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Lancaster and Around - Where Roman History Meets the Lake District

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One of England’s heritage county capitals, Lancaster dates back to Roman times. Long links to the British monarchy continue today - Queen Elizabeth II is Duke of Lancaster, and the House of Lancaster’s red rose is still the city’s emblem. The city is also associated with the Pendle witch trials and has a fascinating maritime and slave-trade history to investigate.

City centre architectural highlights

 

The skyline is dominated by the heights of Lancaster Castle and ancient Lancaster Priory, while the centre is home to many fine heritage buildings. On Dalton Square you can admire the “new” 1909 Town Hall, with its imposing pillared façade and ornate clock tower. In the square’s centre looms the Queen Victoria Memorial, with cast-bronze lions and intricate friezes of 53 prominent Victorians. Also seek out quaint Penny’s almshouses on King Street - miniature homes built for the poor in 1720. On the east bank of the canal, towering Lancaster Cathedral was raised in 1857-59, and takes the Gothic-Revival style.

 

  • Lancaster Priory, Priory Close, Lancaster, Lancashire LA1 1YZ; Tel: +44 1524 65338; Website: Lancaster Priory
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  • Lancaster Cathedral, Balmoral Road, Lancaster, Lancashire LA1 3BT; Tel: +44 1524 384820; Website: Lancaster Cathedral

The riverside and canal

 

You can stroll, bike, or boat along Lancaster’s idyllic waterways, which are peppered with interesting features like the Lune Millennium Bridge. The striking twin masts and curved deck of this footbridge represent the ships that once sailed into the city. Handsome Georgian houses line the riverbank at St. George’s Quay, where you’ll also find the fascinating Maritime Museum. And follow the towpaths of Lancaster Canal to see an impressive 18th-century stone aqueduct, crossing high over the River Lune, just 1 mile north of the centre. Canal cruises are available year-round, with different stops depending on the day of the week.

 

  • Lancaster Maritime Museum, Custom House, St George's Quay, Lancaster, Lancashire LA1 1RB; Tel: +44 1524 382 264; Website: Lancaster Maritime Museum
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  • Lancaster Canal Boats, Aldcliffe Road, Lancaster, Lancashire LA1 1AZ; Tel: +44 1524 389410; Website: Lancaster Canal Boats

 

City museums

 

The city has several intriguing museums, highlighting both big events of local history and quirkier aspects of bygone Lancaster. The City Museum is housed in the 1783 “old” town hall. It delves into the city’s Roman past and holds a fabulously carved tombstone from 100 AD. The elegant Judges’ Lodgings Museum contains Regency-period rooms, fine art, and a famous collection of delicate Gillow furniture. Nearby, the minuscule Cottage Museum offers a glimpse into the life of local gentry 200 years ago, with tiny corridors and narrow stairs laid out along 5 warren-like floors.

 

  • Lancaster City Museum, Market Square, Lancaster, Lancashire LA1 1HT; Tel: +44 1524 64637; Website: Lancaster City Museum
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  • Cottage Museum, 15 Castle Hill, Lancaster, Lancashire LA1 1YS; Tel: +44 1524 64637; Website: Cottage Museum

 

The great outdoors

 

Lancaster is known as the gateway to the Lake District, but the city’s more immediate surroundings are also prime hiking and biking territory. The Forest of Bowland is on the doorstep, with swathes of remote moorland, ancient stone villages, ridged Clougha Pike, and moody Pendle Hill to climb. The lush Lune Valley starts in Lancaster, and it's a cyclist’s dream, with traffic-free paths and views that have inspired poets and painters. A hike up to Gray's Seat will give you a panoramic vantage over the Howgill Fells, while Arnside and Silverdale's limestone hills look into Morecambe Bay and the estuary.

 

 

Morecambe and the Bay

 

About 4 miles west of Lancaster, Morecambe is a traditional seaside town with tranquil views over the Lake District. The 5-mile promenade looks onto wide golden sands, and a stroll along the renovated stone jetty takes you to a tiny lighthouse and seasonal café. Pick up a Tern Project leaflet, and follow the walking trail that links the artworks dotted around the seafront - including the statue of beloved local comedian Eric Morecambe. The pretty village of Heysham, just south of Morecambe, also has an impressive stretch of beach.