Where History And The Modern Collide: Market Towns Are Back On The Map

4 August 2021

So, you’ve got a weekend spare? Or perhaps you’ve booked the week off and you’re wondering what to get up to?

We think spending a little while exploring some of the UK’s most delightful market towns is the perfect way to go about filling a few of those days, and here’s why...

Let the adventure begin! 

Market towns are often smaller than the big cities, but they’re so alive with culture and modern life that they’re still packed with tons of wonderful things to get up to.

Slowing down and taking a steadier approach to your adventures is the best way to see these towns in our books.

Our advice is to take it easy, wander along idyllic streets without a destination in mind, amble through serene parks just for the pleasure, and sit down, simply to watch the world go by.

And when you get a little peckish, we’ve got you covered. We’ve found some of the most enchanting places you can grab a bite to eat before continuing your travels.

Sometimes a sit-down with the locals, a fine cup of coffee, and a little nibble to eat is as much an experience as any.

So let’s begin...

Denbigh: Wales

Denbigh is a market town in the heart of North Wales.

It’s a town steeped in history, packed with wonderful things to do where a traditional pub serving some quality food, drink, and conversation are never far away.

We think the best way to begin your adventure is by getting stuck right into the history of the area. But it’d be silly to start exploring without powering up with some breakfast first, right?

Glass Onion Cafe

Known as the 'hub of Denbigh', you’ll adore your visit to the Glass Onion Café to begin the day.

Whether you decide to get stuck into a hearty first meal, or you’re after a lovely coffee or tea, the entire menu is filled with delights all made to an incredible standard.

On your way out, we recommend a nice warm drink – you’re about to get exploring Denbigh’s past, and the only way to top that is with a hot beverage in hand.

Wander along the town walls

The old town walls of Denbigh stretch around the market town and make for a wonderful walk. Borrow the key from the library nearby and you can spend as much time as you like exploring.

But inevitably, you’ll spot the towering remains of a few other buildings a short distance away, and soon you’ll be back on street level continuing your adventure.

Denbigh’s remarkable past

Denbigh Castle, St Hillary’s Chapel, and Leicester’s Church are all within a short walking distance from the tower walls.

Explore Denbigh’s war-torn past and wander from one ancient building to the next.

When your travels around the sites come to an end, your whole perception of Denbigh inevitably changes.

It’s a town built on ancient foundations, with a history that brings with it awe-inspiring respect.

You “come for the past and stay for the people”, says Jenny Barlow, the Town Clerk, and we think this really becomes clear when you head to one of Denbigh’s wonderful traditional pubs.

At The Hope & Anchor, you’re not only met by lovely people but some amazing food and drink as well. You’re soon made to feel at home in the family-run pub, where they welcome locals and visitors alike.

With traditional ale flowing and great food to match, we don’t think there're many better ways to end your day in Denbigh.

Shrewsbury: England

The market town of Shrewsbury in the picturesque county of Shropshire is perhaps best known as the birthplace of Charles Darwin.

And sure, Shrewsbury has one incredible history waiting to be discovered, but its modern life as a market town is where your adventure really begins.

First, we’ve got to start with the monthly farmers market the town hosts.

If you’re around on the first Friday of the month, you’ll be able to wander the stalls and pick up some incredible produce: from organic chocolates to handmade pottery and glass jewellery.

Market Hall

If you’re not around then, there’s no need to worry. Apart from Sundays and Mondays, the Market Hall is open and waits to be explored.

You’ll find stalls packed with fruit and veg, smell flavours from all over the world being served up to hungry travellers, and discover plenty of vintage clothing, antiques, and music to search through.

Smells of coffee and cake: Ginger & Co

After you’ve spent a while hunting for some fabulous purchases, you’ve probably noticed that Shrewsbury’s independent shopping scene is truly impressive.

Well luckily for everyone, their food scene is exactly the same.

From your first step through the doors of Ginger & Co Coffee Shop on Princess Street, this immediately becomes apparent.

The smell of coffee lingers in the air, cut through with the sweet scent of freshly baked cakes and soul-warming soups.

Everything from the ambience to the smiles on the staff members' faces lets you know what a truly special place this is.

Whether you’re stopping by for a coffee or grabbing some lunch, everything on the menu is crafted and perfected by the team at Ginger & Co, and you can bet you’re in for a treat.

"We always wanted to create an environment where anyone would feel comfortable to enjoy a tasty coffee, wholesome food, or homebaked cakes, and we like to think we've achieved that," says Sam, the owner of Ginger & Co.

We couldn't agree more.

Strolling through the gardens

You could easily spend a wonderful day in Shrewsbury simply walking through town, popping in shops, and munching on slices of cake along the way.

But you also have The Quarry park and The Dingle open to explore on your travels. The garden is an oasis of plant life where every turn along the path brings one beautifully curated bed of flowers after the next.

Like Denbigh, Shrewsbury has one remarkable past which becomes obvious when you spot the castle watching over the whole town.

Take a stroll around the medieval fortress before heading further back in time with a visit to Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery.

Their collection covers a wide range of time periods and items throughout history, so we’re sure you’ll find something to keep you mesmerised.

Closing out your adventure

There’s so much to do in both Denbigh and Shrewsbury that really we think you might have to spend another entire day covering all the places you had to leave out.

But we don’t think you’ll mind that, not really.

You’ll have to find out for yourself, but we’re pretty optimistic that if you follow along anywhere in vague proximity to what we’ve set out, you’re going to be in for one absolutely fantastic day out.

So here’s to your return, aye?