You don’t have to look far for a great day out in Cumbria. One place to explore that comes to mind is a fabulously historical town placed in between The Lake District and The Yorkshire Dales. The town has some bespoke shops, cosy cafes, cobbled streets, friendly locals, and is as far away from a “sleepy old town” as you can get. If you haven’t guessed it by now, Kirkby Lonsdale is definitely on our top list to visit when staying in and around The Lake District.
Once you have traversed some slightly twisty countryside roads surrounded by a backdrop of hills and expansive fields, you will find yourself faced with an elegant Georgian square at the centre of town. Iconic in design and structure, the central ‘crown’ makes the distinctive square instantly recognisable in historical photos of the town, barely changing over hundreds of years. This brings us to the first item on our list:
1. The Kirkby Lonsdale Charter Market
For those visiting on a Thursday, you can treat yourself to a wander around the Charter Market. A great place to get some local produce, jewellery, plants, and a quick snack before continuing your journey. The market has been running since 1227, so they’ve had a while to perfect it!
2. Local Businesses
Continuing with the shopping theme, the area that surrounds the market is full of some really fantastic shops and cafes. A personal favourite is the old fashioned sweet shop, that still to this day measures sweet in quarters. A fabulous shop to visit, even for the sucrose adverse.
Along with the Crossing Point Café, and the delicious Lunsedale Bakery (we recommend the egg custard), there are a whole host of cafés and nooks and crannies to explore, so you can be sure to find the perfect place to suit your appetite. There are also some unique places to find the perfect gift in such as Parma Violet, Bath House, and K70 Ooh La La just across the street from one another.
3. Devil’s Bridge
Once stocked up on local supplies, a trip down to the River Lune, and Devil’s Bridge is a must. Looking over the bridge to the water below can be quite daunting and not for the faint hearted, so a walk along the River may be more appropriate. If you do pluck up the courage to cross it, there is a gourmet Burger Van on the other side, and just a short walk from that – Woodclose Park.
The bridge’s name is derived from a local myth involving an old lady separated from her fields, and the Devil. They made a pact so that the Devil would get the soul of the first living thing to cross the bridge. The somewhat macabre tale ends with a dog being tricked to cross the bridge, but if you want to know the details you’ll have to ask a local.
4. River Lune, Radical Steps, and Ruskin’s View
Instead of listening to disturbing myths, walking along the river is a popular option for many visiting the area, often bringing picnics to graze on whilst their feet are dipped in the cool river water below. Walking along the river away from Devil’s bridge will eventually bring you to a fairly well-known spot suitably named “The Radical Steps”. Faced with 86 stone steps (believe us, we’ve counted!) this portion of the walk is not for the fainthearted. The reward is well worth the climb though as you are treated just a few yards from the top to Ruskin’s View.
After being suitably inspired yourself by the Poet’s favourite view, a walk around St Mary’s cathedral less than 100 meters away is a great way to finish the walk. The grounds are pristine, with some parts of the Church dating back to the early 12th century.
5. Walks, walks, & more walks
One of the most popular things to do around Kirkby Lonsdale is to walk around the area to experience it first-hand. The town itself is treated to a year round backdrop of rolling hills, and the urge to go explore them strikes many. Great nearby walks include Barbon Beck and Hutton Roof, both approximately 4 miles from Kirkby Lonsdale. With so much flora and fauna along the way it is a great opportunity for nature lovers, fully immersing yourself in what the countryside has to offer.
6. Night Life
For such a small town, it is quite surprising how it is just as bustling even after the sun has gone down. Due partly to the friendly locals, and the award winning eateries, if you can stay for a meal in Kirkby you won’t regret it.
Settling down in The Royal Hotel, The Orange Tree, Platos, or any of the many restaurants and pubs the small town has to offer will give you a fabulously cosy countryside dining experience. There are options for every appetite, and some fantastic local produce on offer.
So, if you have a spare day when visiting the Lake District and surrounds, then no holiday would be complete without a day trip out to Kirkby Lonsdale. The town has something to offer for everyone, and can give you a really authentic countryside experience for the day. Let us know in the comments below what your favourite thing to do in Kirkby is.
If you are planning to visit in June, the town will be hosting the Traditional Irish Music Festival from the 28th June to 30th June 2019. The town will be visited by over 300 competing musicians of all ages with their chosen instruments for a place in the national finals held in Ireland. They are currently looking for volunteers to help on the day, so if you are interested please get in touch.