The Alternative Lancashire Tourism Awards are an unofficial and trophy-less list of the greatest things to do and best places to go in Lancashire.Advertisement
The real Lancashire Tourism Awards showcase some amazing venues and destinations across the region – but some of honours handed out are irrelevant to local people. How many people from Lancashire actually stay in Lancashire hotels, guest houses or holiday parks? Not many.
Instead, these alternative awards honour some of the more unsung, maybe unknown, places to go across the region.
That’s not to say the LTAs should be ignored. When the winners are named at a lavish ceremony at Blackpool Tower Ballroom on November 6, many local business owners will be rightly proud of what they have achieved.
But, as good as they are, the LTAs do not have categories as exciting as Best Family Cycle Ride, Best View, Best Cemetery and Creamiest Coffee.
Barley Tea Rooms, Barley. A tiny traditional tea rooms with bags of character and friendly characters who run it. The home-cooked food is good but the cream tea is the highlight. Prices are traditionally cheap too.
Runner up: Callooh Callay, Clitheroe. Quanit, quirky and relaxing – plus there’s an amazing treasure-trove room upstairs.
Runner up: Bruccianis, Preston. A magnificent interior befitting of a business which is almost 100 years old. Squeezed inbetween Greggs and KFC, this is the best place in Preston.
Runner up: Puddleducks Café, Dunsop Bridge. Rural charm right across the road from the ducks. There’s also a brilliant kids playground right behind it.
Bashall Barn, near Clitheroe. Spacious, bright and with fantastic views towards Jeffrey Hill and Longridge Fell. This is the place where the locals who know best come.
Runner up: Huntleys, A59 Samlesbury. A mile or so from the M6 and you feel like you are in a different world. Great food and a proud gateway to the Ribble Valley.
The Fat Giraffe, Padiham. The town may be a bit rundown but Fat Giraffe sparkles as a modern cafe in an old mill town.
The Priory, Scorton near Garstang. Very homely and usually full of cyclists. If that doesn’t put you off you will love the coffee which is best enjoyed outside on a sunny day.
The Spread Eagle at Sawley, near Clitheroe. First class food, first class service. Stunning location, stunning interior. In winter they also used to invite walkers in for free tea and coffee – I hope they still do.
Runner up: Midland Hotel, Morecambe. Art Deco at its finest topped off with stunning sunsets. You can’t go wrong. So good, you can forgive Morecambe for the Noel Edmonds fiasco.
Pendle Hill steps, Barley. One of the best views in Lancashire. You can see Yorkshire, the Three Peaks and even Burnley. Okay, don’t look south too much. The steps are an amazing mini-test for families. Kids moan at the beginning but feel a euphoric sense of achievement when they get to the top. Can get foggy.
Runner up: Longridge Fell. Amazing views towards Chipping and the Trough of Bowland. The Fell has to be the most unwalked beauty spot in the region. I’ve walked it 100 times and only ever seen people five times – and they were all Phil Cool.
Old Holly Farm, Garstang. Lovely environment to sit. Deceptively large play area for the kids, great views for the adults.
Samlesbury Hall. Very cheap entrance (like really cheap) great actors and activities for the kids.
Hoghton Tower, near Preston. The sort of place father Christmas would actually visit on his holidays. Much better than the first floor of some department store.
Water Park at Happy Mount Park, Morecambe. This a totally free venue. If your kids go here and don’t tell you they have just had the best day of their lives then they have some serious behavioural problems.
The Atom, Wycoller Country Park. Wrap up warm, wade through the mud, kick your way through the leaves and have the family walk you never thought your family was capable of.
WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre, Burscough. So many birds to see. Even the most Candy Crush-happy kid will be won over. Great way to experience nature close up.
Black Horse, Preston. It’s the pub the developers missed of their list when they were tearing down ornate tile work and stunning bar fittings in the 1980s. That mistake is Preston’s gain. They just don’t make pubs like this any more.
Waddington, near Clitheore. Picturesque with lovely trails, quaint coffee shops and pubs in a delightful village setting. Can’t go wrong.
Trough of Bowland. The best three or four hours of your life, depending where you start from. Best way to experience the Lancashire countryside is through the Trough.
Anytime: Dunsop Bridge country lane. Park next to Puddleducks, head north past the playground and enjoy a mostly flat country lane until you reach Middle Knoll.
One-off event: Ride the Lights Blackpool Illuminations. The best and most manic way to see the Illuminations. Held just before the big switch-on every year.
St Joseph’s Cemetery, near Stonyhurst College, Hurst Green. Eerie, hidden in the trees and with some stunning headstones and religious creations. What more do you want from a cemetery?
Ashton Memorial, Williamson Park, Lancaster, looking towards Morecambe Bay. Amazing views any time of the day. And the Butterfly house is an instantly likeable throwback to Victorian tourist attractions. It’s also very warm in there.
Gaz Cook is the author of free days out in Lancashire, the greatest days out in the Red Rose County. Produced as an e-book.