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A day in Kirkby Lonsdale – things to do

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

We had a day in Kirkby Lonsdale, a pretty northern market town with so many things to do and see. This was part of a two-night UK mini break – our first destination, followed by the city of Lancaster. We did our trip without a car, which seemed to confuse many people, but it wasn’t difficult. Straight after leaving work in Manchester, we got the direct train to Oxenholme Lake District for a bargain £18 between us. Then an easy 15-minute taxi to Kirkby Lonsdale.

A hidden gem in Cumbria

Kirkby Lonsdale is in Cumbria, often overlooked for the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales because it’s on the edge of both. This means there are fewer tourists, which is good.

It’s absolutely picture-perfect, with lots of things to do/eat/drink. Worth going to in its own right and much better than the Lakes.

This ridiculously cute cottage with amazing view behind it says it all.

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

A beautiful B&B: the Horse Market

We stayed in the centre, at a new boutique B&B called Horse Market B&B. It’s on a little cobbled street called, unsurprisingly, Horse Market. Next to Swine Market. No prizes for guessing what used to be sold in these locations. As horse lovers, this was definitely fate.

After our royal messing up of our booking (ahem), we were lucky that they had a room, and we really enjoyed our night in this Farrow & Ball lovers’ dream house. The view from our window was equally glorious.

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

Chocolate-box cottages and cobblestones

After checking in, we went for a little mooch round the town. One of us (Caroline) spent nearly all childhood holidays in Kirkby Lonsdale, so she knows it well, but the other (Chris) had never been before. So we started off with a bit of a tour.

The obvious starting point was to walk past Kirkby Lonsdale’s finest selection of cute cottages.

That included this ultimate chocolate-box cottage, which has an incredible year-round floral display outside. It’s on a little cobbled path that leads through to the grounds of St Mary’s Church, which then handily lead through to The Sun Inn. And this is where we’d booked for our evening meal.

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

The Sun Inn: local food and beer

The Sun Inn has both pub dining and posher dining, and we went for the latter. This has the slightly fancier name of Carter at The Sun Inn and was superb.

Everything is locally sourced. We had roast quail and monkfish to start, followed by duck breast with granola and a hogget croquette. We generally live off stir fries so rich food pretty much killed us for the night but it was so worth it.

All washed down with some delicious (and oh-so-clear) Ruskin’s bitter from the local Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery. This was one of the nicest bitters either of us has ever had (equal only to The Grace from Sulwath Brewery in Castle Douglas, Scotland, if you’re interested).

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

After tea, we rolled up to The Orange Tree pub round the corner, also serving local ales. We didn’t get any photos worthy of the blog as it was dark at this point. But it was a very friendly pub with a lovely atmosphere and full of locals. Something about it felt like if you lived there, you’d be a regular.

Kirkby Lonsdale walks

The next morning, we were still full from our meals, but managed some eggs Benedict and bacon waffles at Plato’s restaurant, which was lovely. Quite a few B&Bs in the area seemed to be using it as somewhere to provide breakfast for guests.

We obviously then had to get some outfit shots on the steps of our B&B before heading off for a walk (or to continue the official Caroline’s childhood tour, depending on how you look at it).

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

In case you couldn’t tell already, Kirkby Lonsdale has more than its fair share of gorgeous houses.

This is the old manor house. It has an equally lovely little summer house in its garden that you’d be quite happy to live in with that view.

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

Devil’s Bridge and bacon butties

We walked down to the famous Devil’s Bridge on the River Lune. The bridge is probably one of Kirkby Lonsdale’s main landmarks and tourist attractions. It’s very old (Wikipedia says 1370).

Loads of bridges around the UK are called Devil’s Bridge, because people really liked to tell the same story and apply it to somewhere local.

Apparently, the Devil appeared to some woman, saying he’d build a bridge in exchange for the first soul to cross over it. She obviously really liked bridges and agreed to this so he built the bridge and showed up waiting for the first person to cross it. Not fancying it herself, the woman threw some bread over the bridge and her dog chased after it, thereby outwitting the Devil because apparently dogs don’t have souls. Please note, bread is not good for dogs and this woman was an idiot (and didn’t exist).

Anyway, it’s a pretty bridge.

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

More importantly, there’s an absolutely legendary food van on the bridge.

Home of childhood bacon butties for breakfast and famous with motorbiking people, who are queued up for it pretty much all day.

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

Ruskin’s view

We then walked back towards the town along the river, heading for the famous Ruskin’s view.

To get to this, we went up the 86 ‘radical’ steps. They are called the ‘radical steps’ although there’s absolutely nothing radical about them.

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

They’re worth the climb though, because this is the famous Ruskin’s view.

It’s called this because John Ruskin decided to announce in 1875 that he thought it was one of the loveliest views in England ‘and therefore the world’…

… He’d not been on holiday much.

But it is a really good view, taking in rolling meadows, the River Lune, woods and hills.

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

St Mary’s Church

The view is seen from the grounds of St Mary’s Church, pictured below. It’s a very pretty typical English church.

The grounds have an area left with long grass and wildflowers as a home for wildlife, and there’s also some nice floral borders. And a sundial.

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

Kirkby Lonsdale’s independent shops

We then had a ridiculously large portion of pea and ham soup with fresh bread at the Lunesdale Bakery before heading off for our bus to Lancaster.

Kirkby Lonsdale itself is full of lovely independent shops, tearooms and pubs. Unfortunately, because the main street is car-lined, it’s not the most photogenic as a whole, so we have no blog-worthy photos of it. There’s a really nice market square too (also full of cars), which is worth going to when the market is on on a Thursday.

Off the main road of Kirkby Lonsdale are lots of lovely side streets. They’re generally called brilliant olde worlde names like Salt Pie Lane.

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale - things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

We really enjoyed our brief visit. There’s also loads to see and do in the surrounding villages and countryside, and we’ll venture further afield next time. Barbon, Casterton, Hawes, Milnthorpe and Kendal are all close by. And lots of National Trust action to be had, including the excellent Sizergh Castle. So plenty of things left to do for our next visit…

In the mean time, do you have any suggestions for other pretty towns we would like? Anything similar to Kirkby Lonsdale, or bigger but still pretty like Shrewsbury. All I ask is that they have to be accessible by train and be in the north. Please leave any tips in the comments.

A day in Kirkby Lonsdale: useful information

How to get there

If you want a car-free trip, it’s perfectly doable. Train to Oxenholme Lake District (well connected and a lovely journey in itself). Then an easy 15-minute taxi to Kirkby Lonsdale.

Where to stay

We stayed in a new boutique B&B called Horse Market B&B. It’s on a little cobbled street called, unsurprisingly, Horse Market. Very stylish with lovely Farrow & Ball decorand great views. Breakfast is served just over the road at Plato’s restaurant.

How to get around

It’s only small and very walkable. There’s a decent bus service if you need to venture out but to see some beautiful nearby attractions, you do need a car.

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33 thoughts on “A day in Kirkby Lonsdale – things to do”

  1. I run a building firm in Lancaster and we did the Manor House up and converted the onion house you photo d
    Like to see what Lancaster offered you

  2. Kirkby Lonsdale is my home town I grew up there. I’ve never heard of the radical steps, certainly know of the 99 steps which are not 99 in number though.

  3. Loved the pictures! Is funny because I just had met today someone moving close to that area! I guess its a sign! Im keeping this post close because it might be useful!

  4. Kirkby Lonsdale looks absolutely enchanting! I feel like I’m looking at photos of a fairy tale. This is why smaller towns with a lot of history and old architecture steal my heart. I love this article and hope to make it to this town one day!

  5. This is such a great day trip post! Kirkby Lonsdale looks absolutely charming. It was definitely never a city on my bucket list when I visited the UK, but your pictures were very convincing! I’ll be pinning this for later!

  6. Looks great, I have never been and not too far from me either. I really should try and see more of England when I am home, I really don’t appreciate it enough!!

    1. Thanks, it is worth going to. I’m the same, we hardly ever do English breaks really – partly because it’s just cheaper to go abroad most of the time, but also because we’re kind of used to it and there’s no adventure. But 2 nights away is just right if it’s somewhere special like the Lake District. Scotland on the other hand, I’d happily travel through all the time! It feels much more like a proper holiday there.

  7. You article starts to make me change my opninon concerning visiting UK again … and I feel like I’m going to go there once again ! Thank you for new inspiration 🙂

  8. As soon as I saw the first picture in this post, I immediately scrolled down the page just to take in your pictures before reading everything. I love your style of photography and the scenery as well is just so cute! Definitely got my travel bug kicking 🙂 I also just enjoyed reading all the little details – like the facts, myths, stories, food suggestions, and fashion references. Great read!

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