Kendal, the southern ‘gateway’ to the Lake District and home of the Kendal Mint Cake, is a great spot if you want access to stunning untamed countryside.

Known as ‘Auld Grey’ because of its soft grey stone buildings, Kendal has grown up on either side of the River Kent in the south of Cumbria.

It’s surrounded by the national parks of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales and within easy reach of the Arnside and Silverdale and Forest of Bowland Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. So, it’s something of a property hotspot for those who seek harmony with the Great Outdoors.

Average property prices sit at £257,000 which is noticeably above Cumbria overall (you can check the latest prices here). Expect to pay around £380,000 for a four-bedroom detached house and in the region of £120,000 for a one-bedroom flat.

Check out other Cumbrian areas by reading our guides on Cockermouth, Carlisle and Workington.

What to expect living in Kendal

Much of Kendal’s character is reflected in the castle ruins that overlook the town and its surrounding countryside. And many of its buildings are cut from the local grey limestone which blends the town into its surroundings.

Thanks to its location between the Lake District National Park and the Yorkshire Dales, Kendal has a lot to offer tourists and locals – it’s renowned for its fishing, walking, climbing, horse-riding and cycling.

But, these days, the town also comes with a thriving entertainment and arts scene as well as a growing foodie culture. There’s also five shopping arcades, several markets and a selection of traditional shops and tea rooms.

End of terrace house in Kendal

Where to start your property search

In town: The centre and suburbs of Kendal represent a good mix of grand period homes, townhouses, terraces and apartments. Some come with gardens which back onto the rolling fields and countryside.

In the heart of the town, Kendal’s ginnels (alleyways) and yards, where artisans such as weavers and dyers once ran their businesses, offer a combination of compact stone houses and apartments set behind the shops. Some offer views across to the castle ruins and over the river. Many come with allocated parking spaces.

If you’re searching for something with the ‘wow’ factor, try the Georgian properties around Thorny Hills, close to Gooseholme Park. Castle Road, for example is home to picturesque cottages with ornate gable ends and candy-coloured rendering.

Vicarage Park and Kendal Green areas are popular with families thanks to the proximity of good primary and secondary schools. The suburban roads close to Heron Hill are good for bungalows, more suitable for retirees or downsizers.

For mid-20th-century semi-detached houses and a range of executive homes, look to the south side of Kendal. Roads such as Valley Drive and Bluebell Close offer residents easy access to Oxenholme station and the London to Glasgow West Coast line and, for drivers, Junctions 36 and 37 of the M6 motorway.

Out of town: If you are looking for something rural and isolated, try one of the villages on the edge of the Lake District. Underbarrow for example, is close to the Lyth Valley but still operates fast transport links to the cities and large regional towns.

Burneside is also popular thanks to its rail station, bakery, grocers shop, cricket and football clubs and the Jolly Anglers pub. Alternatively, Cartmel has become a hotspot for top chefs and gastronomes.

If you like a blast of fresh sea air, consider Grange-over-Sands, a coastal resort that gained popularity with wealthy industrialists in the Edwardian era.

Grange has a promenade several parks and a railway station that operates regular services into Kendal. Find the right property and you’ll benefit from views of Morecambe Bay and beyond.

Bungalow in Kendal

Getting around Kendal

By rail: Oxenholme station, on the main West Coast line, lies around 1.5 miles south of Kendal. It operates high-speed services to Glasgow which takes two hours, to London Euston which takes three hours, and to Manchester Piccadilly which takes 75 minutes.

Burneside, which is 2.5 miles north of the Kendal, runs trains to Windermere in journey times of 15 minutes. A branch line links all three of Kendal’s local stations.

By road: The A6 runs through Kendal and it’s a 10-minute drive from the town to Junction 36 of the M6. From there, Glasgow is around 150 miles and less than three hours away; London is 270 miles and five hours’ drive away and Manchester is 86 miles and around two hours away.

Windermere, to the east of Kendal, is just a 15-minute drive while Barrow-in-Furness is a 50-minute drive south-east on the A590.

By air: Manchester Airport can be reached in 90 minutes by car and has three terminals serving places all over the world. Domestic services include destinations such as Belfast, Exeter, Inverness, Jersey and London. Flight operators include Flybe, Ryanair and easyJet.

Detached house in Kendal

Things to do in Kendal

History: Abbot Hall is the town’s only Grade I-listed building. The main Georgian building is now an art gallery and holds collections by artists including John Ruskin and George Romney. The hall stables host the Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry, and feature items that belonged to children’s author Arthur Ransome, writer of “Swallows and Amazons”, who settled in the town.

The Kendal Museum in Station Road is one of England’s oldest. It showcases an exhibition that tells the story of Kendal Castle.

Cultural: The Brewery Arts Centre is the local hub for live music, theatre, cinema and arthouse films. It was converted from a brewery and re-opened in 1972 and is now a key cultural destination. As well as films and performances, it also hosts regular art exhibitions.

Kendal hosts a number of high-profile festivals across the year. The Lakes International Comic Art Festival is held every autumn and brings cartoonists together with Manga artists, comic creators and collectors.

The Mountain Festival offers outdoor enthusiasts the chance to view the latest specialist equipment.

Outdoors: The ruins of Kendal Castle are an excellent spot from which to view the town. If your horizons lie further afield, the Lake District National Park boundary is one mile away to the west and the Yorkshire Dales start on the town’s eastern fringes.

The boundaries of both national parks were extended in 2016, so now there are 1,753 square miles of accessible countryside to explore, either on foot, by bike or even on horseback. Hike up Scout Scar for views over both the Lake District Fells and the Yorkshire Dales, or take to the lakes for sailing, boating, canoeing and kayaking.

If you want to start climbing or bouldering, Kendal Wall, set in a former milk drying plant, is one of the top-rated indoor climbing centres in the country.

Shopping: Kendal is a busy shopping destination. It has five arcades in total, including K Village, which offers up to 60% off recommended retail prices. Wainwright’s Yard is the place to look for high-quality independent shops as well as popular brands, and the Westmorland Shopping Centre has more than 30 shops to browse.

Food and drink: Kendal Mint Cake is the town’s most famous foodstuff, but the area is also famous for Cumberland sausages, Lyth Valley damsons (and damson gin) and the locally made cheeses. The monthly farmers’ market in the town square offers the perfect opportunity to taste and buy.

You can find plenty of bars, restaurants and cafés (try the Riverside Café) in the centre of Kendal. However, it’s the nearby medieval village of Cartmel that’s become renowned as a foodie destination, thanks in part to the Michelin-starred restaurant L’Enclume and chef Simon Rogan, who also runs The Pig & Whistle.

The village shop is famed for its award-winning sticky toffee pudding (so good, it’s stocked in both Fortnum & Mason and Selfridges) and the village also has its own brewery and cheese shop.

View from Kendal Castle

Hidden Kendal

Look out for the name of Alfred Wainwright on various buildings and sites around Kendal. He was an honoured guidebook author and fell walker who settled in the town for most of his life.

5 reasons to live in Kendal

  • Proximity to the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks

  • Easy access to the M6 and the main West Coast rail line

  • Mix of Georgian houses, Victorian terraces and river view apartments

  • Thriving foodie and arts scene

  • Excellent choice of shops and markets

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