Hawthorn Ridge – The Site

The area of the craters and its surrounding paths, was originally co-owned by five different landowners, each having a section of land within their confines.

In early 2018, after numerous discussions between the landowners and the prospective ‘core’ members of the association, it was agreed that the ground comprising the craters and the path up to and surrounding them would be ‘sold’ to the local area of Albert, agreed to by the Mayor. In turn the Association would ‘lease’ the land for a 99 year period for the nominal fee of 1 euro.

The owners of the farmland surrounding the craters also agreed to an extra portion of ground to enable a path to be created to circumnavigate the circumference of the site. Suitable fencing was in turn erected to prevent visitors wandering onto private farmland. In addition, a path and viewing area was fenced into the craters, where all areas can be viewed, whilst also protecting the ground from footfall erosion. Scrub was removed and a number of dead and diseased trees taken out. Many trees were left and will be maintained, with naturally seeded saplings encouraged to grow, as future replacements for any older trees lost to age or the elements. These will help to maintain the integrity of the site.

Had this agreement not been reached, it was becoming more and more inevitable that the site would be lost to farming and potential infill of this iconic site.

The area leased by the Association, runs from the access steps from the New Beaumont Road, approx. 150 metres east of the entrance to the Sunken Lane. From here the path runs south, uphill for 200 metres to the crest of the ridge.

On reaching the crest the first crater, immediately in front of you is the result of the 1st July 1916 detonation. In the field to the left ran the German front lines, to the right approx. 250 metres away, the British lines.

Traversing the craters anti clockwise you will come to the site of the second detonation, at the southern end of the site, blown on 13th November 1916, passing the path and gateway on the right, which ultimately takes you to CWGC cemetery, Hawthorn Ridge No.1.

Continuing along the path, approx. three quarters of the way around the craters a path on the left takes you down into the near centre of the crater site. The distinction between the two blows can just be made out to your left, along with the scars of later artillery fire all around.

An overlay of the present site area on a pre July 1916 aerial photo