Day 1: Kington, Home to Makers
A tiny town packed with character
Start your day in Made in the Marches Gallery where you can pick up artwork from established and emerging artists and makers based in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Powys. Their exhibitions take in all media, from paint to porcelain. There is also a growing selection of art materials and artist-designed kits for sale. Along the street, you’ll find Kat and Fiddle Gallery where the acclaimed artist Kathryn Moore makes and sells her brilliant mixed media landscapes.
Next, make up a delicious hamper for the foodie in your life. The best artisan-made foods are a speciality at Number 25 Delicatessen, choose from Herefordshire treats such as Penrhos Gin, British Cassis, Hay Charcuterie, Monkland Dairy cheese and artisan chocolate. Stock up on eco essentials for the body and home at Planet B, find culinary gifts at the Bee’s Knees Cook Shop plus outdoors gear at The Walking Hub.
Plan your trip to coincide with a special festive event. Visitors on the weekend of 27 November can enjoy arts, crafts, walks and winter fun at Birches Farm Nature Reserve, whilst on 4 December the town will host its winter Food Festival. Over 90 stalls will be serving up gastronomic inspiration from Herefordshire and the borders, plus live entertainment and cocktails from White Heron Drinks.
With your Christmas shopping in the bag, make the most of the gorgeous countryside. Walk up Hergest Ridge for dramatic views and wild ponies. For a less strenuous option, take a picturesque drive around the nearby black and white villages.
Favourite stops include Border Bean and La Gala. The Cattleshed at Penrhos Court is just outside Kington with a tasty menu from morning to evening. Relax over a local ale at the CAMRA-listed Ye Olde Tavern with its original pub interior.
Dinner & stay overnight
Annie's gallery Made in the Marches is a celebration and showcase of the work of both established and emerging artists and makers, living and creating in the Marches of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Powys. Themed and seasonal exhibitions offer a diverse and changing collection of art and craft, reflecting the talent and essence of the region.
Kington is a little delight of a town. Annie's fab gallery on Church Street is neighbours with some lovely independent shops. Here's her recommendations for a Slow Shopping trip:
- Hergest Ridge: Walk up our landmark hill to see the monkey puzzle trees, the amazing panoramic views and Offa's Dyke Path.
- Kat & Fiddle Studio: Find Kathryn Moore, painter, weaver and musician, creating her vibrant paintings full of colour and energy, they capturing the essence of the Marches.
- Lockdown Books: a great new bookshop with the best in literature, poetry, politics and much more, plus a changing exhibition of local art and craft.
- Markets: In addition to our superb independent shops, our High Street hosts a weekly Friday food market and monthly Art and Craft market. Find sustainably sourced and locally grown/made foods through to artworks and artisan chocolate.
- Cafes: It's too hard to pick my favourite! All of them offer a warm welcome plus great food and beverages to complement a slow shopping day out.
Day 2: Hay-on-Wye, For Cultural Kicks
Traditional shopfronts painted in zingy colours will lure you in to browse.
Art galleries, homeware stores and eclectic antiques will all compete for your attention. Discover established names and new talents, many of which are local, at The Lion Street Gallery, The Table, Ty Tân Art and Bluestone Gallery. Or explore the work of two artist collectives at The Flaming Lady of Hay and The Haymakers. Meanwhile, Brook Street Pottery specialises in ceramics, Thru The Lens is the place for photography and you can find handmade glass at Eirian Studio Glass.
Buy fair trade at Eighteen Rabbit or browse new and vintage at The Old Electric Shop, including a showcase of artisan makers. The Great English Outdoors is pitched as a 'shop with soul', perfect for finding locally-sourced and ethical delights, such as leather goods, clothing, gifts for hosue and garden and textiles. Meanwhile, The Welsh Girl sells coveted handmade ponchos, cushions and bags whilst Bartrums & Co will satisfy each and every stationery addict. Over at the Hay Antiques Centre you can browse the wares of some twenty-six dealers under one roof. And Wye Fret is a brilliantly named guitar shop which has just opened.
Of course, there are countless bookshops (twenty plus at the last count!) stocked with antique, second-hand and new books catering for every literary taste, from detective fiction at Murder & Mayhem to verse at The Poetry Bookshop. Meanwhile, Richard Booth's Bookshop and Addyman Books are laden floor to ceiling with titles from across every genre, and the specialist Children's Bookshop is just a mile out of town.
Visit on a Thursday morning to catch the weekly market which is packed with more than 40 stalls piled with gorgeous edible goodies as well as vintage finds, arts and crafts, jewellery and ceramics.
There's a host of relaxed places to eat, including Hay Deli, Tomatitos Tapas Bar, the new Cosy Café and The Granary as well as Shepherds, the famous retro ice-cream parlour
Dinner & stay overnight
No 10 Dulas is a cosy hideaway in town or drive a few miles out of town to discover many self-catering options in the glorious Golden Valley, including Drovers Rest Farm and Cynefin Retreats. Local Bed & breakfasts include The Cob at Montpelier, which is set in four acres of meadows and is made from straw and lime render.
The Great English Outdoors is a shop with soul with makes and sources beautiful things from natural materials. Athene has created a visual treat, a unique shopping experience which showcases excellence in craftmanship and offers design inspiration. Find handmade leather goods, ethical tailored clothing and knitwear, Welsh blankets and beautiful homeware.
Hay-on-Wye is always a delight to visit and it's independent shops look especially pretty in their festive finery. Here's Athene's tips for a top slow shopping day in Hay:
- Flaming Lady of Hay: Visit our fabulous next door neighbour for unique jewellery, paintings, prints and more.
- Cafe Isis: Always my favourite place for a coffee break or spot of lunch
- The Flower Shop: Pick up winter bouquets and festive wreaths from this lovely florist
- The Table Art Gallery: An extraordinarily artistic space, the perfect place to enjoy and buy art
- Brook Street Pottery: Exceptional contemporary ceramics that are very hard to resist!
- Hay Makers: Six talented designer-makers show their work under one roof, alongside special guest artists. Another absolute gem.
- Richard Booth’s Cinema: Take a break from shopping and enjoy a matinee at this wonderful, tiny, independent cinema.
- Artizan Creations: More beautiful hand-crafted jewellery, find a really special gift here.