BB2122 : Sound An Alarm

Wednesday 26th May 2021

If I had told you this story fifty years ago, I would probably have had to kill you.  It concerns the location of a nuclear war bunker.  Now I can tell you without you needing to worry.  It is to be found at Haverbrack, behind the quarry at Sandside, not far from Milnthorpe.

The best way to find it is to do what we did.  Park near the quarry and follow the wooded path that almost reaches Hollins Well before turning south to climb up the hill.  

After crossing a minor road, look back to admire the Kent Estuary and the distant Lakeland panorama.  If you can see the latter, of course.  If we had been able to see it clearly then we would probably have been there and not here.  One top was clear however, just below the clouds.  After some discussion we concluded it was Red Screes.  The OS map agrees, peeping out above Wansfell.

Once in the Haverbrack Wood we soon encountered the United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation's bunker, a chilling reminder of the state of the world in the 1960s.  In the event of nuclear war, the role of the UKWMO was:

  • Warning the public of any air attack
  • Providing confirmation of nuclear strike.
  • Warning the public of the approach of radioactive fall-out.
  • Supplying the civilian and military authorities in the United Kingdom and neighbouring countries in NATO with details of nuclear bursts and with a scientific assessment of the path and intensity of fall-out
  • Provision of a post-attack meteorlogical service.

Their logo puts it rather more succinctly.  Sound An Alarm.

Often the members of the warning team were local secondary school science teachers. Would they would have enough time to leave the classroom and enter the bunker?

A much pleasanter view was soon spotted, a herd of deer ahead of us.  They didn't need to sound an alarm.  Eyesight was good enough for them.

Before long another strange structure was encountered.  Hazelslack Tower.  A remarkably sinister looking concrete structure.  Maybe it too had a part to play in the cold war.   Or perhaps it was just for holding cold water.

A few fields further on, near Leighton Beck Bridge, TV Mike called for a stop for elevenses.  Now this is something that BOOTboys don't normally do but this was a combined mission with his other walking group although members were in short supply on both sides.  Mick from them and Bryan, Stan and I from BOOTboys.  TVM was in charge so we did as we were told.

A few more fields and coppices later we arrived at Hawes Water (Lancashire version, not the rather larger Cumbrian One).  

Yet again, there was a strange structure to be seen.  Closer examination revealed it to be a renovated 18th century summer house with a view across the tarn.  I bet the ducks needed an alarm!

Returning the woods and fields we stopped for lunch, looking over to Arnside Tower.

Soon we were once more at the Hazelslack Tower, this time turning right up the long track that leads up to Fairy Steps.  An alarm must have sounded as there were no fairies to be seen.

Just before reaching the old village of Beetham  there was another derelict old building with a danger sign.  Just what this had been an how alarmed we ought to be we never discovered.

Beetham itself looked in good order.

Crossing the Dallam Deer Park we noticed the state of the recently burned out deer shelter.  Presumably no fire alarm went off.

A short walk round the Bela estuary brought us back to the car.  A short drive brought us to the Hare & Hounds at Levens.  I could hear the Manager calling the bar staff.  Sound an Alarm.  The Boys are here.  Man the pumps!

Don, Wednesday 26th May 2021

PS Yes, I am aware that some would contend that the real Hazleslack Tower is the ancient, piel tower on the other side of the farm yard but as we didn't actually go past it, for today I'm sticking with the concrete one.


Comitibus:  TV Mike, Stan, Don, Mick, Bryan

Route:  Map: OS 1:50k


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BB2122 : Sound An Alarm


Wednesday 26th May 2021


Hawes Water, Fairy Steps


Bryan, Don, Mick, TV Mike, Stan

Distance in miles (Garmin):


Height climbed in feet (MM):


GPX track


Down in the ZOOMbar

John PL





TV Mike

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