A discovery walk at St. Annes

This week’s Monday walk features a place I was never aware of until someone at work told me about it just a few days ago. Yesterday was the first of Michael’s days off work and though the morning started off rather dull it had brightened up considerably by early lunchtime so we decided to drive over to the coast for a mooch and a meal. Leaving the van in the car park of our usual cafe at St. Annes we went for a coffee first then Michael went off to mooch round on his own while I took Sophie and Poppie on my discovery walk.
Ashton Gardens are located just a couple of streets behind the promenade and right on the edge of the town centre. Originally a rectangular plot of land the gardens were established in 1874 by the Land and Building Company and were named St. Georges Gardens ; they remained unchanged until 1914 when Lord Ashton gave a donation to acquire the gardens and an adjacent strip of land for the people of St. Annes. Later that year the council ran a competition to redesign the gardens, it was won by a local man and the gardens were redesigned to incorporate a greater diversity of spaces, although the original undulating nature of the land was retained. Renamed Ashton Gardens in honour of Lord Ashton they were formally opened on July 1st 1916 ; in 2010 a major refurbishment was undertaken thanks to a grant of almost Β£1.5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund plus additional funding from other sources.
My walk started at the main entrance closest to the town centre and right from the start I found something to photograph. Turning right just inside the gates a short path and a few stone steps took me down to a couple of bowling greens where various games of bowls were in progress, then beyond the second green and down a few more steps I came to what appeared to be a rose garden. Although nothing was actually in flower I can imagine it would be really lovely when everything is blooming.
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St. Georges Road entrance and Pavilion Cafe
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The rose garden
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Beyond the rose garden, and lying in undulating ground, were two ponds connected by a narrow meandering waterway which was crossed at various points by stepping stones and a hump-back bridge, and sitting on top of a small island of rocks in the middle of the smaller pond was a young seagull who obligingly stayed put while I took his photo. Even with the still-bare trees this place was delightful and I got far too many photos to put them all on here.
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Back towards the centre of the park was a circular sunken garden, and though some of the flower beds were still bare or very sparsely planted the others were full of deep purple hyacinths which gave off the most gorgeous perfume. In the centre of the wide main pathway was the war memorial – and it was so impressive and so movingly detailed that it really deservesΒ a post of its own. At the end of the pathway I came to the second main entrance with its fancy double gates and with a final shot of the modern crest set in one of the gates I left Ashton Gardens and made my way to meet Michael back at the cafe.
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The sunken garden
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Sunken garden, pavilion cafe and war memorial
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Looking up the main path from the gates
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Across the road from the entrance to the gardens some building work was in progress on a large corner plot ; according to the hoarding all round it the new building was going to be an apart-hotel and pictures showed some of the intended facilities. I couldn’t tell if the place will be dog friendly but one of the pictures showed an adorable little dog snuggled in some bedding – it reminded me very much of a little dog I once looked after on a regular basis, and it looked so cute I just had to get a photo of it.
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Back on the sea front I made my way through the promenade gardens and round by the beach huts to the cafe where Michael was waiting for me at an outside table. Of course no visit to St. Annes would be complete without a walk on the beach so once we’d had our meal we took a short walk along the sand before returning to the van and making our way back home.
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The promenade gardens
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The new ‘Splash’ water play area made from the old model boating pond
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It had been a lovely afternoon out and I’d been very impressed with Ashton Gardens ; I was really glad the guy at work had told me about the place as otherwise I wouldn’t have known about it, but now I doΒ  know I’ll make sure to pay a return visit for some more photos when the leaves are on the trees and hopefully the flower beds will be planted up. And if anyone reading this is ever in that area then do go and have a look round, it’s a lovely little place.
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14 thoughts on “A discovery walk at St. Annes

  1. Lovely gardens, they’ll be spectacular when the flowers are in bloom and leaves on the trees. That’s a lovely memorial bench although I can’t read the inscription. Lovely that you were able to walk on the beach. I imagine there’ll be dog restrictions in place very soon, start of May is usual.

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  2. The wording incorporated in the top of the memorial bench reads ‘Lest we forget’ and the little plaque at the bottom just says that the bench was given by Fylde Borough Council last year on the 100-year anniversary of the end of WW1. The gardens are really lovely and will be even more so in a couple of months time so I’m looking forward to going back. The dog restrictions are on the stretches of beach either side of the pier, there are no restrictions on the part in the photo and beyond, which is near the cafe we go to, so there’s no problem taking Sophie and Poppie there during summer πŸ™‚

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  3. It looks beautiful Eunice. It’s so nice to see the beach huts in a row and Lily would just love the water play area. I wouldn’t mind a visit there myself. X

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  4. The board at the entrance to the water play area says it’s open from April but it wasn’t yesterday – maybe the council or whoever have decided that the weather isn’t quite warm enough yet. I’m sure Lily would love it if she likes playing in water. I haven’t mentioned it as it isn’t relevant to me and I didn’t go anywhere near it, but there’s a play area in Ashton Gardens with all sorts of modern equipment – I bet Lily would like that too. St. Annes on the whole is a nice place, you should pay a visit sometime when the weather’s nice πŸ™‚

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  5. It always amazes me what secret places there are in plain sight – you just need a nod and a word and a whole new place of discoveries are made!

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  6. This is quite true Kate. I don’t ‘do’ shopping so I would never normally have gone near St. Annes town centre until the guy at work told me about Ashton Gardens. I looked on Google Maps satellite view first and the place didn’t seem to be very big so I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s bigger and with more there than I first thought. I’m really looking forward to going back again once the leaves are on the trees πŸ™‚

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  7. I like the paintwork too, I love to see heavy wrought iron gates painted in bright colours instead of the usual boring black. The gardens are lovely, and far nicer than I expected them to be πŸ™‚

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  8. How lovely to be told about a secret that isn’t really a secret to the residents of St. Annes. I so enjoyed your photos and reading about your day out. Thanks & although I’m in Oz, maybe one day I’ll be able to see it. I was rather taken with the very fancy seat. Take care.

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  9. I’d only really gone to the gardens out of curiosity after being told about them and I wasn’t expecting to see much but there was more there than I thought and the place is really nice. I’ll certainly go back once the leaves are on the trees and more flowers are in bloom, it should be really lovely then πŸ™‚

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