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Our friends at Millican

We’ve recently teamed up with a small-but-perfectly-formed company called Millican, who are based just outside Keswick in the Lake District.

Why? Well, partly because we love their high-quality bags and lightweight outdoor accessories, but also because we share their values and admire the way they go about their business. Here, we ask co-founder Nicky Forbes how she and her husband Jorrit Jorritsma founded the company and what inspires them...
 

Self-guided walking holidays in the UK1. So… let’s begin with a nosey question: how did you two first meet?

We met in the early 90s. By chance our paths crossed whilst backpacking in southern Ecuador (right), in a remote village called Vilcabamba (renowned for its healthy way of life with many residents living over 100 years old).

Then in our early twenties, we were independently tackling round-the-world trips – which led to us sharing travels through South America, the US, Asia and Australia for almost two years.


2. What was the inspiration for starting your business?

Self-guided walking holidays in the UKThis chance meeting led to marriage, parenthood and the fine British Isles (Jorrit is originally from The Netherlands). We first settled in Nottingham, adapting to city life after two years of exploring the world. Inevitably, we grew restless of the constraints of the urban way of life, opting to relocate to the picturesque Lake District – to Keswick, known as the 'Adventure Capital of England'.
We both recognised the pressure on family and personal life, with Jorrit working overseas regularly and decided to create our own company, where we could combine our passions for the outdoors, travel and a simpler way of living. Which led to the creation of Millican in the summer of 2008.
 

3. Who (or what) is ‘Millican’ (we know it’s not your surname), and why is he/she/it important?

Self-guided walking holidays in the UKThe brand is inspired by the life and values of Millican Dalton, self-styled 'Professor of Adventure' (right) and local outdoor legend, who, in the early 1900s, turned his back on city life as an insurance clerk to live as a Lakeland mountain guide in a Borrowdale cave in the valley where we now live. Way ahead of his time, Millican lived a life of simplicity and self-sufficiency – growing most of his own food and making his own clothes, rucksacks, tents and sleeping bags, largely from salvaged materials.

He earned money for his bare essentials (coffee and Woodbines) by running adventure holidays – “mountain rapid shooting, rafting and hair’s breadth escapes”.  He continued to live in and explore the great outdoors until the end of his life in 1947, aged 79.
 

4. Obvious question, maybe… but why bags?!

We’re passionate about bags – they represent function, connections and experiences to us. We love how bags have been used throughout history and how different cultures and people use bags today for their daily carry needs.

When we were backpacking, our rucksacks contained all our worldly goods, were our true friends along the way. Over time, they too have stories to tell, imbued with all the memories of our adventures. We see bags as the one item we take out with us, trusted to keep our essentials at hand when needed.
 

5. OK… and what’s so special about your bags?

We’re very proud of the bags in the Millican range. Each one is designed to combine functionality with built-to-last quality, using sustainable materials: weatherproof, organic cotton canvas; vegetable tanned leather; recycled polyester; and, for insulation and protection, local Herdwick wool. The style of each bag is inspired by classic designs – whether that’s the original rucksack, courier bag or botanist’s field bag. Each style has been proven to withstand the test of time.


6. Where do your products get their friendly-sounding names?

Self-guided walking holidays in the UKEach bag is named after a friend of ours, most living in and around Keswick. Each have their own story to tell. Our friends have been so important in the creation of Millican – they supported us throughout our Millican journey, as well as helping us with the design and “road testing” of the prototypes.

We noticed that certain friends gravitated to certain bags for their own needs – and so we now have eg Dave the Rucksack (below), named after Dave the sheep farmer (bottom pic), Matthew the Daypack (left) is named after Matthew Entwistle, the author of Millican Dalton’s biography, and Peter the Washbag is named after our local GP.



7. How would you sum up your philosophy (if that’s not too grand a word), and what’s most important to you?

Self-guided walking holidays in the UKWe strongly believe that business can be a force for good, that we all have a role to play in making the world a better place. I know that sounds grand in itself, but if someone is going to buy a new bag, then let’s make it a bag that counts – a functional bag, with timeless style (so it doesn’t go out of fashion), made out of sustainable materials, that will last a lifetime, from a community focused company.

The environmental impact will be less and you’ll have a true friend joining you on many journeys. Each small decision, whether this is what to buy or where to go on holiday, all have an impact and we believe by making conscious choices, we can each help in our own way.

Another “wider” belief is that we can all create our own freedom by being true to what we believe and following our dreams. Millican Dalton did just that, as did we in our own small way – choosing our location to live, work and play so we can combine our passion for the outdoors, nature, adventure and family.



8. We read that you prefer the ‘scenic route’ to the ‘short cut’. Sounds good to us, but what exactly did you mean by this?

Self-guided walking holidays in the UKWe believe life isn’t simply about getting from A to B, it’s about what you discover along the journey that really counts.

If we’re ever given the option to explore an alternative, potentially slower but more fulfilling route when we’re out and about, we’ll always jump at the chance. In life and in business, we use the same philosophy – our goal isn’t simply to make it to the finish line but to enjoy and gather experiences, lasting partnerships and memories along the way.




Self-guided walking holidays in the UK9. How would you describe your perfect day out (and which bag would you take with you)?

An ideal day out for us would be here in our quiet corner of Paradise, The Lake District (ideally in the sunshine, but here we learnt quickly there’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing!). With Dave the Rucksack and Les the Cooler Bag as our trusty companions, we’d meet up with a gang of friends and their dogs, to venture up some of the nearby fells (Langdale and Loweswater are our favourite haunts at the moment). Then we may just feel the need to watch the sun go down with a glass of ale in a classic Lakeland pub such as the Kirkstile Inn, Loweswater.


10. If you could choose one of our ‘Slow Holidays’ to enjoy, which one would it be, and why?

Self-guided walking holidays in the UKMmm that’s a really tricky one as I have three I’d love to experience. For adventure of a bygone age, I’d opt for “Jemima Morrell’s Victorian Adventure” – we really admire how the explorers of that era set out with determination, their heavy clothes and hobnailed boots to conquer another peak. [This holiday is no longer available.]

As we live in a beautiful rural area, I often seek a “city fix” when on holiday. This combined with my eternal desire to explore overland would suit “In the Footsteps of the Moors” as I love the idea of crossing two continents and two very different cultures by land and sea, visiting ancient cities along the way.

And finally, further afield, my wish list trip has to be “India’s Intoxicating South” where we would combine stunning surroundings, culture and food with a real experience of local life, all supporting the small village communities. A perfect combination.

Self-guided walking holidays in the UK

Posted: 31/07/2013 14:27:30 by | with 0 comments
Filed under: heritage, journey, lifestyle, media, opinions, photography, UK, walking


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