The life of a famous cave dweller and self-styled “professor of adventure” inspired a homegrown Cumbrian brand which is now being sold around the world.

Millican Dalton famously lived in a cave in Borrowdale, near Keswick, during the early 1900s after swapping life as an insurance clerk in London for an outdoor existence.

Living a frugal life making his own clothing, he worked as a climbing guide and led parties on rafting trips.

Known for his broad-brimmed Tyrolean hat and love of woodbine cigarettes, Millican Dalton died in hospital in 1947 at the age of 79.

However, his spirit lives on in the eponymous brand which drew on his life as a source of inspiration.

The story of his free-spirited lifestyle had such an effect Jorrit Jorritsma that he decided to name a company after him.

Jorrit is managing director of Millican, which sells a variety of daypacks and overnight bags for travellers of all types.

The company bases its approach on Millican’s philosophy and “principle of simplicity”.

Jorrit previously worked for Kangol, in Cleator, before launching the brand at the Keswick Mountain Festival in 2009.

Begun as a small operation on the lounge table with co-founder Nicky Forbes, the company now has a team of 11, 10 based at offices on a working farm near Keswick with one working from home near London.

“We have just come off the back of five years of growth, which really means that we’ve cemented a good presence in all the northern European countries, as well as the US and a little bit of Asia,” said Jorrit.

“We now supply bags to 300 stores in 50 countries.

“They tend to be a mix of outdoor, travel and lifestyle stores.”

Millican also sells bags directly via its own online shop working with a distributor with a warehouse in Kendal.

“We sell all over the world really,” said Jorrit.

In the fiercely competitive world of online trading, with so many brands clamouring for attention, Jorrit says having a strong identity with solid and consistent roots is essential.

“The most crucial differentiator for us is our brand and our brand story, which naturally is closely linked to our location in the Lake District,” he said.

“The online landscape is getting more and more competitive.

“The traditional online marketing methods of Google and pay per click and social advertising is getting more crowded.

“A lot of our success comes from the strength of the brand and the collaborations we do both with marketing partners and product partners.”

Over the years these have included limited edition products made in collaboration with people including the band Radiohead, as well as other brands such as men’s clothing maker Universal Works and camera company Fujifilm.

Millican works with a design partner in Stockholm to make the bags which are then produced by a single factory in Vietnam and sent to retailers via distributors in the UK, Asia and the United States.

It uses a network of agents and distributors to sell its products around the world, as well dealing with the retailers direct.

“We have also started operating a temporary seasonal showroom in London,” said Jorrit.

For the future, Jorrit says the company is focused on continuing its growth and introducing a new range to market this year.

“In the last year we’ve focused on designing an entirely new collection which is going to be ready to launch in March,” he said.

“The forward orders have been very encouraging.

“We are going to be able to offer a new Millican collection to a slightly younger audience to make the brand a bit more accessible.

“It’s a very recognisable Millican product, still made from 100 per cent recycled polyester made from plastic water bottles.

“We have also upgraded the materials that we use on our main collection the Maverick collection, so from this year onwards that will be 100 per cent recycled polyester as well.”

At the same time, Millican launched its Re-Home Your Bag project last year, inviting people to send in their unwanted bags - of any brand - which it will repair and donate to social projects nationally and internationally.