Winning tip: This place makes me happy, Lake District
From the fairy farm trail, to watching the cows being milked while you tuck into a homemade yorkshire pudding roast wrap, Low Sizergh Barn south of Kendal is just the best. We live locally and love visiting to shop, eat and enjoy a lazy day walking around the area, whether it’s in shorts and T-shirts to head-to-toe waterproofs when the Cumbrian heavens open. With mental health charity Growing Well on site supplying the shop, Sizergh Barn even contributes to improving the health of the local population. We have an allotment and love the fact Low Sizergh Barn can swap our surplus stock for coupons. I love the place and all it represents. It’s makes me happy and positive about the future whenever I visit.
Ferry to the farm, Inner Hebrides
The “wee blue” Balliemore farm shop on the island of Kerrera just off Oban, is a sight for sore eyes when hiking on a summer’s day. It sells meat (farm-reared beef), homemade ice-cream and cakes, jams and beautiful gifts. It’s a 10-minute walk uphill from the foot ferry (or to the end of the circular walk around the south of Kerrera – at which point you have earned your ice-cream). The only problem is fitting it all in your rucksack if you popped over on the ferry to hike around the island, as we did.
An idyllic car park, Norfolk
The Little Dairy Shop at Binham in north Norfolk is a happy place to visit. Join the friendly flow of customers at this self-service dairy for raw milk, butter, locally made skyr yoghurt and beautiful local cheeses, all available from cash and card reading vending machines. Other goodies are paid for by an honesty box, ice-cream included. Everything is of the highest standard and delicious, everything is special here, it is a great find. On the selves are homemade jam and local honey, coffee is also on tap. Outside are picnic benches and a selection of plants and planters overflowing with colour. Even the car park is idyllic, right beside Binham Priory, which is also well worth a visit.
Like Tuscany … in West Sussex
Imagine you’re staying in a rustic villa on the outskirts of a Tuscan village and you pop to the local store – this is what it is like going to Rassasy Farm Shop and Deli in Ferring, a little west of Worthing. Gorgeous fresh produce and deli counter, plus great eco credentials, it has delicious fresh milk on tap with reusable glass bottles and uses plant-based, easy-to-recycle items for packaging, including its plastic pots.
Suburban organics in north London
Forty Hall Farm Shop in Enfield is an outlet for Forty Hall farm run by Capel Manor College. Much of the work is done by volunteers and students. The produce is organic and high-quality. Veg, fruit and flowers and excellent free range meat, with beef coming from its red poll cattle and pork from rare breed pigs such as Berkshires and Oxford sandy and blacks. The highlight though (for me) is the wine from the attached vineyard – I recommend the award-winning bacchus 2019.
A taste of Chatsworth, Peak District
Eat royally? It’s certainly possible at Chatsworth Estate Farm Shop. Most of the produce is from the estate, or like the wonderful fresh bread, made on site. For a foodie, this farm shop is of way more interest than the house. Any place that has a “cheese of the month” ticks more than enough boxes for me. It’s Bakewell, so to not indulge in a bakewell tart would be disrespectful. You can walk it off in the epic surrounding scenery around the River Derwent. My stepdad, from Coal Aston, used to take me on crazy adventures (and lots of lock-ins). His job was “country singer”, but he was never cooler than when turning the knackered car off the main road into here.
Seafood feast, south Cornwall
On Cornwall’s Roseland peninsula, just off the A3078 between Veryan and Portscatho, the shop at Curgurrell farm is a treasure trove of Cornish food and drink goodies, the locally caught fish – including wonderful mackerel, crab and lobster – being particular draws. After a day tramping the coastal path, it was a real treat to pop in here en route to our campsite to pick up all the fresh veg, fish and locally produced wine, cider and olive oil that we could carry to create a feast back at our campervan. It turned our five-day stay there into something that more than rivalled our normal forays around France.
Tasty beans in Buckinghamshire
Peterley Manor Farm in Prestwood near High Wycombe is more than just a place to pick up local supplies – it’s a destination in its own right. There’s a lovely yurt cafe on site, serving homemade cakes, artisan coffees and seriously tasty beans on toast. Its plant nursery is a joy to explore even if you’re not in the market for a hanging basket, and it even hosts film nights where you can enjoy cult classics while sat on a hay bale. Plus, it is my go-to destination for pumpkins at Halloween and a tree at Christmas. I just love it.
Meaty Dorset discovery
Driving through Dorset and searching for a lunch stop after passing near Blandford Forum, we happened upon Chettle Stores by accident, with a homemade sign directing us half a mile off the main road to the village. This simple tin hut contains a huge range of eco products and refills, food supplies for the local community, and – best of all for hungry travellers – wonderful homemade hot sausage rolls, meaty pies and even vegan pasties. Enjoy them in the garden outside with a coffee and views of the local sheep and chickens. High-end it is not, but if you are looking for an unexpected and unpretentious gem in the Dorset countryside, head for Chettle.
Vend and make do, Suffolk
Not your traditional farm shop, but Fen Farm Dairy near Bungay in the southernmost part of the Norfolk Broads, definitely wins on novelty value. It’s a producer of the excellent Baron Bigod cheese (think brie, but better). On the farm is a small shack where you can buy the cheese along with butter, and raw milk (either as it comes or in a raw milk coffee) along with bread and meat from other local suppliers. The difference being is that it all comes from bespoke vending machines – definitely a more gourmet experience than your standard vending machine.