Retail therapy along Superfast routes
Somerset and the Wiltshire borders are awash with artesian food producers ranging from cheesemakers to cake and pastry creators. Amongst these there are plenty of places where you can pick up a range of eclectic products from artisan breads to delicious cheeses. Towns such as Warminster, Glastonbury, Castle Cary and Bruton all have a wide range of independent outlets with hidden gems also in Yeovil and Taunton.
One such establishment which has been around for some years is At the Chapel Bakery in Bruton. An ex-17th century chapel it is has been converted into a bakery and restaurant. With its arched windows and courtyards, it can be found in the centre of the town and is open for business most days. With whitewashed walls and elegant furniture, it has eight bedrooms and constantly produces bread and pastries which are available directly and through outlets in the area including Teals.
Teals not far from Wincanton and just off the A303 also stocks a whole section of local items from elsewhere in the county. There is an excellent café on site and plenty of parking.
Another unusual outlet close to Bruton is Durslade Farm Shop at the Hauser & Wirth Gallery just outside the town. Here amongst an art gallery, gardens and extensive grounds you will find a thriving farm shop providing a range of fresh produce along with local goods such as cheese, cider and cakes. Friendly staff are there to help providing a range of exclusive local meats and cheeses.
Not far away in the village of North Cadbury the small village shop sells the world-famous Montgomery Cheese. Produced basically next door they have a number of varieties on sale together with a delicious soft white cheese from Bath.
If you are looking for shops with a difference you need to make for Glastonbury. The high street is full of unusual outlets which you wouldn’t normally find on an average high street. These include shops selling crystals, faery items and clothes with a difference. The shops are usually open seven days a week, but you need to check. There is plenty of parking in and around the town. There is the Chalice Wells Bookshop and Gifts where you can buy gifts linked to spiritual matters and The Crystal Man who has a wide selection of carvings and jewellery to choose from, with many items being made by Mike Jackson, the guy who runs the shop. They also sell a range of fossils and lapidary items. Mike is very friendly and keen to share his knowledge of the mineral world with anyone who enters the shop.
One of the most iconic establishments in Glastonbury must be Wyrdraven which specialises in Viking goods. Run and owned by Fiona and Stuart Brogan this unusual establishment attracts clients from all over the world. Used by film companies and theatres they are now known worldwide for their unique products and have won the top Travel Advisor Travellers Choice Award in the speciality and gift section. Opened in 2013 and previously known as Shieldmaiden a visit here will certainly broaden the mind!
Whist many of the shops have been there for many years new ones are always appearing. Some do close on Wednesday and Sunday so check before you go.
Not far away on the marshes you will find Somerset Crafts, an Arts & Crafts Gallery at the Avalon Marshes Centre, BA6 9TT. Displaying and selling the work of artists and craftspeople living in Somerset it is a real find. Near to the beautiful nature reserves of Shapwick Heath, Ham Wall & Westhay the Avalon Marshes is an ancient wetland landscape on the Somerset Levels. The centre sells a range of art & crafts include ceramics, stained glass, oil, acrylic & watercolour paintings, photography, stone sculpture, textiles, furniture & wood turning. All their products are unique, original & locally hand-crafted providing quality and value for money. Open 10am – 5pm, every day Monday to Sunday there is a cafe on the site.
Wells also has a wonderful array of independent retailers which can be found around its historic centre. There is a twice weekly farmers market and a vast array of narrow streets. Water channels created in the 15th century run down the high street. The marketplace in the centre of the city has some interesting outlets and there is the magnificent cathedral to visit along with the Bishop’s Palace and plenty of cafes and eating places in the Market Square.
For those of you alighting at Ilminster you might like to try Frame of Mind. Their first store was started in 1994 and since then they have opened up another shop in Wellington. They are very keen on keeping high streets alive and use as many independent suppliers as they can. Their candles are made in Glastonbury and them also source from Shepton Mallet. An independent family business it is run by two brothers who work together with a dynamic team to provide an individual service. Not far from the lively market towns of Frome and Warminster is the city of Bath with a wide range of outlets. Many of the narrow streets hide a plethora of shops including cheese emporiums, well established jewellery shops and individual outlets such as Bath Aqua Glass started in 1996. Born in Bristol, the creator of the company Annette moved to London and then back to Bath. The city is also home to the local world famous Bertinet Bakery Started in 2007 it used to open on Saturday mornings above a cookery school with everything made downstairs by hand on the Friday night. Then in January 2012 the first Bertinet Bakery and Café opened in Bath selling a full range of breads and pastries. Since then, it has become world famous for its sourdough loaves which can be purchased in Bath and at a number of outlets in Somerset and Wiltshire.