Category Archives: seaside

Snowdrops and the Sea ~ Hornby Castle and Morecambe.

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I had been researching Snowdrop Walks in Lancashire and found two. Both were at historic piles and not to far from the sea .Lytham Hall near St Annes and Hornby Castle , a short drive from Morecambe. I managed to persuade Wil that we could incorporate snowdrops and seaside into a good day out for ourselves and our Labrador Hugo. Off we set on a dreary grey day in Clitheroe, heading for Hornby Castle near Lancaster . We actually ended up blessed with some sunshine. 🙂

Hornby Castle in the Lune Valley overlooks the village of Hornby and the river Wenning. Parts of the building date back to the 13th century and the impressive tower that dominates it’s shape is 16th century. The castle is privately owned and the gardens are only opened to the public a few days a year

Hornby Castle from the weir.

It was lovely to see all the many varieties of snowdrops in bloom. They carpeted the woodland, grew in thickets by the river and adorned the lovely walled garden. Hugo’s favourite part was exploring the riverside walk.

I wish I had taken more snowdrop pictures for you all. They really were stunning! Entry to the Snowdrop weekend was £4 per person and included a talk about the castle in the drawing room ( which we managed to miss! ) and you could buy plants, hot drinks and cake in the walled garden. A pottery exhibition was also in the grounds. If you wish to visit Hornby castle yourself, the next opening weekend is 19-20 May, Bluebell season. 🙂

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The village of Hornby itself is quite pleasant and Hornby Post Office & Tea Rooms are a very good stop off point for a spot of lunch. The picture above is quite deceptive as the place was absolutely rammed, due I think to the Snowdrop Weekend and a second hand book sale in the village. The old fountain in the village depicts a cat with a rat in its mouth, said to represent the former owner of the castle, Pudsey Dawson, who brought in cats to clear the castle of a huge rat population in the 19th century. Yikes!

In the afternoon we headed to the coast and went for a blustery walk on the beach in Morecambe. Luckily at this time of year you can depend on pup friendly beaches, even if it is somewhat freezing! Morecambe has appeared in my blog quite a few times so apologies for any repetitive photos. Its a very photogenic place though, if a bit worn and weather beaten.

Eric Morecambe Statue.

The bracing winds encouraged us to head for the Midland Hotel that looks over the bay and the long stone jetty, decorated ( as much of the town is) with seabird sculptures and poems.

The Midland is a Grade II listed Art Deco design hotel , which was built in 1933 by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway. Like many grand seaside hotels it fell into disrepair and decline. In 2008 it was re-opened to the public, all restored and its elegant curving façade happily housing a lovely hostelry once again.

After enjoying our hot drinks we headed home through the Trough of Bowland, calling in at my sisters for another brew. Can’t get enough of brews in this weather!

Have you been on any snowdrop walks this year? Or bracing beach walks for that matter! 🙂

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2017 in Photos. X

As it is now a yearly tradition of mine to post a quick photo round-up of the year, I thought I had better get cracking with this 2017 post. I definitely have no regrets about 2017. It has been pretty fantastic with lots of short trips away, days out and fun times with family and friends.  🙂

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Derwent Water. Spot the Photo Bomber.

January.  We celebrated Wil’s Birthday with a weekend break in  his favourite Lake District town  Keswick.

Mostly this consisted of walks by beautiful Derwent Water and of course frequenting Keswick’s many watering holes. 🙂

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Speaking of  Watering Holes !

February.  February’s  fun included a Galentine’s  Cocktail Making Masterclass🍸

at  Escape Coffee & Cocktails in Clitheroe and Hugo got to visit Millie & Ruby’s Dog Bakery, Lancashire’s first bakery for dogs. 🐶

 

 

 

March.  Spring was in the air in March when Wil and I went  Searching for Panopticons in East Lancashire.We found two, but as yet, still have two more to visit ! I ticked Manchester’s Cat Cafe off my Bucket List ( Meow)  and even did  a  Toilets Of Manchester Walking Tour.

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Loving London.

April.  It was my little  sister’s 40th Birthday this month and we celebrated with a mini break in the Big City ( London) with our younger brother and other halves. Our trip included The Natural History Museum, Afternoon Tea at Claridges and watching The Lion King.  You can read all about it here.

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Finding Nemo on The Malham Safari.

In May  Wil and I went on our first camping trip of the year . We didn’t venture very far, choosing this lovely campsite in Scorton, Lancashire.  Hugo accompanied us on a tour of  Ingleborough Show Cave  in Yorkshire 

and more Yorkshire fun was had on the  Malham Safari Trail.

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Wild Rose Petal Jelly.

June.   This month I participated in The Wildlife Trust’s #30dayswild challenge , where I attempted ( though that’s no hardship!)  to appreciate the beauty in nature every day in June, whether that meant noticing the different wildlife I would see on my daily walks with Hugo, or using natural ingredients in recipes such as Rose Petal Jelly.  The challenge also coincided with my first ever visit to Norfolk, which I shall always remember for it’s many many beach huts, beautiful wildflowers and those yummy Dutch Pancakes in Wells-Next-The-Sea. 🙂

 

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Waiting to Board The Ullswater Steamer.

July.  Already well into Summer now. We spent a couple of nights camping in the Dales and walked  this tiny stretch of  The Dales Way and we took Hugo on his first ever trip on  The Ullswater Steamer .  I think this is my fave ever photo of my two boys. 🙂

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The Cake Ole’.

August.  Anyone for Afternoon Tea?  I can certainly recommend a fun, quirky and delicious one at The Cake ‘Ole   in Skipton.  And August is a great time to go camping with the kids, as we found out when we accompanied friends to Meadow Falls near Ingleton.

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Walking near Meadow Falls.
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A day at The Seaside.

September.  We had a bit of an Indian Summer this month, which made up for a damp squibby August. Luckily we got to make the most of the sunshine on a day out with my niece and nephew in Morecambe  and we spent a week in the The Lake District  , bagging my first wainwright fell and enjoying the incredible views over Wastwater.

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Lancs Cycleway.

October.  Days out in October included  A family friendly bike ride on the  Lancashire Cycleway from Lancaster to Morecambe and back. It was my first time on a bicycle for many a year, so I was pretty happy that I made it!

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Relaxing at The Turkish Baths.

November. My Birthday month was made so special when Wil booked us two nights in the Yorkshire Spa town of Harrogate.

I have always wanted to visit the Turkish Baths there so I checked us in for a morning, which was really enjoyable.  We also visited nearby Knaresborough with its ancient castle and railway viaduct.

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Knaresborough in November.

 

 

 December.  And its nearing the end of 2017 now after a fairly quiet but lovely December. Highlights included Hugo opening his Christmas presents ( he is very good at unwrapping, just need to train him to wrap up 😉 ), The traditional Christmas Morning Walk, Willow Angel Weaving and a Festive Afternoon Tea at Alexanders in Skipton. 

I would just like to say a big thank you to everyone who drops in on my little blog every now and again. It really has made my year. 😁

All the best for 2018. I hope its a great one for everyone. Xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A family friendly bike ride ~ Lancaster, Hest Bank and Morecambe.

It’s been a good few years since I’ve got on a bike, never mind atempted to ride one, so when our  friends  suggested a family friendly cycle route between Lancaster and Morecambe, I was a little apprehensive to say the least. But after borrowing one of Wil’s bike helmets, my sister’s bike ( Thanks Sis! ) and my 7 year old niece, I was good to go. 🙂

We began our cycling adventure in Lancaster, parking on a small pay and display car park , not far from the Millenium Bridge. The route , which was mostly flat ( hurrah ! ) and part of the Lancashire Cycleway  took us along an impressive expanse of car free cycle paths. It meandered through woodland, clung to canal side, dodged the crowds on Morecambe Sea Front and followed and crossed the River Lune , before arriving back at our beginnings 20km later. 

The kids were nothing short of impressive on this bike ride. 🙂  It’s perfect for families though, with only a couple of roads to cross and various refreshment stops.  My friend Jo and I decided we would have to invest in some padded cycling shorts for our next outing!  Boy am I sore today. Ouch! 

I didn’t manage to take as many photos as I would have liked, due to my rather precarious bicycle balance. So a few  of these pics were taken by Jo and Fi. The one of Lune Aqueduct, I pinched off Pinterest.

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We crossed the impressive Lune Aqueduct that carries the Lancaster canal over the river Lune.

The Hest Bank Inn is a great refreshment stop.
Fish & Chips in a Basket. Nom Nom.
Look out tower , Morecambe.
Big Bird…..and small bird. Ha Ha. 🙂

Colourful seating outside The Midland Hotel.
The Millenium bridge crosses The River Lune in Lancaster.

We all really enjoyed our bike trip. Any recommendations for fairly easy … and flat routes, in the North West , let me know. 🙂 

A week in the Western Lakes. 

A few days ago we got back from a whole week in the lovely Lake District. We stopped in a holiday cottage , just outside the Eskdale village of Santon Bridge. Eskdale is a glacial valley in the less touristy Western side of the Lake District National Park. For us it was the ideal getaway, a base to explore what this gorgeous area has to offer.

Ride on the Ratty.   One thing I knew I wanted to do was take a steam train journey on the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway.  The railway is a 7 mile minimum gauge heritage railway , affectionately known as L’al Ratty. It was originally used to carry hematite iron ore from mines around Boot, nowadays  it’s  an inventive way to explore the surrounding countryside.  We bought return tickets from Ravenglass to Dalegarth station £13.90 each ( Hugo’s ticket was £1.50) and walked along the river Esk to Stanley Ghyll Force. Trust us to find a waterfall!  L’al Ratty also played host to an Art Installation on our visit.   The Curious Incident of the Stag on the Train Line was an exhibition  of 12 beautiful wildlife paintings by local artist Sarah Taylor.  It was fun to spot  them along the trackside. 🙂

 A Walk to Wastwater.   The nearest lake to where we were staying is also the deepest lake in The Lake District. Wastwater is three miles long , half a mile wide and 260 feet deep.  One day we walked from the  cottage to the village of Nether Wasdale and onto Wastwater. As  you can see we were lucky enough to experience the most amazing walking weather, and the Autumn colours were stunning. Hugo got to bag another lake , which brings his lakes & tarns tally to 13.  Plenty more to go at though!

 Owls at Muncaster Castle. 


Muncaster Castle dates back to medieval times and with 70 acres of wild woodland gardens , its grounds are there for exploration.  The main draw for me though was the Hawk & Owl Centre which puts on daily flying shows. I caught the morning World of Owls Flying Display, where several species of owls can be seen at close quarters. The centre works in partnership with the Hawk Conservation Trust and the talk was both informative and entertaining. Make sure you know how to duck!  Of course Hugo had to stay with Wil whilst I had all the owl themed fun. 😦 Dogs on leads are welcome in the gardens and at the afternoon Sky Hunters Display and Heron feed ( there is a special viewing area for dogs and their owners), but we left before then, to find Hugo an off lead walk.  

Bag a Wainwright.
Wil was determined that we would walk up a mountain on our holiday, and bagging a Wainwright should have been on my Bucket List! Despite not being fond of hills, I’m always in awe of the gorgeous views, once I make it up one. 😉  We chose Buckbarrow, as it was within walking distance of our cottage, and from it’s summit, we could see the sea from one side and Wastwater and the screes from the other. Quite a vista! There are 214 Wainwight Peaks altogether. This was my first! 

 

Head for the Coast.  Santon Bridge ( our base) is actually only a few miles  from the coast, so it was inevitable that we would head for the seaside. The pretty harbor village of Ravenglass has a couple of pubs , a beach and of course is home to The Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway. We also ventured further a field , following the coastal road to Barrow In Furness and the russet stone ruins of Furness Abbey. The ancient abbey is looked after by English Heritage and it and the museum/giftshop are fascinating to look round. From Barrow we really wanted to take a trip to Walney Island , a nature reserve that is home to a colony of Grey seals. Unfortunately a traffic accident mean’t we had to forgo our plans, so we went to Haverigg Beach instead. The beach here is especially popular with dog walkers and it looked like you could walk for miles and miles.

I really enjoyed our time in the Western Lake District. My only regret is that we didn’t get to explore some of the other lakes in the area. But we were without a car for a couple of days…..so I think we did pretty well considering. 🙂

What is your favourite part of this iconic National Park?

Butterflies, Seabirds & Rock Pools.

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Large Tree Nymph Butterfly.

In my last blog post I was feeling all Autumnal , but then Summer made a reappearance on Sunday 🙂  Happily we were put in charge of my niece and nephew for the day ….or was it the other way round !  Anyway we decided to head for the coast.  First we found ourselves at Williamson Park  on the outskirts of Lancaster.  With 54 acres of beautiful parkland , the impressive Ashton Memorial and far reaching views across Morecambe Bay, there’s certainly plenty to see.  But it was the Butterfly House and the Mini Beasts that the kids and I were interested in. Whilst Wil took Hugo for a walk , we got up close and personal with allsorts of cute creatures.  🙂

Tropical Blue Butterfly.

 

Common Garden Skink eating lunch.

The Butterfly House in Williamson Park is a former Palm House which resembles a tropical rainforest.  Indeed my camera lense started steaming up as soon as we entered!  Colourful butterflies flutter amongst the greenery and there are also various reptiles living here.  We were especially enamoured by the Common Garden Skink and a Chinese Water Dragon, who seemed a very friendly fellow.

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Chinese Water Dragon.

 

Meerkats. 

As well as The Butterfly House ,there is a Mini Beasts House, an Aviary and Meerkats, so plenty to keep the kids oooohing and ahhing for a little while. We also found an adventure playground, before meeting up with Wil and Hugo in The Pavilion Cafe. And we had to have a quick look in the gift shop too of course!

If only we had climbed up The Ashton memorial.  The views are apparently stunning from the first floor viewing gallery. That’s a definite for next time.  The memorial dominates the Lancaster skyline and was commissioned by Lord Ashton, as a tribute to his late wife.  Constructed mainly from Portland stone, with a copper dome, the structure was completed in 1909, and is now a popular venue for weddings and other events.  But now let’s head to Morecambe, whilst the sun is still shining. 🙂

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Tropical flower.

 

 

 

 

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Ashton Memorial

Morecambe’s Seafront is home to the Tern Project , an art trail that celebrates the varied birdlife and wildlife that make their home on the Lancashire Coast. Look out for poems and puzzles, jokes and riddles and lots of birdy sculptures.  Many can be found on the long stone jetty in front of the Midland Hotel, and along the promenade.

 

A Bird’s Eye View across the Bay.
Comerants.
Lapwing.
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Ringed  plovers.
Magpie.
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Mythical Bird.

When I asked my niece and nephew what they enjoyed the most about our day out, the answer was rock pooling!  These two could spend hours looking for crabs and water snails. Simple pleasures eh. 🙂

 

Gone Crabbing !

Here’s hoping for some more summery days to lead us out of September. X

Sunday Sevens 17th September.

There has definitely been an Autumnal feel to the past few days. I have been taking quick snapshots on my phone of the many nuts, berries and fungi I have come accross, when out with Hugo.

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Some kind of fungi in a tree stump.

It’s rained cats and dogs ,but inbetween showers there are always good photo opportunities! 

 

Hugo and Hips.

 I would not trust myself with identifying whether any fungi shown are edible or poisonous ! Have you ever collected any and cooked them? I remember my sister and I picking Horse Mushrooms from the fields as youngsters and Mum created all sorts of grey gloop with them for our teas. The picking was more fun than the eating! 

Below are elderberries ( edible) , Nightshade ( definitely poisonous) , Scabious flower, more fungi and new green acorns. 

 

Wild finds in all their September glory. 🙂

We have ordered a new fire and some wallpaper. Operation Living Room commences in October!  The fire is actually electric, but looks like the real thing, especially with the log storage. The wallpaper is for the alcoves and is by Minimoderns.  The Dungerness Print is actually inspired by a real place in Kent, that we would love to visit oneday. 

 

Yesterday ticked one off the Bucket List and entered Hugo in a dog show. There weren’t many categories left when we arrived at The Wuffit Mix Fun Day , so we had a go at Best Working Dog. Not that Hugo has ever worked a day in his life!  We didn’t win but…..

we bought Hugo a big bone biscuit anyhow……x

Yum Yum. 

These are my 7 photos for Sunday Sevens devised by Natalie at Threads & Bobbins. 

Sea Air ~ Cleveleys & Blackpool.

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Sea Holly, Rossall Beach.

The merest hint of sunshine and dry weather, and we headed for the coast.  I had done a little research into Lancashire beaches, the ones where you can walk your dog all year round, and Bispham beach came up as an option. Set between Blackpool North Shore and Cleveleys, there are no dog restrictions on this quiet stretch of sand.  However, we somehow ended up parking at the Rossall Beach side of Cleveleys instead, which turned out fine, as there were plenty of dog walkers there too!

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Confused in Cleveleys.
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Mary’s Shell.
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Sea Swallow.

Once you arrive at the shiny new promenade at Cleveleys, pop your dog on a lead. There are the usual dog walking beach restrictions here between May and September, but the sea front is definitely worth a look.  A children’s story book called ‘The Sea Swallow’ has been brought to life by several interesting sculptures. Look out for a giant curved shell on the shore , an ogre on the beach and the ogre’s giant paddle on the prom. Apparently the book is based on local coastal myth and legend.

 

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Curved promenade.

 

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Ogre on the Beach.
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Ogre’s paddle.

 

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Hugo on the beach.

It seemed a good idea to continue walking to Blackpool. After all distant views of Blackpool Tower beckoned!  Unfortunately ( or fortunately) there is a lot of work being done on the areas sea defences at the moment, so much of our walk was along the promenade.  At Bispham the famous Blackpool Illuminations start, so I couldn’t help but join this Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. 🙂  Feeling peckish we bought Fish and Chips and continued with our journey.  The walk between Cleveleys and Blackpool North Shore is a bracing 4 miles.

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Illuminations in Bispham. 

 

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Old Sea Cliff Lift.
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North Pier.

As the oldest of Blackpool’s three Victorian piers loomed in front of us, so did Blackpool Tower, which was first opened to the public in 1894 and at 518 feet , is the 120th tallest freestanding tower in the world.  In front of the tower is the remarkable  Comedy Carpet , a wonderful homage to the work of over 1000 comedians and comedy writers, all of whom have performed in Blackpool. A great place for a stick of rock and a chuckle. 🙂

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Blackpool Tower and the Comedy Carpet.

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We took a walk along the North Pier . Crumbling and gentile, there’s life on the old pier yet. A children’s miniature train, a vintage carousel, old fashioned sweets and Dirty Dancing playing in the theatre.

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On the North Pier.
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Sweet Shop on North Pier.
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View of Blackpool Tower.

As it started to drizzle, we decided to catch the Fleetwood Ferry Tram back to Cleveleys.  The trams are a quick and inexpensive way to get around.  Once there we enjoyed coffee and cake sat outside a local cafe, before walking back along Rossall Beach to the car.

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Cream cake in Cleveleys.
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Icecream Van in Cleveleys.

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Young Gull.
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Mary’s Shell.

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Rossall Beach.

It was a nice experience exploring a bit of coastline that we have never ventured to before. Have you ever been to Cleveleys? Are you a fan of Blackpool? Where do you go for some Sea Air?