Whether you’re planning your first trip to explore Northumberland’s scenic walks and quaint villages, or you consider yourself a veteran visitor to the county’s top attractions, there are plenty of hidden treasures throughout the area that will make you want to take a little piece of Northumberland back home with you - no matter how far away that may be.
From quirky antique watch museums to tiny chocolatiers with moreish menus, we help you discover 5 of Northumberland’s not-so-average gift shops that stay with you long after your trip.
1) Infuse your home with Corbridge’s natural countryside aesthetics
In its prime central location, Corbridge Garden Room boasts a host of handpicked gifts, homeware and garden accessories that let you recreate the dense Northumberland wildlife habitats in your own back garden. Filled with authentic bird and insect houses that aim to bring the ‘countryside’ atmosphere into your less remote city residence, this untypical gift shop has a little bit of everything to turn any house into a cosy Northumbrian home.
Its natural ‘garden’ ethos has something to inspire everyone. If your garden is already filled to the brim with bird feeders and plant pots, then the Garden Room’s indoor fragrances and aromatic bath and body gels will leave you feeling and smelling like you’re still on your holidays. Described by visitors as “like stepping back in time”, this unique little shop will give you more than one reason to pick up a few treasures for your friends and family - and one or two treats for yourself, too!
2) Bring a taste of Warkworth back home with you
Nestled in the heart of Warkworth lies a quaint taste of Paris - Northumberland style. The best things come in small doses and Cabosse Chocolaterie and Pâtisserie epitomises just that by accommodating a constant stream of customers in their front shop area, while those wishing to be seated for their divine chocolatey nibbles and speciality teas are directed to the back of the shop.
If you fancy something a little bit special then Cabosse’s is where you’ll find it. Whether you fancy a warming chocolate drink with a splash of brandy, or choose to take away some of their delicious handmade chocolates and pastries for all your friends to devour when you get back home, this small cafe isn't just somewhere you can take memories away from, it’s a place you’ll be aching to return to long after you leave.
3) Immerse yourself in a good book, at home or away
Restored, rejuvenated and given a new lease of life to a fresh generation of visitors and locals alike, a once old Alnwick train station now houses the all-in-one library, Barter Books. Family-friendly and run by a team of dedicated individuals, this bookshop uses its impressive original features to invite visitors in to use their cyber cafe, children’s play area, abundance of seating and cafe.
This beautiful and authentic building offers tourists picture-perfect photo opportunities around every corner. With a plethora of purchasable books placed across dozens of shelves, you’ll easily want to pick them up and lose yourself in the first few pages - ensuring the next time you pick up that same book at home, you’re transported back into the historic Alnwick train station.
4) Add a touch of Northumbrian quirk to your home
Looking to kill two birds with one stone and get involved in an activity on your trip that also leaves you with memorabilia that lasts long after you’ve left? Arguably Rothbury’s quirkiest shop, Pots and Paws is a delightful emporium filled with funky furniture and obscure ornaments that breathe a bit of fun into your home.
If you’re planning on spending a few days in the area, then spend a day with your kids making your own plates, mugs and vases - and return a couple of days later to your kiln-fired pottery, ready for you to take away and treasure in your home forever. If, however, Rothbury is on your plan for a short but sweet visit, an acrylic painting session at Pots and Paws’ craft studio lets you take your personal art piece away with you the very same day.
5) Go back in time, time and time again
A fascinating, family-run Haltwhistle watch and clock repair museum, named after the book by local author Diana Bell, accommodates a vast array of display and purchasable items. From a gift shop filled with diverse novelty toys, fair trade gifts and local souvenirs, to a working watch and clock repair studio, Mr George’s Museum of Time bridges the gap between old and new by exciting its visitors with all things time-related.
Filled with antique gems and boasting the largest collection of watch dials in the country, Mr George's invites visitors to live the stories told within Bell’s book collection, allowing you to immerse yourself back into this quirky Haltwhistle museum with the flick of a page in your own home.
Northumberland is a place worth saving memories from. In today’s day and age, a holiday snap is often looked at once and misplaced on your laptop’s hard drive, while a simple souvenir can be treasured and kept as a constant memory of the time you spent in the Northumbrian countryside.
Author bio: Alex Jones is a content creator at Featonby’s, a specialist antiques and collectibles auctioneers based in the North East.