Kentmere is a scattered village isolated at the head of Kentdale, and only accessible along a long winding road from Stavely. There is now limited parking around the church, and the village is the usual starting point for the Kentmere Round, a classic high mountain walk that visits the summit of High Street.

St. Cuthbert's Church was built by subscription, and it's curate was supported by Queen Anne's Bounty, a fund established in 1702 to provide support for poorer clergymen. The church itself is somewhat older, containing 16th century roof beams.

To the west of the village is Kentmere Hall, once the home of the Gilpin family. The hall includes a sturdy 14th century quadrangular peel tower, a reminder of earlier more turbulent times, when this area was dangerously close to the Scottish border. One of the most famous of the Gilpins was Bernard Gilpin, the 'apostle of the north'. He was born at Kentmere Hall in 1517, and became a protestant Archdeacon of Durham. During the reign of the Catholic Mary I he came close to being burnt at the stake, and was only saved when he broke his leg, delaying his journey to trial for long enough for Mary to die and Elizabeth I to come to the throne. Under Elizabeth he was restored to Durham. Kentmere Church contains a memorial to him.

The valley has an industrial history, and still contains some works. Kentmere Reservoir, above the village, was built to provide power for the mills, while Kentmere Tarn, below the village was once twice its current length before being drained to allow the extraction of clay.

Kentmere was not always so isolated. As late as 1806 a highway from Kendal to Penrith ran up the valley, presumably over Nan Bield Pass and along Kentmere. One hundred years earlier the track west across Garburn Pass to Troutbeck and then Ambleside was also a highway, while much earlier the famous roman road over High Street passed across the head of the valley.

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