My auld grey hometown

[Guest post by Lynda Gray from Kendal, UK] I live in Kendal – a small town 85 miles north of Manchester and on the fringes of the Lake District National Park. I’ve lived and worked here since 1979. After more moves and changes than I like to remember I finally made my home here when I was 25 and I love it but somehow I’ve never been able to sketch it. I’ve sketched on journeys in India, Nepal, Morocco, America – lots of places, but never really in my hometown. Being anonymous somehow seemed to be one of my requirements for sketching.

But something has shifted. After the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Manchester last summer, the San Francisco Bay Sketchers joined Christine Rooney and myself to sketch Kendal for the day. We saw our hometown through their eyes and somehow something shifted. Since then I haven’t stopped drawing Kendal.

I like drawing the old centre of the town which is mostly built from local limestone – earning it the nickname ‘The Auld Grey Town’.

It is surrounded by low hills and lies in the valley of the River Kent and has, believe it or not, an even wetter climate than Manchester, which tends to add to the greyness of the place. I say this fondly as I have come to appreciate the subtle neutrals.

Off the main street are narrow yards and lanes branching both down to the river and steeply up the hillside where dwellings seem to be stacked one on top of another.


The yards used to house factories, weaving shops and dying works when the town was an important centre for trading wool. These days it is better known for producing Kendal Mint Cake – a sweet energy bar – and for being a gateway town to the National Park. Like most places some of the old town has been demolished and re-built but it remains an interesting place with many architectural gems and is a pleasure to wander around and lose yourself in, especially with a sketchbook.

For what it’s worth, if you have a block about sketching your home town, invite some other sketchers to share it with you and see what happens…

Lynda Gray is an artist from Kendal, Cumbria, UK. To get out of her comfort zone she likes to sketch with Manchester Urban Sketchers and to travel. You can see more of her work on her website


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