As the seasons start to change, so do our mini break destinations. It’s no longer about beaches, or al fresco bottles of wine. It’s about cosy cottages. Bracing walks through a crisp carpet of fallen leaves. Pub grub in front of a roaring open fire. Which is why our late September staycation in Tideswell was a perfect option.
Tideswell is a small village in the heart of the Peak District. It’s just a short drive away from popular tourist towns such as Buxton, Chatsworth Huose, Bakewell and Castleton, and also for great hiking trails, including Mam Tor, Curbar Edge and Edale. With four pubs, two chip shops and numerous cafes and tea rooms, Tideswell is a great base.
Mr Fletche had chosen our Airbnb this time round. I never fail to remind him of the time he booked us a staycation in Clacton. Which ended in a siege with a man threatening to throw himself off a roof. Oh, and someone stole our wing mirrors. Or the dodgy accommodation in Dorset, overlooking a school playground. Paradise for paedophiles. But he definitely came up trumps with this little gem of a cottage in Tideswell.
Right in the centre of the village, Discovery Cottage quite literally has the war memorial in its garden. It’s a contactless lockbox entry through the rear door. Our first impression is how cosy it is. Our second is “wow, our host REALLY likes the colour yellow”.
It’s a drizzly grey afternoon when we arrive so we put on the “looks like a log burner but is really electric” fire. The hearth rug is so soft and furry that I want to roll around on it. I’m distracted though by the little brown paper bag on the sofa. I warily open it to find our host has left us a little gift of Tideswell Ted. The accompanying note assures us that Tideswell Ted is covid-free.
In fact, Carol has done everything to ensure that all precautions are taken with regards to COVID, including ample supplies of disposable masks, gloves and hand sanitizer. In these strange times these are the things that now stand out in an Airbnb host. Also, the half bottle of Prosecco and mint chocolate creams. The biscuit barrel is fully stocked, there’s milk, juice and beer in the fridge, and enough cereal to feed a small army.
The yellow theme continues upstairs in the double bedroom, with bright, fresh bed linen, cushions and curtains. I particularly love the old-fashioned wooden dressing table with triptych mirror. There’s plenty of storage space, certainly enough for a week’s worth of clothes. Which I’ve brought, even though we’re only staying two nights. Haven’t quite got that whole “Packing for a UK Minibreak” sorted just yet.
I’m most excited about the bathtub. Our house doesn’t have a bath, and we never had enough hot water in the apartment to fill one. I already know that at least one evening is going to be spent languishing in a tub full of bubbles with a glass of Prosecco.
Fancy an Airbnb stay? If you’re a first time booker, you can get money off your first trip here!
In the interest of research, we tested out three of the four pubs in Tideswell, eating in two of them. We popped in for a drink at The George soon after we arrived, sadly quiet even for a Wednesday afternoon. On the evening we walked to the Anchor, about 10 minutes from the village centre. This cosy welcoming pub has a great menu with plenty of choice and was still offering an Eat Out to Help Out discount to diners throughout September. By the time we left, the weather had turned from drizzly autumn to decidedly wet and wintery – it was a slightly soggy walk back to Discovery Cottage.
On the following evening we ate at The Horse and Jockey, adjusting to the new rules re mask-wearing and a 10pm curfew. It’s a typical pub grub menu here but it hits the spot after a day hiking. We didn’t eat there this time, but I can attest to the quality of the fish and chips from Elliott’s.
And on our final morning we decided to pay a visit to High Nelly’s Cafe, just steps away from our cottage. This friendly cafe prides themselves on serving locally sourced produce and ingredients, and is the perfect place for breakfast or a light lunch.
If you’re planning on dining out, visiting a pub or other food and drink establishments, make sure you check online or get in touch before you go as there may be COVID-19 restrictions in place.
Not wanting to test Mr Fletche’s recently injured ankle too much, we selected a reasonably easy walk starting at the nearby Tideswell Dale Car Park. It’s a 6.6 mile circular walk, taking in Miller’s Dale, Water-cum-Jolly-Dale and the Monsal Trail. Or in our case, the winding hillside path above the Monsal Trail, avoiding the cyclists, joggers, dog walkers and less adventurous hikers.
A path winds from the car park, and finally we are walking alongside the River Wye. We pass through a concessionary footpath through Litton Mill, notorious during the Industrial Revolution for working its child labourers to death. Now the building has been converted into bijou apartments. No child labour in site.
The walk continues from Miller’s Dale. Climbers hang from the limestone cliffs above us. We ascend upwards, to the old Midland Railway Line, now paved and converted into the popular Monsal Trail. Instead of taking the trail through a barely lit tunnel, we take the gate and the meandering path across the hillside. It’s narrow in places, with a few loose rocks, but Mr Fletche’s ankle holds up and no-one falls over. Our lunch is taken al fresco, overlooking the impressive Cressbrook Hall. Finally we pick up the Monsal Trail once more, before crossing the River Wye and heading back to our start point.
We finish the day with another walk up Mam Tor. This is my second time up “Mother Hill”; you can read more about our first trip in April 2019 and our Curbar Edge hike here. With a stone stepped pathway all the way up to the summit, Mam Tor gives spectacular views for minimal hard work. Next time we will definitely do the ridge walk, but this time round we were eager to return to Tideswell, pub grub, our cosy cottage, and a bubble-filled bath.
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