21 Iconic Brands and Places From the Lake District
Although the Lake District in Cumbria is most famous for its wonderful natural sights, including breathtaking lakes, mountains, and forests, it is also well known for the various brands which have headquarters here and attract tourists sometimes just as much as the surrounding landscape.
In this article, we’ll offer you the chance to familiarise yourself with some of the most recognisable, inviting and engaging ones.
Kendal Mint Cake
Legend has it that this tasty and energising cake played a highly important role in Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s conquest of Mount Everest.
The famous mountaineers claim to have eaten Kendal Mint Cakes during their ascent and even to have left some on the top of the mountain to appease Norgay’s Nepali gods. This happening makes Kendal Mint Cake a favourite for Lake District visitors, especially for hikers and climbers.
Created by Joseph Wiper in 1869 and containing sugar, glucose syrup and peppermint oil, the Kendal Mint Cake can be found almost everywhere in the Lake District in a large variety of coffee shops, hotels, and gift shops such as the Maple Tree Corner, the Wasdale Crafts Gift Shop or the Tearooms Santon Bridge.
You can read more about Kendal Mint Cake here.
Hawkshead is a small village in Cumbria on the southern side of Lake District attracting a large number of tourists. An ancient township flourishing since Norse times, Hawkshead belonged to Furness Abbey until the 12thcentury, and later on became a vibrant market town.
Most of its buildings date from the 17thcentury and were extremely admired by famous poets and writers such as William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter. Nowadays, Hawkshead is an important tourist attraction, having many pleasant guesthouses, inns, gift shops and tea shops.
Be warned though, cars are not allowed in the village, so if you reach Hawkshead by car, you will need to park it on the outskirts. Luckily, a large car park has been built there, so you can be relaxed knowing that your car safe while you are exploring the wonders of this ancient place.
Read more about Hawkshead here.
A great admirer of Hawkshead and the Lake District in general, Beatrix Potter is a London-born writer who first visited Lake District at the age of 16 during a summer vacation.
Since then, in the next 21 years, she holidayed at the Lake District quite often, residing in places such as the Wray Castle, the Fawe Park, Holehird and especially Lingholm by Derwentwater, where she spent nine holidays. She loved Derwentwater and was extremely inspired by this region’s flora and fauna.
Some of her most famous books, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkinor The Tale of Benjamin Bunny draw upon her Lake District experiences. When you visit Lake District you should not miss the Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead which in 2018 features an exhibition entitled ‘The Right Sort of Woman,’ celebrating Potter’s influential position in the Cumbrian community.
Read more about Beatrix in my post here.
The Ullswater Steamers is one of the world’s greatest heritage vessel fleets, offering cruises on the District’s most beautiful lake, the Ullswater, since over 150 years.
With excellent onboard facilities including open decks, covered upper deck seating areas, downstairs saloons and licensed bars, these ships will give you the opportunity to see some of the most picturesque places in the Lake Districts, including the fields of daffodils Wordsworth wrote about, and to connect to a large number of iconic walking routes from the area.
The Ullswater Steamers do not only offer unforgettable cruise trips along the Lake District sites, but also know how to enrich their guests’ experience with special themed events taking place during the trips. Travellers can choose among many themed in-cruise trip activities such as Wildlife Themed Cruise, History & Heritage Themed Cruise, Pesky Pirates, Ghostly Galleon and many more.
Looking for to experience the Ullswater Steamers take a look at my Lake District Weekend Itinerary.
If you are looking to buy some unique gifts or souvenirs during your stay in the Lake District, Herdy is a perfect place to go. Originally inspired by the local lovely Herdwick sheep, the shop specializes in designing and creating particular gifts, homeware, and accessories.
At present, the brand owns five of their own shops, two of which are located in the Lake District National Park, the other scattered over Cumbria, and one in the small market town Hawes in North Yorkshire. However, since the brand has grown big at a national level by opening about 250 independent retailers, you can find Herdy gifts in almost every corner of Britain.
Considering that Herdy features itself as “a brand with its heart in the Lakes” and a “made to make you smile” brand, who wouldn’t love to take with them on the way home some of its lovely products?
Learn more about Herdy here.
Open since 1910, the Toffee Shop from Penrith, Cumbria is famous for its delicious fudge (called by Lord Lichfield “the best fudge in the world”) and toffee, with their unique and rather difficult to describe the taste, like that of an exquisite wine.
This shop was originally owned by the Furnass family and worked through three other families, nowadays being owned by Pat and Neil Boustead. The latter still follow the initial dictates of the first owners, who claimed that the keys to a good product are the right recipes, ingredients and manufacturing techniques, and the results are as delicious as ever.
If you are not sure from where to start, we suggest you have a taste of one of their featured products such as the sensational Treacle Toffee, the grainy textured Butter Fudge, the smooth Butter Toffee, or the delicious Mixed Fudge (Butter & Chocolate).
Learn more about Penrith Toffee Shop here.
Grasmere Gingerbread Shop
This tiny Lakeland shop is located in a medieval school building in the centre of the Grasmere village in the Lake District, Cumbria.
The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop is most famous for its gingerbread, rum butter, fudge and mint cake. The original Grasmere gingerbread, a cross between a cake and a biscuit with a sweet-spicy taste, was invented by Victorian cook Sarah Nelson in 1854.
Since then its reputation grew quickly and the shop is nowadays well-known by tourists from all over the world. Besides delicious foodstuffs, you can also find here ginger beer and various ginger-themed gifts, as well as products made especially for occasions such as weddings and christenings.
Learn more about Grasmere Gingerbread here.
The Lakes Distillery is the only distillery in the Lake District which produces the Lakes Vodka, Gin and Whiskey (the Lakes Malt, firstly produced in 2018). It was opened in December 2014 by Paul Currie and is located in a beautifully restored Victorian cattle farm.
It contains an award-winning on-site Bistro, envisioned as a place which embraces the spirit of Lake District and offers an intimate venue for an unforgettable dining and drinking experience. One of the best new distilleries in the world (according to Time Out), the Lakes Distillery offers high-quality products together with guided whiskey tours and tutored tastings.
Learn more about The Lakes Distillery here.
The Cranstons Butchers is a 100 years old company using excellent meat products from trustful local farmers. They have two food halls in the Lake Districts, one in Penrith and another in Hexham.
The Cranstons King Street, Penrith is the first shop to be awarded the Q Guild Badge. There, you can find a large variety of Cumbrian pork, beef and lamb, as well as traditional Cumberland sausages and bacon, freshly baked pies, several oven-ready meals, and professionally cooked meats.
The Cranstons Cattle Market from Hexham is considered to serve the best bacon rolls and hot sausage in town and is also renowned for the regional speciality Pease Pudding.
Learn more about Cranstons here.
While many people might know that Eddie Stobart is a leading end-to-end logistics company working across the full supply chain in UK and Europe, perhaps just a few know that the founder, Eddie Stobart, started his business as an agricultural contractor in the isolated Lake District village of Hesket Newmarket.
From a small company starting up in the 1970’s, Eddie Stobart built its high profile brand and is now a major business operating in the manufacturing, e-commerce, retail and consumer industries. Its headquarters are now located in Warrington, from where over 2,200 vehicles, 3,800 trailers and 24 distribution centres throughout the UK and Europe help deliver Eddie Stobart’s products and services to a range of national and international customers.
Learn more about Eddie Stobart here.
Sedbergh Soap Company
Sedbergh Soap Company is a family business which was initially set up as a farm diversification enterprise. Soon after its opening in 2007, Sedbergh Soap Co. won the ‘National Startups Business Award 2008.’ The company’s founder, Dorthe M. Pratt, was also runner-up for the CN Group award ‘Businesswoman of the year 2008’.
Manufacturing handmade natural products, the brand is embraced by luxury hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants alike. Even if the company is now focusing on developing exclusive products for the hospitality industry, individual buyers can find their Sedbergh favourite natural soaps in one of the three Sedbergh Soap stockists in the Lake District – Love the Lakes on Ash Street (Bowness-on-Windermere), Love the Lakes on John’s Street (Keswick), and Market Place on Ambleside (Cumbria).
Learn more about Sedbergh Soap Company here.
John Norris of Penrith is a chain of fishing and clothing stores located in the Cumbrian Town of Penrith on the northwestern side of the Lake Districts. Since the shop is very close to the M6 motorway, to the main route north to Scotland and also to Junction 40, you might consider to take a break during your journey and have a look at the newest clothing, footwear and fishing collections this brand has to offer.
Besides the above-mentioned types of products, at John Norris, you can also find a great selection of dog accessories and shooting items. The shop is open Monday to Saturday from 9.00 AM to 5.30 PM and on Sundays and Bank Holidays from 10.00 AM to 4.00 PM.
Learn more about John Norris here.
Lake District’s Kenswick area has been well-known throughout history for producing the finest pencils in the world. The Derwent Cumberland Pencil Company, opened in 1832 in Cumbria under the name of Banks, Son & Co, is one of the oldest pencil manufacturing companies.
Whether you’re an artist needing some fine art materials or just an amateur, give yourself the possibility to explore and get inspired by the professional, highest quality pencils while visiting this shop.
There is also a fantastic museum dedicated to this brand’s history, the Derwent Cumberland Pencil Museum, located in Keswick, Cumbria, where you can learn everything about the history of pencil making and the creation of the Derwent pencils.
Learn more about Derwent Pencils here.
Jennings Brewery was established as a family business in 1828 in the Lorton village, between Buttermere and Cockermouth in the Lake District, by John Jennings.
Famous for both its all year round “Pure Lake District” ales such as Cumberland Ale, Bitter Smooth and many others, and seasonal ales like Bull’s Eye and Pigs Might Fly, the Jennings beers are becoming increasingly available and renowned across the North of England pubs and bars and they are also sold in free trade outlets throughout the country.
Jennings Brewery is another example of a Lake District brand which gained strong national and international notoriety since its inception.
Learn more about Jennings Brewery here.
A true paradise for bike lovers, the Arragons Cycle Centre is located on Brunswick Road in Penrith, Cumbria, very close to the Penrith and Eden Museum.
The shop also has a showroom upstairs with over 300 bikes available on-site. Once inside the shop, you will be amazed by the variety of high-quality bicycle brands, including Scott, Genesis, Garmin, Shimano, Continental and others, and their wide selection of clothing and accessories.
Run by the friendly Phil and Sarah and a dedicated team of sellers and technicians, this family-based business seeks to provide the best service possible to their new and returning customers.
Learn more about Arragons here.
Lakeland Leather, a family-owned business opened in 1955 in Ambleside, at the very centre of Lake District, is UK’s largest leather retailer and a renowned specialist in luxury leather products. Nowadays the business owns more than 15 shops spread around the country.
A great number of these stores can be found in the Cumbria County, in Kenswick, Ambleside and other places. Some of the categories of products that the brand identifies itself with and is most proud of are their unique sheepskin garments, accessories and luxury leather jackets.
Learn more about Lakeland Leather here.
Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding
The Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding is a delicious moist sponge cake, made with 100% natural ingredients such as finely chopped dates, and covered in a toffee sauce.
It was first created in the small and beautiful Cartmel village in the Lake District. The Cartmel Village Shop is open for over two decades and keeps producing loads of puddings all year round.
If you live a bit too far away to be able to pay them a visit though, you can also get these amazing puddings in other independent fine food shops around the country, as well as in larger stores like Booths, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason, or Waitrose.
Learn more about Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding here.
The Rheged Centre
In a short, five minutes drive or bus ride from Penrith Station, you can reach the amazing Rheged Entertainment Centre, one of the biggest facilities of this type from Cumbria. This all year round and all-weather centre of national and international importance is situated in UK’s largest grass covered building and features a gigantic, six stories high 3D cinema screen, where you can watch a large variety of films, including a dramatic documentary about Cumbria’s 2,000 years long history.
Being such an exceptional educational resource as well as an important venue for various conferences and product launches, the Rheged Entertainment Centre is a perfect place for group visits.
Learn more about The Rheged Centre here.
English Lakes Ice-Cream
For people who have tried it once, it is very easy to get tempted again when seeing the logo at the points which sell it and get immediately in the shop to order one – the English Lakes Ice-Cream is such a recognizable brand!
As its name suggests, the English Lakes Ice-Cream in an ice-cream manufacturing business located in the heart of the Lake District producing one of those delicious sweet little things that locals are very proud of.
You can find it in many distribution points around the Lakes, such as The Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal (many flavour choices during summer) and at the Theatre by the Lake Café Bar and Restaurant, where you can enjoy it before or after the show.
Learn more about English Lakes Ice Cream here.
Theatre by the Lake
The Theatre by the Lake is one of the most iconic places from the western side of the Lake District because it wonderfully mixes the beautiful natural scenery with the magic of the theatre, films, shows and festivals.
The Independent has described it as “the most beautifully located and friendly theatre in Britain since its opening in 1999.” It is located a short stroll away from the marvellous Derwentwater on the edge of Keswick, amid the magnificent western fells of the Lake District. Besides the annual Christmas plays which are now the favourites of family audiences, this theatre produces another new play each year.
Learn more about the Theatre by the Lake here.
With Kendal Calling we have reached our last iconic brand from our list. Most probably everybody has heard of or has even participated in this free spirit summertime festival located in the amazing Lowther Deer Park in the Lakes.
For those of you who haven’t, it is never too late to give it a try. Since 2006 the festival takes place every last weekend of July and lasts three full days. It welcomes local, national and international music artist of different genres such as rock, indie, dance, folk, or electro.
The event is family and kids friendly, offering a mix of age-appropriate activities for ages 0-11, including RockaHulaHoopa, circus, face painting, story-telling and much more.
Learn more about Kendal Calling here.
Have I missed any?
As we have seen, Lake District is much more than nature – it is also a place where human culture left indelible traces, most clearly visible in the numerous iconic brands spread all over this region. Whether you are into delicious local foods (like the Kendal Mint Cake, the Penrith Toffee, the Grasmere Gingerbread, the Cartmel Pudding, the English Lake Ice-Cream, or the Pease Pudding), drinks (Lake District ales, vodkas, gins or whiskeys), clothes (from the Lakeland Leather), arts and entertainment (at the Rheged Centre, the Theater by the Lake, or Kendall Calling), or various other larger or smaller souvenirs, Lake District is the place to be.
So don’t hesitate and take a trip to this region in England where nature and culture most harmoniously blend!