The market town of Ulverston sits on the Furness peninsula, one of the many fingers of land reaching out into Morecambe Bay in South Cumbria. It’s a lively little town, with lots of places to stay and to eat, as well as independent shops, an indoor market and twice-weekly outdoor market. It’s also home to several festivals throughout the year, including the hugely popular Dickensian Festival in November when locals and visitors alike dress up in their Victorian best, bands come out to play and the streets are full of stalls and entertainment.
One of Ulverston’s most prominent features is the land-locked ‘lighthouse’. This 100ft-high monument crowning Hoad Hill was built in memory of the town’s Sir John Barrow, an explorer, writer and second secretary to the Admiralty during the Napoleonic Wars. It’s open to the public on Sunday afternoons from Easter until October, when visitors can climb the 112 steps up to the lantern chamber.
The town’s most famous son though was Stan Laurel, born in 1890 and one half of the famous Laurel and Hardy comedy duo. There’s a museum dedicated to the pair on Brogden Street. Sharing a building with the Roxy cinema, it contains personal items, photographs, letters, original costumes and other memorabilia. There’s also a bronze sculpture of the pair outside the Coronation Hall.
Ulverston marks the southern end of the 73-mile Cumbria Way. This increasingly popular multi-day walking route passes through Coniston, Langdale, Borrowdale, Keswick and the Northern Fells on its way to Carlisle in the north of the county.
Other nearby attractions include Conishead Priory, built in the Gothic revival style and now home to a Buddhist meditation centre; the prehistoric Birkrigg Stone Circle, about two miles south of the town; and, a little further south, a restored water mill at Gleaston.
Ulverston is on the Furness Railway Line from Barrow-in-Furness to Lancaster, one of the stations on the West Coast Main Line from London to Glasgow and Edinburgh.