Shop til you drop (and more) at Rushden Lakes
Have a post-lockdown yearning for retail therapy with a side order of fun? We hear you sister! We’re giving away £200 for you to splurge at newly spruced Rushden Lakes - and some ideas on where to spend it!
Shopping in actual bricks and mortar shops is back on the agenda at last (yippee! – no more ordering 3 different sizes before you strike it lucky) and as the only shopping complex in the UK with its own nature reserve plus loads of al fresco dining to be had on the boardwalk overlooking beautiful Skew Bridge Lake, Rushden Lakes is my regular go-to destination.
At 270 hectares you could spend days here (recommended, but not always possible) so here’s my insider guide on how to maximise your time and pleasure. Ready, steady, let’s do this!
9AM: Pull up and grab some brekkie
Parking is no problemo – simply nab one of the 1,850 free spaces that the shops and eateries orbit. If you’ll be here longer than 5 hours you can easily extend your parking time at Customer Services and you can plug your EV in and charge it for free. Now go straight to Magazine Heaven (this gorgeous independent store is a mag junkie’s dream, living up to its name and offering the UK’s largest selection of glossies and niche print titles) then head upstairs to find one of our favourite cafes too.
Artisan Café serves coffee from Wellingborough’s small batch roasters The Roastery and Northampton-based Tea Lab teas to accompany your toast and locally produced Friar’s Farm jam. If you feel the need for an extra fuel injection before a hard day’s action, we can highly recommend the cooked breakfasts too.
10AM: Hit the shops
Sleek and shiny and boasting all the big hitters, Rushden Lakes also offers a clever curation of indie faves, from Made In Northants to Mooch, Magazine Heaven and Robert Goddard.
Frasers (formerly House of) has just undergone a massive restyle and is now a swish new boutique beauty and fashion destination, incorporating designer and streetwear retailer Flannels (below). Expect everything from sequins, feathers, chic accessories and luxe beauty brands including the deliciously cool NIOD skincare, to edgy labels such as Stine Goya, alongside style staples Whistles and Jigsaw. Rest assured, there’s no danger of coming away empty-handed.
In need of a post-Covid denim overhaul? I’m sorry to say, my favourite jeans seem to have shrunk in the wash so I’ll definitely be checking out the gloriously cool new Levi’s store where they’ll scan your body shape and select the perfect jeans to fit just the way you want them. Wonder if they do elasticated waistbands? (Asking for a friend).
11AM: Coffee time
Hit the beautiful boardwalk for a fresh air and caffeine break overlooking Skew Bridge Lake. There are so many cafés to choose from but for us it has to be Bewiched, a local business with a clutch of gorgeous coffee shops in and around the shire, with Rushden Lakes being their flagship store. The coffee, which they roast themselves in Northampton, is divine. Grab yourself a deckchair and sip while you gaze out across the water.
12PM: Pamper time
It’s hard work, all this shopping and drinking coffee, and it can leave a girl feeling rather disheveled, n’est ce pas? But fear not, the whopping new Superdrug store here also houses the Beauty Studio. Head in for a brow shape, lash lift or gel mani to get you feeling fabulous in time for lunch.
1PM: Let’s do lunch
The West Terrace where it’s at for a great swathe of magnificent eateries, including Nandos and Five Guys, but for a lunchtime refuel head straight to Asian fusion restaurant Chi. This super stylish new indie biz opened just last year, serving up street food style dishes with a modern twist including sushi, bao buns and buddha bowls. You can even throw in a restorative saketini for good measure.
2PM: Get Moving
Tear yourself away from the rails for an hour or two and you’ll find there are plenty of ways to decompress and get active at the Lakes, which is the first retail park in the UK to incorporate a nature reserve: 270 hectares if you’re asking, criss-crossed with accessible walking trails. There’s an abundance of bird life as well as a sculpture trail and outdoor play area. Hire a canoe from Canoe2 for a couple of hours (book in advance) and head down the river Nene for some exercise.
Canoeing not your bag? The Leisure Terrace boasts an indoor trampoline park, adventure golf, climbing centre multiplex cinema and soft play for the tiddlers, so no shortage of things to keep yourself thoroughly entertained.
4PM: More shopping
You’ll no doubt have remembered a few more bits to pick up after all that nature bathing. If you’ve got the water sports bug you won’t want to miss Decathlon and Cotswold Outdoor where you can grab your very own stand up paddle board or canoe and all the gear, then hotfoot it to M&S for your food shop trolley dash.
6PM: Dinner and drinks
Surely it’s cocktail o’clock by now? Head to The Terrace, a newly-opened bar with a spectacular view and just the spot for a sundowner. I’m all over the Spiced Sunrise (Duppy Share spiced rum, cloudy apple juice, citrus vodka and aromatic bitters). You’ll most likely have worked up an appetite too by this point – handily, there’s a huge choice of restaurants lakeside, from Jamaican street food at Blue Mountain Yard to perennial faves Wagamama, Fridays, Bills, Lago Lounge, Pizza Express and the newly-opened Jurassic Grill, which is aimed at keeping the little ones entertained.
8PM: Catch a movie
A little tired are we? Fancy sitting in a dark room for a while? Oh, hello Cineworld, perfect timing! There are 14 state of the art screens here with films in both 2D and 3D as well as IMAX and 4DX – if you haven’t experienced this insanely immersive cinematic experience then you must do so immediately, it’s kind of like being on a rollercoaster whilst simultaneously watching a film.
11PM: Ready for bed?
Erm, Rushden Lakes can’t help you with that one (though did you go to its H&M – great nightwear!). Get your beauty ZZZs and I’ll meet you lakeside next week!
Rushden Lakes is open Mon-Sat 9am-8pm & Sun 11am-5pm.
***** WIN! *****
Fancy winning a lovely clutch of vouchers to spend at Rushden Lakes? We’ve got 2 bundles to giveaway including £10 Starbucks, £50 M&S, £20 Clarks, £20 Wagamama and a Paradise Island Adventure Golf family pass for 4. Just head to our Reader Treats to enter.