THEY’RE very proud of Stan Laurel in Ulverston.

You don’t have to walk far through the pretty Cumbrian market town to find a gleaming statue of Laurel and Hardy, and on the side of the Roxy cinema is a painted mural of Stan’s grinning face.

There’s a plaque at 3 Argyle Street, where Arthur Stanley Jefferson (Stan later changed his name) was born in June, 1890. It was the home of his grandparents, where Stan lived for the first six years of his life. After moving to Bishop Auckland, he continued to spend school holidays in Ulverston; on regular shopping trips with his grandmother in the town young Stan would peer through shop windows pulling faces - maybe scratching his head, looking a little bemused...

Today Ulverston is home to the Laurel and Hardy Museum, which started out as a collection of photographs of the much-loved double act. Former town mayor Bill Cubin’s scrapbook soon grew into a museum, now based in the Roxy. Attracting visitors from around the world, the museum is run by Bill’s friendly grandson, who gave us an impromptu tour on a recent visit. It’s filled with memorabilia, from Stan and Laurel pepperpots and novelty crockery to Stan’s handwritten letters to fans and furniture salvaged from his birthplace, and you can sit and watch a constant loop of Laurel and Hardy films. With fond memories of watching them as a child, I was delighted to visit this charming little shrine to the comic pair.

Ulverston has a cluster of smart old properties nestled around a cobbled main street, including quirky shops, cafes and cosy inns. With scenic views of Morecambe Bay, and seagulls swirling above Hoad Monument, dedicated to naval administrator Sir John Barrow, (Ulverston’s other famous son), the town has a seaside feel.

It’s a short drive from Coniston, where we stayed at Oak Tree Cottage, the end terrace of stone and slate-built former miners’ homes. The area has a rich copper mining history, dating back more than 400 years.

Blending cosy rural charm with stylish contemporary touches, Oak Tree Cottage is a perfect hideaway to curl up watching DVDs, with the wood-burning stove gently crackling in the hearth. A stable door from the fitted kitchen opens to a pretty garden, against a spectacular backdrop of fells and sheep grazing in surrounding fields. In the village, two minutes’ stroll away, a pint of Bluebird Ale awaits in the 400-year-old Black Bull Inn.

With Coniston Old Man rising above and tranquil Coniston Water below, this beautiful corner of the South Lakelands is perfect for walking, climbing, lake cruises, water sports, and places of interest - Coniston’s Ruskin Museum and Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top among them.

The village is forever synonymous with Donald Campbell’s ill-fated water speed record attempt across Coniston Water. Early on January 4, 1967, Bluebird K7moved slowly into the lake and began to surge forward, but at speeds of over 300mph, it somersaulted across the water and sank. Campbell’s body was found in 2001 and he is buried in Coniston Cemetery, where we came across a replica of his teddy bear mascot, Mr Whoppit, among flowers on his grave.

At nearby Newby Bridge is the Lakeland Motor Museum, housing a fabulous collection of classic cars, motorbikes and the Campbell Bluebird Exhibition, featuring a full-sized replica of the K7.

Taking advantage of a bright, sunny day, we drove to Cartmel, home to a 12th century priory, a popular racecourse - and sticky toffee pudding. Having been to the races there as a youngster, I enjoyed re-visiting the village and splendid Priory Church of St Mary and St Michael. In the village shop we bought sticky toffee pud and locally-made ice-cream for supper.

Next day, heading north east out of Coniston, we followed twisting roads through Grizedale Forest, sprawling towards Windermere. The forest views were spectacular, with trees and fells in vibrant shades of green and gold, bathed in winter sunlight. Turning a corner, we encountered an entire herd of escaped sheep waddling along the road!

Heading through Ambleside and Windermere, we arrived at Bowness, where we browsed pretty shops, dined in a waterside restaurant, and visited the wonderful Royalty Cinema. The historic picture house has a 1927 Wurlitzer organ, the only one of its kind in a working cinema in Europe.

The Lake District takes my breath away, and it was a wrench to leave our little cottage. Soon Grizedale was all around us, like a hug, as we kept an eye out for wandering sheep.

* For more about Coppermines & Lakes Cottages call 015394 41765 or visit

* The Laurel and Hardy Museum is at the Roxy Cinema, Brogden Street, Ulverston. Visit laurel-and-hardy