The Best Indie Bookshops in Cumbria

12 mins read
Carnforth Bookshop - Bookshops Cumbria
Carnforth Bookshop - Bookshops Cumbria

Having just celebrated World Book Day in schools and bookstores all over the county, we thought it high time to celebrate some of those independent businesses – the ones bringing amazing print to a Lake District town near you. 

Cumbria has been a source of inspiration for so many authors, from Beatrix Potter to Arthur Ransome, Wordsworth to Coleridge, Ruskin to Wainwright. And they’re just the huge names who lived here; the inspiring scenery and tranquility in this part of the world are recognised internationally for their sublime, awe-inspiring power and have inspired artists, poets and authors the world over. 

So here it is – our list of the best independent bookshops in Cumbria.

Fred’s Ambleside Bookshop

Initially opened in 1956 by the eponymous Fred (Fred Holdsworth), this small and quaint bookshop carries all sorts of fascinating books, prioritising stocking a diverse range over a shelf full of the latest best-sellers. Find local maps, a great adult fiction section, and a well-stocked kids and teens/YA section, too.

Bookshops in Cumbria - Fred Ambleside Bookshop
Fred Ambleside Bookshop


Address: Central Buildings, Ambleside LA22 9BS,

Sam Read Booksellers, Grasmere

Established in Grasmere in 1887, Sam Read’s award-winning independent shop stocks a wide range of fiction and non-fiction, covering everything from crime to gardening to local interest. Keeping up with the times, you’ll see a strong Instagram presence as well as exciting events and diverse, interesting stock all coming together to make them such a destination bookshop – indeed, they’ve been announced as regional finalists for the British Book Awards Independent Bookshop of the Year!


Address: Broadgate House, Grasmere, Ambleside LA22 9SY

Bookends, Keswick

This family-run bookshop is jammed full of brilliant books. With sibling shops Bookends and Bookcase, both in Carlisle, Bookends hosts around 1500 local titles alongside plenty of other fab books. Run by the Matthews family, who have lived and worked here since 1978, Steve runs the antiquarian and secondhand arm of the business in Bookcase, whilst his wife Gwenda works on the website and social media, and their daughter Lucy looks after the shops in Carlisle and Keswick – truly a family affair!

Inside Bookends is Cakes & Ale Café, too, serving up a menu of classic lunches as well as tea and cake, and functioning as the shop’s main event space for book clubs and author signings.


Address: 66 Main St, Keswick CA12 5DX

Verey Books, Pooley Bridge

This independent bookshop in Ullswater only opened in 2022, combining a space to enjoy views over beautiful Ullswater with a cuppa with the pleasures of a good book. From farming to photography, book lovers will find something to tickle their fancy, from crime and new releases to local biographies. The onsite cafe serves up a selection of teas and speciality coffees, freshly baked biscuits and cakes, and of course juice (and the obligatory babyccino!) for little ones. Verey is also very good at hosting events for all ages, from Words on Wednesdays to Saturday Storytime. Currently, they have listed talks from cold water swimmer and author Sara Barnes, ‘Cook Out’ author Harrison Ward, and Caro Giles, author of ‘Mothering in the Middle of Nowhere’.


Address: Treetops, Pooley Bridge CA10 2NN

Westwood Books, Sedbergh

Head to Sedbergh, Cumbria’s ‘book town’, and enjoy time pottering around Westwood Books. Opened by Mark and Evelyn Westwood in 2006, Westwood Books is a treasure trove of 70,000 used, antique, and out-of-print books, as well as a small selection of new fiction and kids’ favourites. They often host author discussion panels and events, and can also buy exciting books from you, to sell on – just arrange such a visit in advance.

Westwood books - Bookshops in cumbria
Westwood books – Bookshops in Cumbria


Address: Long Ln, Sedbergh LA10 5AH

Sutton’s Bookshop, Ulverston

Sutton’s is a quaint old bookshop in Cumbria, where tables piled high with a wealth of titles and small corner fireplaces pour forth the warmth of a coal fire. Copies of new titles can often be found discounted, too, if they’ve been devoured by the shop’s owner (and passionate reader) before you got to them. Books can speedily be ordered over the phone and picked up in-store. It’s definitely a great way to while away an hour or two in Ulverston.


Address: 48 Market St, Ulverston LA12 7LS

Carnforth Bookshop

Just over the border in Lancaster, Carnforth is a bit of a commuter town, with great access to Morecambe Bay at Silverdale and Arnside a few miles West, the Lakes a few miles North, the Forest of Bowland to the South and the Dales a few miles North East. Independent and family-run, Carnforth bookshop is a book lovers’ delight, sprawled over two floors and several rooms. Downstairs sees all the shiny new books on sale (as well as a room for gifts, cards, children’s toys, and stationery), whilst over the next two floors you’ll find the quieter shelves and older, dustier (and often more interesting!) titles. They’ll often be able to lay hands on a title for you with breathtaking speed, and exciting events are put on throughout the year.

Carnforth Bookshop - Bookshops in Cumbria
Carnforth Bookshop – Best Bookshops in Cumbria


Beckside Books, Penrith

Over in Penrith, Beckside Books opened back in 2007, and has been under the current owners since 2019. Stocking second-hand and antique books, especially focussed on mountaineering and archaeology, and Lakes poets, the shop is a specialist’s dream. They stock some other titles too, from books from local authors and poets to Greek and Roman Classics. They also buy used books.


Address: 31, St Andrews View, Penrith CA11 7YF

The Hedgehog Bookshop, Penrith

Featuring the classics as well as the latest releases, The Hedgehog is a family-run, independent bookshop with a large children’s section downstairs. A collection of cards and stationery add to their offering. They also run book signings, to get your favourite new release signed by the authors themselves, and can order-in books for free, within 24 hours, on your request. 


Address: 19 Little Dockray, Penrith CA11 7HL

Daisyroots Books, Grange Ober Sands

Known as ‘the bookshop with the view’, Daisyroots Books opened in Kendal in 1994, transferring to Grange-over-Sands, in 2006. More than 40,000 high-quality second-hand books spill over two storeys, covering almost every area, from Walking and Travel, Crime to Mountaineering, to Americana and Architecture. Collector’s items, signed editions, and rare antique books are also on sale, as well as a range of maps, funny cards and fun gifts like local prints and jigsaws.

Daisyroots Books - row of books on the shelf
Daisyroots – Bookshops in Cumbria


Address: Main St, Grange-over-Sands LA11 6DP

Kerr & Sons, Cartmel

Purveyors of rare antique books, Kerr & Sons was opened by Norman and Paddy Kerr in Cartmel back in 1933. Buying and selling high-quality second-hand titles across many genres, with over 10,000 in stock, they prioritise the quality and condition of their stock. As well as these antiquarian titles there are more modern second-hand books available. They also operate a discount bookshop in the village square’s converted gatehouse for their non-internet stock.


Address: The Gatehouse Bookshop, The Square, Cartmel, Grange-over-Sands LA11 6QB

Clutterbooks, Sedbergh

Back in England’s ‘Book Town’ of Sedbergh, you’ll find Sedbergh community charity book shop Clutter Books. Stocking some artefacts, games, and collectibles as well as the second hand books, this charming little store gives grants to local community groups, improving and maintaining the town itself through its charity. Nip across the road to Clutterbooks and Clobber to see a broader offering of second-hand items, again with profits being ploughed back into the community.


Address: 77 Main St, Sedbergh LA10 5AB

The Book Lounge, Kirkby Lonsdale

Based in the beautiful little town of Kirkby Lonsdale on the borders of Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cumbria, The Book Lounge is a haven for book lovers, and also sells jigsaws and book-themed gifts, alongside their offering of new releases and good-quality second-hand books. Serving Farrer’s tea and coffee and cakes, a welcoming atmosphere awaits in The Book Lounge. 


Address: 41 Main St, Kirkby Lonsdale, Carnforth LA6 2AH,

As you can see, Cumbria has plenty of options when it comes to new (and antique!) reading materials. When the weather sets in, there’s nothing better than a new novel to keep you glued to a good book!

We hope you enjoyed our article “The Best Indie Bookshops in Cumbria”, why not keep reading with 6 of the Easiest Wainwrights for Children to Bag.