Last month the hubby, pooch and I packed up the car and headed northwards for a long weekend in the Peak District. It was a much needed break after a hectic few work months with what felt like excessive work trips that left me kind of exhausted and in need of some rest and recovery.
We travelled up there having not planned much, content to spend 4 days pottering around, getting lots of fresh air, and eating fudge (one of my holiday rituals). We’d packed board games in case of dismal weather and enough clothes to see us through several different holidays – that’s always the curse of staying in the UK for a little holiday, you have to pack for every weather eventually and be prepared for rain, hail, dazzling sunshine, high winds, and thunderstorms all on the same day.
The weather held … well, it was wet and mirky interspersed with sunshine which was about all we could have asked for and we certainly got all we wanted from the holiday and I, at least, came back feeling energised and refreshed (until I returned to work on the Monday).
Where to Stay in the Peak District
We stayed in Castleton, a quaint English country village located in the north of the Peak District in the Hope Valley. The village has everything you need with four pubs all within walking distance, a small convenience stores and post office, multiple cafes and restaurants and terribly twee gift shops. It really is the perfect little village for a break away and surrounding scenery is simply breath taking.
Within Castleton, we stayed in the most adorable of Air B&Bs. Managed by the most conscientious of hosts, Winn Hill Cottage is a very cosy 200 year old cottage that has recently been refurbished to an incredibly high standard. It sleeps 4 people although the second room would be a little cramped, and allows up to 2-3 dogs.
The host, Marieanne supplies you with dog crates, blankets, bedding, and towels and, on arrival, there was a bottle of red wine, some fudge and delightfully meaty pork pie from the local stores awaiting us. She really does go the extra mile.
The cottage is within easy walking distance from all the towns amenities and is well equipped with herbs, spices, DVDS, books, magazines and Sky TV.
I can honestly say the cottage is a real home from home and I strongly suggest booking it if you’re planning to stay in the area.
What to Do in the Peak District
Walk Mam Tor
The Peak District is best explored on foot and the entire place is covered with trails and footpaths to take you through the most beautiful valleys and peaks.
Mam Tor is the largest peak in the Hope Valley and named as being the mother of the hills, casting her shadow across the rest of the valley. In reality, she is not that big or steep and there is a National Trust trail that makes the walk up Mam Tor easy – so easy, in fact, that I didn’t need my crutch to get up there; I cannot say the same for getting back down but I have always been better going up than down.
The walk takes about 30 minutes up and down (with a lengthy stop to take pictures at the peak where the views are most spectacular), or you can do a big loop that takes around 1hr30 – 2 hours and looks around Blue John Cave.
Fergus must have walked the route several times whilst we pottered behind, although there were sections he needed to be kept on the lead due to livestock.
Visit Bakewell … and eat a Bakewell Tart
You can’t really head to the Peaks without popping into Bakewell, a picturesque town on the banks of the River Wye, renowned for their Bakewell Tarts.
The town is stunningly beautiful with arched bridges, windy back streets, and courtyard shops. There are many a bakery offering mouthwateringly good pastries and the town really is a cheese lovers heaven with many a cheese and wine shop to explore.
There is a even a husband crèche (ahem – fishing shop) to leave your other half whilst you explore the quintessentially British countryside shoppings that are bursting with tweed and puffa jackets.
Most of the restaurants, cafes, pubs and shops we went into were more than dog friendly with bowls of water waiting for the pooch and plenty of shade to shelter under when the sun came out.
Yes, they let you take your dog into this cavern – although it is the only cave in the area to do so. We didn’t take Fergus because he is fine being left in the holiday cottage, but another couple had their dog who looked quite at home being a cave dog!
Peak Cavern is tucked at the back of Castletown behind these little houses and is really interesting. It was used for rope making until fairly modern times and is still scattered with the remnants of recent movies and tv shows filmed there.
Over Christmas, they organise carol concerts in the cavern which must be so atmospheric – Iain and I are considering going back next winter just so we can experience this.
A view point just outside Bakewell, this is definitely worth a pit stop for photos. There is a small car park there but beware that it is pay and display.
Alternatively, there is a pub across the road although we didn’t stop there as there was ice cream van on the car park serving locally made flavours. I’ve never been able to say no to ice cream!
Known for the fresh spring water, Buxton is actually just on the edge of the Peak District and outside of the National Park. The town itself is just a normal high street but the pavilion gardens are pretty, especially when in bloom, and definitely worth a walk around. They’re also opening a spa in 2018 which I may need to try out!
There is also a local artisan market, The Arches which has some lovely goods and incredibly friendly stall holders. They also make create coffee!
So there we have it, my dog friendly Peak District round up.
Now, where to go next?