South Lakeland holidays: our town by town guide
Here’s a quick town by town guide to help you plan your South Lakeland holidays. From well-known Lake District hot spots such as Ambleside and Windermere to the quieter market town of Ulverston and the Auld Grey town of Kendal, each place has its own character and plenty to offer to visitors…
Positioned at the northerly end of Lake Windermere and surrounded by the Lakeland fells, Ambleside is popular with walkers and visitors. Its dark grey slate buildings are largely Victorian and they now feature a tempting range of shops – particularly those selling outdoor clothing and equipment. Seek out the independent shops such as Gear and the arts, crafts and jewellery retailers, where you’ll find one-off pieces and local makers.
As well as the most photographed building in the Lake District (the famous Bridge House), there’s a fabulous museum, the Armitt, where you can discover local characters from history such as Beatrix Potter and John Ruskin. And the town is home to two unique cinemas, Zefirellis and Fellinis, which we recommend including in your visit. Zefirellis has a delicious menu in the accompanying restaurant, or there’s Dodd’s restaurant just around the corner – it’s tiny and they don’t take advance bookings but it’s always full for good reason, the food is delicious!
Home of the famous Kendal Mint Cake, it’s a lively market town built in limestone and a hub for shopping, food and culture. Once lived in by Henry VIII’s sixth wife, Kendal’s now ruined castle dates back to the 13th century and overlooks the town. Take a short stroll up there for great views over the town and across to the surrounding hills.
There’s a good selection of museums and galleries in town – pop Kendal Museum, the Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry, The Quaker Tapestry and Abbot Hall art gallery on your must-visit list. And look out for the regular festivals hosted by the town, they include the Kendal Mountain Festival, the Torchlight Carnival, The Lakes International Comic Arts Festival, and Westmorland County Show.
The high street and historic yards are now home to a good selection of tearooms, cafés and delis, brand name and independent shops, and traditional pubs. There’s a Farmers’ Market on the last Friday every month and twice weekly markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
One of the smallest towns in our guide, Kirkby Lonsdale sits between two national parks (the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales) and enjoys stunning views of the Lune Valley. The market square and interconnecting main streets feature 18th century buildings and traditional cottages, now home to a popular selection of pubs, cafés, restaurants, independent shops and boutiques, a traditional butchers, bakers, and speciality shops selling chocolate or cheese.
Explore the cobbled yards and narrow alleyways, wander up to St Mary’s (the fine Norman church just off the main Street) or take a stroll along the river to the 14th century Devil’s Bridge, a popular stopping off point for bikers and visitors alike.
Thursday is market day in town, and there’s a monthly farmers’ market too. Booths supermarket is at the top of town and an excellent stop for high quality ingredients and the odd treat.
Ulverston is full of independent shops, cosy pubs and host to cultural hot spots and events. The events calendar for the town includes Flag Fortnight, the Lantern Procession, the Dickensian Festival, and an outdoor market every Thursday and Saturday.
The 1850 Sir John Barrow Monument overlooks the town and Morecambe Bay from its position on Hoad Hill. It is open to the public whenever the flag is flying on the hill, but you can walk up and take in the views anytime. For light-hearted entertainment, make your way to the Laurel and Hardy Museum (Ulverston is proud to be the birthplace of Stan Laurel). And if you have time, head out of town to Conishead Priory and soak up the splendour of the Buddhist Temple, historic mansion and 70-acre woodland and gardens. Families will love Ford Park too – with a playground, kitchen garden, and café.
Connected with Bowness, Windermere is one of the most popular South Lakeland towns. Sitting on the edge of Lake Windermere, it offers opportunities for sailing and watersports, including daily lake cruises. Alongside the lake there are lovely places to stroll and enjoy panaromic views of the fells across the lake, which offer high-energy activities such as ghyll scrambling, rock climbing and paragliding.
Bowness and Windermere are a thriving hub for food and drink too. With a huge choice of restaurants, cafés, bistros, bars, traditional pubs, and the new Baha venue. From hot chocolates in a quiet cobbled street to champagne by the lake, you can take your pick!
The town is also home to the very popular World of Beatrix Potter attraction, and one of the finest Arts & Crafts houses in the UK sits on the lakeside at Blackwell.
We look forward to welcoming you to our South Lakeland holiday village, there’s a growing collection of blog posts and pages on this website to help you make the most of your stay with us – please let us know if there’s anything you’d like to see us add.
Sheryl, Paul and the Lakeland Lodges team