[T]he Lake District is today launching its own local currency, as part of a private initiative which will create a unique visitor experience, drive trade to local businesses and raise money for charity.
Starting today (May 1) people will be able to begin spending the Lake District’s very own £LD1, £LD5, £LD10 and £LD20 notes in over 200 locally owned businesses.
Ken Royall, founder and director of the Lakes Currency Project, made the inaugural purchase with the currency to buy a ticket to take a steamer across Ullswater, in the Eastern Lake District, travelling from Glenridding to Pooley Bridge.
The Lake District Pound team and guests then took specially liveried Mountain Goat tour buses from Pooley Bridge over Kirkstone Pass and on a journey around some of the Lake District’s main centres making purchases with the currency on their way.
En route the team stopped to make purchases at:
- Windermere Tourist Information Centre
- Windermere Lake Cruises in Bowness
- Brantwood overlooking Coniston Water
- Rattle Ghyll Cafe, in Ambleside
- Sam Read Bookseller, in Grasmere
The tour culminated in a small street party in Packhorse Court, Keswick, where Keswick businesses came together to celebrate the start of the initiative with champagne and a special LD£ cake baked by Laura Johnson of cafe Laura in the Lakes.
Finally, the Lake District Pound team dropped into Theatre by the Lake, where theatre group KAOS created the LD£ logo using their own bodies and parts of the set for the latest performance.
The Lake District Pound can be used interchangeably with and alongside Sterling, but can only be spent in locally owned, independent businesses and tourist attractions.
Each note features prominent figures from the history of the Lake District and tells the story of a different aspect of the local character.
M Royall, who was born in the Cumbrian town of Barrow-in-Furness and now lives near Windermere, said: “Today is just the beginning of a long, fun and exciting future for the Lake District Pound, as the number of businesses involved in the scheme grows and we develop new note designs and innovative new ways of promoting the initiative.
“First and foremost we want the currency to create a fun experience which enables both visitors and local people to explore the unique culture of the Lakes.
“At the same time, this will act to raise awareness of our local businesses and drive footfall to them. This will help preserve, protect and promote these individual businesses which are the backbone of our communities.
“Finally, if people choose to keep the currency as a memento of their time here, then this creates proceeds for the company which we will split equally between two fantastic local charities which care for our people and landscape – Cumbria Community Foundation and the Lake District Foundation.
“We want this to be something which is adds to our region’s sense of identity and pride in itself. At the same time, we want the currency to be something that the wider community of people who love the Lake District can engage with – no matter where in the world they live – and feel part of a something that helps preserve and protect the unique character of this very special place.”
The company has developed an accompanying souvenir book which businesses can sell alongside the currency, as well as Lake District Passport which people can fill with stamps from the businesses they have visited.
New currency will be released each year and valid from January 31 for 12 months. However, the new designs will be available from December, giving people a two month overlap to exchange the previous year’s currency for Sterling or new Lake District currency.
People can exchange their Sterling for Lake District pounds at a number of Exchange Points across the region, including at most Post Offices. They can swap the notes back before the end of their holiday or send them back to the Lakes Currency Project, which will redeem them electronically.
Richard Leafe, Chief Executive at Lake District National Park, said: “I’m excited to see this project launch and to be spending my Lake District Pounds for the first time. It’s an exciting new scheme for the national park, with the potential to really support our local economy.
“This is an opportunity to shine a light on the fantastic local businesses within this World Heritage Site and to contribute towards the efforts made to care for this special place.”
Launched by The Lakes Currency Project, the Lake District Pound is now available to spend in more than 170 businesses, in an effort to encourage more customers to shop local.
The uniquely designed currency and accompanying merchandise, which will feature new illustrations each year, can be picked up at 14 exchange points across the Lake District, including Bowness Post Office.
Gordon Aylmore took over the Post Office in Bowness last year. He said: “We’re delighted to be taking part in this scheme and are looking forward to both businesses banking their new currency, as well as customers buying the unique pounds, with us.”
How the Lake District Pound works
People can exchange Sterling for the equivalent value in Lake District Pounds for free at LD£ Exchange Points across the area – including most major Post Offices. They are also available from the Lakes Currency Project’s website at www.lakedistrictpound.com
The Lake District pounds can then be spent just like Sterling in businesses that are part of the initiative and display the LD£ symbol in their windows.
People can stamp their LD£ Passport in local businesses on the Passport Trail – every business has a unique stamp.
Businesses can take the Lake District pound to the Post Office, which will deposit it directly into their bank accounts as Sterling.
Every time someone keeps an LD£ as a memento, this creates proceeds that will be divided between Cumbria Community Foundation and the Lake District Foundation.
For more information on the project, participating businesses and how to buy the currency go to www.lakedistrictpound.com