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Christmas shopping by the canal

Christmas shopping can be stressful. Especially if you've left it late. Not to worry though as we've put together a list of shopping towns near some of our favourite canals and rivers. If it all gets too much you can escape the crowds and clear your head by the water!

Hebden Bridge Weavers Houses at Hebden Bridge by DaveBleasdale on Flickr

From quaint towns to bustling cities, the canals are lined with places to do your Christmas shopping and whether you prefer an old fashioned High Street full of independent shops or a modern shopping centre, you’ll be able to find something suitable by the water.

The great thing about visiting one of these locations for your Christmas shopping is that whenever you feel the need for a break from the Christmas chaos you can escape to the water. You can relax and unwind while your kids can get some fresh air, which can be a rarity at this time of year.

Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire

Berkhamsted, nestled alongside the Grand Union Canal in Hertfordshire, is a great destination for anyone who likes browsing. Its picturesque High Street boasts a number of antique shops, perfect for picking up a thoughtful gift and there are plenty of dedicated gift shops too. If you visit on a Saturday there’s a bustling street market and when you’re done with shopping there are a number of cosy cafes or canalside pubs where you can get a drink and a bite to eat before heading home.

Download a family-friendly guide to Berkhamsted

Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire

Hebden Bridge on the Rochdale Canal has a huge variety of small independent shops including second hand book stores, independent clothes shops, craft stores and more. There’s even a shop where you can paint your own pottery and have it fired, perfect for a personalised present. When you’re ready for a break from shopping, the canal is a great place for a stroll, before you dive back into the galleries and quirky stores.

Download a family friendly guide to Hebden Bridge

Devizes, Wiltshire

Devizes is a west-country town on the Kennet & Avon Canal perfect for Christmas shopping. To make the most of the experience you’re going to need to explore the side streets and alleys. Independent toy shops, delicatessens, curiosity shops and clothes shops sit side by side. The town’s real Christmas attraction is its Thursday market which takes up all available space in the town. Also look out for the themed markets throughout the month for truly unique presents. When you’re ready for a break head to Devizes Wharf for a relaxing stroll along this beautiful section of the canal.

Download a family friendly guide to Devizes

Oxford, Oxfordshire

Oxford on the Oxford Canal is a shopper’s paradise. The city centre combines modern shopping centres with the usual High Street offerings, alongside a wide variety of independent shops selling everything from collectors’ edition books to vintage clothing and wooden toys. There are several distinct shopping areas in the city with the historic covered market an essential stop-off. Once you’re done with the shopping you’re in the perfect location to find a cosy traditional pub and reward yourself for braving the crowds.

Download a free family guide to Oxford

Chester, Cheshire

Even you prefer the idea of cleaning the grout on your bathroom tiles to buying Christmas presents, a trip to Chester can be a delightful shopping experience. Home to the oldest shop front in Britain, Chester has been drawing in shoppers for hundreds of years with its unique half-timbered medieval Rows galleries, boasting two levels of fascinating shops. Make sure you take time to visit the town’s undercover market and side streets lined with outlets you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Round your day off with a trip to the Shropshire Union Canal where you can take in some of the city’s historic sights.

Download a free activity guide to Chester 

Last date edited: 16 December 2015