Tim Bell, General Manager of Lancaster House discovers a family-friendly day-out with a difference close to the hotel.
By its very reputation, The Lake District will always lend itself naturally to the great pastime of walking.
But just down the road in North Lancashire, the walking culture is just as vibrant. The Trough of Bowland in particular offers stunning scenery and a plethora of accessible walking routes to rival many of Lakeland’s classic rambles here on the doorstep of Lancaster House.
So, faced with the prospect of entertaining Elliot (10) and Kieran (9) for the day, and with a favourable February forecast in store, I got the boys suitably attired, threw a well-stocked rucksack Into the boot of the car, and headed off on the short drive to Beacon Hill, a famous natural local landmark and home to the Trough of Bowland Visitor Information Centre.
The fell stands in one of the oldest country parks in the UK, and compromises of 100 hectares of woodland and moorland, with an abundance of well-laid out and easy-to-follow signposted paths. It really is an ideal “family” walk with routes that even a cross-country baby buggy would be able to negotiate! There’s plenty of free parking too on the perimeter of the fell, although Pay & Display is available at the Visitor Information Centre itself.
With two eager boys, who love nothing more than to don a warm fleece and act out a bit of “Bear Grylls” in the real world, this really was a perfect day out.
Out of the car, we head to the summit from which the fell takes its name. The Beacon here has apparently been in place since the 11th century, although was more popularly ignited to warn the locals of the impending invasions of the 16th century Spanish Armada and the French Forces some 200 years later. Today, the white painted Beacon now dons a beautiful brass marker plate, with descriptions of the various views one can see from the 873ft summit.
After admiring the panorama, we then headed off into the many woodland paths to discover some of the secrets that lie beneath the evergreen canopy. Here, the boys were in their element, discovering plenty of makeshift “dens”, streams and forest features to act out their hero’s adventures.
Along the pathways, there are a few little touches that will catch your eye, we spent a good extra hour discovering some of these discreetly placed natural attractions. There are some stunning wood carvings, in the shape of giant lizards and snakes, cleverly carved out of the fallen trees by local artist Thompson Dagnall.
We then headed to the Visitor Centre where refreshments are available in the well-stocked café, as well as an information desk and local exhibition in their “Environment Room”. The centre always has plenty of activities organised for weekends and especially school holidays.
Like us at Lancaster House, the centre also holds the Green Business Tourism Scheme “Gold” accreditation, and works tirelessly to ensure that they are giving their visitors a great attraction celebrating their locality, whilst being sympathetic, and “enhancing” the environment.
With the sun-setting fast, the day was finally over. We’d spent over 4 hours discovering the many secrets of the fell, and we’d all earned a hearty meal later that night as we recanted the many tales and adventures of the day.
With Beacon Fell just 25 minutes easy drive from the hotel, there’s no doubt that I’ll be heartily recommending this beautiful little corner of the Trough of Bowland to my guests in the future.
- Photographs and Text by Tim Bell