Ulverston may be slightly off the beaten tourist track, but for those in the know this southern market town, is quite rightly becoming famous for its impressive Calender of Festivals and as a Centre for Music and Art....its cobbled streets, interesting ginnels and excellent choice of good bar-snacks pubs and proper coffee just add to the reasons to stop by!
Stan Laurel The legendary Stan Laurel needs no introduction, and it was here, in his Grandparents' home at No. 3 Argyle St, that he was born Arthur Stanley Jefferson and spent his early childhood. The house is clearly marked with a blue plaque and is not far from the centre of town if you fancy looking it up.
Laurel and Hardy lovers can also slip back in time at the Laurel and Hardy Memorabilia Museum. A screen loops films of their mischievous antics attracting new 'younger' fans as well as entertaining the older generation! Rather touchingly there are personal letters from Stan to his fans amongst the many exhibits here.
The museum is easy to find and well signposted from the centre of town. It is normally open between 10am - 5pm from Feb - Dec; NB there is an entrance fee also please do check with the Laurel & Hardy Museum if you are making a special journey.
Stan's quirky humour lives on, at the Stan Laurel Inn. Whilst locals and visitors get to appreciate the locally brewed beer and wonderful food, overnight guests could get more than they bargained for 'We are able to provide an ironing board and iron says Paul and if you're really, really good we can find some extra ironing for you to do at no extra charge!' See the right of this page to find out why you shouldn't miss a trip to the Stan Laurel.
Ulverston Festival Calender
Being slightly off the beaten tourist track, it would be easy to miss a whole calendar of Ulverston Festival activities. In addition to the now, quite famous Dickensian Christmas Festival the town also transforms for two weeks of the year during the Festival of Flags. This coincides with the North's only Print Festival, with artists, both local and international exhibiting their prints. This is the only print exhibition, of its kind to be held in rural England.
Dickensian Festival UlverstonThere's nothing quite like a bit of nostalgia at Christmas, and the Dickensian Festival in Ulverston not only fulfils this dream but is rapidly becoming one of the largest Dickensian events in the country. Enjoy getting into the spirit of Christmas shopping whilst listening to the Brass Bands and watching youngsters enjoy traditional fair rides of yesteryear like the helter skelter. For more detailed information including this year's dates, why not head over to the Ulverston Dickensian Festival website.
Ulverston International Music FestivalFounded by locally born, International concert pianist Anthony Hewitt, The Ulverston Music Festival attracts International standard musicians and the programme is packed with a diverse selection of music which include chamber, choral, orchestral and jazz in addition to solo recitals played.
Pasche Egging - Hoad HillEnjoyed by Stan Laurel and still enjoyed every Easter Monday - painted eggs are rolled down Hoad Hill (if you are new to Ulverston, Hoad Hill is the hill with Sir John Barrow monument clearly visible as your drive into Ulverston).
Ulverston Lantern FestivalIf you going to be near Ulverston mid-September then don't miss the Ulverston Lantern-procession, which is an enchanting experience. An incredible array of lanterns made from willow and tissue paper take to the streets.
Ulverston Conishead Priory - New Kadampa Buddhism A lovely place for a gentle stroll, perhaps a picnic or just time to reflect whilst you enjoy the spring flowers are the grounds of the historic Gothic www.conisheadpriory.org/Conishead Priory which stretch down to the coast of Morecambe Bay.
There is an open welcome to everyone, whatever denomination or status, to roam and picnic in the 70acres of pathways that lead through, snowdrops, bluebells and rhododendrons at varying times of the year. Its free to enter and the grounds are open from dawn to dusk each day.
The new Kadampa Meditation Centre holds regular meditation courses and retreats in addition to drop in classes. However you are also welcome just to come and look around, they have a rather good cafe too. *Note they occasionally hold conference during which the centre is closed to non-conference attendees, so if you are making a special journey, please check they are open first.
Lakes Glass Be Mesmerised by the skilled craftsman at work - Cumbria is the last producer of hand-made full lead crystal in England
There is just something really hypnotic about watching skilled craftsman blow glass. I remember loving being taken to what is now 'Lakes Glass' in Ulverston as a child - never boring of watching the the hot glass coming out of the furnaces. Wondering at the heat, the skill and how the craftsmen could continue to work seemingly unbothered by our watchful eyes.
If you are in Ulverston do pop into Cumbria Crystal to experience this traditional glass making and crystal glass cutting skills. They are open all year Monday to Friday 9am - 4:30pm (except Christmas, Boxing and New Year's day *earlier finish on a Friday).
Parking and admission are Free!
Hoad Monument Walk
The 'Sir John Barrow' or as its known locally 'Hoad' monument is a famous landmark in Ulverston. Built in 1850 to commemorate Ulverston born Sir John Barrow. His impressive career included being Second Secretary to the Admiralty for over 40 years. In addition to important work with the Navy, assisting with preparations for the Battle of Trafalgar and building a relationship with the Boers he was a keen explorer and writer. His explorations to both the Arctic and Antarctic were well received with Barrow Strait, Barrow Sound and Barrow Point in the Arctic and Cape Barrow in the Antarctic being named in his honour. He helped founder the Royal Geographic Society and is well known for his writing including 'The Eventful History of the Mutiny and Piratical Seizure of H.M.S. Bounty'. In commemoration of his Naval history the Hoad monument was built to represent the Eddystone Lighthouse.
The monument has a beautiful internal staircase and if the flag is flying then the monument is open and you can have a look inside too. Whether or not the monument is open, the views from the top of Hoad Hill, 450ft above sea level; over Ulverston and toward Morecambe in one direction and the Southern Lakeland fells in the other are well worth the short but sometimes *steep path to the top.
* Disabled access to the Hoad Monument, may be possible via a specially purchased 4 x 4 vehicle.
* A mural depicting the life of Sir John Barrow can be found in Lower Brook Street in Ulverston.
If you are self-catering fresh produce is available at the outdoor market which takes place on a Thursday and Saturday, the indoor market is open every day except Wednesday and Sunday. The well-known northern supermarket chain Booths also have a branch here.
The 70 mile Cumbrian Way starts here in Ulverston and meanders through the beautiful Lakeland Valleys...and up several fells all the way to Carlisle.
World Peace CafeA feel good cafe - delicious organic, fair-trade, vegetarian food with all profits going to World Peace. Choose from the beautiful setting of the conservatory at Conishead Priory and also in the centre of Ulverston at Cavendish Street.
Gillam's TearoomTea and Coffee specialists since 1892 Gillam's offer over 30 different types of loose leaf tea, including their own unique blends and was recently won a 'Tea Guild's Top Tea Place 2011' award.
The original grocer shop is now a deli stocking local chutneys, relishes and artisan breads.
Stan Laurel InnDon't be fooled into thinking this Pub relies on its famous namesake to pull in its customers. Trudi and Paul have found the secret ingredient for a Pub that attracts visitors to Ulverston as well as a 'local' that residents want to frequent too.
Paul has a passion for good, tasty food; using tips from Gordon Ramsay and knowing that favourites such as his freshly cooked chunky chips are as important to his customers as the care in his choice of olive oil, spices and flavourings.
Accolades include being awarded CAMRA Pub of the Season, just 4 months after opening. Inclusion in the 2011 Good Beer Guide is another good indication that they are doing something right!
The proof is in the drinking and there's normally a Laurel and Hardy draught beer available, brewed here in Ulverston with a good choice of other beers - all locally brewed. Don't despair if you aren't a beer lover, Paul and Trudi ensure that wine lovers are equally well looked after!
If you want to eat here then booking is highly recommended. If you fancy an informal game of chess, then Tuesday is your night.
The Mill at UlverstonBeing a wine lover I love to find pubs that serve a good glass of wine as well as local beers to try! The Mill at Ulverston has 8 ales, four of which are from the nearby Lancaster brewery and a staggering choice of 20 different wines by the glass.
The restaurant uses local ingredients and includes classical pub favourites on its varied menu.
The Old FarmhouseWith many awards under their belts, Landlord and Lady, Neal and Mary insist that their best reward is knowing that customers go home satisfied and come back for more!
A good choice of wine is sold by the glass or bottle, in addition to regular pub beverages and there is, thoughtfully, a water bowl in the beer-garden for the dogs.
An open fire, pool table, darts and Sports TV are great for pub atmosphere; there is also a dedicated restaurant seating 75. The Old Farmhouse is a Gastro Pub serving proper pub-food.
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