Holidays closer to home have become the norm in our new Covid-19 world. Jenny Amphlett discovers that you need go no further than a couple of counties to completely get away from things
The moon landings were 200,000 miles away, but there’s a strong link just a couple of hours up the M6.
It was one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, and it’s just a handful of junctions along the motorway to a place with serious connections to that momentous occasion.
On July 20, 1969 the planet’s population looked skywards as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon.
More than 200,000 miles away, back on Earth, their mission was being unofficially monitored and recorded by telescopes close to our neck of the woods.
Jodrell Bank Observatory was keeping a close eye on the Russian and American space race and monitoring signals from both lunar missions.
Signals intercepted at Jodrell Bank, now a World Heritage Site, caught the moment the astronauts touched down on the surface.
I’ve seen endless images of the vast Lovell Telescope but I’d never been to Jodrell Bank before.
The sheer size and scale of it takes your breath away in person. We watched engineers who looked like Lego Minifigures ascend in a lift and then walk around the structure, like something from a science fiction film.
Our knowledge of astrophysics extends little further than watching too many episodes of The Big Bang Theory, but you don’t need to be an expert to enjoy a visit to the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre.
There are lots of interactive exhibits. My young daughter’s imagination was captured by rolling balls into a black hole and sending messages via the outdoor whispering dishes.
Admission is £8.50 for adults, £7.50 for concessions, £6.50 for children and free for under-4s, with various family tickets available, making it cheaper than a visit to the cinema.
It’s so close to home that a visit to Jodrell Bank combined with time in one of the woodlands or rural beauty spots around Cheshire makes for a well-rounded day out or short break, with just a short drive back home afterwards.
Lyme Park, at Disley, is an ideal choice for a stroll after a visit to Jodrell Bank.
Garden-only admission to Lyme Park is from £8 for adults and £4 for children, with group and family offers available.
However we headed to Tatton Park, at Knutsford, and discovered that rather than an add-on to a daytrip it was a day out in itself.
Our first port of call was the rare breeds farm where we were able to pet and coo over donkeys, goats, reindeer and freshly hatched chicks.
We watched piglets causing mayhem while mummy pig closed her eyes in a mud bath just out of their reach.
From the farm it was onto the mansion house, which held my young daughter’s attention much better than I had anticipated. Remember to ask for a trail sheet for any little guests to fill in.
We paid a few extra pounds to ride on the old fashioned carousel in the stableyard and to ride the land train between the adventure playground and farm, which both felt well worth the price.
On another visit we’d hire bikes, which are available from around £5 per hour.
If you have the time to explore, the 50 acres of gardens at Tatton and stunning. You’ll find yourself constantly whipping your phone out for just another photo.
At Tatton you can buy a discounted admission pass for all three attractions but then use the tickets on different days. Combined tickets are £13 for adults, £7 for children or £33 for a family which could potentially offer you three separate days out.
It was close enough to drive home, but instead we headed for dinner at Cottons Hotel in Knutsford. It’s a four star hotel that’s smart but family friendly.
Cottons has a child-friendly spa which is well worth a visit with your little people if you’re in the area, and not just for the mini robes with ‘V I Little P’ embroidered on the back. We spent a happy few hours in the pool, whirlpool, sauna and steam room.
You don’t have to travel far to enjoy a break. Sometimes the perfect day out or short break might be right on your doorstep the whole time.
For more information on the places mentioned in the article visit:
Cheshire: Where Science Meets Nature, www.visitcheshire.com/science-meets-nature
Cottons Hotel, 01565 650333, www.cottonshotel.co.uk
Jodrell Bank, 01477 571766, www.jodrellbank.net
Tatton Park, 01625 374400, www.tattonpark.org.uk
Lyme, 01663 762023, www.nationaltrust.org.uk