Throughout 2015 we had many amazing adventures, all over the United Kingdom, and even beyond. It’s that time of year where we can look back at our year, and highlight some of our favourite places from each month. This is our 2015, a year in pictures…
Kicking off our year, on the 3rd January, we took a trip into the Kielder Forest National Park in Northumberland, and stopped for a breather by the stunning “Kielder Water” lake, a vast expanse of water surrounded on all sides by woodlands. It straddles the border with Scotland, and there are various historic sights to visit along its shores, including Kielder Castle.
Later that day, we made it down into Cumbria, to the small village of Croglin, famous as a haven for Vampires thanks to a local tale about the area. To make things a little more atmospheric, all the pictures I took I made into Black & White…
To finish off January, we made it home to our native Lancashire, to the village of Aughton, which has a fine Parish Church in a picturesque setting amongst rolling green fields, it’s majestic spire rising into the blue sky.
February was very much a Lancashire affair, as we relaxed with some Sausage & Chips on the pier at Lytham St Annes, just round the coast from the famous seaside town of Blackpool. From there you can gaze out across the River Ribble, the Irish Sea and towards Southport on the far side of the river.
A week later we returned to the area, heading further North of Lytham to Garstang, a historic Market Town with an old cobbled Market Square, overlooked by a Market Cross and a quaint Clock Tower in the centre of town. There is so much to see in your local area, it really is worth seeing what is on your doorstep.
March was a big month for us, particularly for new places. We started in North Wales, where we visited the fantastic Castle in Conwy, a town which is also home to three magnificent bridges, and the smallest house in Britain. The town still has a complete town wall around the outside, which visitors can walk along and take in the views of the river estuary.
Along the coast from Conwy we arrived at Caernarfon, home to another famous Castle, again set in a small walled town. The central square is full of fine buildings, and a statue of the only Welsh Prime Minister, David Lloyd George. From there we drove through Snowdonia National Park, towards Llanberis where you can board the Snowdon Mountain Railway, which runs up Wales’s highest mountain, Snowden.
The end of March however saw us undertake one of most incredible trips, as we arrived in London for a five day stay. On our first day, we undertook a quick excursion to the city of St Albans, home to the famous St Albans Abbey, a grand Cathedral in the historic city. Another special trip took us North East into Essex, to Chelmsford, England’s newest city, and historic Colchester. Aside from that, we also explored Westminster and Central London, from Big Ben to Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge to Baker Street, and Downing Street to the historic Guildhall in the old City of London. Our London trip overlapped into April…
Continuing around London, we worked our way out from the centre, towards Canary Wharf, Twickenham, Richmond, Kingston-upon-Thames, Greenwich, and Croydon. Richmond has a stunning Georgian Waterfront, as shown above along the River Thames, whilst Greenwich is the current home of the Cutty Sark, the famous Clipper Ship, as well as the Royal Naval College.
Croydon is historic in its own right, with many old buildings, and an incredible Town Hall with a Clock Tower to rival Big Ben!
Although May was slightly quieter as we were incredibly busy at work, we made it out into the heart of Lancashire, in the village of Ribchester. It’s well known for the well preserved Roman Bath Remains, and the beautiful views across the Ribble Valley along the riverside.
Just a few miles away from Ribchester, we also visited Whalley, which has it’s own set of ruins, this time those of what would have been an enormous Abbey, set into the rolling Lancastrian Hills. On our way home we ended up on the top of one of Lancashire’s tallest hills, Pendle Hill, with some fine views out towards the town of Clitheroe, which has a large Castle Keep, notably with a large hole in the side inflicted during the English Civil War.
In a slight change to our usual destinations, we took a break in Europe during June, with a five day stay in the large Polish city of Krakow, famous for it’s incredible architecture, long history and association with some of the worst events of World War II. From the top of Krakow Cathedral, you can gaze out across the old Cloth Hall in the middle of Europe’s largest medieval square, offering panoramic views of the entire city.
We also took a few tours into the neighbouring areas of Poland, including a day tour around Auschwitz Concentration Camp, and it’s sister camp, Auschwitz Birkenau. Millions of Jews were gassed by the Nazi’s in gas chambers here at the camps, a harrowing reminder from history of what the human race is capable of. Our other tour was to the Polish Winter capital, known as Zakopane, in the Tatras Mountains, and we even convinced our tour guides to take us over the border into Slovakia the same day!
You may have noticed I have skipped July, but unfortunately we didn’t get out to any new places that month, as we both started new jobs, and were kept very busy. This didn’t deter us however, as our usual big Summer Holiday to England’s South began in earnest in August, and we saw some incredible places to add to our map!
We started in Cornwall, and spent a week exploring every town and major landmark we could find, from the old County Towns of Bodmin/Launceston, to Fowey, St Austell and England’s most Southerly Place, the Lighthouse at Lizard Point. We also took a day trip out from Penzance, on a boat to the Isles of Scilly, and the capital at Hugh Town on the island of St Mary. Standing on a hill overlooking the town we got a stunning view of the area, and it was perhaps one of our most memorable adventures. On the boat journey back we also spotted Bishop Rock Lighthouse, alone in the middle of the Atlantic off the British Coast, warning wayward sailors of the rocks.
The rest of the holiday took place in and around Hampshire, Southampton and the New Forest National Park, with a visit to Chichester Cathedral in Sussex, the famous Brighton Pavilion in the city of Brighton, and round to Kent to Canterbury Cathedral, and Rochester Cathedral/Castle as viewed from Strood on the far side of the River. We also made it over to the Isle of Wight as well!
Finding we had a few days off to ourselves at the start of September, we took a two day holiday to South West Wales, setting off in the early hours from Lancashire. By the time we reached the Welsh Coast, the sun was just rising over Cardigan Bay, affording us a beautiful first view for our holiday.
By mid morning we had reached our primary destination, one of the smallest cities in the UK, St David’s in Pembrokeshire. It is famous for its magnificent Cathedral, which dates back centuries and is the centrepoint for the city. The rest of the day was spent in and around Pembrokeshire, at Haverfordwest, Pembroke Castle, and Pembroke Dock.
The next day we made for home, via the cities of Swansea and Newport, which actually gave us a full set of all six Welsh Cities! Swansea has a ruined Castle in the city centre, a revamped marina and various historic buildings around its shores. Newport too has a Castle, which sits on the riverbank along with the large Market Hall. Our final stop was Monmouth, a small town near the border with England, which has an unrivalled collection of listed buildings along its streets!
October saw us try a few larger scale trips, as we journeyed across Lancashire, through Yorkshire and up into County Durham to the major town of Darlington, famous as the home of the railways, and the large Clock Tower which adorns the side of Darlington Market Hall, in the centre of town. It’s a beautiful place, and somewhere we have been meaning to visit for many months.
Our next trip was around Staffordshire, and aside from the smaller towns of Cannock etc we visited the county town of Stafford, which has a fine Shire Hall in the centre of the main town square. Further up the high street you can also visit the “High House” a centuries old timber framed town house which is now a stunning museum all about Stafford and the local area.
Our third major trip of October was two days in South Yorkshire, and we got a hotel in Doncaster directly opposite Doncaster Minster Church, which, I am sure you will agree, looks absolutely incredible in the evening, all lit up. The picture above of the Minster was taken from our hotel window, and is perhaps the best view we have ever been treated to from a hotel. The next day we visited Rotherham (which also has an incredible Minster as shown in the 5th picture) and nearby Barnsley, which along with a trip to Sheffield a couple of years ago gives us a complete set of all four major places in South Yorkshire!
Throughout November we visited many local places in Lancashire, such as Leigh and Ashton-in-Makerfield, but also made it out into Shropshire, to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ironbridge Gorge, home to the first cast iron, single span bridge of it’s kind built out of Iron.
The rest of the month was made up of trips to the Midlands, specifically to the large town of Dudley, which has a magnificent Castle atop a Hill near Dudley Zoo, overlooking the rest of town. Dudley is also home to the “West Country Living Museum”, which features a perfectly recreated Red Brick village, complete with Tow Path, Forges and old timey shops all together to show us what life was like over a century ago. It is certainly worth a visit and we highly recommend it. That same day we also made it to the other Midlands towns of Walsall, West Bromwich and Wednesbury.
The last trip was to Swinton, which has a 1930’s Civic Centre at the heart of the town, with a large Tower complete with a small clock on the exterior, as shown in the 5th picture. In the foreground is the local War Memorial, which contrasts perfectly against the Civic Centre.
We finished off the year in style, with a further three trips, starting with a road trip out to Northwich in Cheshire. The town has many tudoresque buildings from the early 20th century, including the Library and local Hotels. There are various nearby attractions which we also visited, including the Anderton Boat Lift (one of only 2 in the UK, the other being the Falkirk Wheel), and the Lion Salt Works Museum in Marston, which was a really interesting look at how Salt played a major part in the economy of Cheshire.
The second trip was a return to North Wales, and Castles at Flint, Denbigh (pictured), and Ruthin. Denbigh town centre is also quite quaint, as you can see from the building which now houses the Library. There are other Victorian buildings around the town, as well as a large Column with a statue of Dr Evan Pierce on top, a local Doctor famous in the town.
The last stop was Droylsden, a small town on the East side of Manchester, where we were spending Christmas with family. There are various things to see in the town, from old Mills to the Moravian Settlement which features old cobbled streets, and brick houses from the late 18th century, shown in the final picture.
So that was our year, and I hope you enjoyed yours as much as we enjoyed ours. I am not 100% up to date with posts so some of the places featured in this post aren’t on the blog yet, but should be during 2016, so keep an eye out for new posts! We have lots of trips coming up in 2016, including three days on the Isle of Man, which should be an adventure. Until then, have a great New Year, and see you in 2016!