A Brief Encounter with Carnforth

Summer holidays are here, plans were to either visit Scotland or Ireland for 2 weeks of touring and cycling. Discussions on a)midges on the west coast of Scotland and b) the costs of ferries to Ireland resulted in a change of plan at the last minute so now its destination North England and visit some of the places we usually drive through on our routes further North.  We are aiming to see a fair bit of Yorkshire and the North East coast and hopefully find  good cycling on some of the disused former railway lines into York.

We left home yesterday in the first rain we had seen for a while, not a good start to a summer holiday, but by the time we were North of Liverpool on the M6 the sun was starting to break through as by early afternoon we were at our first campsite. Laverick Hall CL, 3 miles off the M6 inland from Carnforth. An absolute stunner of a site, just ten pitches well spaced out and views to the left over Morecambe and to the right over Morecambe Bay to the Lake District.  Despite  being able to see the motorway from the site there is no noise at all, the odd car goes up or down the lane but other than that its perfectly peaceful.

So when in Carnforth there is only to thing to do and that is to visit the station where a Brief Encounter was filmed. We walked down to the town from the campsite this morning, about 4 miles but all on quiet country lanes with the exception of the bridge crossing the motorway. We fully expected some sort of visitor centre at the station and to be charged accordingly. We were therefore really surprised to find the Heritage Centre on the platform was totally free. First stop was coffee and cakes at the Brief Encounter Refreshment rooms on the platform, where several scenes in the film were shot.  Beautifully restored 10 years ago to its 1940’s glory the only thing missing was Alec and Laura being sat at one of the tables. There is even a bakery on the station, worth a visit for the Refreshment Rooms alone, one of the best cafes we have visited for a long time.

Behind the cafe there are several exhibition rooms relating to Carnforth in the War and of course to Brief Encounter. The film is played in a small cinema on a continuous loop (again free to enter) and there is more train buff memorabilia than you could shake a stick at. Last but not least of course is the station clock, a must have photo. The souvenir shops sold everything Brief Encounter from tea towels to sticks of rock and postcards. We were going to buy the film but it was double the cost than in a supermarket so we stuck with our usual souvenir of a fridge magnet.

This has to be one of the best free visits we have found and we spent a good couple of hours wandering around before heading back (4 miles up hill) to the campsite. Our plan now is to head into Yorkshire tomorrow and continue our train theme with a visit to the Ribblehead Viaduct.

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