From the Lake District to the coastline on the Irish Sea, Lancashire is brimming with natural splendour and plays host to several cities and holiday towns. As a stopover, a destination during a bigger trip of the British countryside or just a way to soak up a weekend, Lancashire has something for all occasions.
There’s no better place to start exploring Lancashire than the most famous holiday town in the UK. Marked by the 158m (519ft) Blackpool Tower and the ever-popular Pleasure Beach, Blackpool is full of entertaining options, as well as a sprawling coastline. It can be reached by train from just about any major UK city and is only an hour by car from Liverpool or Manchester.
The entire county of Lancashire is steeped in history, and few places more so than Whalley. To get here, you have to cross the Whalley viaduct, a gigantic 1840s railway bridge built from some 7m bricks. Beyond that, you have Whalley Abbey, a 13th-century monastery, and great woodland hiking all around. Whalley is just 45 minutes north of Manchester.
If you’re in the market for a great wildlife experience, Turbary Woods has got you covered. This volunteer-run organisation, set in an idyllic woodland environment, is home to dozens of rescued birds of prey. You can even watch the falconers fly them. Also, it’s not hard to reach, either by train to Preston or by car, taking 45 minutes from Manchester or an hour from Liverpool.
Built in the 12th century, Clitheroe is one of the oldest standing castles in the UK. Now, it serves as a great day out, with the grounds open to the public, alongside the castle itself and a museum that was opened in the 1950s to house local artefacts and natural history. Better still, it’s just on the edge of the Lake District, so you’re in the midst of beautiful scenery and easy access via the M6 from Liverpool or Manchester or M1 from Sheffield.
For a seaside experience that avoids the bustle of Blackpool, the Fylde Coast is ideal. If you start from Lytham St Annes, an hour by car from either Liverpool or Manchester, you can visit the famous windmill and set off walking along the beach. Carry on southwards and you’ll reach Fairhaven Lake and a string of other small seaside villages, making for a picturesque, enjoyable route with plenty of places to stop off for a bite or a pint.
Feeling cultural? The Pendle Sculpture Trail is the solution. Another landmark along the southern edge of the Lake District, less than an hour north of Manchester, the trail follows a forest path that tells the history of the infamous Pendle Witches. Each of the 15 sculptures plays a role in the story, whether you’re interested in the past or keeping the kids entertained. With forest walks all around, losing a day here isn’t difficult.