Friday, 1 July 2016

Why we think Ulverston is GREAT!

You may be coming to the Lake District, but don't forget the rest of Cumbria. There are some fantastic places to visit outside the National Park.
Here are our reasons why we think Ulverston is so GREAT!


Cumbria is one of England’s' largest counties but also one of its most rural. It is an area of outstanding beauty and diverse local traditions. 

Many people confuse Cumbria with the Lake District. The national park lies firmly within the county, but Cumbria itself is a staggering 2,613 square miles, with the Lake District national park taking up only(!) 885 square miles of that, not even half. Just because you've crossed the border out of the Lake District into Cumbria, doesn't mean that the beauty stops. In fact, for some, getting 'off the beaten track' is what it's all about when they come to Cumbria.

From the beautiful heather topped moors of the North Pennines to the East of the county, across to the miles of sand and shingle beaches on the West Coast, Cumbria is just stunning. And we've got enough buzzing market towns and picturesque villages to last a lifetime of exploring.  

Which is our favourite? Ulverston is a great example of a proud, buzzing, community focused, friendly Cumbrian town. The fact it is only ten minutes from RDMH HQ is purely a coincidence.

So why do we love Ulverston so much? So many reasons! Here are our top ones...
 
1) Lots of great cafes! We LOVE a good cafe, and there are so many to choose from...There's The Coach House at Ford Park, The Hot Mango, Poppies, Gillams and Mad Hatters to name only a few. All independent, and all with unbelievably good menu's.

2) Our good friend Dave owns DC cycles there. We like riding bikes and we love proper independent bike shops. Dave's the best at both! Possibly the best non geeky bike geek we've met.

3) It’s got a fake lighthouse, just cos it can! And you can go up it, just look out for the flags on top of Hoad to say it's open.

4) It's got the deepest, widest and straightest canal in the UK. A reminder of the importance the port of Ulverston held to the area in the 17th century, it's just over a mile long, and with a handy pub and a fantastic view of the Leven estuary at the end of it, it's not hard to see why it's so popular with walkers, joggers and cyclists of all ages.  

5) The Lantern Festival. This annual event is how fireworks night should be, except it's in September. It encourages involvement from the local community and with thousands of residents taking part and lining the streets to watch, it is fantastically original and beautiful. The annual event culminates in a lively display of theatrical performance and fireworks in Ford Park, and was organised entirely by the community themselves for the first time in 2008.

6) Ford Park. Ford Park is the towns biggest public green space and regarded as one of the most important areas of the town. So much so that when it was threatened with closure and being sold off to property developers by the local council, the whole town rallied to support the Ford Park Community Group's bid to keep it going. The cafe and kitchen garden are open year round, and as well as being great to visit they provide an important role in the community as the whole project is looked after by hard working volunteers.

7) The residents. This town must be one of the most 'up for it' towns in Cumbria, if not the UK, and in June 2016 over 1100 of them turned out to take part in the world record attempt for the biggest foam pie fight. I think it's fair to say, there aren't many towns where that many people would voluntarily spend their Saturday morning getting totally covered in shaving foam. (I was there. It was epic!)

8) The colour. Because Ulverston is just outside the National Park boundary, it doesn't have to stay within the strict planning regulations of subtle tones on the buildings. The townsfolk have taken that information and run with it! You can find houses of every colour as you walk through town, as well as fantastic street art and the occasional yarn bombed lamp post!

9) Stan Laurel. Ulverston is the birthplace of one half of the much loved comedy duo Laurel and Hardy. Need I say more!

10) The festivals. The many, many festivals. Ulverston calls itself a 'Festival Town' in reference to the many and varied festivals which take place there over the course of the year. 

Other popular festivals include:
  • Flag Festival
  • Dickensian Festival
  • Beer Festival
  • Charter Festival (including the Lantern Festival)
  • International Music Festival
  • Furness Tradition/Retro Rendezvous
  • Comedy Festival
  • Word Market—including 'Pub Scripts'
  • Walking Festival
  • Print Fest
  • Summer Buddhist Festival
  • Ulverston Carnival Parade
  • Summer Music Festival
  • Festival of Fashion
  • The Feast of St George
  • Another Fine Fest is a newest festival, only launched in 2014. A festival of music, comedy, street theatre and art, celebrating Ulverston and the birth of Stan Laurel.
Have I been a little biased in my portrayal of the L'al Town With The Big Heart? Quite possibly. But when you live there, as I have for 13+ years now, you get caught up in the revelry and the community spirit, and the pride of living there. It's a great town.

So if you feel like escaping from the hustle and bustle of the Central Lakes for a day, just head west and follow signs for Ulverston. You won't be disappointed. Except if you come on a Wednesday...Almost everything shuts on a Wednesday!

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