If you are interested in historic cities, Lancaster is a must. From our gorgeous lodgings at The Fenwick, in the rolling countryside on the outskirts of the city, we spend 48 hours exploring the city, discovering some amazing Lancaster attractions, finding out about the city's roots and sampling some of the best steak and seafood we've had the pleasure of tasting.
We were invited along to enjoy three days in the historic city of Lancaster by Visit Lancashire
Getting to Lancaster from Scotland
Lancaster is just over 2 hours away from Edinburgh and Glasgow by train so makes an ideal weekend city break. The trains are direct and leave frequently and I found tickets for as cheap as £30 per person if you book in advance! It's also just off the main M6 motorway if you fancy a road trip.
Our stay at The Fenwick began on Friday evening, the darkness had fallen on a crisp dry day and we didn't get to fully appreciate how utterly charming this country pub was until the next morning. What we had experienced though, from our drive through the picturesque landscape, with rolling green fields and chocolate box villages, was just how delightful Lancashire was.
We couldn't wait to explore this beautiful city, and we had came at the ideal time, off season is a great time to explore new cities. Attractions in cities rarely close over winter and the tourists have left so the streets are quiet and calm and you don't feel rushed or stressed.
Lancaster feels less like a city and more like a big town, it is in fact the county town of Lancaster, but its mighty cathedral gives it city status. Most of the main attractions are within walking distance of the centre and the bus and train station are located there too so you'll never need to walk far.
Lancaster is one of England's Heritage Cities and if you know me at all you'll know I love nothing more than meandering historic streets but there is something else we were looking forward to on this trip, we had heard rumours of some top class food and we were hoping they were true!
The town of Dunfermline, in Fife, used to be a Royal Burgh and is the most populated town in the county so it's an ideal place to base yourself so you can explore the Kingdom of Fife and further afield. There are so many things to do in Dunfermline and it's close to many pretty towns and villages, including Culross (where Outlander was filmed). The town itself has an impressive history dating back to at least the 11th century and there are many historic sites around the town such as Dunfermline Abbey where Robert the Bruce is buried. Dunfermline is also well connected by bus and train and is around three miles north of the Forth Road Bridge.
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A wee bit of history
Although the first written record of Dunfermline was in the 11th century when Malcolm III married Saint Margaret, discoveries including flint arrowheads, a stone axe and a stone ball date the area back to Neolithic times. It was Malcolm III who established Dunfermline as a seat of royal power and no less than 18 royals are buried here. The town was Scotland's capital until 1603 when the union of Scotland and England occurred. The loss of any royal connection happened when the Scottish courts relocated to London and the town declined following a major fire in 1624 when much of the town burnt, The town began to flourish again after the introduction of the weaving of linen damask. Dyeing, bleaching, soap making, rope making and brewing helped to keep the town prosperous in the following years.
What's the town like today
Dunfermline today is a busy and popular town with all the amenities you'll need if you decide to base yourself here during your vacation. The High Street has many of the usual shops, and the road off the main shopping street has some delightful independent shops. The main supermarkets are located in the retail parks on the outskirts of town and Duloch park, which is just outside Dunfermline and is reachable by bus from the town's main bus station, has a multi screen cinema, bowling alley, restaurants, crazy golf and a large gym and spa. The town is popular with locals who enjoy the shops and cafes and tourists love to visit the historical sites which are some of the most important in the country. With so many things to do in Dunfermline it's a lovely town to use as a base while you explore the country.
Things to do in Dunfermline
Undoubtably one of the most popular things to do in Dunfermline. We can date Dunfermline Abbey back to 1070 when King Malcolm III married Queen Margaret. She loved it so much she brought in Benedictine monks from Canterbury to set up a religious community. Her son turned the church into a rather more grand abbey after 1128. You can still see the original nape here when you visited, the attached Abbey Church, which is still in use, was built in 1821. Queen Margaret later became Saint Margaret and she is buried in the grounds. Many of the buildings were destroyed uring the wars of independence and Robert the Bruce helped greatly in the rebuild and he is also buried here, minus his heart. In 1587 James VI granted the Abbey to his wife, Queen Anne of Denmark who's son, Charles , was born here. The Abbey and the remains of the palace are today looked after by Historic Scotland and they are well worth a visit.