Share our #UniqueDistrict – photo competition

Have you visited the Peak District?

Have you stayed at Hoe Grange Holidays or visited the Peak District? If so, what’s your all time favourite place or activity?

By simply sharing your #UniqueDistrict experience of our stunning region on social media you could win some fabulous prizes, one of which is a short break in our gorgeous glamping pods!

It’s quick and easy to get involved. During September and October share inspirational photos of your experiences and what you think makes the Peak District unique using #UniqueDistrict on Twitter and tag @vpdd or Instagram and tag @visitpeakdistrict.

What inspires you?

It could be anything from stunning scenery, wicked wildlife, getting active outdoors rock climbing, walking, caving, canoeing or rock climbing, a selfie at one of the amazing attractions, meandering through the market towns and villages, finding #LoveLocal products at the artisan markets, or perhaps relaxing with friends over the best brewed pint of local beer.You can post as many photos as you like. Anything which best depicts your unique experience here in the Peak District, that will hopefully inspire someone else to visit the area!The Peak District was designated the first National Park back in 1951. If you have visited our stunning region you will know it consists of two distinct areas; The southern White Peak with its steep limestone valleys including Lathkill Dale and Dovedale, with its famous stepping stones, and The northern Dark Peak with its dramatic gritstone ridges and heather covered moorlands including Kinder Scout.Did you know that Castleton is the only place in the world where the semi-precious stone Blue John can be found? That definitely counts as #UniqueDistrict, as does the ancient art of Well Dressing, where plants and petals are pressed onto clay boards to create amazing pictures in celebration of pure water from the wells!

Chatsworth House is another #UniqueDistrict jewel of the Derbyshire Peak District, home of the Dukes of Devonshire, with amazing gardens designed by Capability Brown and set in over 35,000 acres of stunning parkland.Hardwick Hall, now run by the National Trust, was built by the formidable Elizabeth Countess of Shrewsbury or “Bess of Hardwick”. This lavish house, often said to be more glass than wall, was a reflection of the wealth that Bess accumulated by marring four times, so that she became the wealthiness woman in the country!

Other famous people with links to Derbyshire include Izaak Walton, author of ‘The Compleat Angler’, who fished along the Rover Dove. The book was first published in 1653 and is one of the most reprinted books in the history of English literature.

Visit Peak District and Derbyshire are running the #UniqueDistrict competition until 1st November, so get snapping and sharing using #UniqueDistrict. Anything memorable, exciting or unusual counts.Don’t forget to tag @vpdd on Twitter or @visitpeakdistrict on Instagram to be in with a chance to win a short break in our gorgeous glamping pods!Good luck!

Felicity

 

Take a walk on the wild side

If you have a family who are mad about animals then why not take a walk on the wild side at Peak Wildlife Park near Leek?

We had an interesting and very enjoyable day out getting up close and personal with a wide range of wild animals. Peak Wildlife Park is situated just over the Staffordshire border, high on the moorlands and is only half an hours drive from Hoe Grange.

What’s fabulous about Peak Wildlife Park is that the keepers are not just passionate about the animals, but dedicated to conservation, especially of endangered species.

It’s not a typical standard zoo where you watch the animals at a distance from behind the fence, here you can wander through the various walk-through enclosures and actually meet your favourite species face to face! You can experience the animals’ unique habitats from within, and hang out with the meerkats, waddle along with the penguins or watch the leaping lemurs as they glide from tree to tree.

You can take a walk on the wild side and wander around for as long as you like – no set paths here! This also means you can catch feed time in the different enclosures, which is just pure animal magic!

Who can resist the pesky Humboldt Penguins or the cheeky Ring-tailed Lemurs, the wonderful Wallabies, or the noisy Pygmy Goats? Then there are two adorable, perfectly trained pigs, who were better behaved than our dogs, sitting on command and walking to heal round the grounds!

Not only will you have fun, but you will come away with a greater knowledge and understanding of all the animals you come across. The keepers are so knowledgeable and enthusiastic and more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

The site is accessible for guests with wheelchairs or pushchairs. The walk-throughs are ideal for toddlers and there are various indoor and outdoor playareas and a bouncy castle. There is an indoor picnic area to eat your packed lunch, or like us you may be tempted by the sumptuous stone-baked pizzas and local ice cream – delicious!                                                                                                                         For a more involved, hands on understanding of animal husbandry and a peek behind the scenes you can even book a Keeper Experience, or a Mini Keeper Experience – a great way for little monkeys to meet all their favourite animals!

This is the closest you can get to endangered animals in natural surroundings, alongside keepers who know them well, understand their needs and have a wonderful rapport with them. Here’s my favourite video of the day – leaping Lemurs in slow-mo!

Lemur on the lookout!

It’s a fabulous whole day out, with interest to all ages. I certainly enjoyed our visit and thought it was great value for money with adult tickets costing £10.95, children £8.95 with under 2’s going free. Even better value is a season pass at £29.99, or 10% discount for groups of 10 or more. The concession price for entry into the wildlife park is £9.95 for students, disabled people, carers and senior citizens.

Whilst they don’t have facilities for dogs there is a local kennels near by who are happy to take your four legged friend just for the day.

A great way to spend a family fun day out, safe in the knowledge that you are supporting important conservation work.

Felicity

#Farm24 – What’s it all about?

What is #Farm24?

#Farm24 is our chance to showcase 24 hours of farming in the UK, from 5am this morning on August 10 until 5am on August 11 2017. By encouraging farmers to share what they are doing throughout the day with a live feed of pictures, videos, Facebook posts and Tweets the British people will have a greater understanding of how much passion and commitment goes into producing the food they eat.

#Farm24

Pleased to report that #farm24 is now trending on Twitter so hopefully our message is getting across! It gives a rare and honest, ‘behind-the-scenes’ insight of what goes into producing British food and a chance to celebrate the achievements of farmers from all sectors of British agriculture.

From our perspective

#Farm24 offers an opportunity to share our story with the wider public and raise awareness of the care and attention we take to raise our beef cattle and sheep and farm our Peak District landscape sustainably, harnessing the latest technology. We have a policy of #loveLocal and are delighted to share our special place with our holiday guests too.

she must be ready to drop her calf?

Here at Hoe Grange Farm we have been taking part in #Farm24 and recording some of the farming activities David has got up to today; from the early morning cockerel alarm clock, to , checking stock, calving a cow, pasture topping and repairing the many dry stone walls. There is always plenty to do and people often forget that maintaining the landscape is as important as caring for the animals.

Farming has never been considered an easy option; each day is different and you are at the mercy of the weather, seasons and needs of livestock, and the hours are long. Farming is a way of life which shapes the countryside, sustains rural communities and produces essential food for all.

At Hoe Grange we also harness the natural resources around us by using renewable technologies, including solar panels that track the sun, and a wind turbine to generate electricity. Modern farming is a business like any other that has to minimise overheads and reduce costs to remain competitive.

Whilst farmer David is busy with the animals, farmer’s wife Felicity takes care of the holiday business, cleaning the log cabins and gorgeous glamping pods, baking biscuits, greeting guests and suggesting fabulous local places to visit, not to forget Tweeting along with the outside world! Hopefully everyone goes home with happy memories and a little wiser about modern farming.

Check us out on Twitter #Farm24 to see what we got up to today!

Felicity

Finalists in the Rural Business Awards

Exciting news! We are thrilled to be one of five finalists in this years Rural Business Awards in the Best Rural Tourism Business category.

The judges are looking for unique rural businesses offering exceptional customer care, who have strong links with local communities, consider inclusivity, and have sustainability at their heart.Some of the other categories include Best Diversification, Innovation, Social Enterprise, Food & Drink, Best Employer and many more.

Rural tourism was the category with the most entries, so to be picked out from such a large number from throughout the UK is amazing, and makes all our efforts worthwhile.

It gives us a real sense of satisfaction when we exceed guest expectations and everyone goes home with happy memories of their holiday with us.

Created by Directors and Co-Founders Jemma Clifford & Anna Price, the aim of the Rural Business Awards is to give recognition to businesses operating right across the Rural sector, from engineering through to artisan food producers and professional services organisations.

A shortlist of 5 entries per category was announced last week, and the winners will be revealed at a glamorous awards ceremony on Thursday 5th October 2017 at Denbies Wine Estate, Dorking Surrey. It will be wonderful to be guests ourselves for a change!

We are up against some pretty stiff competition in the Best Rural Tourism category from

Barleylands Farm Park and Craft Village, Ceridwen Centre, Humble Bee Leisure, and The Rookery, Roughlee Holiday Cottage.

Such a diverse set of businesses, it will be very difficult for the judges to choose a winner!

So wish us luck!

David

Peak District Boundary Walk

There are so many things to do in The Peak District, but why not use our outdoor gym and explore our special scenic landscape by following the new Peak District Boundary walk?At Hoe Grange Holidays we have long been supporters of Friends of The Peak District. This active charitable organisation supports local communities, champions renewable energies to help tackle climate change, campaigns to safeguard and also helps to maintain the unique landscapes of Britain’s first national park.

In celebration of Britain’s first and arguably most beautiful national park, Friends of The Peak District have created a brand new long distance (190-mile) walking route around its entire boundary.

Don’t worry if you think 190 miles is too much of a challenge, the walk has been split into smaller stages so you don’t have to tackle it all in one go!

The Peak District Boundary Walk passes through stunning scenery, stretching from the moorland tops of the South Pennines to the gentle limestone scenery of the Derbyshire Dales near Hoe Grange. The route touches the urban edges of Sheffield and Oldham, as well as Staffordshire’s rugged moorland and the undulating slopes of Cheshire.

The Peak District Boundary Walk follows existing footpaths, tracks, quiet lanes, former railway lines and a canal towpath, but it is the variety of vistas that makes experience extra special. What could be better than keeping fit by using the outdoor gym!

Hoe Grange Farm is situated right on the Peak Park boundary so the walk goes right past our door, along The High Peak Trail. If staying with us in one of our cosy log cabins or our gorgeous glamping pods for two, you can easily walk over our fields to pick up one of two sections of The Peak District Boundary Walk. Either Royston Grange to Winster (stage 13) or Royston through Parwich to Thorpe (stage 14).

Stage 13 Winster, past Hoe Grange to Royston

Royston is one of my favourite walks as you pass through the steep beautiful limestone valley, surrounded by nothing but rocky pastures full of wild flowers, fluttering butterflies, hawthorn trees silhouetted against the skyline, buzzards circling overhead, and the odd sheep or cow.

You can check out the individual stages of The Boundary Walk or buy the complete book which features all 20 walks for just £10 plus £2.50 p&p.

Friends of the Peak District campaign for a living, working countryside that changes with time but remains beautiful for ever. Their aim is to ensure the balance is kept between a vibrant, sustainable rural economy and protecting the outstanding Peak District countryside.

They hope this new boundary walk will increase awareness of the beautiful Peak District landscape and encourage people to cherish and protect it.

Find out more about Friends of the Peak District and help us to protect and conserve this stunning landscape. Why not make a donation to this worthwhile charity?

Felicity

Ashbourne Sheep Fair

Ashbourne Sheep Fair today was a real celebration of all things sheep. There was a great turn out of folk to watch the hand shearing demonstrations, wool yarn spinning and the mock auction, which all gave the public an insight into the history and tradition of sheep farming in the Derbyshire Peak District.

     

It was fabulous to see 17 breeds of sheep on display so that you could get up really close and compare the differences. The length and quality of wool varies tremendously, some sheep produce better meat and watch out as some breeds have the most amazing impressive horns!

Whitefaced Woodland Sheep

There were lots of fun family activities from, guess the weight of the sheep, a sheep bran tub with a difference, to live music.

The market stalls were packed with #LoveLocal sheep related goodies including, Snelston Tweed fabrics and clothing, the The Woolroom duvets, mattresses and pillows, Drynose Dog Designs with wonderful quirky glass ware and gifts and David’s favourites – chocolate sheep-shaped lollies and cider from Kniveton Cider Company pressed from local apples.

If you had a question there were plenty of expert farmers on hand to explain the different attributes of the various breeds and geographically where they are best suited to graze.

       It was wonderful to see some more local rare breeds including the Whiteface Woodland and the Derbyshire Gritstone, one of the oldest breeds, which as the name suggests, is native to the North of the Peak District, where it can thrive on the moorlands.

Derbyshire Gritstone Sheep

For wool quality and sheer cute “ahh” factor the Valais Blacknose stole the show with their fluffy curly fleeces. As you can tell by their little bells round their necks they are not native to Derbyshire, but come from Switzerland. This means that they are adapted to hill pastures, and are thus becoming more popular in the UK.

You can find out more about the various sheep breeds on the Ashbourne Sheep Fair website.

The Sheep Fair took place on the main market square where weekly markets have been held since the first charter in 1257! It was a great success and is sure to take place again next year so why not join in the fun?

In the meantime the good news is that the Ashbourne Artisan Market is being launched on 10th September and will take place on the second Sunday of every month. I can’t wait to see what #LoveLocal delights will be on sale!

Felicity

TripAdvisor ® Certificate of Excellence 2017

Felicity and I are delighted to announce that we have received a TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence for the 7th time in the seven years since its introduction. A real achievement thanks to our dedicated housekeeping team and all you lovely guests.

We really appreciate the time you take to leave such wonderful online reviews about our cosy log cabins and gorgeous glamping pods in the Peak District .

The Certificate of Excellence accounts for the quality, quantity and recency of reviews submitted by travellers on TripAdvisor over a 12-month period. To qualify, a business must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, and have a minimum number of reviews.

TripAdvisor is such a fabulous resource for anyone booking a staycation or self-catering holiday as the reviews show what you, our guests, actually think, and after all that’s what really counts!

With our outstanding overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of 5, guests can book with confidence, knowing the level of service and quality of accommodation is second to none.

In today’s technological online world reviews and scores are increasingly more important than the traditional star ratings, as reviews are based on experiences and hospitality, rather than the quality of the teaspoons!! Although the cabins do have very nice teaspoons, and a better equipped kitchen than our own house!

Hot tubs

To ensure we maintain high standards at Hoe Grange Holidays we are constantly reviewing and updating our facilities to keep up with modern demands and trends. To this end we have recently added hot tubs on the decking of two of the four log cabins.

It’s not just about our fabulous location in the Derbyshire Peak District. Hot tub is  now one of the most popular searches when people Google their next holiday accommodation.

We have to agree hot tubs are a wonderfully relaxing experience, especially in such a peaceful place. You can truly relax in the soothing bubbling hot tubs on Daisybank or Pinder decking and watch the world go by – what better way to view the stunning Peak District scenery?

Our only problem is that the cabins with hot tubs are so popular we never get chance to use them ourselves!

If you want to make the most of your staycation at Hoe Grange and book a holiday in a log cabin with a hot tub you’ll have to get in early – when they’re booked, they’re booked!

David

Eroica Britannia – can you ride a tandem?

Inspired by Eroica Britannia 2016 and as rashly promised in our Eroica blog last year, David and I completed our challenge in style cycling the 25 mile route on our 1930’s tandem!

Having written my blog last year, recklessly thinking it would be fun to take part, even joking about cycling two up on a tandem, David got straight on ebay and within 2 days had purchased our vintage tandem – a real shock and surprise to me!

For those who haven’t heard of Eroica Britannia before it is billed as ‘The World’s Most Handsome Bike Ride’ and it certainly lived up to the claim, with over 4,500 riders taking part on vintage bicycles, many dressed in authentic costumes.

Luckily for me this non competitive cycle ride is not a race – it is as much about the fashion, the stunning Peak District scenery and the ice cream pit stops along the way, as it is about the cycling. As you can see we entered into the spirit of the occasion and donned our best bib and tucker!

A firm Festival favourite is the best in show competitions, from stylish outfits to the most impressive moustache – everyone entered into the spirit of the event.

 

To qualify for entry into Eroica Britannia all bikes have to be authentic, manufactured before 1986 and have shift gears on the bicycle frame, not the handlebars. These older bikes tend to have heavy frames and less gears than today’s modern bicycles, so therefore the hills are a little more challenging – one determined chap even completed the 25 mile route on a Penny Farthing which must have been a real bone shaker!

Riding a tandem is a little challenging to start with because you both have to synchronize movements as any wobbles from your partner can throw you off balance. Also the rear rider (often called the stoker!) has no control over speed or direction, which I found disconcerting to start with. David found that going downhill too fast hurt his ears – due to the loud squealing from behind!

Having got over the initial difficulties with many trips over the hill to the pub in Brassington, we soon mastered the tandem technique.

As you will see there were 3 routes to choose from. We thought with the steep Peak District hills that the 25 mile route was enough of a trial for us on our first official tandem outing. A good choice as ride day turned out to be one of the hottest days of the year!

As we live so close to the Friden venue we decided to cycle to and from the Eroica event adding another 8 miles to our total ride. The most challenging section of the whole ride was getting there, dodging the hundreds of cyclists who had already set off along the High Peak Trail on the 55 mile event, going in the opposite direction to us! We also nearly lost our voices as everyone shouted greetings and good morning as they cycled past.

We set off at 9am with a group of other 25 milers, full of enthusiasm, with the sun shining and my red polka dot skirt flapping in the breeze. The great thing about a tandem is that just when one of you is beginning to give up the other one urges you on to keep going. With determination we managed to ride the whole way without having to dismount for the steep hills.  One of the toughest sections was pedaling up the long hill out of Monyash, which was made slightly harder as the climb came immediately after the lunch stop and we hadn’t got back into our rhythm.

It was so much fun riding the tandem as people waved and cheered you on. It was  a fabulous feeling to cycle through the finish line to cheers and whistles from the gathered crowd.

The atmosphere was amazing with lots of Festival fun, from the fun fair for the children, to evening entertainment from ABC, and a fly past by a Hurricane Spitfire.

Would we do it again? YES – definitely a fantastic experience to complete the challenge.

However after our exhausting ride David was eagerly eyeing up an electric bike from Juicy Bikes – you would certainly breeze up the Peak District hills on one of their battery assisted bicycles.

Everyone was so friendly and the festival atmosphere was fabulous with everyone comparing bikes and chatting about their experiences late into the evening. Of course the weather helped – not sure it would be quite so much fun in the rain!

We were delighted to host two sets of guests for the weekend who were also taking part, which created a real Eroica spirit at Hoe Grange.

They were all more ambitious (and not riding tandems) so chose the longer 55 mile Eroica ride – a real challenge in the blistering heat.

If you fancy taking part next year why not book yourself a cabin here at Hoe Grange as a very handy base? I would suggest Daisybank or Pinder log cabins, as they both have hot tubs on the decking for soaking those aching limbs afterwards!

Felicity

 

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show

Following on from the fabulous flowers at Tissington Well Dressings the Derbyshire hills overflowed with beautiful blooms at the first ever RHS Chatsworth Flower Show today. Amazingly even after yesterdays drenching downpour and gale force stormy winds the show gardens still looked stunning.

The IQ Quarry Garden designed by Paul Hervey-Brookes is well deserving of The Best Show Garden and Best Construction Award.

The life cycle of a quarry is beautifully illustrated as you travel from the stark stone, slate and rusted wall of the industrial to the soft natural planting as Mother Nature conquers all even in the harshest of environments. I think you’ll agree the combination of formal structure and natural planting creates a beautiful garden of many contrasts.

One of our other favourite show gardens was the Experience Peak District & Derbyshire Garden – perhaps because it reflects our dramatic Peak District landscape and perhaps because of the hand painted metallic cows – far less trouble than our suckler herd at home!

Lee Bestall MSGD cleverly designed the garden in 2 completely contrasting parts, reflecting the many aspects of the Peak District and achieving a prestigious Silver-Gilt Medal in the process!

A central mown path leads through rough grass inspired by the fields of Derbyshire. It is peppered with native trees and hand-painted cows, the latter a fun and quirky nod to Sir George Sitwell’s remark that blue stenciled white cows would ‘give distinction to the landscape’.

The second half of the garden takes inspiration from the formal gardens of the great houses, such as Chatsworth and Haddon Hall, with precise herbaceous planting and clipped topiary yew trees shaped into pyramids adding height.

Following the show the cows will be auctioned off to the highest bidder but the planting will live on as a new garden room feature at Renishaw Hall in Derbyshire.

The colourful display by Tissington Nursery showed their passion for plants and again reflected the Peak District landscape earning them a Silver Gilt Medal too. It was wonderful to see so many fantastic #LoveLocal businesses – Peak District Artisans, Annette Petch Jewellery, Rebecca Lawley Silver, Karin Sheldon Artist in Precious Metals and Rita Chang Animal & Wildlife Artist, working together to showcase their Peak District crafts at RHS Chatsworth.

Juliet Forrest created the most amazing glass sculpture which would look fantastic at Hoe Grange, but as it was slightly above my budget I opted for some beautiful coloured glass flowers to brighten up the flower beds.

Another highlight was the Palladian Bridge, a vibrant and colourful sensory experience of floral artistry by Jonathan Moseley. It was a radiant rainbow from floor to ceiling of the most amazing flowers, from the traditional to the exotic, reflecting the eclectic collections at Chatsworth. There were so many blooms I can’t even begin to imagine how long it all took to construct!

So many wonderful displays and creations at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show that we can’t mention them all here, but there are plenty more photos on our Hoe Grange Holidays Facebook.

Tickets sold out completely so book early if you want to experience RHS Chatsworth next year!

Felicity

Love this bug hotel!

 

Tissington Well Dressings 2017

For Tissington Ascension Tide is an extremely hectic period when the whole village work tirelessly together to create the stunning, and colourful well dressings.

The dressing or decorating of water wells as a thanksgiving is an ancient art that goes way back into the mists of time, so far back that no one is entirely sure of the origin.

One plausible theory is that the custom began in Tissington village just after the Black Death of 1348. The villagers were spared the ravages of the plague, and their immunity was attributed to the purity of the water.

Another theory believes the tradition started later in 1615, after severe droughts throughout the area led to loss of cattle and crops, except at Tissington where water flowed freely from the 5 wells in the village. No one knows for sure but this ancient art is carried on with the traditional methods passed on from one generation to the next.

How are the well dressings created?

Each of the wells is decorated with a surrounding picture made from a board covered with a clay/salt mix. Several weeks prior to the well dressings you may see the boards floating in the village pond to soak them through. The boards are then plastered and the design is traced onto them.

Cones and coffee beans are used as outlines and the filling in of the picture is done with brightly coloured flower petals, twigs, wool, feathers, stones and natural materials. This is done during the previous three days to Ascension Day.

Community spirit

Well dressing in Tissington is not just a thanksgiving but a fabulous event which brings the whole village community together. Everyone, young and old, contributes in some way to this annual celebration, digging clay, picking flowers, decorating the boards or erecting the dressings at the wells throughout the village.

The celebrations start on Ascension Day (celebrated on the 40th day of Easter which is always a Thursday) with a procession blessing each well and a Church service at St.Mary`s. The Well Dressings are displayed for a week and they are definitely not to be missed.

Who do you think modelled for this well dressing??

If you’re visiting the Derbyshire Peak District this week come and wander round the village and see the beautiful well dressings for yourself. A quirky but fascinating tradition that is “well” worth a visit!

Felicity