By Kingfisher Visitor Guides
There’s no need to choose between history and nature on days out in Lancashire. Often, you’ll enjoy both in the very same place!
Museums and ruins
Museum-hopping is easy in Lancaster, home to The Cottage Museum which recreates 18th-century Victorian life down to the smallest detail. Explore tiny staircases leading to historic rooms that look just like they did back then, across five intriguing floors. At nearby Heysham, one of the earliest Christian settlements was founded at St Patrick’s ruins, with the listed, 7th-century St Peter’s Church next to it.
In the popular riverside village of Ribchester, visit the Roman Bath House. Built in AD 100, it was designed to serve soldiers garrisoned in the nearby fort. For a multi-sensory experience surrounded by stunning countryside, head to Helmshore Mills Textile Museum. Two historic working mills offer a glimpse into the industry that helped shaped the lives of Lancashire locals, along with the industrial heritage of Britain.
You’ll admire contemporary history with rare memorabilia of the town’s heyday at Morecambe’s Heritage Centre
You’ll admire contemporary history with rare memorabilia of the town’s heyday at Morecambe’s Heritage Centre. Travelling with kids of all ages? There’s something for everyone at Blackpool Model Village and Gardens. Step back in time with exquisite models like Scottish Castles, thatched cottages and a Tudor village with tiny residents playing cricket on the village green.
Historic homes and castles
Lancaster is one of England’s most historic and strategically important cities. Its famous castle is owned by her Majesty the Queen, who is the Duke of Lancaster. The castle was also Europe’s longest-serving prison until it closed in 2011, and its courtrooms hosted many famous trials. Most notable was that of the Pendle Witches, who were sentenced to death in 1612. Take a guided tour and you’ll see the castle’s prison cells.
Hoghton Tower, a 16th-century manor house and the ancestral home of the de Hoghton family, is another popular visitor attraction. Guided tours explain the importance and history of the opulent building. A must-see attraction for anyone staying in Lancashire is the magnificent Rufford Old Hall in Ormskirk. This National Trust gem is a fine Tudor building where you’ll discover 500 years of Hesketh family history. Don’t miss out on strolling through the delightful Rufford’s Victorian and Edwardian gardens. Clitheroe Castle has overlooked the town of the same name for more than 800 years and its history is documented in the castle’s award-winning museum.
A steam blast from the past is always a fun family day out. Lancashire has a number of historic steam railways hosting a range of events to suit all the family – not just railway enthusiasts – from Real Ale Trails to Santa Specials. The East Lancashire Railway runs for 12 miles between Bury and Ramsbottom and has been chugging through the Irwell Valley for 200 years.
Each station along the picturesque route offers an opening to new attractions, tea rooms, bars, markets and more, visiting stops such as Rawtenstall and Heywood. Bury Transport Museum is a fascinating place to look around at one end. West Lancashire Light Railway in the village of Hesketh Bank is Lancashire’s only narrow-gauge railway. The short line runs steam-hauled passenger trains and also hosts special themed days.
Nature and wildlife
Lancashire’s natural beauty and wildlife inspire many a fulfilling day out. Martin Mere Wetland Centre attracts more than 100 types of rare and endangered water birds, plus thousands of others on their regular migration routes. This is the natural world living and breathing in front of your eyes. Spring and summer offer sightings of cygnets, ducklings, goslings and chicks, and visitors are allowed to carefully travel on the water to get a little closer. You might spot a family of otters and kids will love the playground. Just remember to pack your wellies to get to the viewing hides.
At the RSPB’s Leighton Moss and Morecambe Bay Nature Reserve at Silverdale, hire binoculars and walk the nature trails, then relax in the gift shop and award-winning cafe. Bowland Wild Boar Park, in the Forest of Bowland, offers a fun family day out. Footpaths take you past wild boars, of course, but also llamas, wallabies, red squirrels and more. There’s the Straw Barn Play Area and tractor and trailer rides, too.
Beacon Fell Country Park nature reserve covers 185 acres with woods and moorland for a magical picnic in nature. Head to Williamson Park in Lancaster to enjoy a stunning parkland with play areas, a tropical butterfly house, mini-beasts and the Pavilion Cafe. Then, there’s Witton Country Park. It covers a huge 480 acres of Blackburn countryside with picnic spots and nature trails, as well as a fantastic play area and visitor centre.
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