Excuse me for being bias, but Lancaster is a hidden gem of a city, in my opinion. Having lived here for over 15 years, I am still discovering new and interesting places to explore in the city itself and the surrounding areas. Based in the north west of England, Lancaster is probably best known for the University, but this quaint little city holds much more. Visit Lancaster and you will be sure to discover a city with hidden charm.
This iconic looking building can be seen from across Lancaster and the surrounding areas. Lord Ashton, the man who invented lino flooring, designed and built this monument for his wife, to express his love. Sadly she died before it was finished but the heartfelt story of Lord Ashton means that Williamsons Park is one of the most frequented places in the area for couples and also an ideal proposal location. The park itself is a maze of pathways, waterfalls, play equipment and art hidden around. The breath taking views of the city and across Morecambe Bay can be enjoyed from The Pavilion Cafe, and no visit would be complete without a trip into the Butterfly House and bird sanctuary. Entrance to the park and grounds are free with a small pay and display car park on site, but further parking on the roads outside of the park if you don’t mind a walk. There is a small concessionary charge for The Butterfly House, with family tickets available. These can be purchased via the cafe and gift shop.
Situated south of Lancaster is Wallings Ice Cream Farm. No visit to the area would be complete without indulging in at least one of the 30+ flavours of ice cream which are all made on the farm. From Christmas pudding to IRN Bru, Blue Banana to saucy cappuccino, there is something for everyone, including those with dietary requirements too. Build your own mega sundae or sit and enjoy cake and a coffee in The Pudding House. Be warned, portion sizes are not small. When they advertise one scoop, it’s more like three! Make sure you also pop over to see the llamas and chickens on the farm too before you leave.
A short drive on from Wallings is Old Holly Farm, a miniature farm, petting zoo, play barn and cafe. The farm and animal areas are all free for families to visit and make friends with the resident chicks, cows, pigs, donkeys and more. There is a charge for children to use the play barn and soft play, but there is more than enough to do there for families without the soft play. Animal feed is available in the shop for 50p a tub, but be sure to wash your hands after feeding the cows!
If you are visiting Lancaster in late summer or early autumn it is worth taking a walk through the community orchard which is tucked away behind the train station. A two acre plot of land which was turned into a community orchard in 2000 with lottery funding. It is maintained by a group of local residents but is open for everyone to enjoy. The site hosts a huge selection of fruit and nut trees, an abundance of fruit free for picking, visitors are asked to only pick what is ripe and only what will be used so there is no waste. Apple’s, pears, plums, damsons, greengages, walnuts, hazelnuts and a whole array of berries are there. Take along tubs and bags, explore the wildlife and find the hidden bug houses. Enjoy a picnic between the standing stones on the camp site and see if you can spot the grasshoppers and Dragon flies in this area of beauty. In spring it is a great place to walk too and see all the blossoms.
Lancaster is a city rich with history and the castle holds the key to many stories. A tour around the castle will take you from the court rooms which are still used even now, through into the dungeons. You will even have the chance to be locked away in one of the cells. See the restraints they used for naughty children and hear about the Pendle Witch Trials and how one of the villages to the south of the city was named because of the hanging gallows which stood there.
Situated on the M6 motorway and the West cost main line, Lancaster is 2 hours by train from London and 2 hours 20 from Edinburgh, by car you are one hour to Manchester and if you head north you will find yourself in the middle of The Lake District. Lancaster is an ideal hub for exploring the north west with your family.
Vicky has been a blogger for seven years and lives in Lancaster with her son, Nathan. Together they make YouTube videos and blog posts, review toys, family days out and places to eat. You can find out more about their adventures at www.the-motherhood.com