Discover Kendal: The Cultural Capital of Cumbria
Kendal, lying just beyond the south-eastern boundaries of the Lake District National Park, may be only the third largest town in Cumbria but it is, in effect, its cultural capital, playing host to numerous museums, galleries, arts venues and festivals. Sometimes referred to as the southern gateway to the Lakes, it is so much more than that – a destination in its own right.
Explore Kendal’s Fascinating History
Among the many organised attractions are the Abbot Hall Art Gallery, the Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry, the Quaker Tapestry and Kendal Museum, but just a simple stroll around the town’s fascinating nooks and crannies will unveil much of its history.
The town centre is characterised by ginnels and yards between the buildings of the main thoroughfares – hidden spaces where merchants and craftsmen once plied their trades. Some of the most interesting buildings include the seventeenth-century Sandes Hospital, built as almshouses for widows and a school, and the fourteenth-century Castle Dairy, Kendal’s oldest inhabited building. At this time, Kendal was the centre of the area’s woollen trade, with workers from as far afield as Cartmel and Grasmere preparing cloth for its bustling markets.
The River Kent, around which the town was built, is one of the fastest flowing rivers in England, making it ideal for powering mills. The last watermill along the Kent – a snuff mill on the outskirts of Kendal – closed as recently as 1991.
Discover Kendal’s Landmarks
Overlooking the town on a small, grassy hill are the ruins of its twelfth-century castle, once owned by the family of Katherine Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII. (Only earthworks remain of the first castle, a Norman motte and bailey construction on the other side of the river.) The castle is open to the public at all times, and modern visitors can still see some of its walls, one tower and parts of the manor hall. The steep walk up to the atmospheric site may leave you breathless, but those who make the effort are rewarded with superb views of both the town and the surrounding fells.
Explore the Surrounding Area
Two miles south of Kendal is Sizergh Castle, an impressive medieval house surrounded by beautiful gardens and a massive estate criss-crossed by a network of paths. Now in the care of the National Trust, the building and its grounds are open to the public.
Getting to Kendal
Reaching Kendal couldn’t be easier. Junction 37 on the M6 motorway is less than 10 minutes away, and the suburb of Oxenholme is on the West Coast Mainline railway from London to Glasgow and Edinburgh. From Oxenholme, a branch line runs through Kendal proper, up the Kent valley to the villages of Burneside and Staveley, and then on to Windermere. There’s also a coach service to London.
Places to stay in Kendal
Accommodation choices are many and varied, ranging from the simplicity of the independent hostel next door to the Brewery Arts Centre on historic Highgate to the more luxurious Castle Green Hotel surrounded by landscaped gardens on the edge of town. If you’re bringing a tent, motorhome or caravan, the nearest campsite is on the Shap Road, just over a mile north of the town centre.
Our top 3 picks of places to stay in Kendal
The Hare’s Shack – Kendal, LA8 9AZ
This single-storey, detached lodge offers a delightful open-plan living space with a Smart TV, electric oven, induction hob, fridge/freezer, and a dining area with seating for four people. A super-king-size bedroom with a roll-top bath, double-sided woodburning stove and en-suite shower room adds a touch of luxury. Outside, there is a beautiful enclosed rear garden with a lawned area, decking, barbecue and jacuzzi bath.
The property is situated close to a shop and pub, and is smoke-free and pet-free. With WiFi, fuel, power, bed linen and towels included in the price, Hare Shack is the perfect spot for a romantic getaway. Please note that there are steps up to the entrance. The charming hamlet of Garnett Bridge is located in the beautiful Lake District National Park and is close to Kendal and Burneside, where visitors can enjoy a range of attractions, shops and eateries. Windermere and Ambleside are also within easy reach and offer stunning walks and breathtaking scenery. A stay at Garnett Bridge promises to be a character-filled break to remember.
The Colour House Lake District Escape for Two – Low Fellside, Kendal, LA9 4NT
This is a charming one-bedroom apartment located in the heart of Kendal’s historic Lake District town. Situated on the ground floor of a beautiful Georgian Grade ll listed house, the suite boasts ample character and is nestled away in a peaceful corner of the town center. It’s the perfect getaway for couples, offering one bedroom and one bathroom. Just a short stroll away is Kendal Main Street, where visitors can find a variety of local shops, pubs, restaurants, and cafes. The Westmorland Shopping Center, which features numerous shops and an indoor market, is also nearby and open every day except Sunday.
The Kendal Farmers Market, held on the last Friday of each month in the Market Place, is one of the country’s oldest farmers markets and is an excellent spot for local products and food. The nearest train station, Oxenholme (Oxenholme Lake District), is just a five-minute drive away, and the Town Hall bus stop, which is a five-minute walk away, is serviced by the 44, 46, 570, and 571 routes. Additionally, the Kendal Bus and Coach Station can be found ten minutes away at the Westmorland Shopping Center. For those needing transportation, there are several dependable local taxi services available in the area.
The Glen Guest House – The Glen, Oxenholme, Kendal, LA9 7RF
This guest house is a family-run bed and breakfast located in Oxenholme, Kendal. It has been awarded a Visit Britain 4 Star Rating and is known for providing warm and friendly service. The accommodation is comfortable, and the breakfast is freshly cooked using quality local ingredients. The property is in a quiet location with views of the fells and Morecambe Bay.
The Oxenholme Train Station is close by, and it is a short drive from the M6 and main roads into the Lake District, making it an ideal location to explore the area on foot, bike or by car. The property is 3 miles from Kendal and within easy walking distance to a local pub for evening meals. Additionally, there is a supermarket and pharmacy 1 mile away.