Nestled away in woodland at the foot of Coniston Old Man and echoing to the sound of water tumbling down the nearby mines and becks, Coniston Stonecraft seems almost as much a part of the landscape as the Cumbrian stone it works with.

But over the last year the business has been working hard to adapt and change, under new ownership and in the face of the coronavirus crisis.

Brendan Donnelly and wife Cherry bought the business out of administration last February, just 19 days before the UK went into lockdown.

Now, with the return of tourists to the county, and after revamping its product range and identifying new distributors, Brendan believes the business will come out of the crisis stronger than before.

During lockdown two of the businesses' main revenue streams disappeared, namely making slate medals for fell races and place mats for coffee shops.

However, the team worked on building a new range with a renewed appeal.

Items like slate clocks, bookends and letter racks were removed, lamp bases, trophies and kitchen utensils were modernised and refreshed and new products like champagne and wine coolers introduced.

“In a strange way, Lockdown One actually helped us,” says Brendan.

“It gave us the time and opportunity to think about where the business needed to go and what we wanted to do.”

This involved creating a new website and putting far more focus on social media promotion and online selling, which now makes up around 40 per cent of the business.

“When we had a little bit of time because of Covid we decided we would become much more of a web-based business and tie-in with some collaborators,” says Brendan.

One of these is Harlow-based Astro Lighting which is using lamp bases made by the business for a range of products it exports to America.

“We’ve got about four or five different people that we’ve targeted and got them interested and they’ve said they want to work with us,” says Brendan.

Another outlet includes online luxury British gift, homeware and clothing retailer Sir Gordon Bennett.

Brendan has also been hard at work finding new distributors and collaborators to help sell products across the UK.

He says in many cases distributors have come to Coniston Stonecraft, which employs six people including an apprentice stonemason and another digital marketing apprentice from Furness College.

“They want to take British products and they’ve done their research and we fit what they want,” he says.

Although not a tourist attraction per se, its position en route to the Coppermines Valley means its shop gets a lot of passing trade from people on their way to climb Coniston Old Man. Tourist footfall also drives sales at the gift shops it supplies and Brendan is hoping for a busy season this year.

“It’s a major contribution to the business,” he says.