What's Up: Ulverston

'What's Up' is a very fitting title for this post, because one of the main reasons to visit the Cumbrian town of Ulverston is Hoad Hill, and its lighthouse-like monument. We visited this weekend and couldn't have asked for a better day. Beautifully clear blue skies, sunshine, and a bitter breeze that was most welcome after the short climb to the top. 

The walk starts through Ford Park, a setting that is obviously well used and much loved within the local community. They have a woodland trail, a main hall where classes such as seated yoga are held, a courtyard cafe, and perhaps the cutest garden I've ever seen. Tucked at one end, through what looks like a fairy door, is a tiny wedding chapel, while the other end has a modern room built for childrens' activities. Evidence of the crafting is found all around the garden, with Alice in Wonderland themed suncatchers, big knitted bees, scarecrows, and even a papier mache dog faithfully guarding it all. 

I'm wearing a yellow coat and sat on a rock formation up Hoad Hill, with green field and Morecambe Bay behind me
left: a suncatcher showing hoad hill monument, with the real hill and monument in the background behind it. Right: a paper model of a black and white border colliea tree bearing knitted fruits in ford park, ulverston
I'm wearing a yellow coat and standing in front of a small blue door set in an old stone wall

From the garden you can take a number of trails to the top or stop at the benches along the way and enjoy the view across to Morecambe Bay. The path we took was pretty steep in some parts, but we took it steady and reached the monument in around 20 minutes. The monument was closed that day but frankly I was thrilled not to climb any more steps, and more than happy to gaze out at the town, the rolling hills, and right across to Morecambe- after snapping some obligatory shots, of course.

If you'd like to see more of Ulverston you could take a different trail down from the monument, but we chose to travel a little further afield to somewhere altogether unusual. A 10 minute drive from Ford Park will take you to Conishead Priory, a Buddhism and World Peace centre tucked out in the countryside. As we turned down the driveway, I certainly didn't expect to see a temple adorned in gold rising over the hedges, but the peaceful, natural setting is really the perfect place for reflection and respect for the Earth.

conishead priory buddhist temple: a large grey building sat in a garden. It has pillars, floor-to-ceiling windows, and golden statues on the roof
I'm sitting at a sunny table outdoors wearing a dark blue jumper and eating a piece of cake
conishead priory- a huge, ornate Victorian building built in red brick with beige window surrounds

The centre is surrounded by its own woodland, which leads to a shoreline. We skimmed stones, searched for 'treasure' (sea glass and shells) then wandered back through the wood, working up an appetite for the world cafe where vegetarian food is quite literally made and served with love. The monks run it all and treat every visitor so kindly, making it a very calm and positive place to refuel. I chose a cheese scone and raspberry lemonade, and sat in the sunshine to enjoy it before going to visit the temple itself. 

I had never been to a temple before, and loved that the glass doors let in the sunlight and beautiful views of the garden. The statues and images were brightly coloured, and it was surprising to see that the offerings left to them included quinoa puffs, shortbread, and chocolate brioche- these deities have good taste! While the area was sacred, it was also very welcoming, with guests being invited to join in meditation sessions. I chose not to, but soaking up the atmosphere from the people and natural soundings was enough to leave me feeling blissful. 


Have you visited Ulverston? For more Cumbria inspiration and inspiration read about my break in the lakes.


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