Places to Visit

We are very lucky to be located in Bolton in Greater Manchester. It is less than 15 miles to the centre of the city of Manchester and within an hour and a half drive of the historic cities of Chester and Lancaster and the beautiful Lake District and Peak District National Parks. We are, of course, within 40 miles of the cities of Liverpool and Leeds, but city rivalries mean we don’t mention them!

Bolton

We are proud to say that Bolton is known as one of the UK’s friendliest towns in addition to having a varied and interesting history. Famously, Bolton is purported to be the largest town in England and if you ask the residents, its application to become a city was rejected due to actions taken during the English Civil War in 1642!

Bolton was a power house of innovation during the Industrial Revolution, especially in the textile industry and was home to a number of inventors, some of whom obtained patents to protect their work and unfortunately some who didn’t.

A well-known inventor, Richard Arkwright (1732-1792), was based in Bolton for much of his life and was known as 'the Father of the Industrial Revolution'. He is celebrated for his contribution to the textile industry and the modern factory system after combining power, machinery, semi-skilled labour and the new raw material (cotton) to create mass-produced yarn. He is credited with inventing the spinning frame, which following the transition to water power was renamed the water frame. He also patented a rotary carding engine that transformed raw cotton into cotton lap. Unfortunately, although Arkwright managed to obtain a patent covering many textile processes he failed to uphold his patent on the grounds that his specifications were deficient and that he had “borrowed” his ideas.

Bolton born Samuel Crompton, 1753-1827, built on the work of Richard Arkwright and invented the spinning mule (sometimes called a spinning jenny) that helped to revolutionise the cotton industry. The mule's importance was that it could spin thread better than by hand. This led to ever finer thread. Coarse thread sold for 14 shillings per pound of cotton, whilst the finer thread spun on his mule sold at 42 shillings a pound. Unfortunately, as the mule was unpatented, others soon manufactured it. A survey in 1812 showed there were between 4 and 5 million mule spindles in use. Crompton received no royalties for his invention.

John Kay (1704-1779) is another notable Bolton inventor who was the inventor of the flying shuttle for looms (patented) and was born on the border between Bury and Bolton. The unrelated James Kay (1774–1857) harnessed steam power and developed the first commercially successful wet-spinning process for flax in 1825.

More information about the local history of Bolton can be found in Bolton Museum.  Interestingly, because of its links with the cotton trade, you will also find good Egyptology collections in the Museum!

The area boasts a number of beautiful historic Halls that are open to the public. Smithills Hall dates back to the early 1300s and the renowned Hall i' th' Wood was originally built as a half-timbered hall in the early 16th century and was home to Samuel Crompton when he invented the spinning mule. Although not strictly in the Borough of Bolton anymore, Turton Tower dates to the 12th century and was partly restored in 1835 by James Kay.

More information about Bolton can be found at http://www.visitbolton.com/.

Lancaster

Lancaster is famous as the home of the Tudor royal dynasty in the UK, who came to power after defeating the Yorkist Plantagenet line in the War of the Roses.

Lancaster Castle is owned by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who is also the 'Duke of Lancaster'. As well as being a fortification, the Castle was one of Europe’s longest serving operational prisons until March 2011. Many alleged witches were brought to the Castle to face trial, the most famous being the Pendle Witches, who were tried, convicted and sentenced to death there in 1612. George Fox, the founder of the Quaker movement, was imprisoned in the Castle for 2 years.

Other attractions include Lancaster Maritime Museum, charting the history of the merchants and Lancaster’s exciting trade, Lancaster City Museum teaching about Lancaster’s past from the Romans to the present day, Britain's 3rd oldest theatre (1782) in the centre of Lancaster, Williamson Park and Butterfly House and Lancaster Brewery.

Further information about Lancaster can be found at www.visitlancaster.co.uk.

Cumbria & The Lake District

Lakes.jpgThe Lake District, also commonly known as The English Lakes, is a hugely popular holiday destination in the UK. It is the largest national park in England and the most visited in the UK. The lakes and mountains combine to form impressive scenery with farmland adding to the natural beauty. It also contains the highest point in England at Scafell Pike (3209 ft above sea level). If you love to walk, you will be spoilt in the Lakes, with so many choices.

It is famous not only for its lakes, forests and mountains (known as fells), but also for its associations with the writings of William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter.

Beatrix Potter famously lived at the 17th-century farmhouse, Hill Top farm, purported to be the inspiration for many of her books.  Located between Esthwaite Water and Lake Windermere, it is a fascinating place to visit.  In addition, the Beatrix Potter Gallery in nearby Hawkshead is well worth a look.  

The poet William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850) was born in Cockermouth and went to Grammar School in Hawkshead, where you can see his name carved in his school desk.  After his University years and a time living in Dorset, Wordsworth returned to the Lakes in 1799 when he moved to Dove Cottage in Grasmere. In 1813, he moved to Rydal Mount overlooking Rydal Water, which was his best loved family home from where he wrote many of his famous poems, including ‘Daffodils’. Both Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount are open to the public.

Both John Ruskin (1819 – 1900) and Alfred Wainwright (1907 – 1991) were also inspired by the Lake District.  Whilst Ruskin bought Brantwood near Coniston and retired there in 1884, Wainwright moved to Kendal where he spent his later years.

More information about the Lake District can be found at http://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/.

Peak District

The Peak District was the first National Park created in the UK and boasts unique countryside.  The District is conventionally split into the northern Dark Peak (traversed by the Pennine Way), and the southern White Peak and provides opportunities for many types of outdoor activity. There is an extensive network of public footpaths and numerous long-distance trails, over 1,800 miles (2,900 km) in total, as well as large open-access areas, available for hillwalking and hiking. It is also home to the famous towns of Bakewell, Buxton and Ashbourne.

Bakewell is the only market town within the Peak District National Park boundary and is located on the River Wye.  The name comes from Badeca's well, indicating the importance of the springs and as such Bakewell almost became a spa town, but with water temperatures less than half that of the spring at neighbouring Buxton, it was not to be! Bakewell is actually best known for a confection made by mistake in the 19th century when a cook at the Rutland Arms misunderstood the recipe for jam tart! The town boasts some outstanding architecture, including the Market Hall, The Old Town Hall, the Almshouses, the 1543 Old House Museum and the much-painted ancient five arched bridge. The Annual Bakewell Show held over two days in August attracts thousands of visitors.

Buxton is famed for its natural spring water and Georgian architecture. The town's rich history features Roman settlers (who called it Aquae Arnemetiae), royal prisoners, outlaws and noble benefactors. Buxton is home to 23 acres of award winning ornamental gardens, The Pavilion Gardens, with serpentine walkways, a lake and a miniature railway. The admired Opera House is home to the Buxton (opera) Festival, Fringe, and the International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival. Visitors to Buxton can take advantage of the wealth of independent boutique shops and even stop to fill their own bottles from the permanent flow at St Anne's Well in front of the Crescent.

Ashbourne is an old market town and is an ideal for visiting the Peak District. It is described as "The Gateway to Dovedale” and was a fashionable social centre for the wealthy during the Georgian period, with six coaching roads meeting at the town, including the route from London to Carlisle. In total Ashbourne has more than 200 listed buildings! Today the walk down the main street takes you past historic Almshouses, the 16th century Old Grammar School and St Oswald parish church with its graceful 212ft spire. For local walking, the Tissington Trail, a former railway line, has been converted for use as a trail for walkers and cyclists and nearby Carsington Water is surrounded by numerous trails set amidst spectacular scenery. For the less faint-hearted, Alton Towers Amusement Park is close by!

For more information about the Peak District, please see http://www.visitpeakdistrict.com/.

North Wales

This region is steeped in history and was for almost a millennium known as the Kingdom of Gwynedd. Snowdonia was at the core fighting for an independent Wales. To this day it remains a stronghold of the Welsh language and a centre for Welsh national and cultural identity.

North Wales has a very diverse and complex geology formed by volcanic activity in the Ordovician period over the north western parts of Gwynedd. In contrast, the east of the River Conwy has a large area of upland rolling hills underlain by the Silurian mudstones and grits comprising the Denbigh and Migneint Moors. Different again, beds of limestone underlie Llangollen, the Halkyn Mountain, the Great Orme and eastern Anglesey. The area is generally rich in metals and unusual minerals such as Jasper and Mona Marble which make the area of special interest to geologists.

There are many historic places to visit in North Wales. Portmerion is a popular tourist village on the estuary of the River Dwyryd.  The village was designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975 in the style of an Italian village and is now owned by a charitable trust.

Conwy_castle.jpgConwy Castle is a medieval fortification in Conwy on the north coast of Wales. It was built by Edward I during his conquest of Wales (1283 and 1289), since which time it has played an important part in several wars and acted as a temporary haven for Richard II in 1399. It is now considered to be one of the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe.

The Great Orme headland derives its name from the Viking (Old Norse) word for sea serpent, which it is said to resemble and is echoed by the Little Orme, a smaller but very similar limestone headland, on the eastern side of Llandudno Bay in the Llanrhos. In the Bronze Age several copper mines were opened on the headland, later abandoned around 600 BC and then thought to be reopened by the Romans. Mining resumed again in 1692 until the end of the 19th century. The Bronze Age mine workings are now a fee-paying attraction for the public to experience. It is also possible to walk or drive around the Great Orme headland by way of footpaths and a road to see the rich flora of species developed from the ice-age, several endangered species of butterflies and moths and the rare Horseshoe Bat.

The Great Orme Tramway is a cable-hauled tramway in Llandudno and is Great Britain's only remaining cable operated street tramway and one of few surviving in the world. It takes passengers from Llandudno Victoria Station to just below the summit of the Great Orme headland. Operation of the tramway is a street running funicular, where the cars are permanently fixed to the cable, and are stopped and started by stopping and starting the cable. As one car is ascending, the other is descending, and they meet midway. On a clear day, it is possible to see the Isle of Man and the Lake District from the Orme's summit.

It goes without saying that the walking in North Wales is exceptional. The Isle of Anglesey’s Coastal Path spans 125 miles and is an area of outstanding beauty, whilst the Snowdonia Mountains and Coast have 142 miles of coastal walks, in addition to 100 big lakes, 840 square miles of National Park, 90 mountains and six different walking routes to the top of the notorious Mount Snowdon. Coastal North Wales has clean beaches and 60 miles of sea views from the North Wales Path that starts (or ends) in Prestatyn. Prestatyn is also where you can pick up the 283 km Offa’s Dyke Path, Britain’s longest ancient monument, roughly followed by some of the current border between England and Wales and forming some kind of delineation between the Anglian kingdom of Mercia and the Welsh Kingdom of Powys In the 8th century.

Greater Manchester & Manchester

Manchester is world famous for engineering, science, politics, music and of course the World's best known football team. Served by an International airport, home to the BBC and to a number of universities, Manchester is a world class city.

Manchester is where Rolls met Royce and they produced their first car, where Earnest Rutherford discovered the composition of alpha radiation, where Alan Turing created the first computer and where John Dalton laid the foundations of the periodic table and our modern concept of the atom. Robert Peel who was born in the North Manchester area in 1788 is commonly referred to as the father of modern day policing, as while Prime Minster, he established the Metropolitan Police Force (the police were subsequently referred to as "Peelers"). Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx during their time in Manchester formulated much of their political philosophy that went on to dominate half the world during the 20th century. We cannot fail to mention the recent ground breaking work on graphene by Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov which won them the Nobel prize in 2010.

Manchester is a product of the Industrial Revolution and is known as the first modern industrial city, with warehouses, railway viaducts, cotton mills and canals at its core. Many of the warehouses have now been converted for other uses, such as residential and business. Other dominant architectural styles include Palazzo, Neo-Gothic, Venetian Gothic, Edwardian baroque, Art Nouveau, Art Deco and the Neo-Classical. Engineering developments such as the Manchester Ship Canal symbolised a wealthy and proud Manchester along with the Mancunian buildings of the Victorian era, such as the neogothic Manchester Town Hall and the John Rylands Library.

Manchester has minimal Georgian or medieval architecture but Castlefield, west of the city centre was the site of the Roman era fort of Mamucium or Mancunium which gave its name to Manchester. Originally built in AD 79 of turf and timber the fort was demolished around AD 140, to be rebuilt of the same materials around AD 160. In about AD 200 the fort underwent another rebuild, replacing the gatehouse with a stone version and facing the walls with stone. It is Britain's only Urban Heritage Park.

More information on Manchester can be found at http://www.visitmanchester.com/.

Chester

Lying on the River Dee, Chester was founded as a Roman fort with the name Deva Victrix in AD 79. Chester's four main roads follow routes laid out at this time almost 2,000 years ago! The Roman Empire fell in the UK 300 years later and the Romano-British established a number of petty kingdoms in its place. In AD 616, Æthelfrith of Northumbria defeated a Welsh army at the Battle of Chester and probably established the Anglo-Saxon position in the area from then on. The Saxons extended and strengthened the walls of Chester to protect the city against the Danes/Vikings who occupied it for a short time. Chester was one of the last towns in England to fall to the Normans in the Norman conquest of England. William the Conqueror ordered the construction of a castle, to dominate the town and the nearby Welsh border.

Today, Chester is one of the best preserved walled cities in Britain and retains a number of medieval buildings. It is possible to walk the walls around the city and from there, you will see the Racecourse, which lies just outside the walls and holds race days from May to September each year. The Grosvenor Museum provides displays of Roman life and times in Chester, particularly during the military occupation.  The Dewa Roman Experience provides atmospheric reconstructions, genuine archaeological remains and Roman Soldier Patrols of the city and is based around the Dewa Roman fortress built almost 2,000 years ago which now lies buried beneath Chester.

Beeston Castle is set 350 feet above the Cheshire Plain on sheer rocky crags and provides stunning views on a clear day of 8 counties from the Pennines in the east to the mountains of Wales in the west. The Castle was originally a Bronze Age hill fort to the medieval fortress visitors see today and it is told that the Beeston Castle guards buried treasure there once belonging to Richard II sent to quell the rebellion in Ireland. The area provides long walks through rich woodland for nature lovers.

More information on Chester can be found here: http://www.visitchester.com/

Merseyside & Liverpool

Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. The origins of the city can be traced back to King John's letters patent of 1207 announcing the foundation of the borough of Liverpool, but by the middle of the 16th century the population was still only around 500.

By the 18th century trade from the West Indies, Ireland and mainland Europe, coupled with close links with the Atlantic slave trade drove the economic expansion of Liverpool. Liverpool was able to earn its status as a major port where several major docking ‘firsts’ occurred including the construction of the world's first enclosed wet dock (the Old Dock) in 1715 and the first ever hydraulic lifting cranes. The best-known dock in Liverpool is the Albert Dock, constructed in 1846 and was considered to be one of the most advanced docks anywhere in the world. Of course, Liverpool was the port of registry for the RMS Titanic ocean liner. Following significant damage in the Second World War, the Dock was finally closed in 1972. Today, Albert Dock comprises the largest single collection of Grade I listed buildings anywhere in Britain and houses restaurants, bars, shops, two hotels as well as the Merseyside Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, Tate Liverpool and The Beatles Story.

Liverpool is noted for its rich architectural heritage and is home to many exceptional buildings. The area known as the Pier Head is renowned for the trio of buildings – the Royal Liver Building, the Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building - regarded by many as contributing to one of the most impressive waterfronts in the world.  The Queensway Tunnel, opened in 1934 and linking Liverpool and Birkenhead, was described as "the eighth wonder of the world” due to it being the longest underwater tunnel in the world for 24 years.

Liverpool is also well known for its inventions and innovations, particularly in terms of infrastructure, transport, general construction, and in the fields of public health. Railways, ferries and the skyscrapers were all pioneered in the city. In 1829 and 1836 the first railway tunnels in the world were constructed under Liverpool. The world's first integrated sewer system was constructed in Liverpool by James Newlands, appointed the UK's first borough engineer in 1847. The first British Nobel Prize was awarded in 1902 to Ronald Ross, professor at the School of Tropical Medicine, Orthopaedic surgery was pioneered in Liverpool by Hugh Owen Thomas and modern medical anaesthetics by Thomas Cecil Gray.

The world-famous Grand National also takes places annually at Aintree Racecourse on the outskirts of the city. 

Close to Liverpool, you will find the stately home Knowsley Hall, part of which dates back to around 1495 and since 1953 it has been designated a Grade II listed building. Surrounded by 2,500 acres (10 km2) of parkland containing the Knowsley Safari Park, the restored building is a popular destination for weddings and events. As such, Knowsley Hall is open to the public for only five days a year although pre-booked groups are usually welcome throughout the year. Knowsley Safari Park welcomes visitors 7 days a week.

More information about Liverpool and the area can be found at http://www.visitliverpool.com/.