Books. Fred’s Ambleside Bookshop, Ambleside

Opened by Fred Holdsworth in 1956 ‘with minimal stock and maximum enthusiasm’, this is one of the best known independent bookshops in the Lake District.

Thousands of titles are spread over two floors, the shop‘s strength - as current owner Steve Muscutt puts it - lying in its ‘comprehensive collection of local maps and guide books, as well as an eclectic mix of classic and contemporary adult fiction and a superb children’s/teenage book section’. New releases and the occasional quirky title rub shoulders on the shelves too.

There are stories by Arthur Ransome which are sold in hard back with original dust jackets. The author paid a visit soon after the shop first opened in the 1950s, the website relating this particular story. 

‘A large, florid man in plus fours, sporting a formidable beard approached the counter and asked, in a booming voice: ‘Have you got all of my books in? If not, why not?’

That website also has a link to Fred’s online bookshop, administered and fulfilled by the shop’s supplier and Readers, says Steve, can search over 500,000 books and then have orders delivered to their door.  

The portal was certainly a gift during 2020, as was the help and encouragement he received from large numbers of readers and publishers. ‘We were overwhelmed by people’s generosity and all I can say is a huge thank you to them for all their support,’ he says.

Fred’s Ambleside Bookshop, Central Buildings, Ambleside LA22 9BS: 015394 33388,

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