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Settle is a lovely place to go for a long walk. Our streets of gracious limestone buildings and history are enchanting. Ambling along the River Ribble opens a portal to the wild through its rushing water drowning out sounds of traffic and industry where wildlife the likes of ducks, herons, salmon and even otters for the sharp eyed can be found. Then there are the hills and dales, woods, caves and waterfalls if you venture out further. Have boots, will walk.

My walking boots were in my suitcase when I arrived to live in Settle from abroad a few years ago. They were eagerly waiting to be used as I was coming from a place I wouldn’t call walk-friendly. Oh, the joy I found in wandering up to the top of Castleberg Crag to look over this town; the feeling of freedom in plodding along public footpaths through farming land. What an enchanting place to be.

So I’m sure you can imagine my disappointment when, after a few rambles, my highly prized, highly-tech boots brought all the way across the ocean with me, began to lose their soles!

But all was not lost as during my exploration of the town I’d discovered Nelson’s Footwear where our Cobbler, Dan, makes and fixes boots. Entering his charming workshop was like a journey into fairyland, with walls covered in all manner of magical looking footwear to gaze at. Enraptured by these surroundings, I presented him with my broken boots.

They were, Dan kindly and patiently explained to me, unfixable. After a few moments of non-compute, I crashed back down to earth and managed to bring my focus back to what he was saying. Yes, indeedy, because of the way machines make footwear, the majority of them can’t be fixed. Once they’re broken, that’s it. Over-ka-dover. Finito. Most of them end up in landfill. I didn’t know that. I was gutted.

I was determined never to buy machine-made footwear again. So would he make me a pair of boots then? I asked Dan. Sure he would. His waiting list was around two years. Well, Dan put me on to Mark Slee who, three months later, had made me a lovely pair of bespoke boots. While I waited I wore wellies to walk in, which was somewhat limiting to say the least.

Fast-forward a couple of years and I find myself no longer broken-hearted but at a place of Beautiful Beginnings. I’m ever so please to announce that you, Settle Lovelies, now have your own show shop in Settle Town Hall selling a rather fabulous and unique range of handmade leather shoes. Indeedy, a pair can be bought right here and right now. There’s no need to ever buy machine-made shoes again! I feel honoured to be supplying our community and our visitors with a product I have been using myself for over a decade. I do hope you’ll come in and say hello and try a pair on. You’ll find them ever so comfortable and they’re designed to last for yonks. And of course, if they do need fixing, Dan is your man.

You’ll find ShoeSpeak in the Settle Town Hall at the Cheapside entrance. Phone 01729 822223 or email: We’re also online at

Andrea Ward, Owner, ShoeSpeak