At the top of their game in Sedburgh

PUBLISHED: 15:40 16 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:55 20 February 2013

At the top of their game in Sedburgh

At the top of their game in Sedburgh

Watercolour artist Gordon Wilkinson takes his easel to Sedbergh

A decade ago Sedbergh was a very different place. The town was reeling from the effects of the Foot and Mouth outbreak, the economy was suffering and visitor numbers were plummeting. Although farms here were not directly affected, footpaths were closed and walkers headed elsewhere for their fix of fresh air and exercise. But fast forward ten years and the town has been transformed.

Sedbergh has become an English book town, the once derelict Farfield Mill has been given a new lease of life, and the feel-good factor has returned to the busy narrow streets.

The four-storey Victorian woollen Sedburghmill, which recently celebrated the tenth anniversary of its renovation, is now the regions leading centre for textile arts and it houses a thriving arts centre with a gallery, workshops run by local artists, shop and caf.

Tucked high in the Howgill hills, Sedbergh is now one of 50 book towns world-wide, and has added literary and music festivals to its already busy calendar of community events, fairs and galas. And its not just book shops that benefit from Sedbergh being a book town. The pubs, market, shops and cafes all reap the rewards of the extra visitors heading for Sedbergh these days.

Key buildings in the town include Andrews Church, which dates from around 1130, and Sedbergh School, founded in 1525, where ex-England rugby stars Will Carling and Will Greenwood learned the game.

Over at the towns Settlebeck High School theyre playing a game of a different sort. Three pupils were recently short-listed for a Bafta award for designing a computer game which promotes awareness of mental health conditions.

The game, Shaded, was created by Matty Goad, 16 from Sedbergh, 13-year-old Finlay Miles and Reuben Kane, 14, both from Kendal, who all have Aspergers syndrome.

In the game, the player is Naked Edgar, a discarded sketch thrown away by his creator, a graphic designer. The player takes Naked Edgar on a journey as he meets characters including Bi-Polar Bear, Manic Panda, Bulimic Dog and OCD Squirrel.

Finlay Miles, the author, said: I am pleased, but really surprised we have done so well in the competition. None of us has done anything like this before. We worked on it a few days a month for around three months.

We were inspired to create this game because we all have social disorders and wanted to make people think about them it was a bit self indulgent, but it became a really fun experience. I like the end result it is compact and smooth and tells the story of a simple character in a complex world.

The road to Sedbergh

Where it is: Sedbergh stands on the A684 about five miles east of junction 37 on the M6. The railway line to Sedbergh was closed in 1965 and the nearest stations are now at Dent and Garsdale. If you have a sat nav, LA10 5BX should take you to the town centre.

Where to park: There is a pay and display car park on Main Street and some on-street parking is available around the town, too. Farfield Mill is a mile or east of the town centre (LA10 5LW) and has its own car park.

What to do: Visit the book shops and climb Firbank Fell where Quakers founder George Fox once preached. On a clear winters day the views are fabulous. The Tourist Information Centre is at 72 Main Street, contact them on 01539 620125. For more information about the town go to

The print version of this article appeared in the January 2012 issue of Lancashire Life

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