One of Britain’s best regions for local produce and unique crafts, Cumbria and the Lake District are a treasure trove for specialist foods, independent gift, book and outdoor clothing shops and a selection of stores with Lakeland themes like the enchanting Peter Rabbit shops in Keswick, Hawkshead and Bowness. Local produce and craft markets are extensive across the region and in bustling market towns like Kendal you’ll find daily indoor markets and twice weekly outdoor markets. If you like your shopping weekenders with a craft and local produce edge – book a weekend break in Lakeland shopping hotspots like Kendal, Bowness, Ambleside and Grasmere.
Love the cobbled wynds, yards and ginnels of market town Kendal on the edge of the National Park brimming with local produce shops and home to one of Cumbria’s fine Booths supermarkets. Indoor and outdoor markets also feature in the heart of the town along with a host of specialist food shops and chocolate houses, a Lakeland shop, designer boutiques and a great mix of mainstream and independent shops in the Westmorland shopping centre. Museum and gallery shops are not to be missed in Kendal with highlights including Abbot Hall’s Gallery Shop stocked with limited prints, fine toys, stationary, cards and great art books for children.
Beautiful bustling Ambleside in the heart of the Lake District is one of the National Park’s most popular holiday bases brimming with independent outdoor clothing and equipment shops. Tempting craft, gift and gallery shops are on every corner in Ambleside’s tightly packed centre, containing independent shops jostling for space with old character inns and chic bistro style restaurants.
3. Windermere Town
Lakeland’s famously stylish centre, Windermere town is one of the Lake District’s most accessible shopping centres with its own railway station. The beautiful Victorian railway terminus conversion nearby is now an award-winning Booths supermarket – a supermarket like no other well stocked with the finest local produce. Windermere and nearby lakeside Bowness are Fairtrade towns, hence you’ll find a superb choice of independent shops selling Fairtrade goods in Windermere town centre along with unique boutiques, fine cafes, tearooms, inns and craft/ gift shops.
The market town capital of the Northern Lakes, Keswick offers up some delightful independent craft studios and galleries, quirky gift shops and some of the Lake District’s best independent outdoor clothing and equipment outlets in its pretty, mostly pedestrianised centre. Surrounded by Lakeland’s greatest peaks from Skiddaw to Blencathra, Keswick is definitely one of England’s most scenic shopping locations. Don’t miss the town’s great traditional local produce markets weekly on Thursdays and Saturdays.
5. Grange over Sands
Miss a tour of Cumbria’s beautiful south west peninsula and you’re missing much for here sit some wonderful independent shopping destinations brimming with markets, food festivals and famous specialist food producers. A beautiful Edwardian centre overlooking Morecambe Bay, Grange has its own railway station with fast links to Lancaster and Preston. The town is packed with stunning ornamental gardens, award-winning tea rooms and a superb collection of antiques and collectables shops. Pick up many of the local produce delights from the Peninsula in Grange shops including famous Cartmel Cheeses.
Wordsworth’s birthplace and a popular gateway into the Northern Lake District, pretty Cockermouth Main Street and Market Place is a treasure trove for independent shops including everything from toy shops and antique shops to traditional sweet and fudge shops and galleries. Pick up some wonderful unique pottery designs from Bitter Beck Pottery on Market Place. Cockermouth Market takes place on the first Saturday of each month on Market Place, 9am to 2pm.
Bohemian market town Ulverston is one of Cumbria’s great hidden gems in the far west of the peninsula. The town is famously the birthplace of Stan Laurel and you’ll find a popular Laurel & Hardy Museum in the town with some great memorabilia, postcards, souvenirs, gifts and more in the museum shop.
A real Cumbrian market town with indoor and outdoor markets, Ulverston is brimming with great independent book shops and quirky specialist shops mingling in the compact centre with a host of character tearooms, cafes and old inns. Ulverston also hosts many festivals through the year – an ideal spot for a festival, walking and independent shopping weekend. The choice of local walks includes a popular one heading towards the town’s landmark replica of the Eddystone Lighthouse – Hoad Monument.
8. Bowness on Windermere
Probably the Lake District’s most popular specialist and independent shopping centre on the shores of Lake Windermere, Bowness is packed with quirky craft and gift shops, independent outdoor clothing and equipment shops like Edge of the World, and some famous Lakeland shops including a Peter Rabbit Shop. You’ll find more Beatrix Potter gifts on sale inside The World of Beatrix Potter attraction.
Famously home to the legendary Grasmere Gingerbread Shop, beautiful Grasmere in the central Lakes is where you’ll find that unique Lakeland gift. Beautiful handmade toys, often with a sheepy theme, as well as independent outdoor clothing outlets, interior design shops and more are all here. Easily reached and ideally located in the heart of the Lakes, Grasmere also features a great choice of riverside cafes, old real ale inns and specialist food shops ….. as well as Wordsworth’s historic home – Dove Cottage with guided tours!
10. Penrith & Carlisle
Locally sourced Cumbrian food and drink are Penrith’s speciality – the town is acclaimed for its great choice of best real ale inns and around the compact town centre sit a host of specialist shops – pick up a specialist shop leaflet guide from the tourist information centre. The market town is home to some age old famous shops like J & J Graham, a deli and bakers on Market Square, established in Penrith in 1783. Independent local shops and market stalls mingle with specialist retailers.
Cumbria’s only city feeling more like a market town, Carlisle is home to the award-winning Lanes Shopping Centre and a host of markets from a Victorian indoor market to regular continental and bustling farmers’ markets. Independent, designer and mainstream shops all feature in Carlisle’s mostly pedestrianised and traffic free city centre, mingling with a spectacular heritage cathedral, castle and premier museums like Tullie House and the Guildhall Museum.