10 reasons to visit Furness
PUBLISHED: 00:00 15 July 2013
This is one of Lancashire’s hidden gems. Barbara Waite picks out a few of the highlights
PHOTOGRAPHY: JOHN COCKS
The red rose continues to fly high in the Furness peninsula. Lancashire ‘north of the sands’ has been a picturesque part of the County Palatine since 1100 and remains within our traditional boundaries. It contains some of our loveliest countryside with beautiful towns and villages away from the bustle of more traditional Lake District communities. However, it is also one of our most neglected areas so here’s a quick guide to a few of its delights.
1. The Hoad Monument, Ulverston. For the energetic, take the steep climb to the top to stand beside Sir John Barrow’s 1850 landmark. Fantastic views over Morecambe Bay and the Lake District Fells. Open to the public in the summer if the flag is flying. A replica of the Eddystone Lighthouse in Cornwall it was renovated to display information about Sir John who was was born in Ulverston in 1764. He went to sea at 16, joining a Greenland whaling expedition and rose through the ranks to become Second Secretary to the Admiralty. www.sirjohnbarrowmonument.co.uk
2. Barrow Dock Museum. Historic coins dug up in Furness are now on display in the new archaeological gallery in Barrow’s Dock Museum. The find of 92 silver coins, known as the Viking Hoard, also includes artefacts found by a metal detectorist at Stainton near Dalton-in-Furness.
The new gallery provides a permanent home for the 1,000-year-old coins. They join a miniature longboat, lifesize Vikings, a Bronze Age skull and tools found in South Lakes caves. 01229 876400
3. Eat ice cream at Bardsea or Roa Island where you can visit the dramatic lifeboat station which guards Morecambe Bay, and catch a ferry to Piel Island, weather permitting.
4. Walney Island Nature Reserves. The southerly reserve is managed by the Cumbria Wildlife Trust whilst the one to the north is run by Natural England. Only 11 miles long, it has sand dunes, salt marsh and mud flats which attract wading birds and the natterjack toad. The beaches are famous for wind and kite surfing. www.walney-island.com
5. Swarthmoor Hall is a 16th century country house set in beautiful gardens and grounds in 130 acres of farmland and is known as the cradle of Quakerism because in the mid-17th century Judge Thomas Fell and his wife Margaret provided protection and hospitality for its founding father George Fox. The Hall is open for day visitors from Monday to Thursday 1.30 - 4.30pm, from late February to early November. www.swarthmoorhall.co.uk
6. Laurel and Hardy Museum, Ulverston. It started life as one man’s collection and outgrew its first home and is now fittingly based in the former Roxy cinema which opened to coincide with the unveiling of a statue to the boys in the town square. Open 10am-5pm: closed Mondays and Wednsdays.
7. Conishead Priory goes back to the 12th century but the current stunning Victorian Gothic house was formerly a convalescent home for miners but for the past quarter century it has been the base for an international college for Buddhist studies. This locally important historic building and its magnificent grounds are open most days. Find out more at www.conisheadpriory.org
8. Sand Sculptures and Wild Art. Show off your artistic talents by creating natural sculptures from sand and shells on the beach at Sandscale Haws, Roanhead near Barrow on August 15, from 2pm. Call 01229 462855 or visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sandscale-haws for more details.
9. North Lonsdale Agricultural Show, Urswick Recreation Fields, Ulverston on Wednesday July 31. A new venue for the show, with entertainment from Cyril the Squirrel, Cuerden Birds of Prey, Barrow Vintage Motorcyle Club, a chainsaw carving demonstration by Rolande plus all the usual cattle, sheep, poultry and horticulture classes plus a dog show. Trade and craft stands.
10. Peninsula walks. Explore this lovely area using a programme of organised and self-guided trails throughout the year. Download a brochure on barrowsportscouncil.org.uk, or call 01229 823144.