I am fortunate to live in an amazing part of the UK, which is full of beautiful places which most people won’t even know exist. So when I was asked to contribute to LOOK’s Interactive Map, which aims to unearth all the UK’s hidden gems, I thought I would share with you in more detail what my favourite place in the UK is and why I think you should visit it.
When I was a little girl, I was a bit of a book worm. Well, to be perfectly honest with you, I think anyone that grew up in my generation of the early 80’s would refer to themselves as bookworms, because I am talking about a time when there was just 4 channels and video games, although entertaining, weren’t very much to scream and shout about. I lived to read, especially on those rainy days that were oh so common.
Of all the books I read during my childhood though, the one that really became my favourite and that I would return to on more than one occasion was Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland and the follow-up book Through The Looking-Glass And What Alice Found There. So I was really excited when, as an adult, I discovered that there was a memorial built in honour of the great man close to where I live in the small village of Daresbury in Cheshire.
I was fortunate enough to check it out with my lovely boyfriend Mike and I would thoroughly recommend it as a lovely little day out. From the point of view of a Lewis Carroll fan, the things you need to visit while in Daresbury is the site of his birth place, the Lewis Carroll Centenary Wood and the Lewis Carroll Centre at All Saints Church. It is probably a good idea to look at it a whole day thing, as we did, as there is a good bit of walking involved and you will want to spend enough time at each place.
We started by driving the car and parking up the NT Lewis Carroll Birthplace Site and Centenary Wood car park and had a good look around there. The house that Carroll was brought up in until he was 11 was destroyed by a fire over 100 years ago, but you can still see the foundations of his first family home in bricks. There is a series of interpretive displays and a commemorative stone that are interesting to look at, along with the metal arch that stands there as a look into the past at the original archway to the house. The well was interesting as it has a dormouse etched beautifully into metal. For me it was like stepping back in past, as much of the surrounding area has apparently not changed much since Carroll’s day.
There are spaces where you can have a picnic, but as we were planning to end our time here with a trip to the pub near the Lewis Carroll Centre, we made our way over there. The walk between the birthplace site and the brand new Lewis Carroll Centre is about 2.3 miles in length and takes around 45 minutes to walk. Although the walk might seem long to many people, it was fine for us – but we do love walking a lot and you do get to see some nice scenery and echoes of what England used to be like hundreds of years ago.
The Lewis Carroll Centre is joined on to the All Saints Church, which is the village’s parish church that Lewis Carroll’s father used to be a priest at. There is so much to enjoy at the centre, it is actually unbelievable. It was a dream come true for me, as a Carroll fan, because we got to learn about the author’s young life and the time he spent in Daresbury and there is also a volunteer guide that takes you on a tour of the church, which has the highlight of seeing the stained glass window that was created in honour of Carroll and features lots of references to Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland.
After spending a good while browsing both the centre and the church we were both very hungry and headed round to the nearby Ring o’ Bells Pub for a nice lunch and a cheeky little drink. I was driving so I just had a lager and lime, but Mike had a refreshing pint of Guinness. The food was delicious – just what you would expect from a good English pub.
We had heard that the Daresbury Dairy did fabulous ice cream, so on the way back to the car after we had finished our fish and chip lunches, we stopped there for dessert. It was the perfect way to round off a great little day.