Ulverston is often referred to as the “Party Capital of Furness” thanks to the regular festivals that take place throughout the year. But as well as these bustling events, there’s a rich history to the town, as well as lots of places to eat and things to do. It’s even the birthplace of some pretty famous names!
Things to do in Ulverston
The Hoad Monument
When visiting Ulverston, you almost have to head up to the Hoad Monument - more correctly known as the Sir John Barrow Monument. It commemorates Sir John Barrow, who was born in Ulverston and helped found the Royal Geographic Society. The walk is a pleasant one and rewards you with 360-degree views.
Laurel & Hardy Museum
Stan Laurel, of the famous duo, was born in Ulverston, and the town’s museum is the only one in the UK dedicated to the pair. As a result, it’s a real treasure-trove, with all sorts of memorabilia on display, as well as reels from their hilarious films.
The Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre is a decadent hall and temple where you’re welcome to visit or join a class to help you discover some inner peace.
Potter through Ulverston’s lovely streets and you’ll find shops galore. Clothing boutiques, book shops, sweet shops, vintage stores and much more. Pick up a gift for friends and family back home, prep for a hike in the Lakes, or find some delicious fresh foods from the butchers, the bakers, and the alcohol makers! There is also a twice-weekly market on Thursdays and Saturdays.
The Wall is Ulverston’s bouldering centre, with excellent walls suitable for very beginners to experienced boulderers. There’s a good variety of routes and an on-site cafe for some tasty refreshments afterwards.
Ulverston is home to two multi-award winning gin makers: Shed 1 and Wolftown. Shed 1 runs distillery tours and gin tastings, while Wolftown has a room to book for private groups of up to 12. Sample their gin and order in some pizza from nearby Betullas.
The 1.25-mile canal is short and straight, built in 1796 to make the town more accessible to cargo boats. It holds the accolade of ‘straightest canal in Britain’, and is home to what is thought to be the only surviving rolling bridge in Europe.
Ulverston Golf Club
One of the loveliest courses in Cumbria, Ulverston Golf Club enjoys views of Morecambe Bay and the Cumbrian fells. The course is undulating but a reasonably easy walk and offers some challenging holes.
South Lakes Safari Zoo
There’s animal magic at South Lakes Safari Zoo! Just a short drive from Ulverston, there are animals from around the globe, and of all shapes and sizes. Look out for big cats, monkeys, birds, giraffes, zebra, rhinos… the list goes on! Wander around the park or book an animal experience.
Birkrigg Stone Circle
Also known as the Druid’s Temple, Birkrigg Stone Circle sits on a hill just outside Ulverston, looking out over the sea. The double circle has been partially excavated in the past, revealing stone implements and five cremations.
Barrow Dock Museum
Free to enter, The Dock Museum in Barrow looks back at the shipbuilding heritage of the area, as well as other historical points of interest. It covers thousands of years, from the ‘oldest Northener’ to the Second World War.
Get your cossie on and head to the beaches at Walney Island! Including two nature reserves, lots of walks, and even a Grey Seal colony, Walney has lots to see.
The impressive ruins of Furness Abbey retain many of their interesting architectural features. Dating back to the 12th century, it was once the second most powerful Cistercian monastery in the country. Excavations by English Heritage have discovered hoards of medieval treasure - a nod to its once-vast wealth.
Walks near Ulverston
This route up Hoad Hill takes you to the Sir John Barrow Monument, where you’ll find breathtaking views of Morecambe Bay and the Lake District mountains. For a reasonably short and easy walk (though it is steep in places), the rewards are great. The route starts from Ford Park and is easy to follow up and back into town.
Morecambe Bay Cross Bay Walk
Though you can only do this route at certain times of year and only guided by an officially appointed King’s Guide to the Sands, it’s an incredible walk across the sandy plane of Morecambe Bay. The tide will be mostly out, but you should still be prepared to get wet and do a bit of wading!
This flat walk is reasonably short and follows the edge of Ulverston Canal between town and Canal Foot at the mouth of the River Leven as it flows into Morecambe Bay. Spot some historic buildings and enjoy the surrounding landscape.
Gill Banks and the Flan
Taking in small rivers, woodland and open fields, this is a beautiful walk with a (mostly) gradual incline. The climb is worth it for the resulting views over the bay, town and landscape.
The Cumbria Way
Ulverston is the start of the long-distance Cumbria Way footpath, which travels through Lakeland to Carlisle at the north of the county. Of course, you don’t have to do the whole thing, but can enjoy a pleasant there-and-back-again walk as far as you wish.
Places to eat in Ulverston
The Bay Horse Hotel & Restaurant
Incredible sea views accompanied by a mix of simple dishes and more adventurous plates, so there’s something for everyone at this fabulous restaurant.
One of the best restaurants in Ulverston: you’ll need to book in advance for this one to enjoy their weekly-changing menu.
Take a step back to the prohibition-era for a 1920s evening of music, cocktails and food.
Home-cooked Italian style pizza and pasta with a brilliant selection of drinks to accompany your meal.
Amigos Mexican & Steakhouse
Ethically produced Mexican dishes in a comfortable restaurant surrounded by traditional Mexican décor.
Aroma Indian Dining
All the tasty Indian dishes you would expect, with both eat-in and take-out options available.
Bengal Rose Restaurant
Authentic and fresh Indian food with friendly staff and the chance to adjust spiciness to suit your preference.
Wasabi Pan Asian
An ever-evolving menu of unique tastes that covers both food and cocktails.
Nicha’s Thai Kitchen
Going above and beyond expectations with flavourful Thai food, friendly service and plenty of choice.
Naaz Indian Cuisine
Terrific Indian meals with some British options available to cater for your whole group.
Poppies Cafe & Bistro
Responsibly sourced food (see their suppliers on their website) and exciting themed evenings including Soul Food and French Night.
Delightful old-fashioned cafe with long-standing family connections to the town. Pop into the attached specialist grocers for take-home treats.
The Market Cafe
Lovely no-frills cafe serving all the treats you’d expect including soups, scones and chips.
The Stan Laurel Inn
Named for Ulverston’s most famous son, get your fill of traditional bar meals and local beers.
Gastropub with a great choice of both food and drink in the characterful setting of one of the town’s old flour mills.
The Rose and Crown
Bursting with character, this award-winning pub boasts 4 AA stars and a 500-year-old history!
An award-winning pub and wine bar with modern decor complemented by rustic features and views of the cobbled streets outside.
The Ship Inn
Go for the Sunday Roast and stay for the welcoming atmosphere! Big portions of traditional pub food.
If you just fancy something quick and easy, then there are plenty of fast food joints and excellent takeaways in Ulverston. Whether that’s traditional fish ‘n’ chips from the Chippy Bank, pies from familiar names like Greggs, or an Asian feast from Rainbow Chinese, your taste buds will be dancing!
Events in Ulverston
The “Festival Capital of Furness” knows how to put on a great event or two. Regular festivals throughout the year draw thousands of people for a buzzing atmosphere and an excellent time. Here are just some of them!
This magical event sees incredible paper lanterns parading through the streets. Spot everything from tiny lanterns to huge ship-shaped creations.
In early September, CAMRA Furness puts on this popular event, doling out awards for the best brews.
A two-week celebration of the granting of Ulverston’s Market Charter in 1280, with entertainment and stalls.
Get out into the countryside with like-minded folks to explore the landscape for this 10-day celebration.
A jam-packed weekend of all things vintage. From cars and bikes to clothes and dance, you’ll step into the fabulous past.
History of Ulverston
Ulverston was first founded by the Saxons, with a name that derives from both “wolf warrior” and “farmstead” - the influence of which is still seen on the town’s coat of arms. Originally part of Lancashire, it transferred to the county of Cumbria in the mid-70s. It was granted a Market Charter in 1280, which boosted its prominence and helped the town grow.
The building of a short canal in 1795 and a railway in 1846 opened more opportunities for Ulverston, increasing trade and growth of the town itself. Today, it is still a bustling hub with a twice-weekly market, cobbled streets, and historic buildings around every corner.
Ulverston has had its share of famous names in the history books. Most well known is Stan Laurel of Laurel & Hardy, and a museum commemorates the two in the town. Sir John Barrow - explorer, linguist, and founder of the National Geographic Society - is commemorated by the prominent Hoad Monument. And George Fox, founder of the Quaker movement, established a base at Swarthmoor Hall.
Getting to Ulverston
Where is Ulverston?
Ulverston is in south Cumbria, also known as the peninsulas. It sits off the north west edge of Morecambe Bay and just a few miles from the lakes of Coniston Water and Windermere.
How to get there
Leave the M6 at Junction 36 and follow the A590 along good roads right to Ulverston. There is also a train station in the town: the rail route is glorious, passing along the coast and through Arnside & Silverdale AONB.
If you’re staying in another area of the Lake District, you can easily drive to Ulverston from both Windermere and Coniston, or take the bus from Coniston village.
There are numerous pay-and-display car parks across Ulverston so you won’t have any trouble finding somewhere to leave your car.
Where to stay in Ulverston
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