Sedbergh is packed full of history with evidence of Saxon, Viking and Norman influence. George Fox, founder of the Quakers also has strong ties to the town and surrounding area. Historically the town was a thriving agricultural town and many local people made a living from the wool trade.

Main Street, Sedbergh

Photo © Cumbria Tourism

As time moved on and trades died out, the town became a popular walker’s destination with many tourists coming to appreciate the peace and surrounding natural beauty of the countryside. However, after the 2001 outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease, tourism levels dropped. Unlike the surrounding areas who contracted Foot and Mouth and were able to claim financial help from the government, Sedbergh never contracted the disease and therefore was not eligible for financial help.

The Sedbergh Book Town Project was launched to help attract more visitors to the area, and despite the financial crash, it has been very successful. In 2003, the company, Sedbergh Book Town was launched to develop a community of book related businesses. Now the town is an agricultural town with historical connections to the wool trade, a walker’s paradise and a book town. Tourists can browse the shops, admire a Norman church (St Andrew’s Church) and visit a former Victorian woollen mill home to artists and craftsmen at Farfield Mill.

Sedbergh Book Shelter

Photo © Cumbria Tourism

Sedbergh Book Town is modest in size compared to its Welsh and Scottish counterparts, Hay and Wigtown, but it is the perfect stop-off point between the two. The book town itself is made up of a couple of bookshops (one of which is very large), several book outlets and Book Cafes. Sedbergh also has a Book Shelter, recently installed in an old bus shelter in the middle of town.

Westwood Books, Sedbergh

Photo © Cumbria Tourism

Westwood Books is the largest bookshop in Sedbergh. Housed in a former cinema it has two floors filled with over 70,000 titles in all sorts of subjects. Established for over ten years, it has been named one of The Guardian’s Top Ten Independent Bookshops. It is a family run business and the Westwood’s work hard to bring in regular new stock. Here you will find Antiquarian, New and Secondhand books. They also stock book themed gifts, cards and puzzles.

Clutterbooks is a small charity bookshop run by local volunteers. It has a varied selection of good quality books and all profits go towards the Community Fund.

The Dales and Lakes Tourist Information and Book Centre is home to a large bookshop where several independent dealers sell a varied selection of books from local interest, poetry, fiction, Folios and more. Here you can find more information about the town and browse a small selection of gifts and cards.

Sleepy Elephant is a shop for walkers and bibliophiles, it is thought that the building itself may date back to the Fifteenth Century. They sell walking and hiking gear as well as a selection of books specialising in local subjects, Folios, vintage children’s books, mountain and walking guides.

Farfield Clothing manufacture outdoor clothing for children and adults. The Old School Bookshop is a room attached to the shop with a wide range of second-hand books. Styled more like a traditional bookshop, you can have a good dig around in here and come across some unique finds.

Avril’s Books at Farfield is located one mile outside of Sedbergh at Farfield Mill Arts & Heritage Centre. The books cover subjects from craft, textile, needlework, and fine & applied Arts.

Al Forno Italian Kitchen, Haddock Paddock Fish & Chips Café and Takeaway, Smatt’s Duo Café Bar and Bistro, and The Three Hare’s Café, are all Book Cafes in Sedbergh. Each café keep a small selection of books and specialise in different subjects.

Millions of books have been published worldwide over the years, some of them are now forever out of print. Due to the fact that most of the books in Sedbergh are secondhand, you may find it almost impossible to find them elsewhere, and the booksellers are always finding interesting books every day. There is a book for everyone in Sedbergh, whether you’re looking for an inexpensive paperback or a special antiquarian book for yourself or a friend, you’re almost guaranteed to find something you love.

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