The Lake District, with its fell mountains, glacial lakes and literary associations, has long had a siren call for walkers. The varied towns scattered about the region each have their own appeal; some simply as a gateway to the area’s most spectacular routes, others as a destination in themselves. Kendal is one such place: a historic market town well connected by its own station, Kendal has become a cultural hub over the years, with heritage sites, galleries and restaurants that are worth seeking out in their own right. You could even clock up a decent number of steps exploring the Antiques Emporium here, navigating through stands filled with vintage homewares, mid-century and modern furniture, antiquated books and more.
In town, we recommend connecting the innovative Cross Lane Projects, with its superb roster of contemporary exhibitions, with the prestigious Abbot Hall Art Gallery and excellent Brewery Arts Centre by walking along the scenic footpath that follows the River Kent – not least for the chance to spot a couple of playful otters. Alternatively, make a culinary tour of Kendal’s streets, starting at the welcoming Fell Bar and going on to tapas at Comida, or the seasonal menu at The Joshua Tree. The annual Kendal Torchlight Carnival is another, truly magical way to get to know the town: follow the colourful parade of handmade torches, watch the music and dancing on the festival floats and stop at the pop-up bars and street food vendors along the way.
Satellite to Kendal are some remarkable heritage spots to explore: Kendal Castle, a steep climb and skirted by woodland paths, dominates the town’s skyline, while National Trust property Sizergh Castle sits in a 1,600 acre estate south of Kendal, threaded with walking routes or with two dedicated trails to follow. There’s Levens Hall, a magnificent Elizabethan house with stunning collections inside, which is surrounded by the world’s oldest topiary garden and, beyond that, a deer park. For a wilder, and windier route, head for the slopes of Scout Scar; it’s a bit of a climb, but you’ll be rewarded with extraordinary views from the top. Read on to discover more of our top walks in and around Kendal –the perfect starting point for exploring this incredible part of the world.