Spend a weekend in Baldock
PUBLISHED: 19:55 20 April 2011 | UPDATED: 19:13 20 February 2013
Cafe culture, independent shops and charming restaurants, coupled with and an ever-popular festival, are just some of the reasons to visit this town in the north of Hertfordshire. Find out more about this historic market town...
This spring, the annual Baldock Festival enters its 28th year and it expects to be bigger and better than ever, and just as popular with visitors
as it always has been.
A community event which brings the whole town together, the festival will this year take place in the streets, pubs, clubs, schools and even allotments of the town between April 29 and May 15.
The festival features everything from a cricket match, a beer festival and a fire station open day to bingo, a champagne breakfast and a classic car show which sees vintage motors driven in a parade through the town.
There is also the annual street fair which some regard as the highlight of the whole festival and which sees a variety of stalls manned by stall holders kitted out in historical costume as well as street entertainers.
The festival lasts for just two weeks, but the planning begins almost as soon as the previous festival finishes and once you visit it is easy to see why.
Gallery 1066, located in Hitchin Street on the north side of the High Street, showcases original paintings from a wide range of talented artists including the likes of Jack Vettriano and Rolf Harris as well as sculptures, glass art and photographic work.
The gallery opened its doors in Baldock last October and fits in wonderfully with the new look town centre. The owner of the gallery is Hayley Norman who moved to the town in 2008 and has already talked about building connections with local schools and colleges in a bid to promote art as a career.
If the work in her gallery is anything to go buy, the 42-year-old will have no problems in trying to get youngsters to immerse themselves in such a career.
For more information visit http://www.gallery1066fineart.com/
Weston Woods and Icknield Way
For those who enjoy a walk in the country, Baldock offers a choice of scenic routes.
Weston Woods, located in the hills above the town to its south and accessible from Chalk Hills, Lime Kiln Lane and Woodland Way, is the perfect setting for a Sunday afternoon ramble.
The woods are home to a vast array of beech trees and provide the perfect environment for assorted wildlife so why not pack a picnic to enjoy whilst you take in the views and inhale the spring air.
Alternatively, a walk along Baldocks part of the Icknield Way may be every bit as enjoyable.
The historical track runs across southern England from Buckinghamshire to Norfolk and plenty of people take in the entire route each year so why not join them in retracing the steps of Englands ancestors.
Shopping and the town centre
Baldock retains the feeling of a town still visited by shoppers looking for independent boutiques, and as the shops that run down the High Street and the connected roads demonstrate visitors are rarely disappointed.
From bakers and butchers, including the hugely popular Chapmans Butchers on Church Street, to specialist gift and hobby shops such as Wool n things and Staffy B, the town still holds on to the unique businesses that continue to pull in customers from all across the county.
The town centre itself has undergone a recent facelift as part of a 3.2 million redevelopment and is more pedestrian friendly, while there is also a thriving new cafe culture with the likes of Taste Cafe offering al fresco dining facilities for those wanting to take five during their shopping experience.
Baldock nightlife and dining
For a relatively small town in comparison with its neighbours, Baldock offers a terrific selection of evening venues to suit a variety of tastes.
The town has 13 pubs located in and around the town centre, from the traditional Cock public house on the High Street, with its warming fireplace and cosy atmosphere, to the more contemporary George IV on London Road with its family-orientated feel and menus.
Baldock also boasts a number of quality restaurants, with the Chilli Lounge, which opened last year on Whitehorse Street, increasing the number of Indian restaurants in the town to five.
There is also an Italian restaurant (Il Forno, on the High Street), two English fish n chip shops, a pizza parlour, and two establishments offering Chinese cuisine.
If you are looking for something a bit different there is also the ever-popular Zeus Hotel, which offers great Greek cooking and a party night like no other in Baldock featuring plate smashing and belly dancing.
Spend a weekend in Baldock
The historic market town of Baldock underwent a multi-million pound transformation back in 2009 in a move to push it into the 21st century. Whilst retaining its traditional sensibilities, the changes have seen the community attract new visitors with its blossoming cafe culture, unique traders and eclectic nightlife. Damion Roberts spends a weekend in this friendly and thriving town sampling all it has to offer.