It’s a few years since we’ve been able to get to the Dream, but we’ve recently found a bus that runs there on Sundays. “Dream” is a piece of public sculpture resembling the head of a young girl with her eyes closed, presumably dreaming or meditating. It’s 66 feet (20m) tall and clad in very white stone. It sits at the summit of the old spoil tip of Sutton Manor Colliery and overlooks the M62 motorway. Sadly, 10 years on, it is no longer quite so clean and white. It was unveiled in May 2009, inspired by the old Latin motto of St Helens and of the colliery – Ex Terra Lucem (From the ground, light).
The bus dropped us close to the preserved wrought iron gates of Sutton Manor Colliery, which now lead into the Forestry Commission’s Sutton Manor Woodland, planted with over 50,000 trees, mostly native Birch, Oak and Poplar, although we did note an Italian Alder. In between are masses of wild flowers, and we were interested to note just how much of the tall yellow Common Melilot there was – great fields of it – so it must be tolerant of the coal waste beneath.
There was a pair of Kestrels hunting near the top, and wonderful views, southwards to Widnes and eastwards to the Pennines.
It was an overcast day, hot and humid, with the promise of thunder later, but it kept off as we descended the hill and found ourselves on a path along the southern edge of the woodland, right next to the motorway. The wildflowers were here in great profusion. Masses of Ragwort, Teasel, Great Willowherb and Yarrow. Also occasional Hemp Agrimony, Wild Carrot, Rosebay Willowherb, Fleabane, Canadian Goldenrod, Evening Primrose, Bird’s Foot Trefoil and what might have been the buds of Chicory.
Butterflies were well in evidence. There were still a few Painted Ladies persisting from the once-in-a-decade mass emergence earlier in the week. Also Red Admirals, Peacocks, a Gatekeeper and a Speckled Wood.
Public transport details: Train from Lime Street towards Blackpool at 10.16, arriving St Helens Central Station at 10.43. Then the hourly bus 17 from Bickerstaffe Street (outside TJ Hughes by the bus station) at 10.55, arriving Jubit’s Lane / Forest Road (at entrance to Sutton Manor) at 11.14. Returned from Jubit’s Lane / Forest Road (by the garage on the opposite side of the road) on the 17 at 1.41, arriving St Helens Bus Station at 1.55. Then the 10A bus at 2.05, arriving Liverpool at 3.12.