Christmas gift ideas from The Lakes and Cumbria (1)

Introduction

Introduction

You don’t need to look further than the Lake District and the rest of Cumbria for this year’s perfect Christmas present. Specialist, independent shops are one of the big features of this part of England, the stores themselves selling everything from fashion, food and drink to books, homeware, and bath and beauty products. Food and drink producers abound, artists and makers are plentiful and there are scores of gift shops. You’ll be spoilt for choice. So, shop local this Christmas and give the Lake District and other areas of Cumbria a present as well. 

Randy Pike Boutique

Randy Pike Boutique

You can take the sights and sounds of a memorable holiday back home with you but the scent is never quite so easy to capture. Randy Pike luxury B&B, however, have thought of everything. Meaning that while you celebrate Christmas at home, you can luxuriate in their winter collection of festive scented candles and room mists, re-living memories or dreaming of holidays to come. ‘A touch of rural luxury’ is how Randy Pike Boutique describes its range of ‘beautiful products’ which also embraces reed diffusers, own brand vegan soap and artworks by Flying Edna. Plus the gift vouchers you can buy for a stay at this very special B&B. www.randypikeboutique.com

Windermere, Ambleside and Bowness-on-Windermere

Higginsons of Grange

Higginsons of Grange

‘Traditional butchers with modern ideas,’ is how the award-winning butchers describe themselves. And no time’s more traditional than Christmas when Copas free-range, bronze turkeys, and free range turkeys and geese from the Goodman family in Worcestershire are a big draw. Master butchers here create a range of ‘festive showstoppers’, including beef Wellingtons, chucklings, pintarde farcie (stuffed boneless guinea fowl with mushroom and chestnut forcemeat) and three bird roasts. Christmas boxes come in three sizes. Buy a whole turkey or goose and you get a £10 voucher, to spend in the shop in January. www.higginsonsatchristmas.co.uk

Kendal and the South

Castlegate House Gallery, Cockermouth

Castlegate House Gallery, Cockermouth

Make someone a gift of original art this Christmas by visiting Cumbria’s best known commercial art gallery. The current exhibition - until January 16 - has an ‘ever changing mix’ of 20th century and contemporary British art, with work by Frank Auerbach, Ben Nicholson, Duncan Grant, Sheila Fell, Norman Cornish (painting pictured), Eileen Cooper, Donald Wilkinson, Michael Bennett, Ceri Allen, Tom McGuinness, Helen Fryer and David Storey. Contemporary sculpture and ceramics are usually on display as well, that in a gallery that has seen over 300 exhibitions since opening its doors in 1987. www.castlegatehouse.co.uk

Northern Lakes, Keswick and Western Lakes

Cumbrian Ales

Cumbrian Ales

Treat yourself or someone else this Christmas to what one travel writer on The Guardian newspaper described as ‘the best beer in the universe’: Loweswater Gold, a past Champion Golden Ale of Britain. It’s one of a number of ales produced by Cumbrian Ales alongside Esthwaite Bitter, Langdale, Buttermere Beauty, American Pale Ale, Vanilla Oatmeal Stout, Pacific Voyage and Grasmoor Dark Ale. You can buy the beers separately or as a mixed case (online), at numerous retailers in Cumbria or at the brewery’s ‘home pub’, the gloriously located Kirkstile Inn at Loweswater near Cockermouth. www.cumbrianales.com

Northern Lakes, Keswick and Western Lakes

The Wool Clip, Caldbeck

The Wool Clip, Caldbeck

There’s no better time to wear wool than in winter and no better place to find ‘all things wool’ than at this co-operative shop in the northern fells. For those looking for Christmas gifts there are scarves, shawls, jumpers, Herdwick throws, bags and hats, plus homewares like rag rugs, cushions, felted pictures and tufted wool hangings. Craft enthusiasts will love the range of yarns, kits, patterns and equipment. All this in a restored 18th century corn mill called Priest’s Mill. Founded in 2001, the co-operative has about a dozen members, drawn from farmers, dyers, felt makers, knitters, spinners, crocheters and weavers. www.woolclip.com

Northern Lakes, Keswick and Western Lakes

Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding

Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding

Celebrate Christmas, Cartmel and Cumbria by treating yourself - or someone else - to a Christmas pud or a sticky figgy pudding from this famous food producer. Best known for its Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding, the family firm’s ‘yummy range’ of puddings, crumbles and sauces also includes sticky banana, sticky ginger, sticky chocolate and sticky toffee apple puddings, lemon drizzle sponge, sticky toffee sauce and sticky chocolate sauce. Buy online, at the Cartmel Village Shop, at farm shops, delicatessens or food retailers like Booths, Selfridges, Waitrose, Fortnum & Mason and Harvey Nichols. www.cartmelvillageshop.co.uk  

Kendal and the South

Fred’s Ambleside Bookshop

Fred’s Ambleside Bookshop

For anyone wanting to buy local interest books, Lake District guides and maps, fiction or children’s books this Christmas head to one of Cumbria’s best known independent bookshops in the centre of Ambleside. Failing that, go to the website and click on the link for Fred’s online bookshop. This in turn lets you search over 500,000 books and then you can have orders delivered to your door. Friendly and knowledgable staff (Steve Muscutt, the owner) are what you can expect here, happy to track down unusual titles, including out of print mountaineering and walking guides. www.fredsamblesidebookshop.co.uk

Windermere, Ambleside and Bowness-on-Windermere

Kin Toffee Vodka

Kin Toffee Vodka

A ‘smooth blended vodka with rich caramel tones and a subtle kick’ is how Judith Wren describes this perfect winter warmer. Launched at Christmas 2013, it was followed in 2020 by the popular Kin Toffee Apple Vodka, which you can either have straight, or poured over ice with lemony mixers. ‘It’s got rosy, zingy apple flavours, so it’s perfect with bubbles as well,’ says Judith who first tasted a variation of toffee vodka while on skiing holidays in France. If you’re just after a stocking filler, look no further than a 50ml bottle of Kin Toffee Vodka, the bottle itself - as with all Judith’s bottles - made in the UK from 50 per cent recycled glass. www.kinvodka.co.uk

Windermere, Ambleside and Bowness-on-Windermere 

Chimney Sheep

Chimney Sheep

Who knows how many times Father Christmas will come across a Chimney Sheep when he delivers presents on Christmas Day. From small beginnings in Maryport, the wonderfully named draught excluder - made with the wool from Lakeland’s Herdwick sheep - can be found in chimneys all over the world. The firm also sells sheep wool insulation and a range of ‘natural and environmentally friendly’ garden products, some of its profits going to a community interest company called Buy Land Plant Trees. 16,000 trees are being planted at Low Fell near Loweswater over the next few weeks. That’s a gift for everyone. www.chimneysheep.co.uk 

Carlisle, Hadrian’s Wall and Solway Coast

The Grasmere Gingerbread® Shop

The Grasmere Gingerbread® Shop

It’s one of the best known food names in Cumbria, but why stop at gingerbread when there are so many other treats on offer from this family run business? Three sizes of ginger and rum Christmas pudding have proved a huge hit, perfect with traditional Cumberland Rum Butter. They’re sold in the Grasmere shop or from the website along with a great selection of Christmas hampers, ginger-themed foodstuffs, fudge, toffee, chocolate, conserves, Kendal Mint Cake and Cartmel Sticky Toffee Sauce. Not forgetting a range of gifts, ‘hand-picked to enable you and your family to enjoy extra-special treats at this time of the year’. www.grasmeregingerbread.co.uk

Grasmere, Hawkshead, Coniston

Heaton Cooper Studio, Grasmere

Heaton Cooper Studio, Grasmere

Four generations of a renowned family of Lakeland artists - the Heaton Coopers - are represented at this studio, which makes it a great place to come for a choice of original paintings, fine art prints, sculpture, ceramics, greetings cards, Scandinavian homewares, books, gifts and artists’ materials. A Christmas ‘special offer’ includes sketch and watercolour books by the German company Hahnemuhle. The studio has been here since 1937 when William Heaton Cooper (whose mother was a Norwegian woman called Mathilde) bought a piece of land just off the village green. There’s a delightful café called Mathilde’s. www.heatoncooper.co.uk

Grasmere, Hawkshead and Coniston

Lakes Ice Cream

Lakes Ice Cream

What better accompaniment to mince pies and Christmas puddings than one of the range of ‘indulgent’ ice creams produced by Lakes Ice Cream? Mince Pie flavour, for instance, Kendal Mint Cake or Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding, the latter a Great Taste Award winner in 2021 along with Biscoff. And don’t forget the Double Jersey ice cream, made with Jersey cream, butter and South Lakes organic milk, winner of two stars at the Great Taste Awards in 2019. In all the Kendal-based business produces luxury ice creams (almost 25 flavours), classic ice creams, vegan ice creams and sorbets. www.lakesicecream.com

Kendal and the South

Farfield Mill Arts and Heritage Centre, near Sedbergh

Farfield Mill Arts and Heritage Centre, near Sedbergh

If you want a great choice of Christmas presents, handmade by artists and makers from Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales, then head into glorious countryside on the doorsteps of Sedbergh to this 19th century former weaving and spinning mill. Farfield is home to some 20 artists and makers while its art and craft gallery sells the work - jewellery, art, textiles, candles, pet creations, gifts and more - of almost 100 others. Four exhibitions are on (textile art, quilts, paintings and photographs of fell ponies) but do check when they end. There’s a lot going on here so treat yourself to a visit. www.farfieldmill.org

Kendal Sedbergh, Cartmel

Stay connected

Keep up to date with all the latest news from the LAKE DISTRICT travel guide.