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Time out: Ruskin's refuge

02 November 2006

Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria.

Delightful market town situated in the beautiful Vale of Lune, south-east Cumbria, an area much painted by Turner. “I do not know in all my own country, still less in France or Italy, a place more naturally divine,” said the critic and social theorist John Ruskin.

Getting there
Nearer for southerners than you’d think. By car, they should head up the M6 to junction 36. By public transport, Intercity trains stop at Oxenholme (Euston to Oxenholme takes three hours) and then it’s a 20-minute taxi or a slightly longer bus journey to the town centre.

What so see
St Mary the Virgin, the Norman parish church (pictured below); Devil’s Bridge, the 12th-century triple-arched bridge; Ruskin’s View, a panorama of the Lune best seen from St Mary’s Churchyard. The pretty town centre boasts wonderful Georgian buildings and a variety of independent shops.

Within 20 miles
You would need several weeks to see all the area has to offer. There is the southern Lake District, with all its attractions; rivalling it for beauty is Lancashire’s Trough of Bowland, a 300-square-mile Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Cafés range from traditional teahouses, such as Victoria Plum and the Bay Tree, to more upmarket newcomers: Sorrel & Thyme and Cariad. Hearty meals are available in most pubs. If you are staying for the evening, you could head with the fashionable crowd to Avanti, a restaurant and bar that would not look out of place in London.

There’s too much to see in a day. Stay a few nights, using the town as a base to explore the area. Local pubs offer comfortable accommodation; try the Snooty Fox, the Orange Tree or the Sun Inn. A less expensive option is the Copper Kettle bed and breakfast. At the end of your trip, take home crumbly Lancashire cheese and home-made pies from the town’s butcher.

Low Points
You won’t want to leave, and second homes are now too expensive even for many professionals.

Further information
Tourist office, phone 015242 71437; visit www.kirkbylonsdale.co.uk.

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