Everyone needs a bit of inspiration to get outdoors, and you’ll certainly find it if you cross paths with Jorrit and Nicky, Co-Founders of Millican, the Keswick Bag Company. We asked them to share their inspiring story and their love of the Lake District.
We first met as backpackers in the early 90s, somewhere on the border of Ecuador and Peru. We loved seeing the world, the sense of freedom… but a few years later we found ourselves back in the UK, working in the city. We felt swamped. We weren’t being ourselves. How did a pair of backpackers end up like this?
We decided we had to make a change. We moved to the Lake District and were inspired by the story of a local legend, Millican Dalton. Back in the 1900s, Millican Dalton swapped his conventional life in the city for a simple life outdoors, spending months of the year living in a cave in the Borrowdale Valley. He believed in sustainable living (way ahead of his time) and inspired others to respect and enjoy the outdoors - he made small amounts of money teaching mountaineering and outdoor skills, and making rugged, durable rucksacks to sell.
The story of Millican Dalton made us even more determined to embrace outdoor living and sustainability in whatever we would do next. He also inspired us to rediscover our own passions - we’ve always loved finding items of vintage luggage at auctions and in secondhand shops; possessions worn with years of use and loaded with memories. We love the truly functional designs that become part of everyday life, treasured companions.
All our passions combined to create the Millican brand. We might not live in a cave, but we’ve certainly found our own freedom. We live in a beautiful part of the world that we would encourage all to explore, with a wonderful local community. We make functional bags for outdoor living and travel, using sustainable materials (such as organic cotton canvas and vegetable tanned leather) and timeless styles that are made to last for life. We name all our bags after friends and people who have inspired us, and we know that our customers will be able to pass them down over generations. We really love what we do.
We always say ‘Carry what you need to be free’, because everyone needs something different on their journey. Our bags range from everyday shoulder bags to rugged walking rucksacks, writer’s bags to iPad cases, holdalls to travel washbags. As a tribute to the roots we’ve laid down in Lakeland, we even use Herdwick wool from our local farm in some of our bags and accessories.
Everything we make is designed for the outdoors - it’s our mission to inspire more people to enjoy the benefits of outdoor living. The wellbeing that comes from fresh air and exercise, but also the empowering feeling of being self sufficient in everyday journeys, wherever they are taking you.
The Lake District is a wonderful place to discover the benefits of outdoor living. The scenery is incredible, and there are walking routes to suit all abilities (as well as some of the best cycle routes in the UK). Having lived here for years now, and because we have dogs to walk, we’ve explored all corners of the region. But our favourite area for walking is probably on our doorstep in the Borrowdale Valley.
The famous mountain, Skiddaw, towers over us as a constant source of inspiration. It’s a serious climb to the top and you need to go prepared (especially in winter), but the views from the summit are mind-blowing.
If you’re walking in the Lake District, keep things simple and practical - a decent backpack, well fitting boots, waterproofs, map, compass, food, water and an open mind!