4 of the best independent bookshops in the Lake District

Sam Read Bookseller Lake District

From Beatrix Potter to Arthur Ransome, John Ruskin, Wordsworth, Coleridge and the Romantics, the Lake District has long been the source of inspiration for authors, writers and poets.

There is something quite wonderful about visiting a bookshop in an unfamiliar area – browsing the local authors, picking up a map, a specific guide to an area or getting stuck into a book that is set in the location you are visiting, it can add a wonderful dimension to your trip.

When I moved to the Lakes 3 years ago, exploring the bookshops were high on my priority list and have become a welcome part of my memories since settling here.

So here is my guide to my four favourite independent bookshops in the Lake District, I hope they help inspire you on your next visit 😊

1. Fred’s Ambleside Bookshop

Fred's of Ambleside Lake District Bookshop-01

Opened by Fred Holdsworth in 1956, the shop originally sold a mix of books with a record collection upstairs that later turned into an education section to cater for the college (now University of Cumbria) students on the nearby campus.

The upstairs is now partially a children’s section, where a surprise can be found in one of the cosy corners!

Fred's of Ambleside Lake District Bookshop
Fred's of Ambleside Lake District Bookshop
Fred's of Ambleside Lake District Bookshop

Downstairs, Fred’s stocks an eclectic selection of fiction and non-fiction, plus a large outdoors section with plenty of books on the popular Lake District pursuits of fell running, wild swimming and a great selection of walking books by local Paul Buttle.

The old written till still remains in the shop, a quirky touch that remains from Fred’s days!

Current owner Steve (who took over in 2000) and manager Sue (who will take over the running of the shop in 2023) explained how visitors have an emotional investment in the bookshop with many people popping in the shop with memories to share. Buying a book at Fred’s had become a part of their Lake District holiday tradition.

And long may the tradition live on. 

Fred’s Ambleside Bookshop, Central Buildings, Ambleside, Cumbria LA22 9BS

Open Monday – Saturday 9am-5pm, 10am-5pm Sunday

@fredsamblesidebookshop

2. Sam Read Bookseller, Grasmere

Sam Read Bookseller Lake District

The oldest bookshop in the Lake District, Sam Read Bookseller opened in 1887 before he passed it on to his daughter who ran the shop until the 1950s. 

In fact, Elaine, the shop’s current manager is only the sixth owner to have run Sam Read’s. 

Situated in Grasmere, famous for the gingerbread shop and the former home of poet and author William Wordsworth, Sam Read’s sells a variety of fiction and non-fiction for adults with a cosy children’s corner at the back of the shop.

At the front of the shop, you can browse a range of local books, guides and maps to help you plan your Lake District adventures all with views over towards the local fells.

Sam Read Bookseller Lake District
Sam Read Bookseller Lake District

Sam Read Bookseller, Broadgate House, Grasmere LA22 9ST

Open every day 10am-1pm and 1.30pm-5.30pm

@samreadbookseller

3. Bookends, Keswick

Bookends Keswick Lake District Bookshop

Bookends is the sister bookshop to the well-established shop of the same name in Carlise which began life as a market stall selling second-hand books over 30 years ago.

Bookends Keswick Lake District Bookshop-07

The bookshop proudly supports local and emerging authors, including a really sweet stand with a selection for children to browse.

During my first year of living in the Lake District, I lived in Keswick and I used to love coming here for a weekly browse. I remember picking up Feet in the Clouds to learn about the crazy Lake District tradition of fell running!

Bookends is also is the official bookshop for Words by the Water, a 10-day literacy festival held annually in Keswick during March. 

Outside is a selection of cards, postcards and discounted books to browse and the A board I used to love walking past with ever-changing quotes and drawings.

A true Keswick gem.

Bookends, 66 Main Street, Keswick CA12 5DX

Open Monday – Saturday 9.30am-5pm, Sunday 10am-5pm

@bookendskeswick

4. Verey Books, Pooley Bridge

Verey Books Pooley Bridge Lake District

Opened in 2022 by Al Verey a former English teacher and guide at the Wordsworth Trust, Verey Books is a welcomed new addition to the independent bookshops of the Lake District. 

Situated in Pooley Bridge, close to the shores of Ullswater, Verey Books has a bright, modern and airy feel with a cafe in one corner – the perfect place to pour over a new book with coffee and cake.

Verey Books Pooley Bridge Lake District

The bookshop has a thoughtfully curated selection of books ranging from current bestsellers to nature, lifestyle and a range of maps and guides of the Lake District 

The children’s area has a beautiful, magical willow tree set in one corner which is the scene for their Saturday Storytime held every Saturday morning for children over 6.

Adults can enjoy monthly talks from local authors and writers at ‘Words on Wednesdays’. 

Verey Books Pooley Bridge Lake District

I’m thoroughly looking forward to visiting regularly here on my trips over to Ullswater! 

Verey Books, Treetops, Pooley Bridge CA10 2NN

Open Tuesday – Sunday 10am-5pm, Closed Monday

@vereybooks

I hope you enjoyed this guide and it inspires you to explore new bookshops on your trip- happy reading!

Planning a trip to the Lake District? Check out this blog post

6 books to help you plan your next Lake District adventure


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