Sedbergh, sitting at the foot of the Howgill Fells, is England’s official ‘book town’. Literary lovers shouldn’t expect anything on the scale of Hay-on-Wye, the world’s first book town, but the narrow streets and alleys of this sleepy old settlement are home to several shops crammed with dusty, second-hand titles as well as the current best-sellers. The largest of the lot is Westwood Books, which occupies two floors of a former cinema on Long Lane and stocks 70,000 titles. It’s owned by Mark and Evelyn Westwood who, for 30 years, ran a bookshop in Hay. Get yourself a cup of coffee, grab a book or two off the shelves and make yourself at home on one of Westwood Books’ many comfy chairs.
Sedbergh’s not just about books though… A short walk east along the River Rawthey will take you to Farfield Mill, a restored nineteenth-century woollen mill that is home to heritage displays, a café and the studios of several artists, including handweavers, felt-makers and leather-workers. In the opposite direction, you’ll reach Brigflatts and one of the world’s first Quaker Meeting Houses. Constructed in 1675, this simple building still has much of its original interior woodwork and is well worth a visit.
Four miles up the A683, at Cautley, is the Cross Keys Inn, the only pub in England without a licence to sell alcohol. It became a temperance inn in 1902 under the ownership of Edith Adelaide Bunney, and she bequeathed it, as an unlicensed inn, to the National Trust in 1949.
Many walkers use Sedbergh as a base for exploring the Howgill Fells, a compact group of rounded, grassy hills that rise to a high point of 2217ft (676m) on The Calf.