Boroughbridge is emerging as a popular destination for foodies in Yorkshire
PUBLISHED: 17:00 16 August 2016 | UPDATED: 08:50 22 August 2016
Fine food, community spirit and a warm welcome - they're all on the menu in Boroughbridge
Adventurous cooks shopping for Jordanian spices, Italian pesto, Germany confectionary, Sri Lankan green tea and Middle Eastern freekeh could be forgiven for not immediately setting their satnav for Boroughbridge.
But by ignoring this small but delightfully-formed North Yorkshire market town, they’re missing a tasty trick.
All these ingredients – and a larder-full more – are on offer on the High Street at Fink, an epicurean emporium that’s just one of the myriad foodie highlights this bustling, energetic town boasts.
Formerly The Fruit Basket, it was relaunched at the end of June with a new look and a couple of familiar friendly faces behind the counter. Hugh Fink (hence the name) and Sharon Longcroft, who also runs a successful picture framing business in the town, bought the food store a couple of years ago and have since recreated it as a progressive deli specialising in ‘delicious, interesting and unusual food’.
‘Food has always been important to me as a cook,’ said Hugh. ‘And as the years have gone on, it’s become more and more encompassing.
‘The Fruit Basket had a good reputation before we bought it and I often shopped there for interesting bits and bobs. When it came up for sale, I thought it was an ideal opportunity for us to change our lives. Although, to be honest, I didn’t really have a clue what to expect.’
Their small, welcoming shop is brimming with fresh local produce, including artisan bread from Amos & Welsh, a micro-bakery in Shipton-by-Beningbrough, granola from Yockenthwaite Farm, near Skipton, and chorizo from Three Little Pigs in Kiplingcotes. There’s also fresh fish, cheeses, continental fine foods and lots of lovely little pots and parcels of things you didn’t know you needed until you saw them and now must have immediately (if not sooner).
Hugh and Sharon are now firmly established as part of Boroughbridge’s strong – and still vigorously strengthening – foodie scene. Take a quick trot along York Road, High Street, round into Fishergate and up to Horsefair and you’ll find an abundance of excellent cafes, pubs, restaurants, butchers, bakers and wine merchants. To be honest, you can live a very rich and fulfilled foodie life without having to leave the central square mile.
‘You’ll find wonderful things here that you won’t find anywhere else,’ said Sharon. ‘And Boroughbridge gets the basics right too, offering great meat, fish, bread, fruit and veg in largely independent, family-run shops that have been here for many years and are still thriving.
‘I honestly think we can give Malton and Helmsley a run for their money. We have everything you need to be a foodie destination. They do a good job and we can do the same in a different, more westerly place.’
Hugh, who comes from a marketing and sales background in the engineering industry, has lived in Boroughbridge for 20 years. He and Sharon, a former training consultant from Teesdale who joined him in the town a few years ago after ‘finding him on the web’, are now key members of the Chamber of Trade and the Community Choir as well as shop-owners.
‘You meet a lot of people when you set up your own business in a town,’ said Sharon. ‘It’s very important to build a local network of support.
‘People are, of course, very busy running their own businesses but, generally, it’s a very supportive community and everyone steps up to do their bit for town-wide events and promotions like late night Christmas shopping, the Easter Festival of Walks and one-offs like the Queen’s 90th birthday.’
Boroughbridge, which sits between Harrogate and York (and, FYI, is equidistant between London and Edinburgh), has long been a haven for independent shops run by independent spirits. It’s a traditional stopping off place for travellers and visitors who now, instead of watering their horses while shaking the dust from their britches, take advantage of the free parking (you can put a donation in the box if you’re feeling generously inclined) and the fabulous array of eateries and shopperies.
‘It’s still not necessarily a visitor destination in its own right, but it attracts a lot of people on their way to somewhere else because it’s well-connected and accessible,’ said Hugh. ‘It would be nice to expand the Boroughbridge experience even further, perhaps incorporating some of the nearby attractions into our offering, like Aldborough (home to Roman mosaics and numerous archaeological gems) and the Three Arrows (standing stones to the west).’
Both believe the marina, just two minutes from town on the River Ure, could also be better used to attract more visitors.
The town's war memorial
The market cross in St James Square
The town centre
Chris Leeming at his shop - J& L Meats
Sasha Brunyee and Nick Burt enjoy the sunshine
The Valley Striders Cycling Club from Leeds, take a well earned break at the Tasty Snacks Cafe
Ann Paul, right, and Marienne Hayes from Market Square Antiques, with their pooches
Lynn and Eddie on their boat Waterlily at Boroughbridge Marina
‘It’s so beautiful but lots of people don’t even know it’s there,’ said Sharon. ‘Ironically, however, it can get a bit over-crowded when it comes to parking. It’s fine if you’re on a boat; there’s plenty of room. But not so much if you’re in a car.
‘The marina is a real asset to the town though and has huge potential. I’ve often thought it would be wonderful to have a restaurant down there. Oh well, maybe one day.’
The town is continuing to expand and improve every day, thanks to a great deal of hard work by the Chamber of Trade and dedication from independent shop-owners working together for the common good.
‘The thing about Boroughbridge is that it’s a real town,’ said Sharon. ‘It’s not just one big gift shop and it doesn’t rely on gimmicks. It’s a proper place.’