Holiday without leaving Lancashire

by Jim Coulson

The summer holidays are coming and you could drag yourself to Manchester Airport, crawl through security at a snail’s pace and then find yourself squished up against the loudest snorer on the planet for the entire 22 hour flight to Australia. Or you could stay within the boundaries of Lancashire where there is everythng you could possibly need for a fine summer break.

Whether you are looking for exciting towns, beautiful countryside, fantastic beaches or whatever it is that constitutes the ideal break for you, the chances are that Lancashire has it in abundance. So read on and find out about three different potential bases for your Lancastrian summer holiday and the activities you can get up to in the vicinity.

Holiday 1 based in:

Beach Flying Kite

Morecambe is steeped in history, having been a thriving resort in the early to mid 1900s. Back then it attracted a large number of holidaymakers from Yorkshire, thanks to the handy railway link between the Lancastrian coastal town and Keighley, Bradford and Skipton. It even became known as ‘Bradford on Sea’ as a result of this well trodden route.

It was home of the Miss Great Britain contest, boasted amusements and theme parks that tempted in tourists from all around. Unfortunately, the loss of two piers and a number of local attractions, including the ill-fated World of Crinkley Bottom – based on BBC1’s Noel’s House Party and which closed 13 weeks after it opened – dealt a blow to its holiday credentials.

But Morecambe is back on the up, with a number of festivals hitting town throughout the year. Vintage by the Sea is the brainchild of fashion guru Wayne Hemingway of Red or Dead fame. The local lad developed this celebration of all things retro from the 20th century, including fashion, design, music, entertainment and vehicles.

2019’s edition of the hugely popular annual event lands on the 31st August and 1st September, when the town will be taken over by performances, workshops, dances, stalls and more.

There are also festivals dedicated to kite flying, jazz, punk and ska, so there is sure to be something exciting happening when you hit town.

The Midland Hotel is a fine centrepiece for Morecambe, offering luxury hospitality in a beautifully renovated art deco masterpiece, the Winter Garden is still an imposing site and who can resist having their photograph with the seafront statue of the town’s most famous son, Eric Morecambe?

Day trips from Morecambe

Just a couple of miles inland from Morecambe is Lancaster, a gorgeous city overlooked by its foreboding medieval castle, Lancaster Castle. The city centre is bustling, with a fine array of independent shops and cafes to keep you entertained and hydrated. There’s fine architecture to gawp at and a sense of living history around every corner. The butterfly house in Williamson Park is worth a look, and you can while away the hours strolling along the canal towpaths and beside St George’s Quay, taking in Lancaster’s beauty.

Heavy metal fans should swoop by Heysham, where graves at St Patrick’s Chapel were photographed to appear on the front cover of a Black Sabbath album. Carnforth is a magnet for fans of both classic films and antique books. The town’s train station appeared prominently in David Lean’s Brief Encounter and you can have your photograph taken underneath the iconic clock from that movie. The Carnforth Book Shop contains more than 100,000 antique and new tomes that will thrill the bibliophile in your life. There are also plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing and abseiling.

Holiday 2 based in:

Family shopping

Poulton-le-Fylde traces its history back to the Domesday Book, is a hub for local farming community and also provides opportunities to eat and drink some of the finest produce that Lancashire has to offer.

The town centre is a designated Conservation Area, with 15 listed buildings within Poulton to explore. It’s a gorgeous place to spend some relaxing time and there are plenty of places to stay in the area.

If you love shopping, there are a host of independent retailers in town, as well as cafes and coffee shops in which to recharge your batteries after a good day’s shopping. In the evening the entertainment continues, with live bands almost guaranteed in at least one of the venues around on any given night.

Day trips from Poulton-le-Fylde

One of the most obvious day trips from a base in Poulton would be to Blackpool. This grand old Lancastrian resort is basically the blueprint for the great British seaside holiday and you can happily spend the day flitting between the beach, the amusements, the many attractions such as the Pleasure Beach or Sea Life centre and, of course, the famous tower.

Lytham St Annes is within easy reach of Poulton too. These twin towns are a world away in terms of atmosphere from brash and bold Blackpool. They are sedate and relaxed, but there is still so much to do. Wander around the well tended parks, attend the numerous open air concerts throughout the year, play a round of golf or just enjoy the fine beaches – this is prime Lancastrian holiday material.

If you want the buzz of the city, you could head further inland to Preston. The Flag Market offers entertainment throughout the summer, and there are also regular events across town. The market is renowned for its quality, the Guild Hall has a packed programme of shows and the various nearby nature reserves, including Brockholes, are a haven for nature lovers everywhere.

Holiday 3 based in:

Barge on a canal

Barnoldswick is another historical Lancastrian town, dating back to the time of the Vikings. The Great British High Street campaign recently recognised it as offering one of the best and most varied retail opportunities in the country. The number of fine independent shops in this east Lancashire town is the perfect answer to those who think that all high streets are essentially the same nowadays.

There’s a real sense of community here, with regular fund raising events for local projects in addition to a great deal of free family activities plotted throughout the summer.

Walkers are well-catered for in this Pennine town, with the chance to wander along the summit section of the Leeds Liverpool canal and check out the stunning views from Weets Hill.

As you would expect from a proud industrial town, there’s the opportunity to find out all about the toil of its residents in years gone by. Bancroft Mill, just outside of the centre, features a working steam engine.

Days trips from Barnoldswick

Pendle Hill is nearby and a hugely popular destination in East Lancashire for walkers seeking out the chance to see practically the whole county in one go. Pendle Hill is also an attraction for those with an interest in the occult, thanks to its connection to the Pendle witches.

On the way down the hill’s iconic slope, you can stop off for a pint and a bite to eat in one of the picturesque villages in the area, such as Barley. And if you venture to the top of Barley you can even find a range of mystical creatures! Barley even has it’s very own unicorn at the Pendle Sculpture Trail. It’s just a short walk from the main village and makes the perfect day out.

The Forest of Bowland has been described as the Switzerland of England. Whether you are a walker, rider or cyclist, there is plenty to enjoy here. Mind you, even if you just spend some time exploring by car, you will still enjoy the sights, sounds and natural delights of this area of outstanding natural beauty.