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Visiting Kendal in the Lake District

England’s Lake District is surely one of the most beautiful areas in the country, and one of the less-advertised in many respects. Even so it is a very popular tourist attraction, and the town known as its southern gateway is Kendal, a small and lovely market town with a lot to offer a visitor.

The town is situated on the River Kent and about half an hour from the Yorkshire Dales National Park,

which makes it an ideal base for anyone who loves a nature ramble. Kendal is the largest town in southern Cumbria and has long been an important market place for the vast rural areas around it.

Back in the 14th century it became the major woolen cloth manufacturing centre in Northern England, with many mills on the river, but that industry has moved to other regions and today Kendal is most famous for its variety of wonderful architecture – and Kendal Mint Cake.

According to legend, a Kendal confectioner trying to produce glacier mints overcooked his recipe and ‘discovered’ Mint Cake. When it was marketed as an “energy bar” and eaten at the top of Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide, their only complaint was that there wasn’t enough of it.

As for architecture, there are three castles to choose from, and legacies from the Celts, Romans, Normans, Elizabethans and Victorians are evident all over the town and nearby countryside. Business-wise, Kendal was home to the famous K-Shoes brand up until 2003. Now the huge warehouse is K-Village, a very impressive mall outlet with famous brands at discount prices.

In the town centre, the old marketplace layout is still evident also, and has been recently pedestrianised to make a safe and convenient link to several other big shopping arcades. In addition there are numerous churches and chapels, museums, restaurants, pubs and the rows of old houses built from local grey limestone, earning Kendal its nickname ‘Auld Grey Town’.

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