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Ulverston is situated on the Furness Peninsula, west of Cartmel and Grange-over-Sands. A typical northern market town, Ulverston provides interesting, diverse and friendly shopping options for all local and visitor needs.
The town first gained market status by Royal Charter in 1280, granted by Edward I and has proudly kept this title by hosting one of the best twice weekly street markets in Cumbria – look out for the busy sheep auction down at Canal head.
Prosperity came in 1795 with the construction of the canal built by John Rennie. The widest and deepest canal of its time, it brought a thriving shipping industry, which in turn financed some fine buildings. This boom was short lived with the coming of the railways, when Ulverston was passed over in favour of Barrow as offering a much better harbour.
Ulverston does love a festival; there are festivals for walking, music, egg rolling, a flag day and a Lantern Festival to list but a few. There is a different celebration per month, so check to see what's on during your visit to the area. Arts play a big part in Ulverston life; there is a good cinema and Coronation Hall which is a fine theatre, offering plays, music and opera. The Coronation Hall, affectionately known as ‘The Coro', is a town treasure with a seating capacity of 660.
Out and About
The centre of Ulverston is much unchanged with shops and inns lining the cobbled Market Street, off which alleys and ginnels spiral off. There are bakers, butchers, ironmongers, chemists, a good delicatessen, and just east of the town is Booths Supermarket. Dotted around the town are some excellent art and craft shops along with fashionable clothing outlets.
Pottery and glass
Pay a visit to LMB Design - set on three floors offering pottery, pictures, hats and jewellery. Ulverston Point in Mill Street is another good arts and craft centre with various stalls. Opposite Booths, at the edge of town, is Cumbria Crystal; noted for the quality of their designs, the company supplies many of our embassies with their fine glass.
The cobbled streets make for a good day of leisurely exploration, taking in the shops, browsing the galleries, visiting the attractions and stopping for coffee or lunch. Ulverston is home to lots of good pubs and inns serving bar food and locally brewed ale. There are also a host of cafes and restaurants where you can choose from Thai to Chinese, Italian to Mexican and down at the canal foot, the renowned Bay Horse Hotel and Restaurant.
For museums and other places of culture and historical interest, first venture to the Laurel and Hardy Museum, a tribute to one of the town’s most famous sons, with an amazing treasure trove of memorabilia, including letters, photographs, personal items and furniture. A small 1920s style cinema shows classic Laurel & Hardy films all day.
Head out of the town, towards Dalton and you can visit The South Lakes Safari Zoo. Get up close with lions and tigers, see rare white rhinos and of course duck into the monkey house for primate hilarity - this is a great all-weather visitor attraction for the whole family.
Walks and Activities
North of the town lies Ulverston's peculiar landmark, The Hoad. As you approach you cannot fail to notice that the world-famous Eddystone Lighthouse has miraculously sprung up in Cumbria. This odd spectacle is in fact a ninety-foot high replica raised back in 1850 in memory of John Barrow, born in Ulverston in 1764 and notably a writer, traveller, Arctic explorer and Secretary of the Admiralty.
Take the bewitching path from Hart Street to Hoad Lane, that leads up to the monument and gives a fantastic view of both the town and the surrounding fells and bay. This is also the route taken by the lantern festival, where the rising path and fell side is lit by a serpentine body of light. Ulverston is the southern-most starting point of the Cumbria Way, a 70-mile route through the rolling Furness Fells, before ending at Carlisle. Ulverston also sits on the 182-mile Cumbria Coastal Way, which stretches all the way between Morecambe Bay and Solway Firth. Still on Ways, you can travel the Cistercian Way.
There is a host of walks in and around Ulverston, be sure to drop in at the town’s Tourist Information Centre for details and any local news.
Closer to home is the Ulverston Canal. Said to be the shortest, widest and deepest canal in Britain, the canal was an important part of the local economy for over 50 years. Nowadays, the lock gates at Canal Foot have been replaced by a concrete dam, sealing the canal from the sea and providing a wildlife haven for freshwater fish and waterfowl. There is an easily accessible and enjoyable walk along the towpath from Canal Street to Canal Foot.
Birkrigg Common is a bracken-covered and sheep-grazed limestone upland to the south of Ulverston. Grassy paths criss-cross the area and provide extensive views across the Furness Peninsula to the Lake District Fells, Isle of Man and Snowdonia. Remains of ancient settlements, tumuli and a double stone circle, known as the Druid's Temple can be seen.
The Lake District is a fabulous place to visit and we have many beautiful holiday cottages near Ulverston and beyond. Please feel free to have look and see if anything inspires you to visit even more.