by Elizabeth Yeowart of What Lizzy Loves.
I never forget how fortunate I am to live in Skipton, a small market town on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, popular with tourists from around the globe. I’m not a native of the town, (or even of the county of North Yorkshire; I was born over The Pennines in Lancashire), but it’s been home for more than a decade and I love it. Because of the wealth of walks, country pubs, and stunning scenery on the doorstep, it’s easy to forget that there are countless other equally desirable locations within an hours’ drive from here. The Lake District is one such place. Its breath-taking natural beauty and picture-postcard perfect vistas are widely known, so it draws visitors for those reasons alone. I think of the Lakes and I think of childhood boat trips between Ambleside and Windermere and of picnics in the rain and I recall ambling in and out of souvenir shops which seemed to only sell fudge, Kendal Mint Cake, walking sticks and all things sheep. Oh, and those postcards showing two identical rainy scenes depicting The Lake District in Winter and The Lake District Summer. The Lake District: perfect for walkers, ramblers and family days out but not somewhere I’d think of as being a good place to shop. Or so I thought until I spent the day in the South Lakes town of Kendal.
It was my first visit to the town centre and I was quite surprised to learn that there is a two-storey shopping centre, Westmorland, which has its own car park. As well as being home to well-known brands Topshop, Waterstones and Clintons, it has a wealth of independent retail stalls in-situ for several days a week, including Floristry by Carmen, Macarons by Al Strong, alterations and homemade gifts by Naomi at Maid n Found and bath bombs by a very friendly gentleman whose name I didn’t note, but you’d be able to find him by following the scent.
Westmorland Shopping Centre leads onto the main shopping street. Like Skipton, Kendal is a market town with cobbled streets and yards coming off what is quite a linear main street, and home to high-street favourites Pandora, Joules, Specsavers, Lakeland, Next, Costa, TK Maxx, Toni & Guy plus several independent cafes.
Almost directly opposite the main entrance to the Westmorland Shopping Centre is Elephant Yard which boasts Monsoon, Boots, Laura Ashley as well as Kendal Library, before leading to M&S, a florist, cafes and more parking.
Wainwright’s Yard is further along the high street and is where Pizza Express, Booths Supermarket and Maya Maya, (stockist of both menswear and well-known womenswear brands including Masai and Sandwich), are located.
Opposite is La Maison, another delightful lifestyle store selling home accessories, jewellery, mirrors and occasional furniture.
Further along the high street, up from Westmorland Shopping Centre and on the opposite side to both Elephant Yard and Wainwright’s Yard is the Market Square. A little further still is the rather fabulously named Finkle Street, where Beales department store is situated. Beales carries well-known brands including Wallis, Moda in Pelle, Warehouse, Fantasie (lingerie) and a whole host more. White Stuff, Phase Eight and Wave, a contemporary jeweller, also sit on this street.
Perhaps most surprising is that are two Jules B stores; one for gents and one for women, I spent a lovely leisurely time in the women’s and chatted to manager Lisa Jackson whilst browsing the designer collections. An award winning independent retailer of designer clothing and accessories, Jules B in Kendal offers clothing by Victoria Beckham, Self Portrait and Alicia & Olivia, bags by Sophie Hulme and Michael Kors and shoes by Kendall and Kylie. Without question, I would make the one hour journey for this shop and all it offers, and the lovely welcome, alone.
Just off Finkle Street is Beast Banks which has the The Famous 1657 Chocolate House, an Aladdin’s Cave where where visitors can eat, drink, dip and buy chocolate.
Opposite is Hogarth’s Jewellers and close by on New Shambles is Iridium Fine Stationery which sells fountain pens, leather notebooks and beautiful artisan paper.
As well as an excellent and surprising fashion and lifestyle offering, Kendal runs a Courtesy Toilet Scheme. This provides members of the public with clean, safe and accessible toilets across the town. There are several car parks and plenty of places to eat and get a drink.
It was a true eye-opener and I absolutely loved my day in Kendal. I thoroughly recommend a visit because there is so much more to it than Kendal Mint Cake and cagoules.
Elizabeth is a freelance writer based in Skipton and writes a fashion, life and style blog, www.whatlizzyloves.com