What’s going for it? Auld Grey Town, they call it, and under a heavy blanket of cloud and drizzle rolled in from the fells, it sure is, though the cheerier among you may notice the light sparkle in the stones of its limestone streets, and the fact that the steeply sloping sides of the town mean the lush green fields of the countryside are never far from sight. (You have the luxury of not one but two of the most magnificent national parks – the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales – at the edge of town.) What Kendal lacks in colour, though, it makes up for with joie de vivre, seemingly permanently in festival mode. The tweeness that bedevils much of the Lake District is absent. Instead, it’s a proper Cumbrian (though, correctly, Westmorland-ian) place, where they still make snuff and mint cake, and sheep-shearers hunker down in the pubs. Cultural behemoths Abbot Hall and Brewery Arts Centre have a roster of great lineups. But there’s something in the water, too. This wee town gave birth to Wild Beasts and British Sea Power, Postman Pat, and, beside that sheep-shearer in the pub there’s probably a painter, a poet or a grime-jazz fusionist nursing a pint.
The case against The traffic: it seems as if the whole town is one gigantic gyratory system. The rain: love it, or leave town.
Well connected? Very. Trains: Kendal is on a branch line to Windermere (17 mins, hourly); the west coast mainline is just outside at Oxenholme (5 mins, hourly), from which Carlisle is about 40 mins, Lancaster 13-19 mins, and Preston 33 mins. Driving: you’re right on the M6, so Lancaster is 30 mins, Preston 50; 25 mins to Windermere and the heart of the Lakes, an hour to Carlisle.
Hang out at… Red Door Kitchen, the Grainstore at Brewery Arts Centre or, yes, they have smashed avocado here, at Brew Brothers. Me? I’ll be at The Punch Bowl in Crossthwaite 15 mins out of town.
Where to buy The centre has steep streets of fine, grey limestone property, from 18th century to early Edwardian, especially. Loaded up with conservation areas: gawp on Beast Banks and Gillinggate and down their ginnels and yards. The roads out of town have fine Victorian homes. West Brigsteer Road, backing on to the national park, and Burneside Road along the river Kent, are most prized. Large detacheds and townhouses, £400,000-£1.25m. Detacheds and smaller townhouses, £240,000-£400,000. Semis, £170,000-£400,000. Terraces and cottages, £110,000-£385,000. Flats, £85,000-£250,000. Rentals: a one-bedroom flat, £375-£575pcm; a three-bedroom house, £700-£800pcm.
Bargain of the week Four-bed farmhouse with outbuildings and land. Needs modernisation, but loads of potential; £599,950, with rturner.co.uk.
From the streets
Nick Greenall ‘The meandering alleyways, or ginnels, up on Fell Side that resemble a tumbling Tuscan hillside village.’
Richard Ashcroft ‘Plenty of places to eat, or see a band. Couple this with the closeness to Lakes national park and the Dales and you’re living the dream.’
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