Ulverston is a small market town in Cumbria, United Kingdom. With a population of 13,000, Ulverston isn't a huge tourist attraction for the area, although its proximity to the Lake District makes it a quaint stop-over for visitors planning to explore more of Cumbria. Its two main claims to fame are being the birthplace of Stan Laurel and having a lighthouse-esque monument on a hill (usually lit up in Autumn and Winter months).
Ulverston is accessible by car via the A590 road, which branches off the M6 motorway and continues towards Barrow-in-Furness.
Bus services operate around Ulverston town centre to the surrounding villages and housing estates. Given the town's diminutive size, though, it is unlikely that any visitor will want to explore beyond the centre.
- 1 Hoad Monument (from the town centre, Hoad Monument is a 30-minute walk, with some steep inclines on the hill). A mock lighthouse building on Hoad Hill that overlooks the town. On some Sundays and Bank Holidays in the Summer, it is open to visitors - look for a red flag flying in front of the entrance. Inside the monument, visitors can climb the steps to the top for a spectacular view of the southern Lake District (on clear days).
- 2 Laurel and Hardy Museum, The Roxy, Brogden Street, LA12 7AH, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. The town's main tourist attraction. Stan Laurel was born in Ulverston; he left when he was six though. Nonetheless, the museum hosts various artifacts from Laurel's house, along with posters and other memorabilia. It's worth spending a half-hour there if you've seen Laurel and Hardy films.
Other sights: for most of the year, Ulverston is much the same as any small town - little activity of note. Late in the year, Ulverston holds a flag week where flags are displayed from shops and homes, and in September you'll see the Lantern Parade, where townsfolk (primarily children) spend an evening walking around the town holding candle-lit lanterns made from bamboo and paper. This event is accompanied by music and is an interesting, if limited, sight to see.
Ulverston has an impressively large old-style cinema with long draped curtains swinging open to reveal the film. It shows most of the big blockbuster movies (although often a week or two after their widespread UK showings).
The Coronation Hall in the centre is home to various artistic performances throughout the year. Pop by to see if there are any music concerts, Jazz trios, plays etc. performing during your visit.
The Coronation Hall is also home to the Tourist Information Centre, which mostly serves to provide information and bookings for travel in the Lake District. You can also enjoy watching Ulverston carnival once a year! For more information visit the tourist information centre in the town centre.
Dickensian Festival: every November, the town holds a Dickensian Festival celebrating times of yore, with shopkeepers dressed up in old-fashioned costume and various stalls set up around Market Street. There are usually games and activities for children too.
Ulverston is a haven for the fashion shopper who is tired of the choice offered by the chain stores found in most large towns. It has numerous independent fashion outlets in and around the town centre and once a year for a week in October holds a fashion festival. Aside from Boots, Tesco, Co-op, Bodycare, Blockbuster and Spar there are no major chains in the town. The Booths supermarket, on the edge of the town (A590 route towards the M6), has a wide range of food and drinks. Various craft shops are spread around the centre which are useful for picking up gifts and souvenirs.
Market days: Thursdays and Saturdays are market days, where temporary stalls are set up along the main shopping streets in the centre, selling everything from fresh fish to clothes and gadgets. It has dwindled to a handful of stalls, although it's still worth browsing around for that twee market town feel.
Small cafes abound - the Hot Mango Cafe on King Street is particularly good for a lunchtime snack and a cup of tea. There are no fast-food chains aside from Greggs. For evening meals, the Jade Fountain caters for Chinese food fans, while the Raj serves Indian food. Several Chinese take-aways are scattered around the centre, along with several kebab shops for those midnight peckish moments.
At one point, Ulverston had the highest pub-to-population ratio in the world. Visitors will still be surprised by the number of pubs - there are a few on every street around the town centre, and most have a welcoming traditional feel with local ales and the occasional log fire in Winter. See the Rose and Crown on King Street; the King's Arms on Queen Street; or the Swan near canal head for comfy, hospitable pubs.
If you fancy a livelier evening, McKenzies nightclub stays open until 1AM or 2AM on Friday and Saturday evenings. It tends to be frequented by groups of people, though, and can be prone to the odd spate of fighting, so if you're travelling on your own it's better to stick with the pubs in the town centre where you have a chance of meeting and talking to townsfolk.
- 1 Lonsdale House Hotel, 11 Daltongate, ☏ .
- 2 Bay Horse, Canal Foot, Ulverston LA12 9EL, ☏ . Pub restaurant with nine rooms on the sea shore, a former coaching inn, at least for those stage coaches that made it across from Morecambe before the tide hurtled in. (It still sometimes forms a bore wave, though less often than in bygone years.) Great comfort and dining. No children under 9. B&B double £110.
Like most small and quiet English towns, Ulverston rarely suffers from any serious crime. It's always a good idea to keep track of your belongings - especially in busy pubs at night where mobile phones can go 'missing'. McKenzies is the only nightclub, and can become rowdy on Friday and Saturday nights, so avoid and stick to the quieter pubs if you don't want noisy (and drunk) youngsters around, and avoid the usual drunks at midnight in the centre.
- Barrow-in-Furness is 10 miles southwest
- Grange-over-Sands is a pleasant coastal town, 15 miles east. Nearby Cartmel has a priory and is the "home" of sticky toffee pudding.