Things to do nearby Bridge End (Longsleddale)
Longsleddale is an excellent valley for nature-lovers as wildlife abounds, making a short stroll a feast for the senses. Staveley, a lively local village, is home to the famous Hawkshead Brewery, while the bigger market town of Kendal offers plenty to explore, including the medieval castle ruins, Abbot Hall Art Gallery and the Quaker Tapestry. A short drive north takes in Shap Abbey and Hawswater Reservoir.
Longsleddale is a long, narrow valley, around four miles in length and very sparsely populated, with about 30 houses scattered along the single road. This terminates at Sadgill at the valley head and beyond that there is nothing but mountains. St Mary’s Church has stood in the valley for over 150 years and was built on the site of a previous church, having been rebuilt to accommodate the area’s growing population of 150 people!
The valley remains untouched by modern development. Nature is the dominant force in Longsleddale, with deciduous woodland cloaking the lower slopes and hedgerows full of wild flowers. It is also a fantastic place to spot wildlife and birds. As well as the flocks of sheep, you can see roe and red deer, badgers, rabbits, hares and red squirrels. Ravens nest in the high crags and are a familiar sight overhead. The rich variety of the valley habitat attracts a wild range of birds including woodpeckers, jays, nuthatches and owls, as well as river birds such as kingfishers and herons. Its main claim to fame is that the valley was used as the blueprint for the Postman Pat stories. Author John Cunliffe lived in nearby Kendal and used Longsleddale as the basis to create his fictional village of Greendale.
Longsleddale is an excellent base for walkers, particularly those seeking quieter, wilder fells on which to roam. From Sadgill, a track climbs to Gatesgarth Pass which is open to walkers, mountain bikers and horse riders. From the top of the pass you can see Haweswater reservoir, and in the surrounding fells three survey pillars indicating the route of the aqueduct. Haweswater is quiet and remote, with a flooded village at Mardale Head, the remains of which can be seen in times of drought. At the head of the valley you can climb the Haweswater fells, including High Street and Harter Fell. The area is also very popular for mountain bikers as there are several off-road mountain passes that create a loop in the fells around Longsleddale and Kentmere.
Kendal is about 20 minutes away by car. The town is considered to be the southern gateway to the Lake District and Alfred Wainwright wrote his Pictorial Guides while living there. It’s popular for shopping, arts and offers much more than an average market town. The vibrant Brewery Arts Centres has a year-round calendar showing everything from comedy and films to stage productions and bands. There are also fascinating yards and ginnels to explore, along with pedestrian-friendly streets and interesting markets.
If you want to get out and about in the car, the southern Lake District is within driving distance. Bowness-on-Windermere can be reached in about 30 minutes and is one of the most popular destinations in the Lake District. Set on the shores of Windermere, England’s largest natural lake, and boasting stunning scenery and plenty to do, it has something on offer for everyone. You could take a trip on a steamer around the lake, hop off and then back on again to explore different parts of the shoreline. Ambleside is about 50 minutes and is a bustling tourist town, where you’ll find a wide selection of pubs and cafés. There’s a great choice of restaurants, too – Italian, Thai, Indian, vegetarian and more – and lots of options if you’re looking for good beer. The Langdale Pikes, a compact group of peaks, are among the most easily recognisable mountains in the Lake District and are just over an hour away.
Another option for a trip out is the 12th century Shap Abbey. This boasts a picturesque setting beside the River Lowther with nothing nearby to interrupt the beauty of the lonely and unfrequented site. It was built in 1199, the last abbey to be founded in England, and the last to be dissolved by Henry VIII in 1540. Why not stop off at the award-winning Shap Chippy, in Shap village, before heading back?
About 45 minutes’ drive from Longsleddale you’ll find Eamont Bridge, a village boasting historic houses and inns, and the attractive market town of Penrith, which has a mixture of independent and high street shops as well as many places to eat. In fact, its range of small independent shops covers just about everything you could want.
Kirkby Lonsdale, an attractive town nestled on the banks of the River Lune which was awarded market town status in 1227, is about 50 minutes’ drive south. Here you’ll find 17th and 18th century properties lining the streets, housing some of the many quirky and unusual independent shops the area is known for. Markets are held every Thursday in the market square.
Not far from Kirkby Lonsdale is Ingleton, a limestone village on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales and the starting point for the Yorkshire Three Peaks walk. The scenery is stunning, and with little effort you can walk to see the natural wonders of spectacular scars, limestone pavements, high cliffs and deep dry gorges. White Scar Cave at Ingleton is the longest show cave in Britain and is well worth a visit, with its subterranean passages, caverns, waterfalls, eco-friendly visitor centre and a cafe. Guided tours are available.