Let's be clear – for high-street shopping of all kinds, Newcastle is the place to go in the northeast. And with most Northumberland towns all within an hour or so of the 'capital', that's what people often do. But Northumberland itself has some lovely market towns – Hexham and Alnwick in particular – while lots of other places have managed to resist the march to uniformity and still have proper butchers, bakers and, who knows, probably even candlestick makers. Farm shops are a big deal, and some are truly excellent, sourcing great food and drink directly from local producers and growers. And there's still lots of room in Northumberland for quirky and charismatic shopping – a secondhand bookshop in an old railway station, for example, or arts and crafts on sale in the farmhouse birthplace of landscape gardener Capability Brown.