Few people will know this local monument by its official name, for many it is known as the Frodsham Memorial. Perched high on the top of the sandstone cliffs overlooking Frodsham, for me this is place of many emotions and experiences. I have visited with my children when they were small; half-terrified in case they ventured too close to the unguarded cliff edge and I have brought them back here as teenagers to watch the sunset together. My husband and I are frequent visitors in fair weather and foul; never ceasing to be eased as we discover some new aspect of the view, our fellow visitors or the surrounding environment. We brought my father up here on the day my mother died; needing to escape from the sterile hospital and seeking solace in the fresh air and open space.
The plaque that stands just inside the gate leading to the monument states that Overton Hill was donated to the people of Frodsham by local landowners as a place to remember those who gave their lives in the wars. A short and undemanding walk through grass and gorse leads up to the viewing point where, under the shadow of the memorial stone, you can sit on one of the benches donated in loving memory, and watch the world go by. On a day of optimum visibility, the panorama stretches from Moel Famau in North Wales to Jodrell Bank’s huge satellite dish; taking in the tall masts of Winter Hill, Liverpool Airport’s control tower, the constant lights of Castle Rock, the span of the Runcorn Bridge and the immense cooling towers of Fiddler’s Ferry power station. Closer to view are the Mersey flood plains, the roaring motorway, the little purple train coming back from Chester and Frodsham itself, nestled far below the drop of the cliff.
Rabbits come here when the visitors have gone; leaving their droppings as the only evidence of their presence. Once you zone out the motorway’s drone there is a choir of birdsong and the wheeling antics of gull and magpies whilst birds of prey loop lazily in the sky. It is rare to come here and not encounter another human visitor; dog-walkers, photographers seeking to capture the breadth of the landscape, hand-holding couples both young and old, and when we visit today; a group of local schoolchildren on a geography trip. They chatter like the magpies earlier seen, and this is interspersed with terse commands from their teacher, who like myself so many years ago, is worried that they will go too close to the edge.
On the way back to the car we stop, as we always do, to admire the progress of my favourite tree. A blue spruce, just a little larger than the average Christmas tree, it stands to one side of the path, branches of almost furry needles outspread as if to send us on our way with a farewell and safe journey. This then, is Overton Hill, a place of extremes; environment, inhabitants and emotions, a legacy left for our enjoyment and remembrance.