An extremely entertaining and informative tour of Liverpool city centre and the Albert Dock afloat in a former D-Day landing craft. Liverpool friendliness and humour in abundance!
32 Anchor Courtyard, Albert Dock, Liverpool L3 4AS
It's a walk about the perimeters of Exeter, through lovely parks, university grounds, past rivers and canals with lots of variety for young and old. You will pass plenty of play areas for your children and to have a rest. Pubs and restaurants are never far away. It is a long walk (12 miles) but easily achievable in a full day and if you have enough there are plenty of buses to take you back because although you are mostly walking through nature you are never far away from civilization. I did this walk when my kids were nine and 10 and they still talk about it.
The Norwich ghost walks are held on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at 7.30 and hosted by the mysterious Man in Black. He leads you past the historic landmarks, such as the castle and cathedral, telling you the stories of ghosts and ghouls who haunt the city. There are also a few surprises along the way ...
Walks start at the Adam and Eve pub, Bishopgate, near Norwich cathedral. There is a pay and display car park.
17 Bishopgate, Norwich NR3 1RZ
Google map: bit.ly/nMe9MZ
I like to take visiting friends on a walk through a cluster of modern university buildings, just outside the main city area of Cambridge. From West Road university library through to Sedgewick Street. Many interesting buildings. Faculty of Divinity by Ted Cullinun, Faculty of Law by Foster, Faculty of Music by Lewlie Martin, Faculty of History by Stirling, Faculty of English by Allies and Morrison.
Walk down Garret Hostel Lane from Trinity Street in the centre of Cambridge. Cross over the river and cross Queens Street at the lights. Continue up the footpath until you reach the university library. Walk across the front of the university and continue on a straight path through the buildings, until you reach Sedgewick Street and then turn left back into the town for pubs and cafes.
Google map: bit.ly/q1u0x5
Castle Rock’s smaller sibling is Calton Hill, a grassy spot some 450ft above sea level at the east end of Princes Street. It is from this spot that every postcard shot of the city has been taken, so take a wander up and take in the view for yourself.
Explore the strange structures at the top – including the locally named ‘Edinburgh’s disgrace’ – an overambitious attempt to replicate the Parthenon in the ‘Athen’s of the North.’
Take a picnic and take this short walk to one of the finest views of Princes Street, the Castle and beyond.
Google map: bit.ly/qNhCjl
You might think there's nothing more to Lucas Gardens than an elegant, Zen-like, ornamental garden and a few straggly weeds. However, venture into the Victorian park, past the strategically-arranged boulders and you'll discover that Lucas Gardens stretches back as far as the eye can see. It contains vast areas of grassland, where locals spread out and sunbathe, kick a football about or have a picnic, and finishes up in an elaborate children's playground. All that's missing is a ping pong table, so come on Boris, where are you with your Wiff-Waff project?!
Peckham Road, Camberwell, SE5
Buses: 12, 36, 171, 436 to Southwark Town Hall
Google map: bit.ly/nLjSgd
Gorgeous food on a mouthwatering menu: no wonder it's heaving at lunchtime. I choose the earlier breakfast with the divine eggs benedict, a huge variety of breakfasts, including the Full English, Veggie and Turkish (hash browns, halloumi, olives - yum), omelettes and sandwiches. For lunch, visitors are also spoiled for choice with spag bol, curries, burgers, panini, jacket potatoes and salads. This is all washed down with smoothies, drinking yoghurts and great coffees. Get in early to get a seat in this lovely bistro/cafe, with its foliage and scrubbed wooden tables.
Love Walk Cafe & Deli
81 Denmark Hill, London SE5 8RS
+44 207 703 9898
Open Mon-Fri 07.00-19.00, Sat 08.00-19.00, Sun 09.00-19.00
Overground to Denmark Hill, bus 35, 45, 68, 468
Google map: bit.ly/pdCHli
Penrith leisure centre is only five minutes off the M6, and a great break point if you're driving from Bristol to Scotland. After you've passed the wonders of Manchester, get out, throw the children and yourself in the pool, and return refreshed to the road.
Southend Road, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 8JH
Google map: bit.ly/nq29DU
Come off the M6 at junction 35. Morecambe is just a wonderful place for a stop off, and only a few miles from the motorway. Park anywhere along Marine Road, and take a bracing, and hopefully sunny walk along the sea front. If you're there late afternoon, the light can be glorious and taking photos of the sands, the boats with the Cumbrian hills over the bay is just a dream. Finish off with a cup of tea and scone at Eric's Cafe on Marine Road, which is just behind the delightful statue of Eric himself.
Eric's Cafe: 245 Marine Road Central, Morecambe LA4 4BJ
+44(0)1524 412 051
Google map: bit.ly/oKuoyX
This is how motorway service stations ought to be. Banish the garish signs, 60s concrete structures and ubiquitous fast food 'restaurants' and replace them with attractive log cabin buildings overlooking fields and a duck pond. Tebay service station has been around for a while but strangely the concept doesn't seem to have caught on in many other places. Family-run by farmers who sold land for the M6 construction, but who wisely retained the bordering land to develop at a later date. It offers a beautiful cafe with views away from the traffic, a home-made ice cream bar, a farm shop and a butchers counter and free wifi. And it's one of the few retailers I've found who stock V Pud - a vegetarian black pudding - so any family members visiting my nephew at university in Glasgow are not allowed to drive home without stopping off to pick some up for me.
The food is lovely, the views are amazing - perfect stop off when travelling through this part of the country. We've stopped here four times in the last four years when travelling from Scotland back into England, each time the food was fantastic. Local seasonal produce at reasonable prices.
Last year stopping here possibly saved our lives, after our annual trip to 'T in the Park', we stopped for lunch on our way back to Lincolnshire, a 'regular' noticed a bald tyre on our car and pointed it out to us - we visited a local garage who advised us the tyre would have blown at any time. We returned this year to the Manor Inn and enjoyed another lovely meal and bought our guardian angel a drink as a thank you for stopping us driving off last year with the bald tyre.
This is a service stop in Cumbria, on the edge of the lake district. However it serves lovely food overlooking a lake and fountain which is home to many birds and wildfowl. It also sells local farm produce, handmade cakes, local beers etc to take away.
If you usually avoid motorway service stations, you would probably drive past this one. Don't! It does not look much when you arrive but appearances are deceptive. Pop in, grab a cuppa and head out the back to the terrace. Suddenly, you are in the borders! Soft, rolling hills and a beautiful lake bathe your road-sore eyes. You can sit on the deck and just take it all in, or go for a walk around the lake and have a picnic. The kids can play, the dog can run around - everyone's happy!
On the M74 between Carlisle and Glasgow (on junction 16): DG11 1HD
Google map: bit.ly/q8xiCi
Probably the most surreal motorway stop off in the UK. The Llama Karma Cafe is a bistro cafe with a varied selection of food which you can enjoy amongst real live llamas! You can enjoy a coffee while being watched by llamas through large glass windows. There are walking tours with the llamas should you wish to stretch your legs a little further. A deli, the 'deli llama' and gift shop for that essential llama cuddly toy. Definitely a memorable stop off.
Just off the M6 at junction 40.
Few of the visitors who flock to Greenwich ever set foot in neighbouring Deptford despite the fact that it too has a bustling market, historic buildings and an interesting maritime past. A good way to explore all this and more is on a new walking tour which uses information from Charles Booth’s famous study of poverty in Victorian London as the basis for an examination of how Deptford has changed over the centuries. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, the walk is a great introduction to Deptford’s ethnically diverse high street, fascinating past and award winning modern architecture. I live nearby but still learned a lot when I went on the walk recently. It is led by Sean, an actor and historian, who not only knows his stuff but can present it very well and also includes a visit to the area’s best pub. It's good value too at £10 for a three hour walk.
This walk takes advantage of some of the transport routes used during our more industrial past.
Start from the Festival Park retail and leisure complex, site of the 1980s Garden Festival, and where Josiah Wedgwood's Etruria Hall is now part of the Moat House hotel. Join the towpath of the Trent and Mersey canal and walk north through the site of the former Shelton Bar steelworks and passing some fine examples of the traditional Bottle Kilns used by the pottery industry to Westport Lake.
From here it is a short walk to Burslem, the most attractive of the six towns which make up "The Potteries" and setting for the best of Arnold Bennett's novels. There are several good pubs here for a refreshment stop. From here you can join the greenway which follows the former "Loop Line" railway back towards your starting point.
The Moat House Hotel - a good starting point for the walk:
Moat House, Etruria Hall, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, ST1 5BQ
+44(0)8457 76 76 76
Google map: bit.ly/rpkp6L
Arnold Bennett's Burslem:
Wolseley Bridge, Stafford, ST17 0WT
Google map: bit.ly/qePOvu
An oasis of karm (sorry!) just a mile from junction 40 of the M6. The Llama Karma Kafe offer tasty home cooked food and great coffee in their light, airy bistro (caters for vegans and gluten free). They also run excellent llama treks through the beautiful surrounding countryside. We stopped for a mid-trek picnic near a pretty church with our new found friends. Don't forget your panpipes from the gift shop on your way out!
Brockholes is brilliant! Just off junction 31 of the M6, it is a 107 hectare wetland and woodland reserve, created on the site of an old quarry by Lancashire Wildlife Trust, and an excellent motorway stop-off. The revolutionary visitors' centre opened earlier this year, and is built to the highest environmental standards (it is one of a very small number of buildings to be rated 'Outstanding' by the Building Research Establishment). It floats on a 4,000 tonne pontoon in one of the lakes, and houses a really good cafe, a farm shop, and information centre. You have to pay for parking (from £1 for an hour), but it is for a good cause, and worth it for the views from the restaurant alone. But if you have time, take a walk (guided or otherwise) by the lovely river Ribble, or do a bit of bird-spotting from the purpose-built hides.
The Water of Leith is Edinburgh's secret river, winding a 12 mile path from the outer suburb of Balerno right through the heart of the City until it emerges near the docked Royal Yacht Britannia. If you pick up the trail behind the National Gallery of Modern Art then the last few miles are enlivened by spotting five life-sized Anthony Gormley figures who stand in the river bed.
Well signposted nearby, easiest found behind the National Gallery of Modern Art
24 Lanark Road, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH14 1TQ
+44(0)131 455 7367
Google map: bit.ly/p2NMgS
I have hesitated to tell the Guardian readership about Cafe Ariete in Moffat as it can be hard enough to find a table on some busy Saturday mornings already. However, it is the best stop-off on a UK motorway, so it had to be done. Cafe Ariete is a slice of Scottish-Italiano in the charming little town of Moffat; a perfect distance from the north-west for a stop-off. My current favourite choice for my second breakfast of the day is a scrambled egg roll with crispy onions and a tall glass of hot Vimto, garnished with a slice of fruit, but you may prefer the excellent coffees. Before eating, we call in at the paper shop next door to buy our Guardian and after eating we walk around the square window shopping, stopping to buy melt-in-the mouth Scottish Pancakes from the bakery for later. If walking around the pretty, bustling square isn't enough for you, then there is a pleasant two km circular walk along the river Annan to walk off the second breakfast. Really, Moffat deserves a page all to itself, but this will give you a flavour of this Scottish gem.
For gentle walks around Moffat check out:
The site also has information on longer walks and the Moffat Walking Festival in September.
The home page will take you to all the useful information about Moffat you need.
10 High Street, Moffat, Dumfriesshire DG10 9HF
+44(0)1683 220 313
Google map: bit.ly/osyE4V
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