The Idyllic Yorkshire Dales Town Known as England’s ‘Book Town’

Bibliophiles would be on cloud nine at the mention of the existence of book towns – which actually exist in and span across the world – but what if we told you one exists in our very own Yorkshire Dales?

Officially given the honour in 2003, Sedbergh – which is in Cumbria but part of the Yorkshire Dales – is known as England’s ‘Book Town’, joining over 40 other towns globally who also hold the moniker. But what exactly is a book town? Officially speaking, it’s a small town – usually rural –  in which second‑hand and antiquarian bookshops are concentrated, and Sedbergh definitely fits the bill.

St. Andrew’s Church, Sedbergh, churchyard/Flickr/Jenny Mackness/licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

In a desperate bid to attract tourists after the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak significantly affected how ramblers could enjoy the town, local shopkeepers saw an opportunity to provide something new to tourists – emulating the success of Wales’ own book town, Hay-on-Wye. Hay-on-Wye was actually the first town to be given the title in 1961 – and has an impressive array of shops to potter around in. In comparison, Sedbergh offers thirteen different shops to uncover, all of which offering a different experience from the next.

Getting in on the theme, a number of local businesses have dived right in to honour Sedbergh’s title – with an Italian kitchen stocking speciality books about Italy and traditional Italian cooking, a chip shop specialising in books related to fish and fishing, and a number of others stocking fiction, history books and lifestyle titles. If that wasn’t all, there’s even a disused bus stop which has been transformed into a local library, with both guests and locals able to swap a book of their own for a new one.

Credit: Unsplash

But it’s Westwood Books that deserves the flagship store title in the sleepy town, a former cinema which was transformed into a bookshop many years ago, with over 70,000 titles gracing its ever-enticing shelves. That’s a whole lot of exploring.

The kind of place where you can really lose some time, Westwood Books specialises mainly in second hand books, however, you can also find new releases, classics and books spanning a huge variety of genres during your visit.

Westwood Books Sedbergh cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Steve Fareham – geograph.org.uk/p/1463091

When you finally tire of all the book shopping (like you could ever), Sedbergh also offers a number of stunning walking routes to take advantage of, quaint cafes, incredible views of the rolling Yorkshire Dales, the beautiful Farfield Mill, Dark Skies viewing points and a number of fantastic camping spots close by.

[Featured image: Unsplash]

Read more: The Parts Of The Yorkshire Dales That Aren’t Actually In Yorkshire