North West Days Out | Martin Mere | Review

Yesterday was a Sunday and as I had been craving the beach, we had planned to go to Lytham St Annes for a lovely walk. We haven’t been for about 4-5 years since we lost Peggy-dog and so I was really looking forward to it.

However, perhaps trying to get to Lytham St Annes on the same day as the Blackpool Air Show was a mistake as very quickly we got stuck in a massive load of traffic ?. As we approached a junction we decided to make a swift exit and after a small discussion, we decided to go to Martin Mere which is a wetlands centre in Burscough in West Lancashire.

First impressions were good as the approach is well signposted and there was plenty of room in the car park. It was £12 each to get in, which we Gift Aided and very quickly we were in. We didn’t spend too long in the main building as it was full of children (well it is the Summer holidays). We only realised later that if we had investigated a little we could have got a map and some food for the birds.. maybe next time.

I want to say right off the bat, that we loved Martin Mere. As soon as we came out of the main building,we were met with a small picnic area, a fenced off play area, snacks kiosk and FLAMINGOS!!! The flamingos are all together on an island with only with a small body of water and crucially no fence between you and them. Loved it!

Then for the rest afternoon we wandered around the large wetlands meeting SO many ducks and different birds, most of which were either wandering around freely or behind very low fences.

As well as the birds, there are also lots of wetlands and fab little things to find in amongst the windy paths and foliage. We particularly liked the bug hotel and criss cross obstacles and walk ways.

In the far reaches of the wetlands there are also a series of hides where more serious bird spotters can sit for as many hours as they like, spotting and photographing the beautiful wildlife that have made Martin Mere their natural habitat.

Another thing we spotted was a version of Top Trumps a kind of game for younger visitors to Martin Mere had to spot various animals and birds around the park. Love this.

Overall, we had a brilliant day. We were stuck in traffic for 1 ½ hours before arriving and this whole experience rescued the day. It was as calm as it was entertaining and so much fun. We loved wandering around and finding lots of new bits of the wetlands – it was so much bigger than we expected. A great day out.

So ????? Martin Mere, I’ve not doubt we will be back.

G x

Perfect Few Days

So let me just say, if you aren’t into blogs from people telling you what a wonderful time they have had, then I would deffo skip this blog. BUT.. if not strap yourself in!!

This post is entitled “Perfect Few Days” as this is exactly what M and I have just had. Firstly, it was his birthday on Thursday and yes, if your maths is any good, then you will have worked out that he does indeed have a Star Wars Birthday, as in “May the 4th be with you!” Which was reflected in some of his birthday wrapping..

But first things first, as the FIRST thing we did for his birthday is presents in bed. This is something that we have done since almost day 1 and it’s a tradition I particularly love. After pressies, we ventured to ChouxChouxbedo for breakfast and I think it’s fair to see M was very happy with the situation!

After breakfast we had originally planned to go to Pennington Flash for a walk and then to Bents, but in the end we sacked off the walk and just ventured to Bents for a bit of (expensive) food shopping and present buying for M’s mum, whose birthday it actually is TODAY!

Once home we were chilling out when we had a surprise visit from our brother-in-law and our lovely nieces. They stayed for a while and the girls and I made chocolate covered strawberries and I put the Scouse on to cook. I have a whole recipe for Scouse, which is basically lamb stew, but that’s another post I still have to write. ?

Once the girls had gone, we got ready and Michael’s family came, namely his mum & dad, 2 sisters and their partners. We ate the scouse and a birthday cake made by m’s amazing mum. M is very lucky to have such a lovely family.

Then on Saturday, we had a mini lie-in and then set off for Keswick in the Lake District, where we were booked in to the Best Western Castle Plus Inn. It took us about 2 hours to get there and we have to say we were pleasantly surprised on arrival.

Friendly welcome, lovely staff, nice hotel, good start. Full disclosure, our room was a little small as it was crammed with too much furniture which meant we didn’t have too much room to manoeuvre. However, we didn’t stay too long initially as I had booked afternoon tea for M and I at Armathwaite Hall. AH is where M and I stayed on Honeymoon and we hadn’t been back, so we were REALLY excited to see if it had changed at all.

On arrival the staff showed us to our reserved table in the window, overlooking the lake ? . As I have blogged before, I am lactose intolerant and I even though I mentioned it when I booked, I was  little worried about what food might arrive. I needn’t have been, see pics below.

It was all GORGEOUS and I know some of you might think that plain ham sandwiches are boring, but honestly the ham was divine and who doesn’t love ham butties?!

After our feast, we decided to go for a walk in the grounds of the hall, which overlooks Bassenthwaite Lake. We actually got married in February, so on our last trip, we tried to get down to the lake, but were foiled half way as it was too muddy and wet. But this time, it was sunny and we wended our way down the path, across the bridge and eventually the foliage cleared and the lake was resplendent in front of us. Wow.

Heaven is a Place on Earth

We stayed at the lakeside for a little while, talking and throwing stones in the water, the sun was shining on us and I really felt like I wanted to capture that moment and keep it forever. I felt so lucky, almost emotional and if ever I feel stressed and want to think of a happy place, that hour will play on a loop. ?

Once back at the hotel we chilled out for a while (M fell FAST asleep) and then in the evening, we kept it low key and just went down to the bar for a lovely meal of chicken fajita (me) and corned beef hash cakes with poached egg (him).

For day 2 of our mini-break we decided to go to Whinlatter Forest, which was about 10ish miles away from our hotel here:

Parking was easy as there is a visitors centre, loos and cafe along with a decent sized car park. After a slightly dodgy start (we didn’t see the wayfinding signs) we decided to do the aptly named Two Gills trail, which is described as “moderate”. I supposed it depends on fitness levels and your preconceived idea of moderate, but I found parts of this walk quite challenging as there was quite a lot of uphill walking.

Massive elevation gain!

So even though for the uphills I had a face like thunder whilst I was puffing and blowing, I did really enjoy being in the outdoors and the views of the forest at the top were stunning. We will be back.

So overall we really have had a perfect few days and so glad I got to share it with you. This type of post is one of the reasons that I got into blogging, because it holds my memories tight. Thanks for reading too if you got this far. ???

G x

p.s. all photos in this posts are taken with either an iPhone 7 or iPhone7+ (I left my Canon G7x at home this trip)

Walking in Sankey Valley (Haydock)

I have had a blog in one guise or another for about 10 years. I originally started with a blog sort of in the voice of my beloved dog Peggy. I have written about this before, but basically I wanted to show people where to go for good local dog walks and I thought it was boring from my own point of view. However in the “voice” of Peggy it became fun and entertaining to write and hopefully to read.

Since we have moved to Newton, we have discovered a few lovely little places to walk, but it has to be said, we were spoiled because right at the bottom of our road, there was direct access to Sankey Valley and a good few miles of paths, canals, streams, wildlife, dog walks and open spaces around which to ramble and run.

M and I revisited some of those places yesterday and were delighted to see all the restorative work that has taken place. The paths were all wider and more even and all the foliage and trees had been cut back to almost reveal what was always there. More of the canal is visible than ever before and I can highly recommend going down there for a little explore.

The two entrance I know best are from Cooper Lane and Wagon Lane in Haydock.

The best postcode for Cooper Lane sat nav purposes is WA11 0JH. There are on-street places to park at the bottom of both of these streets, right before the footpath starts, but no car parks as such.

From both of these paths it’s about a 0.8km walk down to the canal path, if you turn left, you will be heading towards Newton-le-Willows and if your turn right, you will be heading towards Blackbrook and St Helens.

The path towards St Helens provides a path which follows the canal with newly opened stretches of water, places to fish and eventually, just behind Blackbrook rugby club, a beautifully newly renovated lock and water cascade.

The paths towards Newton-le-Willows provide a beautifully wide expense of canal, several paths, fishing pegs, and a beautifully calm and lovely place to walk, run and cycle.

It was a total JOY to spend a sunny afternoon walking the paths that we trod SO many times with our beloved Peggy. We have seen them with snow, rain and sunshine and loved every second of their company. We love our new house to bits, but we miss not having this 60 seconds away from our front door.

But, if you live close by, I encourage you to go and check it out, you would hardly know it’s there from the main road, but it’s SO lovely.

G x



Sankey Valley Walk

Today has been a lovely day in the Lysons household, despite the fact that my lovely husband M, is really not very well. He has in fact had a lingering coughy/cold thing for the last 3 weeks and this weekend the cough is doing it’s best to interfere with all our best laid plans.

However, after a little day of rest yesterday, we decided to get out and about today and go for a walk. We were toying with the idea of having a walk around Carr Mill Dam, but then we saw a tweet from our local councillor who was out along the Sankey Canal in Newton-le-Willows filming with a Google 360 camera and we had a change of mind.

We have lived in N-le-W for a couple of years and have ventured along the canal before, but not for a while. So we thought, why not?! We parked here:

There is a postcode on Google Maps, but we found that this didn’t work very well. BUT, if you use the postcode WA12 8RA  and that should take you close enough to pick up the brown sign which should point your right at the car park.

The car park is without facilities, but is free and right next to the very pretty and recently renovated bridge over the canal:

A photo posted by Jeanie Bell (@jeaniebeanieb) on

So we crossed over the bridge and walked as far as we could to the right, and even made it past the Nine Arches bridge. It was lovely to see all the paths much wider and settled since the last time we went and we had the most brilliant little walk. It was bloody FREEZING and we both had to wrap up, but I think I have said before, never the wrong weather, only the wrong clothes!

Anyway, we ended up walking a couple of miles:

and finished the day with a toastie at Costa Coffee. Brilliant.

So if you are looking for a little walk, I can really recommend the canal walk. Large paths and free parking, what more could you need? A little local jewel.
G x