A FOOD web might not sound so very festive, but when it comes to Christmas shopping in Ledbury, it gives the market town a distinct advantage.

A few years ago, the Council for the Protection of Rural England carried out a national survey which put Ledbury in the top three of the nineteen UK towns in its study for the excellence of its fresh, available and local produce.

Key findings included the fact that there were 25 food outlets in Ledbury selling local food, and the local food network supported around 600 local jobs, - a figure that included staff at both producers and outlets.

This, then, is Ledbury's food web.

But shoppers will not think of that when the festive mood finds them in Ledbury's scenic streets.

It will be obvious to them that they are in, not just a jewel of Herefordshire, but a jewel of England too.

The town centre is justly famous for its variety of independent shops, from jewellery shops to gift shops, from cafes to fashion emporiums.

Ledbury is truly a one stop shop when it comes to the hunt for those extra special Christmas gifts and tasty treats.

Cobbled Church Lane is a scene straight from Dickens, with its view of the spire from a lane which has barely altered in centuries.

Ledbury, in short, has the scenes which are usually only glimpsed on Christmas cards and a retail experience that is unique and second to none.

The town's most famous son, the poet John Masefield, put it well when he described Ledbury as his "little town of ancient grace".

But it is also a town that still has much to offer the modern day shopper in the run up to Christmas and beyond.