Lancashire

A Guide to Chorley, Lancashire 

With a centuries-old market, trans-Atlantic links, historic halls, beautiful countryside and a fictional radio station that found far-reaching fame, the market town of Chorley is full of surprises. It also has great cakes… More incentive needed? We think not.

An historic market town in Lancashire, North West England, Chorley is all about historical, culinary and outdoorsy exploration. Surrounded by hummocky countryside and encapsulating bustling streets, it provides the perfect playground for all kinds of multi-generational activities that will unite the whole family. Whether you’re visiting for a short break or long holiday, read on for our go-to guide of Chorley, filled with all the best things to see, activities to do and places to go. 

History

An aerial view of Liverpool Castle in Rivington near Chorley next to the water and surrounded by trees

The Lancashire town of Chorley has a long history that belies its modern veneer. All around the town are ancient throwbacks, with the area even home to Northern Britain’s largest man-made mound. Also known as a ‘tumulus’, the Round Loaf on Anglezarke Moor is believed to have been a burial mound and dates from 3500BC. Bronze Age burial urns have also been found in the area, though it wasn’t actually until the Middle Ages that a community decided to make Chorley a permanent home. Derived from the Anglo-Saxon words for "the peasants' clearing", the town was firmly planted in the history books.

The Mayflower

Chorley is known for its surprising links to America, thanks to the involvement of Myles Standish in the Mayflower pilgrimage to the New World in 1620. Born and bred in Chorley, Standish was hired as a military advisor to support the Pilgrims on their famous journey to freedom across the Atlantic. He was elected as the colony’s first commander and stayed in an advisory capacity long after he stepped down. So reviled was he that America’s third largest monument dedicated to an individual was built in his honour, reaching 116 feet tall.

The Old Grammar School in Chorley, one of the town's attractive old buildings

Shopping

Hosting some of the best markets in Lancashire, Chorley is naturally a popular choice amongst shoppers. Dating back to the late 1400s, its markets are held on various days – with a covered market open 5 days a week, a popular Tuesday market each week, and a food and craft market on the second Saturday of every month. On busy days, the markets can feature over 150 stalls and sell a wide range of local products and produce. For high street shopping, you can also wend your way through the town centre and peruse the independent shops and commercial outlets, or head over to Heskin Hall shopping village for the full retail experience. 

Places to Eat

Carrots at a food stall in Chorley, one of Chorley's famous food markets that take place each week

From traditional pubs like the Malthouse Farm and the Hinds Head to modern restaurants like Encore Chorley and the Cosmopolitan, there is an abundance of great places to eat and drink in Chorley. Travel the world through your taste buds in this little Lancashire town or try local favourites for an authentic experience. If you feel particularly inspired, you can also pick up some local goodies from one of Chorley’s famous markets and cook up a feast in your home-from-home. Either way, just make sure you leave room for a dollop of ice cream from Frederick’s Ice Cream Parlour (there’s over 100 flavours to choose from) or a delicious circle of Chorley Cake (a traditional, fruit-filled pastry cakes originating from the town).

Attractions

One of the top attractions in Chorley is Astley Hall, an historic, Grade I-listed country house and coach house nestled within the grounds of Astley Park. Home to a superb museum, gallery, café and wine and spirits shop, not to mention sprawling parkland with historic woodland and Victorian gardens, it has everything you could need and more to fill a whole day. A 6-mile drive from Chorley, Hoghton Tower is also a popular choice with families. Amongst its multi-generational offerings are themed tours of its historic house, theatre performances, battle re-enactments, festivals and fayres. 

A little waterfall at Yarrow Valley Country Park near Chorley, a 700 acre park perfect for walking, biking and wildlife watching

If you’d like to make the most of the fresh Lancashire air, the expansive Yarrow Valley Country Park is certainly one of the top attractions in Chorley. Covering more than 700 acres of land, this stunning park features winding pathways, picnic areas, a lake, waterfall, playground, café and welcoming visitor centre. With its tranquil woodland setting, lovely views and diverse wildlife, it’s the kind of place that inspires all generations. It’s also home to a café, so you can look forward to a well-deserved pick-me-up to fuel your adventures.

Things to Do

With shopping, walking, touring, biking and exploring opportunities a-plenty, you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice when it comes to things to do in Chorley. Whether your idea of fun is diving headfirst into high-octane activities or kicking back with a glass of your favourite something, there’s something for everyone. Speaking of, if the latter sounds appealing, you’ll definitely want to head over to Brindle Distillery – distillers of award-winning gin and craft spirits all made in Lancashire. Made with fresh spring water and infused with all natural ingredients, their quaffable offerings make for a lovely treat for the tongue – be they enjoyed at home, during a distillery tour or at their onsite bar. 

A view of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, the longest canal in Britain that flows through Chorley.

If you’re an adventurous type, Chorley is a must-visit destination. There’s biking at Yarrow Valley, hiking at Healey Nab or Rivington Pike, sailing at Rivington Reservoir and golfing at Chorley Golf Course. For the really wild ones, you can also have a go at tree-top challenges down the road at Go Ape Rivington (don’t worry, harnesses are mandatory) or, to stay grounded, explore Liverpool Castle in Rivington. Wildlife watch at Anglezarke Reservoir or Mossfield Nature Reserve, wander walled gardens at the Ridges Gardens, become a beekeeper at Chorley’s Bee Centre or captain your own canal boat along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal (the longest canal in Britain) with Ellerbeck Narrowboats. Wherever your adventure leads you, you’ll find Chorley is the perfect base to discover and rediscover favourite past times and make memories to last a lifetime. 

Feeling inspired? Have a browse of our luxury cottages in Lancashire.

A view of Rivington Pike and Winter Hill in the West Pennine Moors at Rivington near Chorley in Lancashire. This is one of the best viewpoints in North West England.

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