Sometimes, at low tide, you might see the tree stumps and trunk remains of a petrified forest on Cleveleys beach. Above photo: thanks to Andy Ball
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.
Petrified Forest on Cleveleys Beach
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. It’s 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. It dates back to prehistoric times, like many others found all around the shores of the UK. Sea levels were much lower back then, and the country covered in trees.
Most people with an interest in the area have a knowledge of the petrified forest. 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
Beach levels rise and fall frequently, so the petrified forest isn’t always visible when you go out on Cleveleys beach at low tide.
You’ll stand a better chance of seeing it after rough wintery weather. Rough seas often erode 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 –
The next photos are taken roughly opposite Children’s Corner on the promenade.
Alison Wilkinson sent in the photo below –
And this photo is from Andy Ball –
Your sightings of the petrified forest
James Turner, who enjoyed metal detecting, got in touch back in 2013. He wasn’t looking for pound coins and things with monetary 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. It went back 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. A big tide with gale force winds will more likely move sand on the beach.”
Ivy also got in touch. She says “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. 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 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.
So the story goes, with the power of the sea going unchecked, the inhabitants of Singleton Thorpe had to flee from flooding.
Fact and fiction
There was, however, an inundation in the mid 1500’s. Widely thought to have been one terrible night in September of 1554/5, but few people wrote back then so evidence is sketchy.
It’s thought that a storm surge, or even a tsunami, hit the West Coast in or around that year. 12 villages were destroyed between Carlisle and Southport, three of them on the Fylde Coast.
- Take a look at this article – Rising sea levels – are they fact or folklore? It’s a fascinating piece of research and thesis by a Lancaster University student.
If you find this kind of local history interesting, join the Thornton Cleveleys Past Facebook group. 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 beach processes interesting you’ll also be interested in the new Coast Watchers project. With your help it aims to unravel this process.
While you’re here…
Have a look at the homepage of the Visit Cleveleys website for more of the latest updates.
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