A visit from my Devon-based boyfriend is forcing me to turn Northampton into a tourist destination. 100 miles away from the nearest beach, it’s not everyone’s first thought, but this doesn’t mean it doesn’t have plenty to offer. About an hour north of London and an hour south of Birmingham, the East Midlands are really where it’s at, or that’s what I’m trying to convince you!
The fact that the council has recently become the first to declare total bankruptcy doesn’t mean there isn’t activities to enjoy in the town centre. The collection of independent cafés and restaurants are great to check out for something to eat. The Magic Bean Emporium is a fairy-tale themed coffee shop, which is a must visit for children and adults alike, serving up sandwiches, cakes and drinks 6 days a week. For those looking for something a bit heartier, MuMu’s and The Department of Meat and Social Affairs do great burgers and milkshakes, both offer 20% student discount! Other places to go for drinks include the Old House (for a pub vibe) and Corkers (for cocktails), both situated on the Wellingborough ‘Welly’ Road.
Also in the centre of town is 78 Derngate. ‘The Dining Room’ inside does a great afternoon tea, starting at under £20 a person, and is nice for a special occasion. 78 Derngate is located in the town’s cultural quarter, and is only a short walk from Beckett’s Park, home to tennis courts and a skate park. Floating on the River Nene, which runs through the park, is The Arc, a floating events venue, which hosts regular comedy nights and can be hired out. Being so far from the sea, boat balls aren’t so much the done thing in Northampton as they are in Southampton, so this is probably your closest bet.
The Shoe Museum is a Northampton classic. Famous for making shoes, there’s a reason why our football team are called the Cobblers. Admission is free, and it can make an interesting couple of hours. Everyone from Northampton took a trip to the shoe museum as a primary school child, and the museum is home to quite a few famous shoes, if that’s your bag! Luckily, it is in the centre of town and easy to get to.
Not technically in Northamptonshire, but Milton Keynes shopping centre is only a 30 minute train journey away. Northampton’s shopping leaves a lot to be desired, but Milton Keynes and its is a good start. With over 200 shops and restaurants, it’s a nice place to spend a day if you’re looking to shop in all the main high-street stores.
The aforementioned lack of beaches can be best fixed by a visit to the largest body of water in the area, Pitsford Reservoir, where you can either walk or bike around the almost 3 square miles of water. This is especially good on a warm summer’s day and a great way to get out and about. The adjacent Brixworth Country Park also offers a café and cycle hire.
This often overlooked place is home to both Alan Carr and Matt Smith and a bus station once voted ugliest building in the UK – so what are you waiting for? Give Northampton a visit this summer!