Throughout November and December we are offering our Retail Therapy Break (from only £109 per person) which has proved very popular in past years. So I thought it would be a good idea to give you an update of our take on the better shops around.
A visit to Blackwell Arts and Crafts House just down the road will yield great rewards if you are after fine crafts and books. Go into Bowness just a mile away and you will soon find Peter Rabbit and Friends. On nearby Ash Street go to Banks the Jewellers for better quality watches and jewellery, and then there is Helen's Chocolates. Always a good fall back for the difficult person to buy for. Who doesn't like chocolate? Go up the hill on the right and you'll find a really good cooking shop. Up further past the NatWest Bank is Stuarts Sports (outdoor stuff). Yes, we're great supporters of independent shops and here you will get personal service from locals who know what they are talking about. The shop is a bit of an Aladdin's Cave, crammed with crampons and everything else.
On up to Windermere and you will find the great draw that is Lakeland, full of stuff for the kitchen you never knew you needed. Nearby is Booths, our wonderful Northern store full of local food and drink. It's like Waitrose but with a Northern accent. In the village is a great little wine and beer shop, Windermere Wines, and opposite is Gina Ricci which sells Dubarry, Barbour etc., ladies and men's smart outdoor stuff.
Ambleside has a plethora of outdoor shops. Best is Cunningham’s but everyone knows Gaynor's which is vast. Tysons are the best at boot fitting. Not cheap but worth it if you are serious about walking the fells. The Old Court House Gallery is a great place for arts and fine cards. Henry Roberts is terrific for books and maps. You may need a rest by now. Go to Zeffirelli's for coffee or vegetarian excellence. If you are over this way pop over to Skelwith Bridge and visit Chesters by the River, one of our favourite places to go in the Lakes. It's left of the Skelwith Bridge Hotel. Great shopping and food. The owner also has the famous Drunken Duck Inn which is not far away at Barngates.
Grasmere is a sweet place to shop. Not just because of the famous Gingerbread Shop. Looks good even in the rain. Here you will also find Sam Read's famous bookshop selling a range of books from Wordsworth's poetry to Wainwrights guides. Marvellous! Also Herdy's clean and bright shop full of ideas for Christmas. We sell some of their stuff at the hotel and use their mugs in the hotel bedrooms and at home. For coffee, tea or a snack, go to Baldry's. Blooming marvellous! They sell some pretty gifts too. Most people have heard of Heaton Cooper's Lake District paintings. Their gallery is here as well.
Hawkshead is a great little car free village which is known for Hawkshead, a less expensive outdoor store which does massive mail order business. There is the Beatrix Potter gallery of course. Poppi Red is an intriguing gallery selling lots of red stuff and has its own tea shop. And don't forget to pop in to Henry Roberts bookshop and Hawkshead Relish. Big things come out of Hawkshead retailing!
Keswick. If you get this far (it's about 23 miles away form the hotel) George Fisher is the best outdoor gear shop in the Lakes. Great boot fitting facility. Nice café. Keswick's an easy town to park and stroll through. Good antique shop in the centre. Lots of takeaways and outdoor shops though. Brysons bakery and tea shop - the old fashioned one is here. Its sister shop is back in Bowness at the bottom of town.
Kendal is a good size market town just 7 miles away with all sorts of shops, galleries, and tea rooms. Our favourite is Armstrong Ward near Booths. It sells really tasteful things like Emma Bridgewater, gifts, arty stuff and quality kids' stuff. Also in Kendal is the Made in Cumbria shop where you can find all things, well, Cumbrian. You could also visit Frank Stainton's wine shop. He's our go to wine man. Need lunch? Try Baba Ganoush Food shop and Canteen.
Just a few miles North of Kendal off the A590 is Staveley. This is home to one of the makers of tomorrows antiques; Peter Hall. Beautiful wooden objects I wish I could afford! Also in Staveley is Wheelbase, which my cycling son, based in London, tells me is one of the biggest cycle shops in the UK. Best though is the Hawkshead Brewery, which had to move from Hawkshead due to size. Great beers on tap and to take away. Food's not bad either, though I would plump for the MORE bakery next door....it's a difficult choice. Need a plant or unusual tree? Inglefield is our favourite garden centre, on the road going north out of the village.
On the way out of Cumbria South to Junction 36, M6, be sure to call in at the multi award winning Barn Shop at Sizergh, just off the A590 south of Kendal. Fabulous food to take home from the best producers in Cumbria. Not just food though! If you're going North up the M6 call in at the Westmorland Services. Like no Motorway services you have ever seen. Top notch food. It's owned by farmers.