FANCY an alternative autumn break? Or maybe youre stuck for Christmas shopping ideas? Well you can combine the two using the newly-published Alternative Shop-ping Guide to the North West.
The guide, written by Barbara Cameron, has been launched in conjunction with the North West Tourist Board to promote the countryside following the foot-and-mouth epidemic.
Priced £3.95, the guide aims to help you "discover quality and value in out-of-the-way locations" by giving details of more than 70 outlets, some of which form part of working farms.
The choice of products is wide – teddy bears on a hilltop, lightweight clothes sold in Victorian stables or hand-printed window blinds depicting country scenes, to name but three.
"The joys of shopping in seemingly out-of-the-way locations are the individuality of the businesses, the relaxed atmosphere and somewhat unconventional locations," says Ms Cameron.
"Virtually everything that can be bought in a city can also be bought in the country – the differences being easy parking, the lack of crowds and the non-uniformity of the places to be visited.
"Tucked away, often around spectacular scenery like Lanca-shires Trough of Bowland or Vale Royal in Cheshire, are some highly sophisticated retail outlets."
Domestic tourism remains the lifeline for the regions operators, with 11 million overnight stays in the region from the home market last year, according to the NWTB.
Anthony Goldstone, chairman of NWTB, says: "The guide is very much aimed at people on a short break to the north-west who are after that something extra that adds value to their holiday – such as knowing where to pick up the best home-made Lancashire cheese or farm fresh Cheshire dairy ice cream." TR
• Get your copy from bookshops or direct by telephoning 01476 870770.