Kendal, known as the ‘gateway to the lakes’ from the south, is a small market town on the edge of the Lake District National Park about 10 miles south of Windemere.
Click here for a map of the area.
Although it has a population of only 26,000, its catchement area is closer to a quarter of a million as people come in from more remote areas of the Lake District for amenities and indeed entertainment when the weather is unforgiving.
ARTS AND HERITAGE
Therefore Kendal has developed into more of a centre for the arts and heritage than otherwise it might have. It boasts some fine cultural establishments, including the Abbot Hall Art Gallery which often holds exhibitions Londoners should be jealous of, and the Brewery Arts Centre, which is home to a theatre and a cinema, and hosts events, talks, and workshops as well as three festivals a year.
Kendal Museum is full of interesting exhibits, and also hosts regular events to do with the lake district and its history, as well as running courses on subjects from print making to photography.
MARKETS AND FESTIVALS
The first farmers’ market in Cumbria was established here, and is still held on the last Friday of every month in the market square. As local farmers increasingly branch out from dairy and agriculture into food production the range and quality of food and drink available here is growing exponentially.
Historically the landmarks in Kendal are the Parish Church and the castle ruins, which date back to the 12th Century, and overlook the town.
Annual events in the town include a renowned jazz and blues festival every November, the town’s Torchlight Procession and Westmorland Country Show (both September) and the Mountain Film Festival which takes place in October.
In Kendal the wonderful thing is that you are only a few miles from stunning world-famous scenery without paying the premium on lakeside property. Also, it is very much a living market town, compared with Windemere which is acknowledged to be almost exclusively a town for tourists, and its vibrancy waxes and wanes according to the time of year. In Kendal, people are friendly and the place is small enough to still possess a proper sense of community.
Downsides are few, but depending on the time of year, getting around in the car can be frustrating. As the holiday season expands into practically all year round, the traffic systems in the town centre, particularly the one way system, can get very congested. But as one resident puts it ‘if we have to wait [in a traffic jam] for ten minutes we think the world has come to an end, whereas down south a ten minute wait is a blessing: it’s all relative.’
Many of the houses in Kendal are built with limestone, earning it the title of the ‘Auld Grey Town’ and there is a wide range of property available, all at extremely reasonable prices. In the National Park demand far outstrips supply, and anything by the waterside is obviously at a premium, which pushes prices up in the surrounding areas. However, it remains relatively cheap although it is one of the fastest growing areas for house price inflation.
PROPERTY IN KENDAL
Recently the market there has been active, but you find many agents concentrate more on large houses in the National Park leaving the smaller, but still impressive, town houses in Kendal to a few local agents and a couple of nationals.
‘Prices are not going up as much as they were,’ says Andrew Holmes from Carter Jonas in Kendal. ‘But the market is holding well. We recently had contracts exchanged a week after a property went onto the market at £1.25m.
‘There are many houses in and aroud Kendal still for sale, or about to come onto the market which I expect to sell for well above their asking price, because they are lovely properties in such a fantastic location, which are competitively priced.’
Mr Holmes sees properties between £500,000 and £600,000 going to people in the Cheshire belt who want a second home, but above this level, he thinks the majority of buyers are seeking a primary residence.
‘£700,000 plus is mostly people coming to live from the south of England. They love the peace and the small community, as well as access to all this wonderful scenery,’ he adds.