Homes and gardens

By-pass Low Newton on the A590 between the M6 and Newby Bridge and you’ll miss one of Cumbria’s great, unusual shopping experiences. This 19th century Westmorland barn is vast enough to be its own attraction but it’s the extraordinary, changing collection of architectural antiques that amaze so many people who come here.

Opened by Fred Holdsworth in 1956 ‘with minimal stock and maximum enthusiasm’, this is one of the best known independent bookshops in Cumbria.

Once the headquarters of the Carlisle and District State Management Scheme, this four storey building is now a ‘libraryinth’ of a bookshop where the shelf space can be measured by the mile rather than the metre. 

Opened by Sam Read in 1887 and owned by only five other people since, this is one of the oldest bookshops in the Lake District, ‘alluring, friendly and full of character,’ said one writer-in-residence at the Wordsworth Trust.

Soft, sumptuous and sustainable are the defining characteristics of Laura Rosenzweig’s lovely own-designed range of scarves, throws and comforting blankets, all inspired by the natural tapestry of the Howgill Fells in Cumbria’s Yorkshire Dales. ‘Our goal is to create beautiful items in simple, classy designs that show off the wool at its very best,’ she says.

A few miles from where the great Victorian John Ruskin made his home near Coniston is the design studio and workshops of The Rusland Movement, fine furniture and cabinet makers who draw on the same values of design and craftsmanship that Ruskin shared with other leading lights in the Arts and Crafts movement. 

Watch the craftsmen at work and wander around the showroom and you’ll see that the British tradition of fine furniture making is in exemplary hands.

For many years lovers of Peter Hall’s fine furniture used to head to its showroom and workshop at Staveley near Kendal.

Right next door to the tea room, the canine café (Bark and Brew) and the Hadrian’s Wall visitor information centre, the shop here stocks a varied and quirky collection of mainly ‘Made in Cumbria’ and ‘Made in Britain’ gifts.

In a land of hard rock and hiking boots, Chesters by the River can be something of an unexpected find. Cards, cookbooks, toys, children’s books, mugs, pottery and a lot more are sold right next to the ever popular café. A bakery counter at the back of the shop does takeaway bread, cakes, croissants, samosas, salads and coffees. 

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