Half-term Happenings: Lancaster, Lune, Meal, Murmuration.

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On the Thursday of our February half-term week, we were looking to combine another ‘easy’ walk, which allowed the possibility of shorter or longer alternatives, with a lunchtime meal. We hit upon driving to the park and ride carpark, just off the motorway by Lancaster, which has the advantage of being free, then walking into town. We could then either walk back or catch the dedicated bus service if need be.

From the carpark, after crossing a couple of busy roads, it’s easy to access the path beside the River Lune. That took us to John Rennie’s 1797 aqueduct, which carries the Lancaster Canal over the river.

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We climbed up to the canal and then followed that into Lancaster.

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The River Lune and the (smelly) Carrs Billington plant.

We were heading for the Sun Hotel for lunch. The food was magnificent…

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I’ve included this slightly blurred photo of B instagramming his choice, because I know at least one reader of the blog who appreciates a huge burger.

The vegans were happy too…

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In fact, I think we all enjoyed our meals.

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After that enormous repast, we decided that we were all fit enough to walk back to the car. This time we followed the Lune rather than the canal.

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‘Little’ S and my nephew L. The latter wanted to pose in front of this cafe for some reason?

The dull cloud of the morning had cleared, so we had terrific views of the aqueduct reflected in the placid waters of the Lune to accompany our walk.

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On the way home, as we drove along Storrs Lane by Leighton Moss, I thought I saw a Starling murmuration, so we stopped to take a look. This is definitely a winter phenomenon and even in mid-February I suspect that there were perhaps less birds than we had seen earlier in the year, when we often saw people parked to watch the Starlings as we drove home from Lancaster in the late afternoons.

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The advantage we did have though was clear skies and good light.

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Still photos really don’t do this justice: the way the cloud of birds wheels together and pulses and fluidly changes shape.

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It was an unexpected bonus at the end of a very enjoyable day.

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Half-term Happenings: Lancaster, Lune, Meal, Murmuration.

Unlisted Lancaster.

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A weekend of absolutely glorious weather – blue skies and beautiful sunshine – but a very busy one for me, so another opportunity to make the most of whatever spare scraps of time were available. B was away with school, on a rugby tour, playing a game in Essex somewhere on the Friday and then at Twickenham watching England squeak past Japan in one of the Autumn Internationals on the Saturday. TBH was also away, I think on Guiding training, which left me as chief cook, bottle-washer and taxi-driver.

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I think that these are Muscovy Ducks. They aren’t native to the UK, but there were half a dozen on the canal that day, presumably feral birds.

Little S had BJJ in Lancaster on the Saturday morning and then a birthday party with a new friend (he’s moved up to ‘big school’) in the afternoon. I drove him in for BJJ and then took him for lunch afterwards and kept him company before his party.

I needed somewhere to leave the car; there’s not much in the way of free parking in Lancaster, but there are some spots on Aldcliffe Road, by the Lancaster Canal, which had the added advantage of leaving me with a bit of a walk to meet Little S after his grappling.

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Owl sculpture in a community garden sandwiched between Aldcliffe Road and the canal.

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Having passed through the town centre, my route to meet Little S took me along St. Leonard’s Gate. I wondered how properties which get listed are chosen and others are not. This building is fairly old, and the City Council have deemed it interesting enough to warrant one of their Green Plaques, but it isn’t listed.

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The Grand Theatre, just across the road is listed, but I didn’t photograph it, because it was in heavy shade. Another time.

Some of the properties in this area are looking a bit rundown to say the least….

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I walked past this building again recently and noticed that there was a pigeon stuck inside which was flying repeatedly into one of the few remaining panes of glass in a window.

This building…

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…is St. Leonard’s House, which is listed. It was built 1881-2 and was a furniture factory, for the Lancaster firm Gillow and Company. It too was looking a tad dishevelled, but has been hidden behind scaffolding for quite some time now and is clearly being tarted up for some purpose.

There’s been a fair bit of building work in Lancaster over recent years. This…

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…is part of Caton Court, which will provide student accommodation when it’s finished.

Little S was in no doubt about what he wanted for lunch – there’s a street market in Lancaster On Wednesdays and Saturdays and one of the stalls does a hog roast. Very nice it was too. After that we still had some time to kill, so I took S to the Music Room cafe and finally got to see the interior. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise at first that there’s seating upstairs which is presumably where we needed to go in order to see the ‘very richly decorated plasterwork walls and ceiling of c1730’. I would have known that if I’d thought to check the Historic England listing in advance. Oh well: next time!

Having dropped Little S at his party I went scooting home, hoping to get out again around the village whilst the weather was so benign.

Unlisted Lancaster.

Listed Lancaster: Lune Aqueduct

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Stuck in Lancaster waiting for an exhaust to be replaced*, I decided to walk out along the Lancaster Canal as far as the aqueduct and then back along the north bank of the Lune. The aqueduct, decided by engineer John Rennie and completed in 1797, is 61′ high and 664′ long (that’s 18.6m and 202.4m in new money). Sadly, I’m not sure that my photos capture how imposing it is. Never mind, that gives me an excuse to try again sometime.

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The canal crossing the aqueduct.

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Looking back upriver to the aqueduct.

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The Lune looking downstream from the aqueduct.

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The Carrs -Billington plant next to the river. It, or something else nearby, was producing a foul smell.

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The Millennium Bridge.

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St. George’s Quay.

*Possibly a foolhardy enterprise, the exhaust cost more than the list value of the car it was fixed to. Still, the car has done us proud to now and, fingers crossed, has a few years left in it.

Listed Lancaster: Lune Aqueduct

Listed Lancaster: Friends Meeting House

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From a sign on the wall outside the Meeting House, on Meeting House Lane:

“There has been a Meeting House on this site since 1677. The original building was replaced and enlarged in 1708 and forms the core of the present Meeting House, making it Lancaster’s second oldest place of worship after the Priory Church. It was there that George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, preached in 1652 and was stoned through the streets by a hostile mob who objected to his challenging of established religious practices.”

The two-storey porch is a pretty distinctive feature.

I’m always pleased to learn more about George Fox. This was my last encounter with his legacy whilst i was out on a walk:

 

 

Listed Lancaster: Friends Meeting House

Listed Lancaster: Mill Hall

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From the English Heritage listing: “Former mill, now student accommodation. c1800, steam-powered worsted factory, converted into cotton spinning factory by 1828. Heightened by 3 feet and re-roofed, probably c1830, with south-east lift tower added by 1877. Production ceased 1975, and converted into student accommodation 1988-89.”

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“The worsted mill was built by Thomas Higgin & Co. Thomas was the second son of John Higgin Senior, Governor of the Castle. In 1828 it was recorded as a cotton mill owned by Burrow, Higgin & Co. In 1846 it was purchased by John Greg, who then owned Moor Lane Mill South. In 1861 it was sold to Storey Brothers, who operated it until its closure. The original engine house occupied the north bay of the mill and rose through 4 storeys, and evidence found during conversion work suggested that the mill was designed from the outset to house a beam engine. The engine bay was floored over in 1929.”

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The (now unused) iron fire escape.

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It’s good to see old buildings put to new uses like this.

Historic England listing is here.

Listed Lancaster: Mill Hall