A Trip to Lancaster and the Lakes

Posted on October 14, 2019

If Jennifer’s son, Ethan, hadn’t gone to Lancaster University, it is doubtful I would have ever visited Lancaster and the Lake District.

I am not sure why I have never been to that area, but I do remember a TV series in the mid 1990’s called ‘The Lakes’. It was a depressing, dark and always wet series; hardly a promotional video for the local area. Maybe that put me off?

Also, it appears (according to the barman at our hotel) that the Lake District is often covered in cloud and mist. If you live in Hampshire, it is a long way to go just to see if you can spot your hand in front of your face.

We stayed at a place called The Mill at Conder Green that sits on The Lancaster Canal (Glasson Branch). The staff were excellent, so, fortunately, I had nothing else to moan about when we got there after what was an arduous Friday afternoon drive. The M6 around Birmingham and again at Warrington, are enough to make a grown man weep.

The Lancaster Canal next to The Mill at Condor Green

After a decent if unspectacular meal at the hotel and a fitful night of indigestion affected sleep, we headed off to the Lake District, or ‘The LAKES’ as they a signposted all along the M6. The capital letters in LAKES are obviously there to make sure you realise that these lakes are more important than your average lake.

We turned off the motorway and we were almost instantly surrounded by hilly beauty, at least until we arrived at Windermere. It was like a seaside resort, with amusement arcades, the smell of fast food, people and traffic everywhere. It was very deflating as I don’t like people much these days.

We googled our way out of there and ended up on the Kirkstone Pass (A592). What a great move that was. The views were just incredible, enhanced by intermittent sunshine and light showers creating clean and clear rainbows and fantastic shadows across the mountains.

The Kirkstone Pass

We ended up at Glenridding on the banks of Ullswater, a quite wonderful place with autumnal scenes I have never seen before. It really was breath-taking stuff. It was in a pub (The Travellers Rest) when I was once again reminded of our fortune after overhearing someone saying it had barely stopped raining for three weeks and visibility had been poor.

Glenridding on the Banks of Ullswater

After an expensive but very nice meal at The Bay Horse Inn on Saturday night, we had a good sleep and went to explore Lancaster before heading home. It is apparent that Lancaster is quite prosperous, and, in some areas, it feels similar to Bath.

First up, we visited the wonderful and colourful Williamson Park so the dog could stretch his legs. It was here we came across the Ashton Memorial. Built in 1908, It is an impressive building that towers above Lancaster. It was created as a memorial to Jessy Williamson, wife of industrialist Lord Ashton, or should I say, James Williamson, the First Baron of Ashton.

The Ashton Memorial

Ashton was an industrialist, philanthropist and Liberal MP who, according to Wikipedia, withdrew from public life after allegations he had purchased his elaborate title. Little did he know that 100 years later, it would be standard procedure to get a title in exchange for a Conservative party donation.

After a good stroll we visited the Lune Aqueduct. Built by Civil Engineer and all-round genius, John Rennie, what an impressive construction it is. Canals and waterways are a source of fascination to me and this one is no exception.

The Aqueduct over the River Lune in Lancaster

As stunning as it looks, it has a chequered history. Completed in 1796, it ran two times over budget due to a rush to finish it before the winter floods. This meant that The Lancaster Canal project had no money left to build another planned aqueduct over the River Ribble. On a happier note, the Lune Aqueduct received 2.8 million of funding in 2011 and it is now well used and looks great, even in the Lancashire drizzle.

So that was our trip done. I highly recommend this part of the country, it is a lovely place and much of the Lake District is untouched, clean and refreshing. However, we were blessed by good weather so I would suggest the best way to visit is on a whim after seeing a good weather forecast. It must be a bit depressing travelling all that way just to look at mist. It is also worth noting that a Friday afternoon journey up the M6 is not for the feint hearted.

Oh, by the way… Lancaster University is a stunning place in amazing grounds with lakes incredible sports facilities, modern buildings and accommodation. If you have a child with this an option for further education, tell them to give it serious consideration.

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