Friday, 13 July 2012

May Day in Cowdale

Although it's been a while now, we spent May Day Bank Holiday weekend in a lovely little cottage in Cowdale, in the Peak District.  We found the cottage through Sykes Cottages but it really was a super 'find'.  'The Loft' was the top floor of a converted farm building in the grounds of Cowdale Hall which is home to the Morten family.  We were made to feel very welcome when we arrived and the cottage had been prepared with tea, coffee, milk and biscuits and all the lights and fire switched on to make us immediately feel comfortable and at home.

Double bedroom at The Loft

Twin bedroom at The Loft

The cottage had two bedrooms (a twin and a double) and was decorated in light neutral colours.  The lovely L-shaped sofa and footstool has to be about the most comfortable thing I've ever sat on and was wonderful to chill out on after walking the Derbyshire dales.  The kitchen was well equipped with everything we could possibly need and although it was May the weather was particularly cold, but this we didn't notice inside the cottage as the mini heaters and electric stove more than kept us warm.

Lovely comfy sofa at The Loft

Onsite there is also a small caravan area (5 van site) and there are also stable facilities where locals keep their horses.  At night we enjoyed the short 20 - 30 minute walk around the outskirts of the farm, talking to the horses and just being one with nature.  On a couple of occasions we stood and watched the rabbits hopping across the fields.  You only have to cross the road from Cowdale Hall to also reach one of the many local public footpaths.  We ventured a short distance on this walk but the weather wasn't great and being a little ill, we returned to the comfort of the cottage.

Horses at Cowdale Hall

Circular walk around the farm

Midshires Way - nr Cowdale

Midshires Way, nr Cowdale

Midshires Way, nr Cowdale

On Sunday we headed of to Buxton Country Park and then later along the Monsal Trail.  Can you believe that it even began to snow while we were at Buxton, but hey, that's British weather for you!  However, by the afternoon the sun came out and it warmed up a little.  The Monsal Trail runs from Buxton to Bakewell and is popular with walkers and cyclists.  We entered the trail at King Sterndale and walked a fair way, taking in the scenery, stopping for photographs and walking through many of the long tunnels that line the route.  We even stopped to watch some rather brave souls who were abseiling off the bridge at Millers Dale.

Me and 'S' at Buxton Country Park

The Monsal Trail

King Sterndale Cottages along The Monsal Trail

One of the tunnels along the Monsal Trail

Arnold having a dip in the river along the Monsal Trail

Monday we'd planned to stop off at Bakewell before heading home but as we got closer the traffic was so horrendous we decided to give it a miss.  Our next port of call was to be Dovedale.  We made a slight detour to our usual journey home but it was certainly worth it.  Despite the fact that the rain at some points was torrential, we zipped up our waterproofs and headed off to find the 'Stepping Stones'.  Even on a day like this the area was still very busy and I'd love to return maybe on a week day to see it a little quieter.  However, it didn't detract though from the beautiful surroundings.

Stepping Stones at Dovedale


We decided to make our way across the Stepping Stones which all seemed fine in theory until we realised that 'P' had absolutely no chance of walking Arnold across them!  The kids and myself precariously made our way across the rather wet and slippery stones and waited on the other side while 'P' struggled across carrying Arnold in a rather ungraceful fashion.  We later watched another potential stone walker give up on the idea after his German Shepherd refused to budge and I'm thinking the carrying idea was not exactly feasible :).

'P' and Arnold at Dovedale

We walked some way following the river and then eventually decided to do a u-turn and head back as we thought that the route we were on would take too long to come full circle and we needed to get home.  We decided to give the stones a miss on the way back and headed straight for the bridge.  On the last stretch we were dive bombed by swallows, obviously flying low looking for insects after the heavy rain.

All in all another very relaxing weekend that we all enjoyed.  Cowdale was just so quiet and away from it all we can't wait to return.

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