Furness Peninsula: Barrow-in-Furness & Ulverston

Furness Peninsula

Furness Peninsula

The Furness Peninsula at the southern end of Cumbria tends to be largely ignored in guide books and is not included within the boundaries of the Lake District National Park.

This picturesque piece of land is highly populated in comparison to other parts of Cumbria, with a total estimated population to be around 100,000, and whilst it may not be the first destination of choice for many tourists to the Lake District, it certainly has plenty of attractions for visitors willing to explore further afield.

Top Ulverston Hotels

Barrow-in-Furness and Ulverston are both located on the Furness Peninsula not far from the Lake District National Park. For those wishing to stay by the Cumbrian seaside, but be based within easy reach to the Lake District, both towns provide lovely accommodation options with their own fair share of things to do and places to see. Below we've listed our top choices in Ulverston, which is just a 10-minute drive to the Lake District's borders, but if you're after hotels in Barrow-in-Furness, have a look here.


There is some evidence of settlements in the Furness Peninsula dating back to the Neolithic period, whilst a discovery of 92 Viking silver coins in May 2011 in the area gave a hint of possible Norse communities in the area. Very little evidence exists to suggest that Romans occupied the peninsula during their time, and whilst there are mentions of settlements in the area in the Domesday Book of 1086, it was the creation of Furness Abbey that really placed Furness on the map. This Cistercian monastery is acknowledged to have been the second most important abbey in the country in its time, and much of the peninsula was under the control of the abbey monks.

The area remained largely ignored by the rest of the country up until the mid-19th century, when iron ore deposits were discovered. A railway was built to transport the mined ore, and the town of Barrow-in-Furness became an important mining hub. Later, Barrow would become a leading ship-building town, whilst Ulverston became a popular market town with regular markets still being held today.


Barrow-in-Furness has a large shopping centre where you will find all of the usual British high street shops along Dalton Road and within the Portland Walk shopping precinct. Around the town centre, particularly on Cavandish Street and Scott Street, you will find numerous independent shops, whilst Barrow Indoor Market offers a whole host of stalls with everything from tarot card reading to Thai food, and china wear to computer games.

Ulverston offers a more unique shopping experience with many more independent stores and very few of the typical British high street regulars. The town has regular festivals, including the acclaimed Taste Cumbria Food Festival where you will find something to whet your appetite, and a Dickens inspired Christmas Festival, brimming with festive goods.

Key Attractions

Furness Abbey Ruins

Furness Abbey Ruins

There are plenty of historic sites to visit in the area, including the ruins of Furness Abbey where monks once reigned supreme, Dalton Castle, the 14th century manorial courthouse of the Abbey, and Piel Island, a small island off the south coast of the peninsula that is home to castle ruins and a charming pub, as well as its own King.

Children will delight in the South Lakes Safari Zoo that offers an alternative to a traditional style zoo with animals housed in large enclosures instead of cages. Peace can be found at Conishead Priory, a grade II listed Victorian building that is open to the public and home to the Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre, a centre for Buddhism. Alternatively, pop along to the Laurel and Hardy Museum (Stan Laurel was born in Ulverston), or taste the ale brewed at the Ulverston Brewing Company.

Getting There

By Car – Exit the M6 at Junction 36 and take the A590 towards Barrow-in-Furness. The journey to Barrow will take approximately one hour.

By Public Transport – The Furness Line takes trains into Barrow-in-Furness calling at Ulverston, Dalton, and Furness Abbey, and services run from either Lancaster or Manchester with connections available onto the West Coast mainline that runs between London and Scotland.