Welcome to the inaugural Great Big Cumbrian Gift Guide. With shops closed until December we will need to get creative with our Christmas shopping this year, probably from the sofa with the festive beverage of your choice.
I'm passionate about supporting small businesses and creatives so I've put together my favourites from my adopted home county, Cumbria. You might not be able to visit the Lake District on the run up to Christmas put you can certainly purchase a small piece of it and make sure these fantastic businesses are still there next year.
So without further ado, and in no particular order, browse the best of Cumbria's Christmas gift offerings and help support small businesses this winter.
For scents that transport you straight to the fells, lakes and forest of the Lake District, look no further than the beautiful natural soy wax candles of Lakeland Lights Company. This year they have included two Christmas scents in the range - Festive Fells with pine, cedar wood and woodsmoke and Christmas Crags, with Christmas spices, citrus and fir. Both evoke a Christmas Day spent in the Lakes, even when you can't be there in person. Of course check out the rest of the range for more incredible Lakeland Scents (Honister and Whinlatter are my favourites).
Ellie is a superb blacksmith with her forge based at the beautiful Brougham Hall restoration project (worth a visit in itself when you can get there safely). She transforms copper, bronze and steel into beautiful, quirky pieces of furniture, jewellery and artwork.
Hanne creates stunning 3D needle felted Lakeland creatures, including mini Herdwick sheep made from genuine Herdwick wool. For Beatrix Potter fans there is Jemima Puddleduck and Mr Tod the Fox, along with a whole menagerie of other woodland creatures, each one cuter than the last. Some would even make fantastic Christmas decorations for a woodland inspired tree.
Black Sheep Leather was founded in 2013 and produces quality handmade leather accessories, all featuring a Lake District favourite, a little embossed Herdwick sheep. Combining vintage and contemporary designs, Vanatt creates leather goods that are full of character, individually handcrafted, using traditional tools and methods, with many entirely hand stitched. Having trained at the Cumbria School of Saddlery, it is the saddle stitch that features on many of the products, ensuring a quality item that will look great for years to come.
Sharon has over ten years of experience as a Chandler so you can trust she knows her stuff when it comes to wax. She creates luxury 100% natural candles, made fresh to order using a secret blend of rapeseed and coconut wax and 100% pure essential oils. She also donates £2 from every full price candle sold through her online store to the Cumbrian Wildlife Trust, who protect wildlife & habitats across Cumbria. She's just launched her spiced orange Christmas candle and there's a full range of stunning scents to tempt you.
Jayne stocks vintage goods, mainly French. Homewares from the Danish Companies Jeanne d’Arc Living and Chic Antique. Gorgeous toys from Maileg the Danish Toy company. There's also French soaps, St Eval candles, interior magazines and books, greetings cards, ribbons and trimmings.. Check out the Artisan section comprising of handmade decorative metal work and handmade gifts. If you're local she's offering a click and collect on online orders, as well as posting out as normal. Find the shop at 23 Wilson St, Workington, Cumbria.
Siobhan creates handmade, luxurious bath and body products combining 100% pure essential oils and quality natural ingredients. With over a decade of experience in the beauty industry and creating her own products to ease health issues, she is highly experienced in creating products that are good for mind and body, treating "life niggles." Each product contains delicious scents designed to relieve tension, stress and lift spirits. The range includes soap, pulse points, candles, lip balms and bath salts. There's even soap for your favourite pooch!
In her own words, Rebecca hopes to convey a "peaceful, un-precious honesty" with her hand thrown, dip glazed porcelain pots, which she certainly achieves. She studied in the same city as me, at the Glasgow School of Art and has since set up her studio in Kendal. Her pieces retain those small irregularities that are created when an artist makes items by hand. I particularly love these mugs and her small grip jugs - perfect for my coffee and hot oat milk on Christmas morning.
A fellow sighthound lover, Rach creates ceramics that celebrate their gentle nature and quirky ways. She hand makes each glazed clay item in her own home. Her other inspirations include swallows and the words of Sylvia Plath. I particularly love her sighthound Christmas decorations, which can also be personalised to your own favourite hound!
Kate's stunning combinations of essential oils will fill your home with opulent fragrance this winter. The Ochre scent is a citrus Christmas classic mixed with spices such as black pepper, nutmeg and cardamon. whilst Lunette (french for little moon) is perfect to unwind to whilst sat outside under a big snuggly blanket enjoying the starry night sky. Lichen is for those that like to bathe in the forest light whilst taking in the gorgeous green scent. This one has got top notes of bay and eucalyptus with a grounding of oakmoss. She also has a range of curated gift boxes including Eunice and Blue goats milk soap, tea lights and a paint tin candle all finished off with a hand written gift note, perfect for sending to loved ones.
For stunning macrame wall hangings, plant hangers, homewares and Christmas decorations look no further. Inspired by natural materials and wildflowers Dana hand makes her beautiful creations at her home in the Cumbrian countryside. Her range of macrame rainbows are a beautiful, memorable gift for this year in particular.
Red Bank is the coffee of choice at Castlerigg Studio. The flavours are incredible and we love their three core principles - quality, traceability and sustainability. All their coffee is roasted in the heart of the Lake District on their eco-friendly Loring S15 Falcon. Their Penny Rock coffee is sourced from Daterra, one of the most sustainable coffee farms in the world and they donate £1/kg sold of their Mountain Rescue coffee to the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association. They also collaborate with Wonderful Wild Women, a fantastic community (that I myself am a member of) founded in the Lake District to support and inspire women and girls to enjoy the great outdoors.
Maria's serene online store and her studio in Ambleside will inspire anyone to become more eco-conscious. She makes and stocks vegan, sustainable homewares and lifestyle products, having started out selling linens handmade by her mother, Kati. A fellow lover of the outdoors, she is inspired by nature and promotes the conscious home concept - that balances between beauty, design, practicality, and sustainability. The eco-essentials bundles are a particularly great gift for anyone starting to think more about sustainable living.
Sophie is a very talented designer and illustrator based in Cumbria at the edge of the beautiful Lake District. She produces gorgeous cards and prints, all printed locally on 100% recycled paper. She also sends a lovely handwritten thank you note with every purchase! This winter she has created a series of beautiful Christmas cards featuring her Home Up North print and these cute polar bears.
Based firmly in the Lake District, Rachel and Alice create Herdwick fabrics inspired by the seasonal colours of the fells and landscapes of the Lakes. The design and creation happens in the north of England, with as much fleece and yarn as possible sourced from local Cumbrian farmers and the fabrics made just next door in the Yorkshire Dales. You can buy fabric from them directly to create your own Christmas gifts or they also stock products such as cushions, lampshades and accessories on their online shop. I love the miniature walking Herdwick sheep, complete with satchel, containing its own OS map and Kendal mint cake!
You can certainly see the influence of her time spent caring for her own patch of Lake District woodland in Jo's Designs From The Woods. Her creations are a byproduct of her conservation work, whilst proceeds from sales of her handcrafted stools and ornaments fund the care of the woodland. She works with the natural material, often leaving the bark, and combines them with stunning fabrics, including my favourite, William Morris. By purchasing one of her pieces you are contributing to the conservation of woodland ecosystems, supporting heritage craft.s, as well as adding a beautiful piece to yours or a loved ones home that can be cherished for years to come.
If you love vintage you are going to love Helen's mid century inspired wares. Her range of bright, cheery screen printed homewares are just the tonic during these trying times. I particularly love her range of colourful tea towels, like something you'd see on the set of Mad Men!
Victoria is an amazing artist, creating stunning prints inspired by the Lake District fells. The wilderness is inspiration for her range of prints and gifts, featuring the mountains, trees and creatures on her doorstep. Her ceramic Christmas decorations are perfect for a pared back Christmas tree. Her original artwork is also absolutely stunning and it's mesmerising to watch her work - check out her Instagram account.
A Lake District institution, the Grasmere Gingerbread shop cannot be missed on a trip to the Lakes. But even if you can't get there in person, you can still order parcels of the spicy-sweet, cake-biscuit cross online, wrapped in their distinctive blue and white paper. There's also a delicious range of toffee and fudge, as well as their traditional Cumbrian rum butter - perfect for Christmas Day.
Handmade miniature Herdwick sheep, felted with Lakeland Herwick and other British heritage breed wools. These guys are so cute, each one has it's own little character. Perfect for when you can't get to see the real Herdys.
Located on the village green in Grasmere, the Heaton Cooper Studio is a Lake District landmark. Funded by his successful first book, Hills of Lakeland, the studio opened in 1938 and has been popular with visitors ever since. Although the galleries are currently open, you can still browse all the paintings, sculpture, books and greetings cards on their website. The studio also has a fantastic art supplies section, where I like to purchase my sketch books. Perfect for finding a gift for artists and art lovers alike.
Whenever we visited Hawkshead on school holidays we always went to the Hawkshead clothes shop and the Relish shop. These guys make the best sauces, jams and jellies and I still haven't tasted them all, no matter how many samples I tried to get away with in store! If you've never tried Cumberland Sauce, make sure a jar "falls" into your basket whilst you're buying your gifts. It's absolutely the best thing with roast meats, especially the day after. The mulled damson (local to the Lyth Valley) and port jam is also excellent on Christmas morning toast.
Lydia's creations are witty, fun and timely - particularly her current range of pandemic inspired prints. You might recognise her work, having designed for British Airways and the Vintage By The Sea Festival and you might remember her Royal Wedding sick bags. The lavender cats are a great alternative to a real furry friend for keeping you calm during these stressful times. I particularly love her Christmas Is Cancelled poster, surely a keepsake for years to come!
Designing in a converted hayloft on their Levens farm, Sarah specialises in baby and children's gifts, toys, keepsakes and gifts. There's also decor, wallpaper, lino prints, books and my personal favourite, crochet. All in beautiful calming, natural tones, there is no harsh plastic children's paraphernalia here. The cloud mobiles are particularly beautiful and the teddy bear lamp is so fun!
Hand finished, waxed canvas bags, hand finished and perfect for your next adventure or getaway. These beautifully made, quintessentially English bags are a fantastic gift for outdoors lovers and travellers alike. There's even a range made from recycled polyester for the eco-conscious and luggage sets for those of us who love to be properly co-ordinated.
This is just a small selection of hundreds of wonderful businesses in Cumbria. If you know of any others make sure to shout about them from the rooftops! Or at least feature them regularly on social media. Small businesses need all the help they can get at the moment, with physical shops closed they are being pushed online, so make sure people know where to find them! Happy shopping!