IT starts 70 miles away in the green rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales.
The origins may be small, but by the time the River Ribble flows into the Irish Sea it’s a very different beast.
Along its later stages it runs through some of Lancashire’s prettiest countryside and we’re hugging the estuary as part of our exploration.
Ribble Estuary National Nature Reserve is a wildlife haven and the most important site in the UK for wintering wildfowl.
It occupies around half the estuary and supports more than a quarter of a million ducks, geese, swans and wading birds.
There is a lot to see throughout the year, but at the RSPB Ribble Discovery Centre we learn autumn and winter are the best times.
The Centre is situated at Fairhaven Marine Lake and Gardens, a popular visitor attraction since the 1920s, just behind the promenade and overlooking the Irish Sea and the estuary.
With the tide out, the mud flats glisten in the sun and are teeming with birds.
Just a few miles away is St Anne’s famous old pier and with the tide still out it was great to stretch our legs with a walk along the sands.
But there’s much of man-made interest, too.
Not far away we find Lytham Hall, described as Lancashire’s finest Georgian House. The exterior is in need of a bit of TLC, but efforts are slowly under way to restore it to its former glories.
It’d be great to see its grand past brought to life, and the 78 acres of Grade 2 registered Historic Parkland were a great place to lose ourselves for a couple of hours.
We’re actually staying at another Hall, Ribby Hall, which is Lancashire’s only 5-star holiday village.
Set in 100 acres, there’s a mix of smart cottages and permanent caravans.
It has a choice of dining options from a super-tasty tapas eatery to a more formal restaurant.
There’s also a family pool with slides and splash zones to keep the kids amused. And at the top of the site is a spa with a lovely casual restaurant, sure to appeal to adults looking for a bit of pampering.
We’re in one of the classy cottages which is fitted out beautifully and had everything we could possibly want from a home-from-home base.
Ribby Hall is just along the road from Wrea Green, as picture-postcard pretty a village as you could imagine.
The Green’s in the middle, complete with duck pond surrounded by thatched cottages, a church, old primary school and a really nice pub, the Grapes.
But take a tip and ensure you book ahead even on a weekday evening as it’s obviously really popular. And also look online for some great discounts and offers including free starters or desserts with mains.
Of course, no visit to this neck of the woods would be complete without a visit to Blackpool only 20 minutes away.
But we’re still on a bit of a nature kick so the Sea Life, Centre right on the front, gets our attention.
It doesn’t have an outdoor area such as at the centre in Scarborough, but it’s still a very enjoyable experience, especially the tunnel where you can watch sharks and rays swim directly over your head.
Virtually next door we couldn’t resist a look at Madame Tussauds.
It’s one of the big draws and it certainly has an all-ages appeal.
Oldies might prefer to become a fifth member of the Beatles in the recreation of their famous Abbey Road zebra crossing cover or let loose beside the flamboyant Freddie Mercury.
But youngsters are more likely to want to take to the stage with Ed Sheeran. There are loads of TV favourites old and new, and you can have a drink in one of the newer attractions, a recreation of the Rovers Return.
Youngsters will doubtless be tempted at having their own waxwork souvenir, a cast of your hand created in minutes.
Both Sea Life and Tussauds are on the fantastic value Big Ticket Pass, which will also get you access to the Tower Eye, Ballroom, Dungeon, Jungle Jim’s and Circus.
Holidays at Ribby Hall Village start from £399 for a three-night weekend stay. Summer holiday stays are from £629 for a family of six sharing a three-bedroom self-catering cottage based on a three-night stay during June and July.
For further information or to book visitribbyhall.co.uk or call 0800 107 0336.
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