Recorded in the Domesday book as ‘Lancastre’ (meaning ‘Roman fort on the River Lune’), the county town of Lancashire has a long and varied history. The 11th-century Norman castle was built as a defence against the Scots, but it is perhaps most famous for its dark past as a place of persecution and punishment. As home to the oldest working courtroom in Britain – where more death sentences were passed than anywhere in the country – it earned Lancaster the grim nickname of ‘hanging town’. It was here that the infamous Pendle witches were put on trial in 1612. Enter at your own peril.
Visit: take a turn around Williamson Park, where you’ll find the grand Ashton Memorial, built in the early 1900s. For unparalleled views of the Lune, head to the 18th-century aqueduct, and when your feet get tired from walking, see the city from two wheels via the Way of the Roses cycle route, which passes right through (visitlancashire.com).