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Ten Days Out in Lancashire England, right next to Beatrix Potter's Lake District!
Original County Palatine of Lancashire
Lancashire - The Little Known County
Lancashire a lovely county in the North West of England, but it is a place that is little known and eclipsed by its more famous and popular neighbours: Cumbria, Yorkshire, Cheshire and Merseyside. I think it is unfairly treated in the tourists (though as it is my home county I'm a little biased), so I decided to try to rectify that with this article.
In this article, I have decided to use the old traditional county of Lancashire, or County Palatine of Lancashire. This is how Lancashire was for more than 8 centuries, and it was only in the 1970s and 1980s that new administrative boundaries were drawn up (for more on the 'where is Lancashire debate, see the Friends of Real Lancashire website). See the map for details of the area covered by the real Lancashire.
Where can I visit?
- Lancaster Castle - Lancaster is the County Town of Lancashire, and until relatively recently the administrative and judicial centre of Lancashire. Its castle dates back to the 11th century and is still a working castle, hosting the Crown court (and was a work prison until 2011). The castle tour takes you to both of the historic courts (assuming they're not in session), the jury room, the dungeon and the cells (where you can be locked up).
- Lancaster Quay and Maritime Museum - also in Lancaster is the maritime museum, which is situated on the historic quay. The Quay once was the 4th busiest in Britain, with a thriving shipbuilding industry and an important trading port. This all ended when the river silted up later on in the 19th century, but it is a fascinating story, well told my the maritime museum.
- Camelot theme park - Camelot is a large theme park near Preston. It is themed around the legend of Camelot and King Arthur. Along with the many great rides there are jousting exhibitions and birds of prey demonstrations.
- Blackpool Tower & Circus - Blackpool has a (partially undeserved) reputation as a tacky seaside resort. Blackpool Tower has, along with Madame Tussauds and the Sealife Centre has recently been taken over by a major UK entertainment company, and you can visit five great attractions with one ticket. Well worth it.
- Blackpool Pleasure Beach - probably the North West's number one attraction, it has loads of great rides including the Pepsi Max Big One, as well as Nickelodeon Land, Shows and indoor attractions. You can buy all day wristbands and go on as much as you like!
- Liverpool - Liverpool was the European Capital of Culture in 2008, and prior to then received a major facelift and various new and updated attractions, including the maritime museum, Albert Dock, Beatles Magical Mystery Tour, and loads more. It's a UNESCO world heritage site, and for lovers of history there are delights around every corner.
- Tolkien Trail - for lover's of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, you may be interested to know that he took a lot of inspiration for his masterpiece and the various places within it from time he spent at Stoneyhurst College near Clitheroe. There is a Tolkien Trail walk covering a lot of the significant sites and their relationship to the Lord of the Rings. A leaflet detailing the trail is available.
- The Trafford Centre - one of the UK's biggest and best shopping centres, with loads of bars, restaurants and entertainment on site, it is a full day out. Make sure you take your credit card.
- The Western Lakes - strangely, the old County Palatine of Lancashire included part of the Lake District, the part only connected to the rest of Lancashire by sea. It includes some lovely places to visit though including Grange over Sands, Coniston and Hawkshead (with Hilltop, the home of Beatrix Potter located just outside Hawkshead).
- Manchester - as well as being home of two of the biggest clubs in English Football - Manchester United and Manchester City - it has several great museums including the People's Museum, Science Museum and the National Football Museum.
Grim up North?
There are such a huge variety of places in Lancashire, this is just the complete tip of the iceberg. If you even get the chance, visit. It is definitely not grim up North, I promise!