I visited Ulverston last year with friends and my partner. We drove down from Scotland, and the route was fairly simple, until we reached the town itself. That's when we got a little lost. But after asking some friendly locals we were soon pointed in the direction of the cottage we would be staying at. First of all though we had to pick up our keys from the owner of the cottage who was in the local pub. First impressions - not so great. His face fell, as did his wives, when they seen us. Apparently the cottage is meant for families only, and not groups of five adults, which the website we booked with didn't explain - so our welcome wasn't the warmest.
After settling in and putting the initial meeting behind us we were able to enjoy the rest of our holiday. Ulverston is small, and charming with it's cobbled streets and dinky shops. There are market days on Thursdays and Saturdays. I bought lots of caramel shortcake, macaroon and a great cut of pork for a bargain price. The locals are generally friendly, especially shopkeepers who are always keen for a blether with the tourists.
There are many, many places to eat. Our favourite was Farmer's - a pub with much better than pub grub grub :P I got cumberland sausage and mash with a thick home-made gravy both times we went - absolutely delicious! The atmosphere was good and it was always busy so pre-book! There's also a great Italian restaurant (the name of which escapes me right now) but it had a buffet. Buffet + Italian food = fat, happy me. The other places we tried were okay too, but those were stand outs. In fact, we loved Farmers so much that we're considering driving back to Ulverston (about a 3 hour drive, each way) just to have dinner there and come back home.
As for other activities to keep you occupied in Ulverston - well there aren't many (unless you arrive during one of their many festivals) Ulverston itself has the world's only Laurel and Hardy museum (Stan Laurel was born in Ulverston). There is of course the fabulous Lakes Glass centre, where you can buy various glass and crystal wares, but you can also see how the glass is blown and carved - sounds boring, but it's actually quite exciting. It helps that the glass blowers were cute too!
However Ulverston is a great base to explore elsewhere. We went to the South Lakes Wild Animal Park, which is a pretty short journey in the car. The prices for admission are:
Adults - £13.50
Children - £8.00 (3-15 years)
Seniors - £9.00
It might seem steep, but this is the best animal park/zoo I've ever been to. There are certain areas where you just get to walk around with the animals freely - like lemurs and emus. I also got to stand in a little enclosure with Humboldt penguins, which was really exciting. Penguins are my absolute favourite animals, and these little guys are pretty inquisitive. There are so many animals, and many hours will be spent here just 'ohh'-ing and 'ahh'-ing. It's well worth a visit if you're in the area.
We also went to the Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre, which is a Buddhist Monastery. Again it's not a very long drive away from Ulverston. It was amazing. I never expected to feel any sort of spiritual connection to the monastery, but I did. It's just a really calm, tranquil place. Everyone is really friendly and eager for you to have a look around. Outside of the monastery, through a small wooded area there's a beach (a stone beach, but a beach all the same) It was really cool just hanging out here and paddling in the water (which was freezing, by the way!)
Our trip to Ulverston flew in far too quickly, there were many more things I wanted to do but never got the chance. I'd highly recommend it as a less touristy Lake District destination, and a great base for exploring other parts of the Lakes.
In order to explore though, you really need to be able to drive. Otherwise you're pretty much resigned to spending your time in Ulverston town, which is lovely, but not exactly packed with activities.
We stayed in Ulverston a couple of years ago but intend to go back. The town is very traditional and appears to have very little crime and vandalism. We stayed at the Lonsdale House Hotel which is more or less in the town centre and as we stayed half board we did not eat out. There are plenty of shops, cafes and public transport is excellent, even if you wish to tour Windermere etc. As for nightlife, we had an excellent time, on the Friday night we found the pubs lively yet friendly and as the local nightclub was reccommended we felt obliged to take a look, for a small fee we were pleasantly surprised and stayed to the end. All in all, Ulverston has something for everyone and is very pleasant yet not over-ridden with tourists.
Ulverston is an ideal place to stay if you want to visit the Lake District and other parts of Cumbria but want to avoid the mass crowds of Bowness and Ambleside. Situated in the South Lakes Pennisula, the small market town of Ulverston is on the edge of the Lake District National Park. The town is often promoted as a festival town due to the amount of gatherings that take place each year. Such events include a walking festival, beer festival, flag festival, comedy festival, and best of all the annual lantern procession which takes place each September. Ulverston can also lay claim to being the birthplace of Stan Laurel and having the World's only Laurel and Hardy Museum. There is a wide range of accomodation on offer from a hostel to the more luxurious hotels. There are also plenty of restaurants and cafes dotted around the town centre, which offer Chinese, Indian, Italian, Spanish, vegetarian, and of course English food. However, (and perhaps most importantly) there are loads and loads of good pubs! All-in-all a great place to stay if you like small, friendly towns with lots of character. Ulverston is ideal for those wishing to visit Windermere, Coniston Water, (both of which are about 30-minutes drive) Barrow-in-Furness, and the West Coast of Cumbria. Even Carlisle, which is in the far north of the county, is only an hour away by car.