Our 8 Top Things To Do In Lancashire



As far as tough decisions go, shortlisting our top things to do in Lancashire is right up there with the trickiest of them. There are simply too many great things to do in this vast, scenic county of the North West. Beaches, bays and seaside bustle; forests, hills, valleys and trails; historic houses and castles aplenty. If you’ve not been to Lancashire you’ve missed out on one of England’s most varied and captivating places. 

Need a little more detail on that front? Read on to find out what we’ve chosen as the best things to do in Lancashire.

Rolling moorland in Lancashire (Oxy Design on Unsplash)

Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

If you love rural time, you could easily spend several days scoping out the Forest of Bowland. As a landscape, it is sublime, dramatic, rugged and green – you’d be hard pushed to find a better place for full days out in your boots. It’s undoubtedly among the best places to walk in Lancashire, and quite possibly the whole of England.

Take a walk here and you’ll be roaming through moorland hills and undulating lowlands… but where are the trees? Interestingly, ‘forest’ is used in the ancient sense here – ‘silva’ in Latin meaning either ‘forest’ or ‘outdoor’ and commonly referring to any broad expanse where landowners kept animal herds for hunting. 

Nowadays, the area keeps walkers enchanted throughout its serene woodland cloughs, river valleys and stunning vistas. Anglers will also rejoice: with crystal-clear lakes and fast-flowing tributaries, the Forest of Bowland is home to some of Britain's best salmon and trout fishing. (For more guidance, visit the Forest of Bowland visitor centre at the Beacon Fell Country Park.)

Those venturing further can also explore many gateway market towns and villages dotted around the forest such as Bentham, Clitheroe and Barrowford, where trails can also lead to the reward of pub lunches and local ales.  

Forest of Bowland (Peter Idowu on Unsplash)

Settle in for a stay at a great campsite near the Forest of Bowland.

Ribble Valley

If you’re not the fly-tying type casting the hours away on the River Ribble (see above), then you’re likely already admiring one of its main valleys, the Ribble Valley, which includes much of the Forest of Bowland. 

From here, you might want to detour to the 14th-century Whalley Abbey, the Ribchester Roman Museum or medieval Clitheroe Castle. 

As the valley is increasingly known for its top-notch local produce and gastropubs, your tastebuds may well also be drawn to the many culinary walks that are available as part of the Clitheroe Food Festival. 

Browse campsites near Ribble Valley.

Fylde Coast

For lots of visitors, it’s hard to imagine heading up to Lancashire without ‘going up the ‘pool’. Blackpool Tower and attractions, Blackpool Zoo, the arcades, rides and strolls along Pleasure Beach… family days are easy to fill here.

Those seeking something quieter may well prefer the Fylde Coast peninsula, where you can swap the roller coasters and arcades for time strolling along the peaceful pier at scenic Lytham St Annes. Or perhaps whiling away lazy hours at Fairhaven salt lake and poking around the pretty market town of Poulton le Fylde. 

For beach time, get to Fleetwood seafront and amble a slow mile along golden sand, pebble and shingle from Rossall Beach at Cleveleys down to the Wyre Estuary at the bottom of Morecambe Bay. It all feels quite a world away.

Find a campsite near the Fylde Coast.

Blackpool (Luke Ellis-Craven on Unsplash)

Hoghton Tower

Surely Preston’s most impressive, imposing and commanding landmark, Hoghton Tower is as much a Tudorist’s dream trip as it is a great day out for the family.  

With a thousand years of Lancastrian heritage, it is still the ancestral home of the de Houghtons and one for exploring extensive gardens, taking tower tours and milling about finely landscaped environs. From the tower’s top end, there are splendid views of the Irish Sea and Wales. 

Little imaginations will also run wild on various discovery routes in and through secret castle passages and dungeons (here be dragons, too…)  

There’s more to Preston than Hoghton Tower, of course, and if your interest in the towns of Lancashire is sufficiently stoked, then check out our list of 8 Lancashire Towns To Visit Next.

Incidentally, although you may have heard of Preston Beach, this is not the place for it. Preston (Lancashire) does not have a beach, and is not to be confused with Preston Beach, some 270 miles away in Dorset.

Find a site near Preston.

Samlesbury Hall

What Preston does have is the splendid Samlesbury Hall. As you explore this all black and white, Grade I-listed, half-timbered medieval hall dating from 1325 you’ll be pacing through centuries of Lancastrian history. 

Tour this remarkably well-preserved interior, admire its ancient woodworking ornamentations and walk its gorgeously manicured grounds and adjacent woodlands. Guided tours are available for the more historically minded, and kids can let off steam on the playground.

Though picnics are not permitted, inside there is a café and restaurant for refreshments.  

Choose a campsite near Samlesbury Hall.

Rivington Pike Walk

The sweeping views continue on the Rivington Pike Walk for an ascent of 363 metres to one of the most spectacular vantage points in Lancashire.

The more popular route to the top is a circular walk starting at the Rivington Terraced Gardens at Chorley, where you can admire Japanese gardens, caves and old summer house ruins. There’ll be plenty of time and space for a picnic and simply taking it all in.

Once atop Rivington Pike, you might find the view keeps you there the rest of the day as you gaze out over Cheshire, the Lake District, the Isle of Man and beyond (you might want to save some of that picnic…). 

Stake out near Rivington Pike.

Astley Hall

While in Chorley, it’s well worth visiting Astley Hall. With four hundred years of history in a single coach house and 44 acres of pristine grounds to explore, this is one of the North West’s most intriguing residential sites. 

Take a tour indoors to learn about the families who have owned and inhabited the hall over the centuries and admire the craftsmanship that has created its interior. 

Then to a snail-paced stroll across its immaculate stretch of parkland: pathways, fountains and a living pond adorn the surroundings with sport pitches, tennis courts and a bowling green all available for public use.

Wander the walled garden, contemplate the Chorley Cenotaph and soak up the sights of the sensory garden. Kids can relive local history with the Royalist Retreat play area or admire reptiles, birds and furry animals at Pets Corner.

Astley Hall (Michael D Beckwith on Unsplash)

Find a patch near Chorley.

Williamson Park

While devouring the trail miles in the Forest of Bowland, be sure to stop in at Lancaster, another of the forest’s gateway towns. Williamson Park is well worth a detour to its 54 acres of woodland, play areas, mini-zooand stunning views across the Fylde coast, Morecambe Bay and Lake District fells. 

Stroll in and around the grandiose Ashton Memorial, built in 1909 by Lord Ashton in tribute to his late wife, Jessy. With myriad sculptures set inside its soaring dome, your eyes will be fixed firmly 150 feet upwards. 

When all that upward gazing has got your neck in a knot and built up a thirst and/or hunger, find rejuvenation at the park’s Pavillion Café.

Choose a campsite near Lancaster.

Pathways of Williamson Park (Tom Morbey on Unsplash)

Now that you’ve had a taste of top things to do in Lancashire and on the county's coast, walk another stretch with our list of 7 Best Beaches In Lancashire To Visit. Then get camping with our list of best campsites in Lancashire, for which our Ultimate North West England Camping Guide is the ideal supplement.