Things to do in Kirkby Lonsdale
The art critic, painter and poet John Ruskin was one of Kirkby Lonsdale’s biggest fans, reportedly having said of it: ‘I do not know in all my own country, still less in France or Italy, a place more naturally divine’. If you follow the path through St Mary’s churchyard, you’ll soon arrive at a spot known locally as ‘Ruskin’s View’, although it was also captured in oils by JMW Turner more than two centuries ago. Largely unchanged, it offers panoramic views over the River Lune and beyond. Well worth a stroll on a fine evening.
Just to the east of the town is one of Kirkby Lonsdale’s oldest attractions. Devil’s Bridge may date back to the thirteenth century and takes its name from a local legend. It’s claimed that the Devil himself built the bridge following a request from a local woman who couldn’t manage to persuade her livestock to ford the river. The Devil asked for payment in the form of the soul of the first body to cross the bridge. Unfortunately, the Devil wasn’t as canny as the old woman who threw a bun across which her small dog retrieved, so depriving the Devil of his payment. If you look closely, you can still see the Devil’s ‘handprint’ on one of the top stones.
Kirkby plays host to lots of annual occasions including a beer and music festival in May, a town-wide celebration of music in June, arts, food and culture events during the summer months, a famous bonfire on Guy Fawkes night and a popular Christmas Fair on the first weekend in December. You can find an up-to-date list of local events at the town’s official website.
There are plenty of historic houses and gardens to visit in the local area – Kirkby Lonsdale makes a great base for a sightseeing tour. The amazing topiaries of Levens Hall are reputed to be the oldest in the world have to be seen to be believed. Medieval Sizergh Castle (NT) is well worth a visit and makes a great day out for all the family. Leighton Hall hosts events including classic car rallies and outdoor performances of Shakespeare in the summer months.
Exploring the wider area
Kirkby is really well placed for touring north-west Lancashire and South Lakeland as well as The Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks. Just 15 minutes from Junction 36 of the M6, the town has great road links to Kendal to the north (20 minutes) and Lancaster to the south (30 minutes), both of which have west coast mainline rail links between Edinburgh/Glasgow and London. Lakeland resorts of Windermere and Ambleside make an easy day trip, as do the towns of Grange-over-Sands and Cartmel on the South Lakes peninsula.