Sunday, 7 October 2012

The Old Bakery Holiday Cottage - Chapel-en-le-Frith

After a very busy 12 months or so, with no sign of stopping with Xmas only around 12 weeks away (how did that happen...again?!) I decided it was time for a proper holiday. Not just a break away, which never seems to relax me completely, but a proper holiday, away from work, laptops, television, the normal every day rubbish. I didn't want to regret having one of those trendy "Staycations" sat on my sofa feeling pants for not having done anything and anyway, I couldn't afford to fly anywhere as my passport still needs renewing. Seeing as I don't ever go abroad really and would have no real need again for a few more years (most likely!) I decided to get online & find myself the perfect country cottage here in our own fair country.

I found just that... Just 3 hours drive from home, it was fate, if not just in the name of my little cottage. I didn't search for anything cake or baking related, it just so happens, it found me.

The Old Bakery.
With no real known history to it, it was once a bakery in ye old Englande, once upon a yesteryear, but that's all the owners know. Hehe.

I booked the accommodation through a Derbyshire country cottage website at a fantastic price of £260 for the week, reduced from about £350 I believe.  It was well worth chopping in my plans of hotel hopping, which would have been more costly and less homely anyway. With grand plans for a week of cycling and relaxing, we could either leave our bikes in the car or keep them in the cottage with us on this particular occasion, as the owners are about to decorate the week I leave, they were very accommodating from the initial phone conversation with them. The safety of the bikes was much more reassuring than if we had left them in hotel car parks overnight.

The cottage itself is based in the "Heart of the Peak District" in the small market town of Chapel-en-le-Frith, not the quiet country cottage I had expected on first appearances. No car park space meant that we had to unload fairly quickly and then find a space a few hundred yards up the road, but wasn't a huge problem. The scenery in this area is stunning, with rolling hills and peaks, rocks and walkways, there is a lot to see just simply driving around.

It's a very cute one bedroom cottage with small front garden for a pup to use should you bring one with you. A large lounge with dining table and a comfy sofa, surrounded by small added luxuries such as an old Bush radio and a well stocked DVD cabinet if you forget to bring your own with you for the rainy evenings. (I actually made a lot of use out of the TV, which I hadn't expected to, in between reading some books I've been meaning to catch up on, I caught up on Season 4 of "Breaking Bad" in a few addictive and coffee-fuelled sittings, oh my goodness it's such a GREAT show, if you love a dark side to your viewing!)

The small galley kitchen is perfectly equipped to my high standards and I managed to rustle up a sausage casserole, many picnics for our bike rides and even a roast dinner using some lovely meat from the local butcher a few doors away. The cottage owners even left a small welcome pack including a mini box of chocolates, some wine and local eggs, a pack of tea and some fresh coffee for the caffetiere which was such a lovely surprise, just so thoughtful.
Having chatted to Kay on the phone about our plans to cycle some local routes, she had also left us a map of the local area to borrow and even hand wrote some local routes for us to try, complete with directions to the car parks, I can't thank her enough for her time on this, it was very helpful indeed.

Upstairs, there is a beautifully decorated bedroom with simple features and a gorgeous king sized bed to stretch out in. As a bed snob, I can honestly say it was ALMOST as comfortable a my own bed, but not quite ; )
In fact, I took a lovely lady's advice (thank you Nia!) and enjoyed a fair few afternoon catnaps after my rides and days out, before enjoying my evenings curled up with a good book or film to help me relax. It worked a treat.
The bedroom also had a little bookshelf filled with books on walks and history of the Peak District, as well as some gorgeous old hardback copies of Winnie The Pooh, which I couldn't help but flick through and admire. It's a nosey girls' dream cottage, lots to get stuck into and find, even the china in the kitchen was fun to use with a mix of coffee cups, teacups, tea trays, every drink I made was an event, bringing out the natural hostess in me. Even if it was just for myself most of the time.... If you can't treat yourself, who can you?!

The bathroom was spacious, bigger than my own, although not difficult with my tiny en suite at home. It had a bath and shower, I even allowed myself to enjoy one girly bath with an equally rare and girly face mask and chick lit book on the last night, being a shower girl and all. Kay had yet again, been fabulously hospitable with the little touches, some complimentary body lotions, scrubs and soaps, even a couple of perfumes and fluffy white towels at hand, I wanted to stay in there all day each time I went to wash away the mud from my wet and muddy days out hehe.

Most days, it was in fact quite sunny, raining mainly overnight, so we were pretty lucky with the weather. Between bike rides, we visited a few local attractions, including Pendrill Castle and lunch at a nice pub in Castleton, The Otter & Owl Sanctuary in Chapel, I even fancied a trip to Sheffield (random cravings for Fancie Cupcakes, as we were so close and I have been following them on Twitter for nearly 2 years now!) so we headed there for a day and enjoyed a little retail therapy whilst there as well as a delicious burger for dinner as a treat.
You are also fairly close to Manchester from this cottage, with easy links to the motorways, should you feel inclined to visit Corrie city!

I had also been told by a fair few people to take a trip to
Chatsworth House
if I could, so on my last day here, we headed to the estate and enjoyed a leisurely walk  around the extensive gardens & grounds, admiring the weird and very expensive looking sculpture exhibitions currently being hosted by Southbys. They looked like something out of Alice in Wonderland and I actually quite liked them... although no pocket money to buy one ; ) 
And the kitchen garden was fantastic to look around, they grow their own fruit & vegetables, even different types of lettuce, of which got the sandwich and salad geek out of me for a while! All the food produced is sold and used on site in their restaurant and farm shop, of which we did buy a few bits on the way home, including some sausages & a lemon cake.


 I have to say, as beautiful as Chatsworth House is, there was a lack of signage to anything, so we had a lot of unanswered questions as to what certain features were or why they were there, so we made it up as we went along. Pretending to be characters from books and films we had absolutely no knowledge on whatsoever, such as "Pride and Prejudice", as I believe some guy called Mr Darcy may have jumped into one of the ponds here to impress some girl. The details are somewhat unclear in my mind, so my imagination was much more fun instead ; ) 

The plan of the week had been to enjoy afternoon tea at Chatsworth House. But I was very disappointed, after doing my research prior to visiting, I was aware that you needed to pre book for the more exclusive afternoon tea service in the Cavendish Rooms.
I emailed a week and a half prior to my visit and received no reply. I was very annoyed at this, however we attempted to go along and try to get in on the door so to speak. A wedding was about to take over, so we missed out. Instead, we joined the queue for the main restaurant with the rest of the riffraff (hehe) and picked out a sandwich and a pot of tea instead with a scone with generic flora butter, of which we were charged for, yet there was a box of free ones in the seating area (cheeky beggars!) - I may follow up this one a bigger blog post, as so much more to say. However, I am also uncertain on this as I don't think they deserve any praise I have to say. The service was rude, the guy who got my tea was very abrupt and although "Teapigs" tea was shown in boxes above the catering pots, I did not see said tea bags going into my teapot... I was less than impressed with the catering tea snuck into my tea for one, of which I actually shared as couldn't afford tea for two ; )  We also found their "I Saw You Coming" gift shop and had fun trying on hats for longer than is healthy to do so!...

Regardless of the "Interesting" afternoon tea, the week has been the sort relaxing holiday I've had in a very long time, although it always does take me a good few days to climb off the wall lately, so after day 3 and a couple of bike rides in, I was fine. I even managed to locate a local Weightwatchers group to go and join with my weekly weigh in, no excuses and all that jazz. The Buxton leader was lovely and very welcoming, so it was nice to know yo can do this, even if not home to weigh in, but I did miss my lovely Cambourne group this week...sadly ; )

The cottage was a great find, I would rate it to any singles or couples in need of a comfortable base to explore the Peak District from. It's a good location for most places with lots of caves to explore locally too. There is a market on a Thursday literally just up the road, but I completely forgot about it until it was too late, typical of me really! And home away from home, a Morrisons Supermarket and Petrol station here too, perfect for miles into before the return leg of the journey!

The only downside I would say to the cottage is that on both sides of this terraced cottage, are dogs. The owners are out to work all day and both sets of dogs barked ALL day. Literally. Most mornings I could hear them barking at traffic or similar and this was irritating, even as a dog owner myself. But it was a good excuse to get our bums into gear and get out to explore.

There was even a washing machine and clothes airer, so for the muddy cycle wear, I could get everything washed and dry before I headed home and needed them for my rides back in Cambridge. Perfect.

With plenty of pubs both in Chapel and further afield, independent cafes and coffee shops, butchers, even an old fashioned greengrocers, it had everything we needed and more. Antique shops were also a big draw in this area, I couldn't help but pop my head in every time we passed one, but I was very restrained and kept my pennies. This time.

Noticing also the romantic hearts all around the cottage, I'm a soppy one at heart, so I loved this little touch throughout.

If you are in need of a peaceful break away, I would highly recommend The Old Bakery for a base with everything you would need for a bit of peace and quiet and a relaxing break away.

If interested, you can read more about the bike rides I did in the Peak District HERE.

Miss Sue Flay 


  1. So glad you had a good break and some time away from busy life!

  2. Aww it was so nice, shame it was only a week really! Could have stayed another week at least! x

  3. Lovely to read of your break in Derbyshire. We stayed in Chapel-en-le-frith last year on a short family break and found it to be a wonderful part of the world! :)

  4. It really is a lovely place, will be back one day, I'm sure : )

  5. Love your blog! I've just booked one of our favourite luxury holiday cottages for this summer, I can't wait!

    1. Thank you so much, have you booked this lovely place?... Have a fab time : )