Many people like to combine their cultural city visit with a pint (or two) of the local ale.
Here are eight things to do in Lancaster where you can have the best of both worlds:
1. Lancaster Castle Quarter and Quay:
The area incorporates the 1,000 year old castle itself and newly opened courtyard, Lancaster Priory, Storey Institute (for Visitor Information and galleries), Judges Lodgings Museum and Roman Bath House ruins. Follow the path past the Roman Baths and down onto the Quay for views over the river Lune, former merchant store houses and Maritime Museum. And of course finish off at one the three great pubs (The Three Mariners, George and Dragon and Wagon and Horses) on St George’s Quay, or head back past the castle and down the hill to The Merchants 1688, which have three cosy “tunnels” formerly used as wine cellars. All have great choices of ale.
2. Sun Square and Sun Street:
Easily missed if you’re a first time visitor, access is gained from Sun Street and Market Street. Enjoy a world famous coffee from the Music Room and browse the boutique shops in Sun Street including The Bottle Shop which stocks a huge range of specialist beers, wines and spirits and is run by a local pub landlord who can also arrange informal beer tasting sessions day or night. Enjoy the sunshine in Sun Square, or head to The John O Gaunt (Market Street side) or The Sun Hotel (Sun Street side) for refreshment.
3. The Lune Aqueduct and Lancaster Canal:
Park at the Lune Aqueduct Car Park on Caton Road and walk to the 200-year-old structure that carries the Lancaster Canal over the river Lune. Enjoy the views up and down the river. From there, head south along the canal into Lancaster, taking in the scenery and the beauty of the bridges ending up at The White Cross or Water Witch pubs a few miles onwards in the city. For a longer, quieter route, from the aqueduct, head north and eventually arrive in the picturesque village of Hest Bank to refresh at the Hest Bank Inn.
4. Music scene:
Many of Lancaster’s pubs and bars host live music seven days a week. Lancaster Music Festival, held every October, incorporates a whopping 40 venues within walking distance of the city centre. The Robert Gillow in Market Street is the most prolific, with several performances on most days. The John O’ Gaunt, Stonewell Tavern, Golden Lion, The Bobbin, Penny Bank, Three Mariners, Yorkshire House and others all have regular performances and serve great real ale. See the Lancaster Guardian’s weekly gig guide for more ideas.
5. Cycle paths:
Lancaster District has over 80km of cycle paths. Get on the River Lune Millennium Park which runs for 15km from Lancaster’s Millennium Bridge alongside the fast flowing River Lune to the village of Halton (The Greyhound Pub), and then onward to the Crook O’ Lune Picnic Site and Caton (The Ship and The Station Hotel). You can also get to Morecambe Promenade (3 miles, try The Palatine or The Royal for real ale), and then on to Heysham Village along the prom for the Royal Hotel nestled in the ancient fishing village. Sunderland Point and the historic port of Glasson Dock are also accessible along traffic free paths.
The Golden Ball at Snatchems is well worth a visit. Occasionally cut off by the tide this riverside pub and restaurant offers fantastic views up the Lune towards Lancaster Castle and on a clear day you can see the majestic Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales. Steeped in history take your time to find out about what went on there almost 400 years ago. Use the cycle path along the Lune from Lancaster or drive. Guest ales always on tap. Speed boat is also an option.
7. Williamson Park and The Ashton Memorial:
If you fancy a longer walk, start at The Golden Lion in Moor Lane, where legend has it some of the Lancashire Witches passed here on their way to the gallows. There is a plaque outside the pub. Carry on up the hill, following the road as it curves to the right, to the park gates and get lost in the park grounds, exploring the many twists and turns the path takes you on. The Ashton Memorial is free to enter with contributions welcome to investigate further up the stairs and out onto balconies where you can see for miles across Morecambe Bay and The Lake District Peninsular. Refresh at The Pavilion Cafe, which stocks real ale.
8. Craft Ale Trail:
Williamson Park is just a few steps away from Lancaster Brewhouse, a great place to visit for those who like real ale. Tours are available, but the bar is open most days for food and drinks. The Borough Brewery at The Borough in Dalton Square recently launched its own range, and The Tap House just around the corner in Gage Street has a rotating range of local, national and international craft beer. The canal side White Cross and Water Witch pubs also have an excellent range of well kept real ale. A bit further afield, Old School Brewery at Warton is built into the side of Warton Crag, with some fantastic local walks and the district also has breweries in Morecambe (Cross Bay Brewery) and Kirkby Lonsdale (Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery).
The city recently launched an ale trail, which can found at http://www.lunesdalecamra.org.uk/pubsetc/aletrail.pdf
And of course, Please Drink Responsibly!