There are lots of lovely English towns which are really underrated as places to visit, and we feel that Ulverston definitely falls into that category. Despite being in an excellent location with amazing surroundings, it's probably best known as the starting point of the Cumbria Way. Although that route is great, we think there are plenty of other reasons to visit Ulverston. We wanted to highlight the best things to see and do here for 2023, let's get into it:
Where is Ulverston?
The town lies on the northern edge of Morecambe Bay, about 8 miles northeast of Barrow-in-Furness, and about 21 miles southwest of Kendal. Ulverston is also within easy reach of the Lake District National Park. The town's location makes it an ideal base for exploring the wider region and all it has to offer.
What is there to do during your time in Ulverston?
Ulverston is quite small, but you'll still find quite a bit to see and do during your visit, here are some of the highlights:
Visit the Laurel & Hardy Museum
It's well-known that Stan Laurel was born in Ulverston, and for fans of the classic slapstick comedy, there is an excellent museum dedicated to Laurel & Hardy in the town. Here you'll find plenty of interesting objects and artefacts related to the comic duo, from memorabilia to clothes that were actually worn by the pair.
If you're not familiar with Laurel and Hardy, we'd highly recommend watching the excellent movie about their lives, 'Stan & Ollie', which was released a few years ago and stars Steve Coogan and John C Reilly. Watching this movie before you head to Ulverston will really give you an appreciation for the museum and the huge amount of effort which has gone into collating the items here. Learn more about the museum here - laurel-and-hardy.co.uk
See the Hoad Monument
This prominent landmark is an impressive piece of architecture and is well worth a look. Built in honor of Sir John Barrow, a British explorer, visitors can climb the tower's spiral staircase to the top for panoramic views of Morecambe Bay, the Lake District fells, the Furness Peninsula, and the rest of the stunning surrounding countryside. Built in 1850, the monument stands 100ft high and offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. If you've got the energy for it, you can climb the 112 steps to the top for a breathtaking vista.
Follow the Cumbria Way
Ulverston is generally considered to be the starting point of the Cumbrian Way, so if you're a fan of walking you could pair a visit to the town with a great walk. The full route runs 73 miles all the way to Carlisle, and if you've got the time and energy for that then we'd really recommend giving it a shot. Having said that, many of the shorter versions of the route are still great to follow and could be completed in a day. For example, the Ulverston to Coniston route is only 16 miles in length and can be completed in a day, but still allows you to take in some lovely scenery and get some steps under your belt. Learn more here - cumbriawaywalk.info
Head to Morecambe Bay
Morecambe Bay is a scenic and diverse coastal area which is just a stone's throw from Ulverston. Here visitors can enjoy stunning views, the chance to spot some rare wildlife, and a range of activities. It's an especially great area for birdwatching, and it's one of the only areas in the UK where you can spot Marsh Harriers. Grange Over Sands is also nearby, we have a guide about that town here. Learn more about Morecambe Bay here - exploremorecambebay.org.uk
St Mary’s Church
It's often the case that English market towns are home to wonderful churches, and that is certainly the case in Ulverston. St Mary's Church is interesting in terms of both its history and architecture. Dating back to the 12th century, the church makes use of an impressive array of architectural styles, including Norman, Gothic, and Victorian. The church has been rebuilt a few times, but the tower still dates from the 16th century. The features to keep an eye out for are the intricate wood carvings and the stained-glass windows, but even if you're not an architecture nerd, it's still a really pleasant church to explore both inside and out. Unfortunately, the church still requires some restoration and is sometimes closed for this reason. So if you can donate, please do. Learn more here - ulverstonparishchurch.org
Conishead Priory is a unique and fascinating historical site which is well worth a look. The priory dates back to the 12th century and features a range of architectural styles, from Gothic to Victorian. It is also home to a Buddhist Temple, offering visitors a rare opportunity to experience a blend of eastern and western cultures. The priory's beautiful grounds and gardens are also worth exploring, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Learn more here - conisheadpriory.org
Cumbria Crystal is one of the last remaining producers of hand-blown and hand-cut full lead English crystal. The company has a rich history dating back to 1976 and has supplied glassware to prestigious clients, including the British Royal Family. You can visit the showroom in Ulverston to see how everything is made, which is so impressive to watch. The crystal blowing and cutting is amazing, and you can actually try it for yourself too! A guided tour of the factory is totally fascinating and seeing the skilled glassblowers in action is really memorable. You can also buy some pieces to take home with you. Learn more here - cumbriacrystal.com
Swarthmoor Hall is another interesting historical site, and is worth visiting for its unique Quaker history. The Hall was the home of the founders of the Quaker movement, George Fox and Margaret Fell, and served as a center for Quaker worship and activism. The Hall features a range of architectural styles, including Tudor, Georgian, and Victorian, and visitors can explore the historic rooms, gardens, and grounds. Learn more here - swarthmoorhall.co.uk
South Lakes Safari Zoo
South Lakes Safari Zoo is a fun and educational attraction which is 10 minutes from Ulverston. The zoo is home to a wide range of animals, including big cats, primates, and exotic birds, and offers visitors the chance to get up close and personal with them. The zoo also plays an important role in conservation efforts and supports several global projects. It is an exciting destination for animal lovers of all ages. Learn more here - southlakessafarizoo.com
How to get to Ulverston?
The town is connected to major cities such as Manchester and Liverpool via the M6 motorway. The nearest train station is Ulverston railway station, which is served by Northern Rail and offers connections to Lancaster, Barrow-in-Furness, and other destinations. The town is also accessible by bus, with regular services running to and from nearby cities and towns. Overall, it's pretty straightforward to get to Ulverston.