Sleepy villages and hiking terrain may lure the city-slicker seeking a slice of tranquility, yet the North West county of Lancashire serves up far more than the postcard perfect idyll for a weekend getaway. Fascinating historical ruins scatter the countrysides - all that remains of the several hundred year presence of Cistercian monks. Eccentric Preston museums showcase bizarre modernist artwork, alongside toys which have defined the 20th Century. Bizarre walking trails lead to picturesque towns such as Carnforth and Warton, which hide secret links with George Washington and the movie 'Brief Encounter'. Avid movie fan or aching for some morsel of fascinating history - the verdant county of Lancashire promises a wealth of surprises. For a holiday rentals in Lancashire.
Sawley Abbey, Clitheroe
Nestled on the River Ribble at Sawley (historically an area of West Yorkshire) the remnants of a behemoth abbey lie like slate grey tombstones in the shadows of the hills. Dark yet unassuming, the semi carcass of a Northern tower is the only aesthetic hint at what these ruins once might have been, but the place is far from a dead ruin. In fact, it's one of the few places left in England where the full force of Henry VIII's dissolution of the Church may still be seen. Founded in 1148, Sawley Abbey was the dwelling and worship place of Cistercian monks until 1536, when the entire building was demolished under orders of the King. Today, it is a National Heritage Grade I listed site and Scheduled Ancient Monument, beset within some of the most beautiful countryside Lancashire has to offer. www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/sawley-abbey
Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston
Considered the most important regional museum in Lancashire, the Harris packs in fine art, local history and an insight into print-making among it's many attractions. Roger Fenton's photographic documentary 'Crimea' sits beside the intricate Devis family landscape paintings, and Sir James Gunn's glamorous 'Pauline In The Yellow Dress'. The Costume Gallery is one of the largest public collections of 18th- 20th Century costume in the U.K, inclusive of some fifty pieces designed by the House of Horrockses. The Archaeology exhibition is also well worth a look, since it houses the infamous Poulton Elk skeleton - a relatively intact man thought to have died during the Ice Age. www.harrismuseum.org.uk
Lancaster Castle, City of Lancaster
Until March 2011, Lancaster Castle was in part a fully functioning H.M.S Prison - a role it has fulfilled since the medieval period. Famed as the place where the Pendle Witches met their untimely end; the castle has seen it's fair share of famous inmates - including George Fox, the founder of the Quaker movement. Now, the castle is fully operated by the National Trust, allowing visitors to discover the dark secrets lurking within it's dungeons and towers, as well as the former modern prison, Grand Jury Room and Assize Courtroom. http://www.lancastercastle.com/
Camelot Theme Park, Chorley
Settled within the heart of leafy Charnock Richard (near Chorley) is a magical world of knights on white steeds and mythical dragons. Camelot, that mythical kingdom of adventure and intrigue is brought to life in this, Lancashire's only theme park (save for the Blackpool Pleasure Beach.) Real jousting knights, fire-eaters and court jesters set the stage for fantasy themed days of fun for all the family, made all the more exciting by 5G rides such as 'Knightmare' and magic kingdom boat trips. www.camelotthemepark.co.uk
Which are your top Lancashire tourist attractions?