Nowhere near as high as an elephant’s eye

Maize maze in Singleton has reopened.  Pictured are visitors Elise Cardwell and Adam Cardwell.
Maize maze in Singleton has reopened. Pictured are visitors Elise Cardwell and Adam Cardwell.
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You could call it Blackpool’s corniest attraction, but Singleton Maize Maze is far from cutting its losses, even after a wet summer has left the maize with a lot of catching up to do. Jacquie Morley meets the children of the corn

Hey up, what’s up at Singleton Maize Maze?

Maize maze in Singleton has reopened.  Pictured is Amy Berry.

Maize maze in Singleton has reopened. Pictured is Amy Berry.

Normally, as the old song goes, the corn is as high as an elephant’s eye, or at least thigh, at this time of year.

But the visitor-pulling cash crop has some catching up to do, and only some prolonged stints of sunshine will help.

Our singularly soggy summer has stunted the growth of one of the Fylde’s most unusual attractions.

The maze has opened on time but at around two to three feet high it’s akin to one of those mini box mazes beloved of visitors to stately homes, who want their kids to get lost, but not for too long.

Singleton Maize Maze is famed as a place where you can lose all hope of being reunited with loved ones for at least an hour or more – which is why visitors are instructed to carry a flag and wave it vaguely in the direction of overseers on high whenever they want out.

Not that it’s deterring visitors. They are still striding through, flags ironically to hand, like an Olympic parade which has lost its way.

Those entering into the spirit of the occasion are opting not to cheat by sneaking a peep at neighbouring paths. Others taking the moral low ground point out that even if you can see the next path it’s just as likely to lead to a dead end.

Albeit a dead end you can just skip over, rather than be forced to double back.

The rules read: “No smoking, no running, no cheating, keep to the paths.”

There’s a trail quiz for those who want to ensure no corncob is left unturned. And for the record those corn cobs are not for human consumption, but edible only to cattle.

Farmer David Loftus. of Mount Farm. on Carr Lane. admits he’s not got a cob on.

“We’re cutting our losses, it’s done us proud since it opened, so we can’t really complain.”

He adds: “It’s been an awful summer, and the maze is the least of it. This is still a working farm. The maize is there because it’s animal feed. We decided to make it work for us while it was growing for the cattle.”

The popular attraction isn’t the only one of its kind to be clobbered by the wet summer. Elsewhere, mazes have closed, or been replanted.

“We’ve managed to keep our maize going and growing. We’ve put on fertiliser, kept an eye on it, and hoped for the best,” David adds.

“Once the sun shines, the maize should put a real spurt on.”

Making hay while the sun shines hasn’t really happened this summer – the rain has been torrential for three months.

Maize manager Janet Graham remains upbeat.

“A few more days of sustained heat, even under cloudy skies, will kick-start the maze into a burst of growth,” she assures.

“Those visitors who have come are still enjoying it.”

It’s her second year on site, and bookings are creeping back up with word out the maize is on the up and up at last.

“A lot of regulars still turn up because they know there are plenty of other things to do here for the kids.” Within the neighbouring barn there is football fun, other activities and a shop and cafe.

Outside there’s a go-kart track, mini-maze, playground and other facilities.

The attraction is a former winner of Wyre’s Excellence in Tourism award. It’s open daily 10am to 5.30pm until September 9, and then weekends only.

There are torchlight nights (7.30pm-10pm) through what should be 10ft tall maize on September 14, 21 and 28.

The maze is available for private bookings after hours.

But the biggest event of the year is also the last before the maize is cut back – Halloween Fright Night on October 26 from 6pm to 10pm. Complete with pumpkin soup and other treats.

That’s when the Fylde’s own children of the corn, students Liam Webb, 17, Amy Berry and Chloe Brigham, both 16, prove there’s no hiding place when they are on the prowl, clad in dark clothes, and wearing Scream masks.

Liam admits: “Fright Night’s the best. It gives us chance to dress up and scare people – in a fun kind of way. The kids love it.

“If anyone was genuinely worried, we would get them out, but most are well up for it. By then the maize is really high, but it’s also getting a bit battered – it’s still difficult to escape.”

It’s Chloe’s first season at the attraction. “I can’t wait for it to get taller,” she admits.

Each year the maze has a different theme, and this year’s is The Animal Games, with sporting maze challenges.

The maize is cut to design by specialists using sat nav GPS to co-ordinates set by designers. The design can only be really seen from the air, although spectator stands are dotted through the 12-acre site to watch for visitors literally flagging.

Blackpool brother and sister Adam and Elise Cardwell, 13 and nine, urge locals to visit the maze. “We come every year and it’s still fun ” says Adam. “There’s so much else to do here, too.” Elise adds: “I’d put a magic potion on it, some special fertiliser, to make it grow faster. It’s still good here.”

To find out more, visit www.singleton