascinating you’ll be interested in the new Coast Watchers project which aims to unravel this process.
Find out More
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