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Ulverston is a large market town on the Furness Peninsula in Cumbria, a few miles south of the Lake District National Park. With the impressive landmark of Hoad Monument providing scenic views of the surrounding areas, and easy access to the Lake District and Morecambe Bay, Ulverston is an excellent place to spend time if you’re keen to combine natural wonders and modern-day amenities.
The history of Ulverston
Ulverston was recorded as ‘Ulurestun’ in the Domesday Book of 1086. The town has previously felt the influence of the Norsemen who invaded this area around the 9th century, and before that by the Romans and Anglo Saxons, but Ulverston first came into its own upon the granting of a market charter by King Edward I in 1280. The charter allowed for all public houses to open for extended hours on market days, making this a popular tourist destination for many centuries, particularly in the summer months.
Though nearby Dalton-in-Furness was considered the principal town in the area for a long time, its devastation by the plague in the 16th century saw Ulverston take over, due to its prime position on the trade routes across the sands from the Cartmel Peninsula. The railway’s arrival in the mid-19th century bolstered both trade and tourism and cemented a period of sustained growth for the town.
Things to do and see around Ulverston
The town’s market is still an important part of Ulverston life. The market runs on Thursdays and Saturdays, and during the summer includes craft stalls, charity stalls and locally produced wares on "Made in Cumbria" stalls.
Ulverston calls itself a 'festival town' in reference to the many festivals which take place in the town each year. One of the most popular is the Lantern Festival in September, which involves hundreds of local residents creating lanterns out of willow and tissue paper and parading them throughout the town. Over 8,000 people come to witness the Lantern Festival each year, which ends with a lively display of theatrical performance and fireworks in Ford Park.
One of the most famous sons of Ulverston was comedian Stan Laurel, and the town is home to the Laurel & Hardy Museum. In the site of an old cinema, the museum offers insight into the lives and backgrounds of the two comedy legends, memorabilia, photos, artwork and stills from their movies. It is a superb tribute to two much-loved stars and very much worth a visit during your trip to Ulverston.
An odd sight within Ulverston is the canal – a mile-long body of water previously used to connect the centre of the town with Morecambe Bay, but which is now closed to traffic. You can walk along the eastern side of the canal but these days it acts mainly as a monument to a time gone by.
To enjoy views over Morecambe Bay and the southern edge of the Lake District, you can head up to the Hoad Monument, built in 1850 to commemorate Sir John Barrow who was born in Ulverston in 1764 and who served countless monarchs and Prime Ministers as Second Secretary to the Admiralty.
And when your day winds down towards thirst and hunger, one of the finest pubs in town is the Swan Inn. Close to the town centre, the Swan offers up to 10 real ales, many rare for the area, with a real fire, large garden and hearty pub food - the perfect place to recharge the batteries.