We’ve just had a great adventure to Ulverston in Jolly. It was thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. We knew we’d enjoy this break but it far exceeded our expectations. The lovely town, friendly people, and no shortage of things to see and do really made for an excellent stay and we reckon we’ll be re-visiting time and again in the future for a regular fix. We’ll also be sure to pay a visit at Christmas time one year for the town’s Dickensian Festival.
Ulverston is a market town in the South Lakeland district of Cumbria, North West England. It was previously located in Lancashire before changes to boundaries. It is very much a festival town, attracting visitors from far and wide for a variety of festivals throughout the year. Check out this link for the full list of events and details of the town’s history:-
The reason for our visit was Suzie’s interest in the town’s link to Stan Laurel, of the legendary Laurel & Hardy comedy duo. He was born Arthur Stanley Jefferson at his grandparents house in Ulverston on 16th June 1890, and spent the first 6 years of his life in the town before moving away. We both remember watching the old black and white L&H films as children in the school holidays. Shame they don’t still televise them, a whole generation are missing out these comedy legends …
… First things first though! We stayed at Bardsea Leisure Park on Priory Road, about a 25 minute walk/10 minute cycle from the town centre. It’s the only caravan park we could find actually within Ulverston itself and it was perfectly adequate for our stay.
We used our onboard toilet/shower facilities so didn’t experience the site facilities. There are touring pitches among residential caravans and seasonal pitches. The park is also part of a caravan & motorhome sales business, and there was quite frequent use of empty touring pitches around us for the storage of caravans and motorhomes that were on sale. It wasn’t the quietest of stays in the mornings, quite busy with vehicles to-ing and fro-ing, but it was fine for us as we were out and about for the majority of our stay and only really used the site for sleeping. All the pitches were fully serviced with electric, water and waste points which was definitely a bonus.
Again, the weather was good. The first day we sat out for a couple of hours in the warm sunshine, the second day was more overcast but still quite warm as we ventured around town.
We explored the area via pushbike. Initially we turned right out of the caravan park and followed Priory Road to the coastline with the plan of cycling along the coast road to the Bay Horse Hotel at the canal foot for an evening meal. However, as our map didn’t cover this area it was only on reaching the coast that we realised the road didn’t link for cyclists so, after a detour, we headed back into the town centre for our first evening, but not before getting the camera out and capturing the stunning view.
On the way into town we passed Argyle Street, the birthplace of Stan Laurel and took some photos of his old house and the plaque that hangs on the wall.
We had a wander up the cobbled Market Street towards the Market Cross at the top. The town has outdoor market stalls there on Thursdays and Saturdays and an indoor market in the market hall on New Market Street Monday-Saturday (not Wednesday).
It soon became apparent that there is no shortage of pubs, cafes and restaurants in Ulverston. A comprehensive list of these can be found at this link:-
We decided to eat at The Farmers (previously The Farmers Arms) at the top of Market Street, but first we stopped off for a drink at the Hope & Anchor pub just around the corner. This traditional pub serves a good range of cask and keg ales, and according to its website … “You will be guaranteed a quirky night of entertainment with local folk musicians some tasty nibbles and a strong desire to come back”. This is SO true! There’s a warm welcome with friendly banter and a very relaxed atmosphere. We felt like locals within a few minutes! We had a couple of drinks before our meal and were keen to return afterwards for a nightcap and to listen to a live jazz band before cycling back to camp.
The Farmers restaurant is known as THE place to eat in the area and we were suitably impressed. It was a Thursday night and the restaurant was fully booked up till late. We waited in the outside seating area for a while and got chatting to a friendly local who shared his local knowledge with us to help us make the most of our stay (thanks Colin! 👍). Soon enough a table by the fire in the bar area became available so our patience paid off and we had an excellent meal and evening. We’d recommend this place without hesitation but you’d be wise to book if you wanted to eat in the restaurant at a specific time, definitely so at weekends.
There’s no shortage of things to see and do in this town. As time was limited though, rather than rush to fit everything in we took it slowly leaving plenty to do on our next visit.
The next day, as planned, we visited the Laurel & Hardy Museum
We spent the whole afternoon there, it was amazing reading up on the story of L&H and viewing lots of memorabilia, including furniture from Stan’s childhood home, personal letters he wrote, and sitting in a small purpose-built cinema watching a number of clips which play all day through. Fantastic! Photography is allowed inside so Suzie snapped away:-
After a fab few hours happily lost in the world of L&H we emerged back into the present day, and walked around the corner to Coronation Hall to see the statue that stands there.
We finished the afternoon off with a cream tea at Gillam’s on Market Street. This cafe/shop was est’d in 1892 and is another link to the young Stan. It was a sweet shop and he used to buy Beers Treacle Toffee here with his Grandmother.
We finished the day off with a bike ride through town and along the canal, which in itself has an interesting history. It was built after Ulverston was declared a port town despite being situated over a mile away from the bay, necessitating this link to enable the transport of goods.
It’s a pleasant ride along the towpath which brings you out at the Bay Horse Hotel at the canal foot.
Next visit we might dine there in the restaurant overlooking the bay.
This time, however, we just had a drink or two before heading back to camp along the country roads before nightfall and chilling out with a meal back at Jolly.
Next time we’ll probably visit Conishead Priory and the Hoad monument which towers over the town.
Another top trip and only a couple of weeks until our next Jolly adventure to …… Oswestry.
Suzie & Bri