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When you ask any Lancaster University student what they think about Lancaster, their answers are almost always more or less the same. “Lancaster is so boring”, “There’s nothing to do in Lancaster”, so on and so forth. Most of the time, we all find ourselves running to bigger cities like Manchester or Liverpool over the weekend. What I think most of us fail to see is that there are actually places that are worth visiting that are close to Lancaster. Although it lacks that busy “living in the fast lane” kind of feel to it, these cities and towns still boast aesthetic beauty and even have some interesting places that you may overlook.
Pointing out the places where you could visit in Garstang for example, a couple of friends and I went for a Christmas meal at Bellflower, and I must say that I was pretty surprised to find such a cosy place out there. It is quite easy to get there as well, there are buses from outside the University to and from Garstang. Best of all, a place that you must visit, is the Walling’s farm where they serve ice-cream and there are areas where you can sit out and enjoy the view and have a selfie or two with the llamas and sheep.
Travelling to Kendal by train takes less than 15 minutes and when you get there, there is a chocolatier which you may be surprised with, as they even have a small café above the shop. It has been there since 1657, it’s literally called 1657 Chocolate House. I must say that they have an array of amazing tasting chocolates and obviously, the chocolate mint cake: a slab of mint, coated with chocolate, which I’d like to warn you about. DO NOT be greedy and just get a small piece, because you have to trust me on this one, it’s too sweet. Another great thing about Kendal is that its town is surprisingly big and you could do quite a bit of shopping, with plenty of stores and places to grab lunch.
Arnside is another great place to visit if you’re into photography especially as it’s really calming and you’ll love the nature and the view that you get there. While I’m on the topic, another place to go to is Windermere, go trekking up through Orrest Head and voila, reach the top and you’ll get a beautiful view of the lakes. Then, if you’re up for it, walk all the way to Ambleside by foot: just follow the main road and on the way, there’s the Peter Rabbit shop if that takes your fancy to stop at. Alternatively you could do some fun things that they have over summer at the camps, which you will pass if you’re on foot. When you reach Ambleside, go for the ice-cream with the flake! Best decision ever. If you’d like to go on the boat, you might as well, but if it’s too cold, seriously, forget it as it’s gorgeous even if you’re just sitting by the lake. Oh, and if you’re into baking like I am, they also have a baking shop right outside the train station at Windermere.
If you’re not too much of going out on trains, you could always take the bus to Heysham/Morecambe and go to the beach, even if just to go to ASDA to do your grocery shopping via the 6A. Best make use of your bus pass right? There’s another place called Halton: they have a place that I volunteered at called The Mill and it is quite a small place, but it’s amazing how you feel like you’re transported to some other era, but hey, maybe that would help you in appreciating Lancaster? You never know!
Anyway, if all those things still don’t appeal to you, take a day out to walk from the Alexandra Park campus exit to the Forrest of Bowland. If even that doesn’t take your fancy, walk to Galgate, a village that once again is a nice walk if you need a break from studying. Go with friends whatever you do, and there’s always Lancaster’s own Ashton Memorial to visit, but don’t forget: we’re only in a small corner of the country. Travel via bus is inexpensive if you want to get out of Lancashire, but make sure you don’t dismiss the beautiful landscape we have around us in favour of what might be a longer, potentially more expensive day out.