One of the most beautiful parts of the UK, the Peak District has long been a hikers’ haven, with the national park receiving over 13million visitors each year. With the peak (pun intended) season running from May to September, avoid the crowds and opt for a winter visit where cosy cottages and servings of warming Bakewell pudding really come into their own.
Peak District Weekend Guide: Bakewell
There are plenty of excellent country inns throughout the Peak District, but for a warming winter getaway it has to be a cosy cottage. Churchdale Farm, set in a picturesque, secluded location just outside of Bakewell, is home to three pretty stone holiday cottages, sleeping parties of two, three or four. Expect log burners and bright and comforting country interiors (plus one of Bakewell’s finest baked treats as a welcome treat). You can start your exploration of the Peak District straight from the cottage, with numerous trails nearby, and the famous Monsal Trail a short walk or two-minute drive away. Meanwhile, Chatsworth and Haddon Hall are also just a stone’s throw (/10-minute-drive) from the property. If you’re stuck for ideas (you won’t be) pop over to owner Sarah’s farm next door and she’ll share her wealth of local knowledge and recommendations. Oh, and for the eco-friendly drivers amongst you, there’s an EV charging station on-site.
While in the area it would be rude not to check out Chatsworth. Home to one of the country’s greatest art collections (and an excellent farm and adventure playground if you’re travelling with kids), it really is as impressive as you’ve heard. Allow a full day if you want to explore the house and the grounds. Chatsworth is open for Christmas until the 6 January after which it will reopen on 23 March. In the interim you can enjoy the house from afar and stroll in the surrounding countryside. chatsworth.org
Haddon Hall, which is amongst the finest examples of a fortified medieval manor house and a must-see for history buffs, is also one of the area’s biggest draws. With stunning views from the grounds and the rooms, the interiors transport you back to medieval times in an instant. For seasonal opening information visit haddonhall.co.uk.
It would be rude not to sample the local pastries while visiting the home of the Bakewell tart. But don’t miss out on the underrated Bakewell pudding. Both are lightyears away from the commercial cherry bakewell you’ll pick up in your local supermarket, with a delicious creamy, custardy almond filling and burnt sugar topping. The main difference is the pastry; puff for the pudding, shortcrust for the tart. The pudding should be eaten warm, with cream or custard (and at regular intervals). thebakewellbakery.co.uk
One of the best dining options in the area is The Peacock at Rowsley, a stylish, boutique hotel located at the heart of the Peak District National Park. With three AA rosettes, The Peacock team and head chef Dan Smith makes the most of the abundance of fine local ingredients, including organic beef and lamb from the Haddon Estate. Choose sharing plates from the bar menu over a cocktail in the crooked and cosy bar area or dine a la carte in the impressive fine dining restaurant rooms. Make the most of the daily specials, with seasonal soups such as parsnip and chestnut or lighter lunches of sea trout and crushed potatoes (heavenly). But be sure to save room for a dessert (or two to share) which should include the vanilla cheesecake and the mincemeat Bakewell tart if you’re visiting over the festive period (naturally). thepeacockatrowsley.com
Take a break from cosying up by the fire with a bottle of red if you can bear to, you really must get outdoors in this part of the country. If you’re staying at Churchdale, get your hiking boots on and set off straight from the cottage in either direction and you’ll be tramping through fields overlooking rolling hills within minutes. If cycling is more your bag, head to Hassop Station where you can park up and hire bikes to go exploring on before circling back for a coffee and a cake. hassopstation.co.uk
A week’s stay in the Churchdale Farm cottage ‘Dove’ for three starts from £615 and a three-night stay costs from £400. Premier Cottages’ collection features almost 1,000 four and five-star self-catering cottages across the UK. Properties range from small, romantic boltholes to large family-friendly country estates. The collection includes pet-friendly accommodation. It also offers the widest range of accessible properties in the UK and many properties have onsite facilities like swimming pools, gyms, spas, indoor games room and children’s play areas. premiercottages.co.uk, 01629 640269
If you’re driving, Churchdale Farm has a dedicated EV charging station, which made our days in the Peak District hassle-free. For this trip the e-Golf was kindly supplied by Volkswagen UK, which, as well as being a beautifully smooth drive, made navigating the surrounding area a breeze thanks to its built-in navigation system that survived through even the most remote Derbyshire signal dead-spots. volkswagen.co.uk