Why you should move to Kirkby Lonsdale
- Credit: Kirsty Thompson
The attractive market town stands in one of the most beautiful locations and has a wealth of fine shops, pubs and cafes – and it’s within easy reach of larger towns and cities
It’s easy to see why Kirkby Lonsdale is a regular in the Sunday supplements’ lists of the best places to live in the UK.
The pretty market town is on the fringes of the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District and is surrounded by glorious countryside, wonderful views and some of the most beautiful walking and cycling routes you’ll find anywhere.
So it’s no surprise that it has seen more houses built in recent years which have seen the population grow rapidly. But while many small towns are in danger of losing their identity under a welter of new developments, Kirkby Lonsdale remains as beautiful and charming as it ever was.
First-time visitors – and anyone with an interest in finding out more about the town – should head to the Vault, an innovative attraction housed in a former bank. Here you’ll be able to find details of a series of walks around the town as well as information about Kirkby Lonsdale’s past through films which start as if by magic when visitors choose an item and place it on a table.
The town centre streets are lined with independent boutiques and stores, offering everything from books and antiques to interior design items and handbags, as well as delicious cheeses and bakers’ goods.
Kirkby Lonsdale was granted a Market Charter in 1227 and ever since then, the town has held a Charter Market every Thursday. It gathers around the Georgian square and is full of good things. An indoor market is held in Lunesdale Hall on market mornings, where you can buy basketfuls of fresh local produce and homemade cakes.
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And if you’re feeling hungry, you’re in luck. There is no shortage of top quality places to eat and drink, with a great selection of quaint tearooms, fashionable coffee shops, cosy pubs and restaurants like The Sun Inn, just outside the church gates, that has made it into the Michelin guide. A little out of the town, less than five minutes in the car at Cowan Bridge, is Hipping Hall, a restaurant with four AA Rosettes, where Peter Howarth became head chef after Oli Martin’s departure last year.
Back in Kirkby Lonsdale, if you think the place looks familiar, that may be because you’ve seen it on screen. Scenes from the recent Dr Doolittle film starring Robert Downey Jnr were filmed here, as was a 2014 television adaptation of Jamaica Inn.
Allan Muirhead moved to Kirkby Lonsdale in 1986 and became heavily involved with many organisations around the town. He’s been on the town council, edited the community newsletter and is a former chair of the Kirkby Lonsdale & Lune Valley Community Interest Company which works to promote the town and its surrounding areas.
‘It’s a nice town that grows on you,’ he told Lancashire Life. ‘It’s a very tight community and has a village feel to it. People look out for each other. It’s almost untouched by modernity and we hope people come to live here because they like the town as it is. They come for the schools, environment and quality of life.’
It’s devilishly good
Kirkby Lonsdale stands 20 miles from Lancaster, via the M6 and 35 miles from Clitheroe via the A65. It is on the doorstep of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales national parks and is surrounded by some of the finest scenery.
Walking routes are available from The Vault, but one of the most famous is well signposted. It leads through the pretty churchyard of St Mary’s, across the Devil’s Bridge, which legend has it was built by the Devil himself, over the River Lune about ten minutes walk from the centre of town, to Ruskin’s View.
It really is something special and Ruskin – the Victorian writer and painter whose house overlooked Coniston Water and who knew a thing or two about good views – called it ‘One of the loveliest views in England and therefore the world’. Turner agreed with him and painted it.
And for more famous names with local connections, visit Cowan Bridge a short drive away and see the school that Charlotte and Anne Bronte attended. Charlotte immortalised it as Lowood in, ‘Jane Eyre’ and a plaque on the wall will tell you more.
READ MORE: Great walks near Kirkby Lonsdale