Farmers Market (C)Shutterstock user Baloncici
On the first Saturday of every month (except January), Hatfield Farmers’ Market (Welwyn Hatfield Council, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire AL8 6AE, 01707 357547, http://www.welhat.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1093) attracts crowds of visitors eager to browse, shop, and snack. Though it’s renowned for its size and breadth (the market regularly hosts upwards of 50 stalls, offering produce from local farms, plants, crafts, baked goods, and more), it’s best to get there early – once shoppers descend, stalls tend to sell out quickly, and vendors usually pack up by 1 PM.
 
The bustling town of Hatfield, which began as a Saxon settlement, is even more accessible to weekend day-trippers with Zipcar. Just a quick trip straight up the A1, the town and its top-notch market are accessible all year round. After you’ve had a long browse at the Hatfield Farmers’ Market and loaded up the boot of your Zipcar with bags full of the harvest’s bounty, you’ll have earned a hearty lunch.
 
Auberge du Lac (Brocket Hall, Welwyn, Hertfordshire AL8 7XG, 01707 335241, http://www.brocket-hall.co.uk/dining/auberge-du-lac/), just a 10-minute drive from the Hatfield Farmers’ Market, offers a perfectly luxurious three-course weekend lunch. Set in the bucolic, waterside Brocket Hall, the restaurant is led by Chef Phil Thompson, and welcomes diners to sample gourmet dishes ranging from seared yellow fin tuna with sesame, grapefruit, and coriander to slow roast feather blade of beef with king oyster mushrooms.
 
Auberge du Lac (C) Auberge du Lac
 
For those after a restorative, hearty pub lunch, The Sun at Northaw (Judge’s Hill, Northaw, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire EN6 4NL, 01707 655507, http://www.thesunatnorthaw.co.uk) is an excellent choice, just nine miles down the A100 from the market. Recently named in The Independent as one of Britain’s 50 Best Country Pubs, the Sun occupies a historic, 16th century building overlooking Northaw’s village green. Food is organic, locally sourced, and biodynamic, but still indulgent: don’t miss the whole plaice with lemon, samphire, and girolles, or the homemade pork cracklings.
 
The Sun Pub (C)The Sun
 
Don’t feel like you have to motor straight back to London after lunch, though. One of the area’s must-sees is Hatfield House (Hatfield, Hertfordshire, AL9 5NQ, 01707 287010, http://www.hatfield-house.co.uk), one of the Treasure Houses of England. Built by Robert Cecil in 1611, it’s a lavish Jacobean landmark, lushly appointed and originally designed to accommodate the royal court. The House’s park and gardens are also impressive, and worth ambling around on a sunny day.
 
St Albans Cathedral (C)Shutterstock user Simon Booth
 
On the way back to London, make sure you fit in one last stop at St. Albans Cathedral (Sumpter Yard, St Albans, Hertfordshire, AL1 1BY, 01727 890212, http://www.stalbanscathedral.org). History buffs will appreciate the unique landmark: not only does the cathedral boast the longest nave of any British church, it’s the oldest site of continual worship in the UK. Guided tours are also available to take visitors up its tower.
 
For access to one of Britain’s best farmers’ markets, don’t fret about making it in time with public transportation. With Zipcar, Hatfield is but a quick journey away. Make sure you save some boot space for all that shopping!
 
 
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