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Things to do in Carnforth, Lancashire

Morecambe Bay - long exposure showing coastal erosion.
Morecambe Bay - long exposure showing coastal erosion. © Nicholas - stock.adobe.com

Situated just off the M6 and 20 miles south of the scenic Lake District, Carnforth is the sort of place that everyone has heard of but few have bothered to stop and discover this hidden gem.

Situated at the north end of Morecambe Bay, north of the historic town of Lancaster, 15 miles from the winding lanes of the Yorkshire Dales and a hop and a skip from the Lake District, it is close to absolutely everywhere!

Leighton Hall
Leighton Hall © John Darch [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Carnforth's main claim to fame is that the railway station was used in the classic film Brief Encounter.

Present Day Carnforth

Carnforth Station Old Signal Box
Old Signal Box © Alan Longbottom [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Carnforth has a population of just over 5,300 residents and grew up around the junction of three major railways.

The West Coast Main Line still passes through the town along with the old A6 and the Lancaster Canal.

The town supports three primary schools and Carnforth High School. It has a good cross section of local shops and a small public library.

Leighton Moss, Lancashire
Leighton Moss, Lancashire © Kevin Eaves - stock.adobe.com

The pleasant area just north of Carnforth has tidal sands bordering the huge expanse of Morecambe Bay.

It offers plenty of pleasant walks and opportunity to see local birds and wildlife in this unspoilt area of Lancashire.

Things to do in Carnforth

The main attraction in Carnforth is the award-winning Station and Visitor Centre, which became a popular attraction after the success of the 1945 film, Brief Encounter.

Carnforth Railway Station
Railway Station © Alex Liivet via Flickr

This romantic classic starred Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard and the Visitor Centre is a recreation of the original station cafeteria where the two main characters supposedly met.

It is still a popular place for enjoying afternoon tea and light refreshments.

The adjoining Heritage Centre gives an interesting account of Carnforth's history along with the background of the making of the film.

Carnforth War Memorial and Fire Station
War Memorial and Fire Station © Karl and Ali [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Neighbouring Wharton Village is within easy walking distance from Carnforth to see the ruined remains of the 14th century Warton Old Rectory, once the local manor house, and the lovely St Oswald's Church.

Leighton Hall estate with its historic Gothic mansion and gardens is just 2.5 miles away. Still the home of the Gillow family, it is beautifully furnished and offers guided tours.There are nature trails around the grounds and a gift shop.

Bird hide, Leighton Moss RSPB
Bird hide, Leighton Moss RSPB © Kevin Eaves - stock.adobe.com

The RSPB Leighton Moss Nature Reserve has constructed hides overlooking the marshes for visitors to spot many rare species which breed in the reedbeds, along with deer and plenty of butterflies.

Other local attractions are the swimming pool and leisure centre at Capernwray and Greenlands Farm Village for crafts, local produce, a play area, café and a garden centre.

Carnforth Station
Railway Station © Tom Pennington [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The tiny Heron Theatre at neighbouring Beetham also appreciates local support for its fortnightly program of plays and musicals in the former 18th century Grammar School.

Famous residents associated with Carnforth include Conservative Party politician Cecil Parkinson who was born in the village and later became Baron Parkinson of Carnforth.

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