Arts and crafts in the countryside in a highly individual setting.
Kirkharle Courtyard Kirkwhelpington NE19 2PE 01830 540 362
For a completely different shopping experience, how about arts and crafts with a lakeside walk at the birthplace of Capability Brown? The 18th-century farm courtyard was where the world's most famous heritage landscape gardener grew up, in deep, rural Northumberland, and it makes a fascinating day out. The restored and rescued buildings are home to a dozen workshops, studios and boutiques – jewellery, cabinet-making, antiques, ceramics, plants and garden, art and household design, not to mention an excellent coffee shop. But what really marks Kirkharle out is the opportunity to explore something of the past while indulging in a bit of retail therapy. The mansion on the estate was pulled down in the 19th century, but long before that the young Capability Brown had designed a never-realised lake and parkland for the house – possibly his first ever attempt at landscape gardening. Restoration work has brought the project back to life, and there's a lovely easy-access walk around the lake of around a kilometre. It's an ongoing project, but there's always something to see and experience here, whether chats with artisans, seasonal country markets or wildlife walks.
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Admission and parking free.
Open all year. Shops and outlets have varied hours, but general times are summer daily 10am–5pm, winter daily 10am–4pm.