Sep 20

Why you MUST visit the North West of England

by in Top Tips, Transport, UK

Having lived in the south of England for some years I know how far away ‘the North’ can seem. But it really isn’t, especially if you let the train take the strain, as they used to say, and it’s so worth the journey.  From the outstanding sea-faring heritage of Liverpool, the dynamic buzz of Manchester, the blowsy charms of Blackpool and natural beauty of the Lake District, this part of the country has attractions and sights to appeal to all ages and tastes.

Singing-Ringing-Tree-Panopticon Lancashire - near Burnley - by Zoe Dawes

The Singing Ringing Tree Panopticon overlooking the Pennines in Lancashire

I make no excuses for focusing on the area I know and love best, so here are a few reasons why you must visit the North West of England.

The North West has soulfully beautiful scenery and natural attractions

A few years ago Wastwater in the Lake District was voted ‘Britain’s Favourite View’ and when you see the mighty lakeland fells reflected in the dark waters of England’s deepest lake, you can see why. Water ripples and furls through this National Park via its lakes, tarns, rivers, streams and waterfalls.

Sunset over Windermere in Lake District - by Zoe Dawes

Sunset over Windermere

With its majestic mountains and sheep-grazed hills the Lake District and Cumbria have a positive Feng Shui feel to it that may explain why so many people talk of the spiritual and healing benefits of this region. The many ancient stone circles from Birkrigg in the south, to Castlerigg to the west and Long Meg in the Eden Valley, tell us that people have lived in this area for centuries. Take the ferry across Windermere, walk up Latterbarrow, wander beside Ullswater or admire the Jaws of Borrowdale from Friar’s Crag – just some of the many ways to see nature at her most impressive.

Not far off the M6 lies the attractive Forest of Bowland where you can wander through ancient woods and take a picnic beside a rippling brook. Walk along Morecambe Bay promenade and see huge flocks of seabirds, featured on Autumn Watch, set at Leighton Moss Nature Reserve. Red Squirrels scamper about Formby pine forest and beside lovely Buttermere. Spooky Pendle Hill may be haunted by the ghosts of Lancashire witches and the undulating Pennines form a natural backdrop up to the Scottish border.

The North West has vibrant, dynamic cities with strong character and illustrious history

Liverpool Liver Building and Docks - by Zoe Dawes

Liverpool Liver Building and Docks

Liverpool and Manchester are not just famous for their football teams. Liverpool has always been linked to the sea, showcased in the Maritime Museum. It’s still a major port and Liverpool Cruise Terminal welcomes visitors from all over the world. You can also explore its less salubrious links on the Liverpool Slavery Tour. Of course the Beatles are celebrated all over the city and music can be heard in the many lively clubs, bars and restaurants. Art lovers of all styles are catered for – the Walker Art Gallery has one of the country’s best collections of Pre-Rafaelite paintings and Tate Modern satisfies contemporary tastes. Make time to see Anthony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’, an evocative collection of figures gazing out sea from Crosby Beach.

Manchester Town Hall - by Zoe Dawes

Manchester Town Hall

Manchester was pivotal in the 18th century Industrial Revolution and its magnificent architecture is epitomised by the impressive grandeur of the Town Hall. With its stylish skyscrapers and sensitive restoration work, a fantastic night life and possibly the best shopping in the north, Manchester has moved far away from its ‘dour and grimy’ image. Wander along Canal Street and nearby Chinatown for a cosmopolitan flavour of this multi-cultural city. Superb classical music performed by the BBC Philharmonic and the Hallé Orchestra can be heard at the acoustically superb Bridgewater Hall. Take the tram over to Salford Quays, where the BBC has set up base in Media City. The Lowry has over 300 art works by the eponymous ‘stick-figure’ artist and the nearby Imperial War Museum tells the story of conflict – and peace – through the ages in sensitive and  fascinating displays.

The North West does ‘seaside and coastal’ with fun, style and historic diversity

Blackpool Tower, pier and beach, Lancashire - by Zoe Dawes

Blackpool Tower, pier and beach

Britain’s most popular seaside resort, Blackpool, is a brash, bold and fun as you imagine it to be. With three Victorian Piers, iconic Blackpool Tower,a heady funfair, Madame Tussaud’s waxworks, an indoor water park, zoo, many theatres and numerous clubs, there really is something for all the family. But it’s not all glitz and kiss-me-quick hats.

Have tea in the graceful surroundings of Winter Gardens and relive the elegance of an era long gone or maybe take a twirl around the floor of the Blackpool Tower Ballroom and imagine you’re a ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ finalist!

Southport Pier train and Marine Lake - by Zoe Dawes

Southport Pier train and Marine Lake

Further down the coast is Southport, pearl of Merseyside, a slightly more genteel seaside resort with plenty of shops along Victorian-arcaded Lord Street, boats on the Marine Lake, a fairground, modern pier, beautiful Botanic Gardens, attractive parks and numerous golf courses. It’s got a long, sandy beach but the tide goes very far out; it’s not the best place for a swim but great for making sandcastles. Discover your inner Hercule Poirot in the Art Deco elegance of the Midland Hotel overlooking the vast sands of Morecambe Bay.

Morecambe Bay fishing boat - by Zoe Dawes

Morecambe Bay fishing boat

On the Cumbrian coast you can discover Roman ruins in the tiny village of Ravenglass, and shelter from the Irish Sea breezes beneath St Bees’ heady cliffs. Whitehaven has moved on from its mining past and is now an attractive harbour town, as is Maryport a little further along the coast.  When you reach sleepy Silloth, you can see the the Scottish Hills across the Solway Firth and stand at the start (or end?) of Hadrian’s Wall.

Horses and riders on Hard Knott Pass, Cumbria

Horses and riders on Hard Knott Pass, Cumbria

Of course, I’ve not even started on our delightful villages, welcoming pubs, delicious local food and very friendly people. You’ll just have to come and visit the North West and find out for yourself …

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20 Responses to “Why you MUST visit the North West of England”

  1. From Zoë Dawes:

    There’s one other important reason why you should visit NW England – travel, as they say, broadens the mind, and hopefully we’ll be able to overcome a few stereotypes of what it’s like ‘oop north’ 😉

    Posted on September 21, 2014 at 9:02 am #
  2. From Martin Solly:

    A big “here here” from a fellow Northerner. I’d throw Cheshire’s countryside into the mix too. We’re lucky ‘oop north’ to have so many great places and such diversity all so close together.

    Posted on September 21, 2014 at 9:09 pm #
  3. From Zoë Dawes:

    Excellent to hear Martin. Yes, agree Cheshire is in NW mix and has some lovely places. Just didn’t have space to include it!

    Posted on September 22, 2014 at 2:29 pm #
  4. From Barry McCann:

    The north west has something for everyone. And in addition to the places you mention there is historical Lancaster, its Grand Theatre being the third oldest in the country. The lovely Morecambe bay and the art deco Midland Hotel. And a stop off at Carnforth Railway Station is worth a brief encounter.

    Posted on September 27, 2014 at 9:34 am #
  5. From Renuka:

    Since I have’t been to England, I can’t say much about North or South England. All I can say is that You have done a great of exploring England (most of the people stick to London). I really feel intrigued to make it there soon!

    Posted on September 29, 2014 at 7:33 am #
  6. From Hannah:

    How wonderful to see the North showcased like this. There really are so many beautiful places to visit particularly in the picturesque Lake District and Pennines. And then there’s always the buzzing cities and such fascinating history and architecture in the likes of York and Lancaster. I agree with you, with such great transport links from the capital, it’s definitely worth a quick trip up to discover this different part of England.

    Posted on October 1, 2014 at 12:10 pm #
  7. From Alex Dawes:

    My favourite is the Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach – but wish it hadn’t moved from Southport.

    Posted on October 13, 2014 at 1:08 pm #
  8. From Zoë Dawes:

    Yes, It’s a shame the main fairground in Southport had to sell off a lot of its rides, though it is open again with far fewer. My favourite there used to be the Water Caves and I think it was a crime they closed!

    Posted on October 13, 2014 at 1:14 pm #
  9. From Sophie:

    What a wonderful virtual tour of the North West! There are so many exciting things to do and see up there, it’s not all about the South in England.

    Posted on November 17, 2014 at 10:29 am #
  10. From Zoë Dawes:

    You are SO right Sophie. I do hope it will encourage more people to visit this part of the UK. Instead of dealing with horrendous airport queues come up here and explore some of very own green and pleasant land.

    Posted on November 17, 2014 at 12:45 pm #
  11. From Alison Bailey Smith:

    For those who don’t know the North West, the Wirral is so much more than an occasional destination for Open (golf)… Fraiche restaurant in Oxton, The Black Pearl on the beach between New Brighton in Egremont that has captured the hearts of pirates old and young, the Lady Lever Art Gallery and independent museums in historic village of Port Sunlight..,, and dearest to my heart The Williamson Art Gallery in Birkenhead http://www.williamsonsrtgallery.org

    Posted on January 18, 2015 at 12:59 pm #
  12. From Zoë Dawes:

    There’s so much in this lovely part of the world Alison. I love the Lady Lever Art Gallery and Port Sunlight village – an unexpected treasure and worth a visit any day. I haven’t been to the Williamson so will add it to the ‘To Do’ list! Thanks for sharing info on these places. Hopefully it will encourage people to explore more.

    Posted on January 19, 2015 at 3:54 pm #
  13. From Alison Bailey Smith:

    Since I wrote a comment earlier this year, a new website has been created for the oldest remaining building in Merseyside. http://www.thebirkenheadpriory.org

    Posted on June 1, 2015 at 7:50 am #
  14. From Zoe Dawes:

    Thanks so much for the update Alison – looks fascinating 🙂

    Posted on June 7, 2015 at 5:48 pm #
  15. From Edith:

    Hello Zoe,
    If North West England is not very well known by English people, you know this is even more the case for French people.
    So many things to let them discover. For example Morecambe bay. This place makes me think of Mont St Michel bay in Normandy. And not to mention Cartmel, the lovely priory, this tiny village and his good food!! And the charming narrow roads in the countryside.

    Posted on April 16, 2016 at 2:34 pm #
  16. From Zoe Dawes:

    Thank you so much for sharing a few of your favourite places in the NW. As you say, it is not an area much known outside the north of England and even less so abroad. You clearly love it here and I hope you will pass on the message to your French compatriots to come visit!

    Posted on April 17, 2016 at 3:44 pm #
  17. From Jollies and Jaunts:

    As a proud Northern, I honestly think there’s nowhere better than the North West of England. My hometown of Southport has so much to offer – it’s home to the UK’s second longest pier and Southport’s main shopping street Lord Street is said to be the inspiration for Paris!

    Posted on November 28, 2016 at 11:10 pm #
  18. From Zoe Dawes:

    Yes, the NW is a great place to be and hopefully we’ll get more and more people discovering its delights! We have the same hometown – you may have seen this article http://www.thequirkytraveller.com/2014/05/southport-flower-power-in-botanical-gardens

    Posted on November 29, 2016 at 12:05 pm #

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