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Christmas Shopping in Ryedale
The Best Christmas Gift-Shopping (you’ll never go online again)
In Ryedale’s Market Towns you’ll discover a shopper’s paradise: independent stores with the best of British food & drink; friendly workshops, boutiques and galleries featuring the country’s leading artists, designers and craftspeople; and an adventure playground of antique and vintage. Each market town is a treasure-house of unique gifts: you’ll find the lost art of quality craftsmanship, and presents that are simply Curious. With so many independent businesses, you’ll also discover a world of choice – with butchers, bakers and candle-stick makers sitting alongside old-fashioned hardware stores and designer fashion boutiques. With a quieter pace than those city centres and malls, you’ll also find that people have more time for you too – in Ryedale’s market towns, customers are kings and queens.
Top 10 Christmas Gifts in 2016
1. For the person with a taste for the good life, here’s a real treat. Antiques & Interiors in Helmsley has just launched Britain’s first barrel-aged coffee: aged in Scottish whiskey barrels, the coffee is then roasted by Roost Coffee, an independent coffee-house in Malton. Hunters of Helmsley is Britain’s Best Small Shop, and an Aladdin’s Cave of gourmet and local produce. They have launched a new range of Christmas Hampers in 2016, specialising in the best of Yorkshire goodies, with themes including Yorkshire Lass, Yorkshire Lad, Rievaulx and Ampleforth. Or you can now treat someone to the very best quintessential English afternoon tea, in one of the country’s top Tearooms of Excellence: the Black Swan in Helmsley, originally opened by Marco Pierre White, regularly wins national awards, and also rave reviews from famous visitors like Michel Roux OBE – it’s Yorkshire’s equivalent to the Ritz or Claridges. New for 2016, you can buy Christmas vouchers to experience High Tea with a loved one, at any time (perhaps include an overnight stay!
2. A UK hotspot for lovers of Antique and Vintage. Pickering is a UK Capital of Nostalgia, with the world-famous North Yorkshire Moors Railway at its heart, and an impressive variety of nostalgic tea-rooms, attractions, and collector’s shops, including the North’s leading Antique Centre. Nearby Kirkbymoorside is also home to the famous, fortnightly Ryedale Auctions which attract an international audience to its specialist sales in Antique and Fine Arts, Militaria, Toys and Railway. Helmsley and Malton also have a huge choice of antique stores, so you never know what you might find as you browse the shelves. You can buy an engine-master’s hat on the iconic Platform One of the Railway in Pickering, or seek out vintage Pokemon at Jack & Sallys Curiosity Shop in Pickering, give a home to an orphan teddy in Malton, create an entire regency drawing-room in your lounge, or buy a retro outfit for that Christmas Party, or….
3. One of a Kind. From JWW Turner to Hockney, the area has been a magnet for artists and craftspeople for centuries – a legacy that is alive and thriving in Ryedale’s Market Towns. With some of the country’s most highly-skilled craftspeople and designers on their doorsteps, you can buy gifts that are genuinely one of a kind in Ryedale’s market towns. How about a magic wand? Keith the Stickman in Helmsley handcrafts bespoke walking sticks – but also Bishops’ crooks and magic wands for movies like Nanny McPhee! For something eye-catching and quirky, head for Helmsley’s Antiques & Interiors – they even helped with sets and props for the upcoming Christmas ‘Harry Potter’ blockbuster, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’. Or what about a Vegan Suede Cushion, winner of the British Gift Association Awards, at the Duncombe Park Shop? Or for more award-winning gifts try Robert & Ruby, a unique Country Homeware and Gift Shop at Beadlam Grange Farm Shop near Helmsley, and winners of the prestigious Great Gift Retailer of the Year Awards in 2016. You’ll also discover a wide range of friendly galleries and workshops showcasing the work of both emerging local artists and international artists inspired by the local area, just like the Saltbox in Helmsley, becoming one of the North’s leading fine art and craft galleries, with ever-changing exhibitions from the work of over 150 artists at any one time – but mainly a reflection of the superb artistry of the region. Also look out for Nunnington Hall’s ‘Art for Christmas’ exhibition – a unique festive showcase of British art and crafts.
4. Pet Loves. If you’re dreading those words, “I want a pet for Christmas?” Ryedale’s market towns have the perfect alternative. You can have your very own Hedwig, adopting an owl (or any other raptor) at the National Bird of Prey Centre in Helmsley, the North’s largest collection of birds of prey – with possibly also the largest and cutest collection of soft-toy birds of prey in its shop! Or you can buy an exquisitely carved rocking horse (or teddy bear), handmade in the family-run workshop of Yorkshire Rocking Horses in Malton for over 30 years.
5. Kids on Bikes – not just a toy! It’s a Christmas kids’ tradition – getting your Christmas bike. Ryedale’s market towns have some of the UK’s best cycling on their doorsteps, whether it’s the world-class MTB trails of Dalby Forest, Britain’s best wild moorland trail rides, family-friendly rides in the gentle Howardian Hills, or following the route of the Tour de Yorkshire, Britain’s most popular road race! So it’s not surprising they also have two of the region’s best cycle shops: in Ryedale, you can buy your bike, then really use it to its maximum potential! Big Bear Bikes in Pickering and Northern Ride in Malton are both large and friendly stores, with expert teams offering a specialist bike fitting service, and a phenomenal range of bikes in stock at any one time for both road and mountain biking, and including a great range of lightweight, easy-to-ride options for children, and all imaginable related kit. You can also test-ride as many bikes as you like before you buy (unlike many city-based cycle shops…)
6. Winter Wood-erland. Ryedale is famed for its woodland, with more trees than the New Forest! So it’s perhaps not surprising that the area excels in woodcrafts, much of it supplied by the recently-restored sawmill on Helmsley’s historic Duncombe Estate (where you can also buy high-quality, handmade timber products, including play equipment). The area’s most famous woodsman is ‘Mousey’ Thompson, whose artistry can be discovered in local churches and historic houses, while the Mouseman workshop in Kilburn, near to Helmsley, is still celebrated for its master oak craftsmanship. There are many outstanding examples of local woodland craftsmanship in Ryedale (see Keith the Stickman and Yorkshire Rocking Horses!), but for something exceptional, head for Nick Nixon’s workshop in Malton – he handcrafts award-winning, bespoke cricket bats for both amateurs and professionals, including Viv Richards and Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
7. The perfect Christmas Tree. With so much woodland, you can also find the perfect Christmas Tree - the Connoisseur’s Choice being a tree from the historic Duncombe Park estate in Helmsley. All trees are lovingly cared for, year-round, in their Christmas nurseries by a skilled team, with cultivation techniques that encourage nature conservation. With a choice of needlefast pines, fine firs, and stunning spruces available from the beginning of December, they are only sold within two miles of the estate, and are also cut fresh the day before they are sold, ensuring that they are in pristine condition. These pampered trees will require the very best decorations, so head for Castle Howard’s Christmas Shop, with its outstanding range of unique and designer baubles. Or make your own masterpiece at Scampston Hall, near Malton: they have a programme of ‘you’re your own ‘workshops planned for Christmas 2016, including ‘Festive Fusing’ where you can kiln-craft Glass Stars and Snowflakes with Wendy Greenwood (who also has a craft workshop in Kirkbymoorside).
8. True Love’s Gifts. If you’re planning to pop the question in the New Year, or during a romantic Ryedale break, then make sure you invest in the True Lover’s gemstone – not a diamond (a relative upstart with no pedigree) - but Amber, the fiery emblem of Freya, the Viking Goddess of Love. The Yorkshire Coast is just a few miles from Ryedale’s Market Towns, and is one of the best places in the UK - even the world! - to find Jet (fossilised wood) and wild Amber (fossilised tree resin), so you will find many examples of exquisite jewellery made from these unusual gemstones in both contemporary shops and antique shops in Ryedale’s market towns. Head for Helmsley where you can find that special amber ring – or even commission your masterpiece – at handmade designer jewellers like Libby Butlers, the Saltbox, or Treasures from the Sea in Castlegate, selling every possible colour, size and setting imaginable of the True Love Gem.
9. Yorkshire’s Chocolate Box. Ryedale is home to some of the country’s master chocolatiers and leading confectioners, who use local cream to create award-winning chocolates (and also ice-cream). For the very best chocolate boxes, try local favourites Birdgate in Pickering or Mennells of Malton, or look out for works-of-art by master chocolatier, Andrew Thwaite, who handcrafts ‘anything in chocolate’ for charity in his ‘Ampleforth Plus’ range – available at Christmas Food Festivals and Farm Shop. In Helmsley, award-winning chocolates (and ice-cream) are hand-crafted by a Belgian-trained chef at Ryeburns, while nearby Hunters is an emporium of gourmet and regional chocolate. Meanwhile chocolatiers can be seen in action at the Chocolate Factory near Kirkbymoorside, and Beadlam Grange Farm Shop near Helmsley – where you can also find supplies for your own chocolate-making adventure.
10. Ryedale’s Tipsy Treats. Ryedale excels in booze – and not just your average tipples! Whether you’re seeking beer, wine, cider or spirits, you’ll find a huge variety of local choice on the doorstep: independent, handcrafted, distinctive and award-winning.
- Ampleforth Abbey handpicks and hand-presses their own apples, to make award-winning cider brewed from a traditional Benedictine recipe - and also a sinfully delicious Cider Brandy. The area was once known as the ‘Orchard of the North’, and many local villages and garden attractions are now restoring their ancient orchards to produce ciders and juices, inspired by Ampleforth! You can sample them at local farm shops and markets.
- The region has several top breweries: in Malton, the Brass Castle Brewery is CAMRA award-winning and in demand across the UK, while the town’s Bad Seed Brewery is amongst Yorkshire’s best craft breweries, its growing popularity in cities across the UK meaning the brewery’s already had to move premises to keep up with demand. The Great Yorkshire Brewery in Cropton near Pickering has been producing award-winning, hand-crafted real ales for over 25 years and it’s a regional success story with its bottled beers now sold nationwide. Helmsley Brewing Company design their range of craft beers using the finest ingredients (including Yorkshire Malts and English hop) and traditional techniques.
- Ryedale Vinery produce wines that are winning international awards from their Yorkshire grapes, and also fresh fruit, juice and cider from the farm’s orchards. The vineyard is also Britain’s most northerly commercial vineyard.
- SLOEmotion, in Barton le Willows near Malton harvests the hedgerow to produce their multi-award winning fruit liqueurs, such as SLOE Gin, vodka, brandy and whisky. They use traditional techniques with high concentrations of hand-picked wild fruit to create fabulous flavours, and nothing goes to waste, with the spent fruit used to produce chocolate truffles and chutneys.