At the weekend we took a little trip to organise one of KCs Christmas presents. While he was off being a zookeeper for the day, I had a nice quiet day to myself to potter round a couple of local sites. I spotted the brown tourist signs for Furness Abbey and I always relish the opportunity to make the most of my English Heritage membership so off I headed.
(And I made it all the way there following the signs instead of the satnav, which I think is the first time ever, so brownie points for me!)
Unfortunately we picked a pretty terrible weekend for adventuring in the great outdoors as it more or less threw it down for the duration of our trip, but such are the perils of holidaying in the North of England!
In addition to having the weather to contend with, I turned up to the Abbey pretty late into the day. The last admission is 30 minutes before the site closes and I made it by three minutes, so I didn't have a whole lot of time to look around!
So unfortunately time constraints meant I didn't get chance to look round the on-site museum in the visitors centre, but there's a permanent exhibition of effigies and stone carvings as well as other items found around the Abbey, which I imagine would be well worth a peek if you have time.
Though, the best thing to so do at sites like this (if time and the weather aren't against you) is to settle down with a well-packed picnic, and enjoy the scenery and the peace and quiet!
Furness Abbey dates back to 1123, and was once one of the most powerful Cistercian Abbeys in the country, second only to North Yorkshire's Fountains Abbey. I have a real soft spot for Fountains Abbey, as I did a GCSE project on it many a year ago and we had an awesome school trip out there.
It's hard to compare the two as places to visit - not only was one a long day out with friends in the sun and the other was me running round in the rain by myself for twenty minutes, but one of them was not far off 20 years ago!
One thing that definitely differentiates the two is the striking red colour of Furness Abbey. I asked the nice English Heritage lady about it on the way out and she explained that the it was built out of local red sandstone, which can be found in a number of similar sites along the Cumbrian coast. I'd not really seen anything quite like it before and it's really quite spectacular!
Though this was a flying visit, I'm glad I managed to fit Furness Abbey into my schedule. It's a really pretty little spot, and definitely think it'd make a great visit in good weather!
I'm definitely hoping to get back up in the area when it warms up a little (our Travelodge was a whopping £26, so if I can get that sort of price again there's really no reason not to!) and I'm looking forward to seeing how that red stone brightens up when the sun is on it!
Do please let me know if you have any other recommendations for places to visit!