Lancaster is an interesting smallish city with a lot of Georgian buildings and small passageways leading to not too secret locations if you’re a local. Nice coffee shops, bakeries and organic food co-operatives hide in these places often with inconspicuous entrances. There’s also a compact, interesting and information dense museum, Lancashire County Council operate a number of places.
This walk starts on the opposite side of the river after crossing the footbridge with what looks like 2 knitting needles, shown on photos below. It’s a circuit crossing the river not too far apart. Old railway lines now make good walking to Glasson Dock, Morecambe and to the east and the Park and Ride.
Sizergh Castle near Kendal is looked after by the National Trust although the Strickland family live there, as they have for some 700 years.
The castle has a strong and square tower with a more recent slate roof living section and large chimneys.
On arrival park in the Car Park which has a ticket machine, free for National Trust members. The Visitor Centre is a long wooden building with a cafe, outside seating, toilets and a shop.
Choose to visit the house and garden or just the garden. Alternatively take a walk along the well marked paths.
The cafe is a pleasant environment although the food gives the impression it was cooked by an ex-farmer. They do try though with some vegetarian choices. It’s the pies, heavy looking with thick pastry that don’t look very stylish.
The gardens have a large range of planting. A UK National Collection of ferns, flower borders, a large rock garden wit a lot of big planting, acers etc. A vegetable garden and large orchard. Bees and hens. There’s also a small lake and a large barn with some old items and a second hand book sale. In autumn they sell the apples with lots of varieties.
The house has several sections with an old baronial style dining room and family rooms. Some interesting panelled rooms and a large library.
For the walks you can head for St John’s at Helsingham, a tiny church on top of the valley with views over the Lake District and the wide and flat Lyth Valley. Then decide whether to head back or down the big hill road to Brigsteer and carry on round a circle to the castle. You can head from the castle to the woodland in the valley. You can also head towards Sedgwick and the old northern dry section of the Preston to Lancaster, Kendal Canal. There’s also a walk to Levens Village and Levens Hall.
None of these walks are strenuous although there are some hills on the St John’s walk.
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A visit to Levens Hall near Kendal in Cumbria. Famous for its topiary. Through the narrow gates up the drive into the decent sized free car park. Levens Hall also takes coach tours.
You can either go to the cafe first or buy tickets to the garden and the house, or just the garden.
We’ve been round the house a couple of times and it is interesting. Today we just took a guided garden tour and then wandered ourselves. The two lady guides were excellent, with good nature and being gardeners knew all the plants. In summer the gardens are wonderful. The topiary and flower beds divided into ‘rooms’ by high hedges. There is a magnificent border of shrub roses if you catch it in full flush just through a ‘gate’ in the high hedge. A red rose of Lancashire is also grown in a nearby bed and was coming to its end during this visit.
The topiary is always exquisite each with their own nickname. At the back next to the Gardeners Cottage are pots of honey from the local hive, to buy.
First though we went into the cafe. It’s an attractive cafe with a nice outdoor seating area although we find it’s not exactly our taste. You can also buy ice cream and drinks from a stall near the cafe entrance.
After the garden walk the exit is through the shop which has some interesting local items including it’s own bottled beer.
Outside the premises and across the main road is the old entrance drive which is a long straight tree lined drive with deer, following the River Kent. This can lead on to other walks.
The River Kent is known for its tidal bore and long railway viaduct at Arnside. Nearby is the village of Levens and further west the River Leven drains Lake Windermere into Morecambe Bay.
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A visit to the Lakeland Motor Museum coupled with a walk to the nearby Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway.
First stop is the neighbouring cafe, quite a decent one with riverside seating. Then entry to the museum which contains cars, motorcycles, bicycles and memorabilia. Plus the Donald Campbell display in a separate building. There are some fabulous cars here and you need to snake around the building.
Then a walk to Haverthwaite Station where small locos haul carriages to Lakeside where a ferry boat waits bound for Bowness or Ambleside on Lake Windermere. Haverthwaite also has a small engine shed containing a few locos, some dismantled.
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A visit to the BCVM in Leyland. Just a few minutes off the motorway and a free car park or a fairly cheap one across the road.
The museum has several different manufacturers on display but there are a couple of descriptive boards and some vehicles covering the story of Foden and ERF which is interesting. The original company was called Foden but two brothers wanted to go in different ways so one split off and formed ERF or ER Foden both based in Sandbach, Cheshire.
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A visit to the East Lancs Railway in September 2022. City of Wells, 34092 made an early start, loco D345 appeared on an enthusiast special. D9531 also operated.
At Bury we visited the Art Gallery which has some good exhibits. There is also a gallery about Victoria Wood and across the road is her lifesize, or perhaps larger, statue. Across from the Art Gallery is the Fusilier Museum about the Lancashire Fusiliers, another good museum with a charge for entry. Bury is well supported by musuems as there is a transport museum across from Bolton Street Station. All these places are very close to the ELR station.
Rawtenstall is a small town with an interesting high street, quite a few cafes, although busy on Saturday. There is also a new Bus Statino, quite nicely done.
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A visit to the Ribble Steam Railway on Preston Docks. Starting with a coffee and biscuit before taking a photo of the train on the platform. The old L&YR saddle tank on a visit. It looks very small in front of the carriages. I didn’t take the train ride but studied a few of the locos in the museum before putting my name down for a tour of the works. It was a good tour, recommended.
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The North West of England has many members of the original football league. Here are the standings of the north west clubs in the top 6 leagues at the beginning of 2021:
Liverpool 1st Manchester United 2nd Manchester City 5th Everton 6th Burnley 16th
Sky Bet Championship
Blackburn Rovers 11th Preston North End 12th
Sky Bet League One
Accrington Stanley 8th Crewe Alexander 9th Fleetwood Town 10th Blackpool 13th Rochdale 21st Wigan Athletic 22nd
Sky Bet League Two
Carlisle United 1st Morecambe 7th Salford City 8th Tranmere 13th Oldham 14th Bolton Wanderers 15th Barrow 21st
Stockport County 4th Altrincham 7th
National League North
Chester FC 3rd AFC Fylde 4th Chorley 10th Southport 15th
Northern Premier League
Warrington Town 4th Witton Albion 5th Atherton Collieries 9th Lancaster City 12th FC United of Manchester 13th Radcliffe FC 14th Nantwich Town 15th Hyde United 17th Stalybridge Celtic 18th Ashton United 19th Bamber Bridge 20th
Division One North West
Colne 1st Ramsbottom United 2nd Workington 3rd Clitheroe 4th Runcorn Linnets 7th City of Liverpool FC 10th Kendal 11th Widnes 12th Mossley 13th Trafford 14th Prescot Cables 15th
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A modern building about half a mile from Bowness and beside the lake.
We walked from the centre of Bowness having parked elsewhere. Not too far and on the way back we found a quieter lane for much of the way.
It’s a large metal building like on Grand Designs with a car park that is quite expensive although with all the people looking for space in Bowness it needs to stop casual parking. Our first stop was the cafe, it’s a nice place stylishly designed with a good choice of well presented food. Plus a panoramic window over the lake.
The museum is a big space and the exhibits are well spaced. The boat of Beatrix Potter is fascinating with it’s very unusual style. The Swallows and Amazons boat is also a novel form. The history of performance boats on the lake is an interesting exhibit. Next door is a conservation studio for boats with a few in work which presumably will be displayed in the museum.
There is a steamer trip on the lake.
Overall this is a nicely designed building with good content and a good experience.
A visit to the BCVM at Leyland on 5th February 2019 shortly after its re-opening. Posh new ticket office and cafe strike you on arrival. Nice coffee as well. The upstairs area has gone and it’s a lot lighter inside. Nicer arrangement too with electronic displays about each vehicle.
A trip to Blackburn on the train. The cathedral is almost next to the station. It was Monday and Blackburn Museum was closed so we went round the shopping mall, called The Mall. Quite a big place, looks like the mall took out most of Blackburn centre. Nearby is a fine looking old building with the name Technical College next to King Georges Hall which is the musical venue. There is also a modern bus station outside the Mall.
Our final stop was the Cathedral. A building of two parts, one old and the other more modern. It was a beautiful day and the sun was streaming through the coloured stain glass in the lantern above the altar. The side windows are plain glass made with a grain giving an impressionists view of the outside. The walls are hung with modern art depicting sacrifice. Over the altar hangs a huge crown of thorns.
A trip to Astley Green on Saturday 24th November, fortunately a nice day. Astley Green is a village near Leigh just off the A580, a major road. The mine was closed in 1970 after some 60 years of work. The whole area was full of mines and the tunnels of this mine spread around 3 miles east at a depth of a mile. There’s still plenty of coal down there.
The Mining Museum has been around a long time and the greatest feature is the Mine Head Gear, closely followed by the winding machine which has been carefully restored.
On arrival we were greeted by Marilyn who enthusiastically told us about the mine and then brought in Alan who did a guided tour. Alan showed us the mining equipment scattered around the site. The mine walls were held up by metal tunnel structures and the trains that carried coal and miners to and from the pithead were there, as well as cutting machinery.
The pithead structure needs around half a million to restore it and it certainly is impressive. Next to that is the winding machine that pulled the lifts at up to 60mph, 20mph if with men, which has been magnificently restored.
The Lancashire Mining Museum Pit Head and Winding Room
At the moment work is proceeding on getting the shunting trains going on a track around the site.
Here’s a photo of the pit lift winding machinery, big:
There is a dining room and a re-created mining family home and various mining items to see as well. A tea or coffee was offered at the pop up cafe.
Here’s a photo of guide Alan showing a coalface roof support:
Here’s a photo of the carriage that took the miners to the coal face which could be few miles:
Plenty of lights with the Blackpool Illuminations and the Illuminated Tram Display. The old illuminated trams are operated by Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours and include the Western Train, The Fisherman’s Friend Trawler, The Frigate: HMS Blackpool. Making up the line in the parade is one of the Boat Trams with its pretty lights and Box 40 a 100 year old Blackpool & Fleetwood Tramway tram. Rides on the illuminated trams at this event are booked ahead and sold out.
The parade has a variety of illuminated vehicles and drummers. Plus an illuminated dog.
Keighley is halfway between east and west coasts so not a bad trip along the A59 or the M65. There is a heritage railway, The Keighley and Worth, which has 3 museums and a shed. There is also a Bus Museum and a real museum called The Cliffe.
We visited the Bus Museum and the Railway Museums in September 2018. Also the Cliffe Museum a couple of years ago.
Keighley Bus Museum is only open on certain special days. In September it was a Macmillan Cancer Support Coffee Morning. The museum is contained in what appears to be an old Bus Garage next to a large stone mill. Quite an attractive mill with a Tower if you like the stone architecture. Inside is a collection of running buses mainly ex-Leeds Corporation with a couple of ex-Morecambe and Heysham Buses and some ex-East Yorkshire Buses. There is also the last Leeds Trolley Bus and plenty of old buses awaiting restoration. It’s a definitely a garage experience but if you like the old buses worth a trip.
The Keighley and Worth Railway is a stretch of track from Keighley to Oxenhope about 7 miles, with a station at Haworth. Also a station at Ingrow just outside Keighley where there is a Carriage Museum and a Loco Museum. At Oxenhope is a Carriage and Loco Museum while Haworth has an engine shed that is occasionally open. Throughout the year there are timetables for services on the line using steam or diesel and often with a theme such as Halloween, Christmas and Beer trips.
The Bus Museum took about 45 minutes while some 4 hours were spent at the Railway including a return journey.
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Two great days at the Blackpool Air Show, Saturday and Sunday 11th and 12th August 2018. A big line up with the RAF providing the Typhoon, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, Pilatus and The Red Arrows on Sunday. Saturday opening with the Aerosuperbatic Wing Walkers and Blades.
The weather was better on the Saturday although Sunday just had medium cloud locally it prevented the Battle of Britain squadron taking off in Lincolnshire.
Big crowds filled the promenade from North to Central Pier along with stalls for the various teams and supporters. Trams including the Heritage Trams operated with a walking guide in front due to the crowds.
Another good year at Tatton Park. From a spectator point of view it seemed better than usual. Was it less crowded, it seemed so in the flower tent although it seems to get bigger each year. Before the show I wondered if there was a fire risk with the dry grass on the car parks and then our journey was blighted by a lorry accident on the M6. After that the show went well.
Here are some of our photos of the show…
Fruit and Vegetables
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After a fabulous stretch of weather in May and early June it seems to be turning. On Tuesday 12th June we decided to take a ‘green’ route boat trip on Windermere. This takes about 45 minutes going from Ambleside to Wray Castle, Brockholes and then back to Ambleside. The boat was the Princess of the Lake, sister to the Queen of the Lake and is an attractive old wooden motor boat.
The boat was packed to Wray but many got off there presumably to walk to the Castle or walk along the lake to the Ferry across to Bowness. Just before departing, at 10.55, the much larger Teal left Ambleside for Bowness and Lakeside, and on the return we were side by side with Tern, the 1891 boat, so beautiful, very nice styling.
There’s a bit of announcing during the cruise mainly about buildings and a wedding at the Langdale Chase Hotel. I was most conscious of the scenery being fond of the Fairfield Horseshoe north of Ambleside and the Langdales to the west. On this day the Langdales were looking superb but no-one else seemed to notice.
Ambleside Small Boat Jetty:
Tern, 1891, beautiful boat goes the length of Windermere