Bookshops in Cumbria


Like so many people, I love a good book. My bookcase heaves with tales of mountain exploits, Lake District history, Wainwright guides and my personal fetish of popular music history. Over Christmas I did particularly well with three Keswick reference books, a guide to the Cumbrian mountain weather and a copy of Map Addict amongst others.

Pile of books

When it comes to shopping for books near our self catering Lake District cottages, you may well find a WH Smiths in most main towns, however our independent book sellers are thriving. Many have become a tourist attraction in their own right. Each March there is a festival celebrating writing when Words by the Water is held in Keswick.

There are three book shops in Keswick; Bookends, Keswick Collectables and the Keswick Bookshop. Upstairs on Station Street, Keswick Books sells mostly mountaineering books and second hand. There are some real gems in there if you take the time to look, and the owner, with his spectacles on the end of his nose (as you might expect) is very knowledgeable. Bookends opens till 9.30pm in high season and it is a glorious sight with the setting sun casting a glow down the street. 

Keswick book shop

Grasmere has barely changed in a hundred years; the bookshop on the corner of the village green has been there even longer. Sam Read first opened in 1887. Although the family have long since passed away, the name lives on. The village has a strong literary history From Wordsworth and Coleridge to John Ruskin and Beatrix Potter. The shop has always prided itself on stocking a wide range of books and will always endeavour to search for and order in anything they have not got in the shop.


Sam Read bookshop

You can even find an enviable selection of books in the furthest corner of the Lake District, at the Barn Door Shop in Wasdale. At the back of the shop there are floor to ceiling shelves of neatly ordered books on mountaineering around the world, maps, Wainwrights guides and books by local authors. It is a miniature goldmine and I can never resist a purchase when I am here. On one notable occasion I had trekked over from Borrowdale on a camping trip. I had so little room in my backpack that I had to carry my books in a carrier bag all the way over Styhead and back to Borrowdale, attracting some strange looks from fellow walkers.

Penrith has a growing reputation as a book town with 6 different bookshops to browse. Phenotype Books on Arthur Street welcomes visitors by appointment to peruse their stock of agricultural history and all related subjects. Withnail Books in Brunswick Yard has a vast selection of books relating to cinema and TV, comics, graphic novels, and Cumbrian topography.

Indepndent bookshop

If this has whetted your appetite for a different kind of Lake District holiday, then you can view more details of self catering Lake District cottages near bookshops by clicking on the highlighted link.