Arriving here at dusk, you’d be forgiven for rubbing your eyes, thinking you’d stumbled across a fairy tale village. A boardwalk winds its way across a lush meadow toward a collection of five luxurious yurts, where wood-burning stoves send delightfully-smelling smoke twirling gently skywards.
There is total peace, for the faint sound of laughter which carries on the breeze – and the whole scene is illuminated by the warm glow of candle and fairy lights. We have discovered the exclusive, multi-award-winning Secret Cloud House Holidays, set on the edge of the Peak District: where guests can reconnect with nature without forgoing luxury.
Couples yearning a slow-paced, calming and environmentally-friendly break in nature with a lot of luxury to boot. Or hen parties and small groups looking for a bonding spa break in the outdoors. Small families too would be happy here.
With uninterrupted views across the Staffordshire Moorlands, and the Peak District beyond, each luxury yurt (Blackberry; Foxglove; Bilberry; Elderflower; Rosehip – each with its own unique twist on decor), has its own wood-fired private hot tub, wood-burning stove and a see-through skylight which, on a clear night, means you can stargaze before nodding off. The double beds, they say, are handmade, very comfy and dressed with Egyptian cotton linen, featherdown duvets and Staffordshire wool blankets.
There’s a private eco-loo-with-a-view located just outside each yurt, while the spacious shower rooms have flushing toilets and are insulated with Staffordshire sheep’s wool and powered by solar thermal panels. Mod cons include: hairdryers, straighteners and full length mirrors. You will also find a charging locker to leave your phones safely, lots of books and maps on the area and a variety of board games for nights by the fire.
We stayed in Elderflower, perhaps the most luxurious of yurts, which is tucked right in the corner of the meadow and boasting a king-size French-style bed. This is understandably popular with mini-mooners and couples seeking a romantic break.
Food and Drink
Of course, you can cook-up a feast in the comfort of your yurt, each has a wood burning stove oven, a camping kitchen with gas burners and grill plus dining table and chairs. Or there’s your own outdoor barbecue. A fridge freezer is provided and a large cool box too.
Each booking also receives a welcome breakfast hamper with local butcher’s sausages and bacon, milk from the local dairy, eggs from a local young farmer, and fresh bread from Bakewell Bakery. The owners also have links to local chocolatiers and a small Peak District coffee roaster who creates their very own Secret Cloud blend.
If you can drag yourself away from the comfort here, try breakfast at the Cottage Kitchen Country Café, just a five-minute drive away. The countryside café and farm shop offers some tasty menus for breakfast, brunch, lunch and afternoon tea. Highly recommended at any time is the county’s delicious local delicacy – Staffordshire oatcakes.
For dinner, a 15-minute drive brings you to The Duncombe Arms, a renovated historic inn with the relaxed welcome of a local pub, plus a fine dining restaurant, earning it a place on many of the UK’s ‘best dining pubs’ lists.
The onsite ‘Shepherds Rest’ massage treatment room has a menu of treatments taking place by candlelight in front of a wood-burning stove. Treatments start from £25, but it’s best to book in advance. There’s also a central wood-fired sauna that comes with an essential oil menu – from the healing aromas of eucalyptus to mentally uplifting grapefruit.
Just in case the heavens decide to open, the wood-decked walkway connects the yurts, washrooms, sauna and the car park, so you can keep away from any mud and standing water on the field itself.
Secret Cloud House Holidays: from £140 to £160 per night, including the private wood-fired hot tub, use of the wood-fired sauna, and a welcome Staffordshire breakfast hamper.
Head to Biddulph Grange Garden, an amazing Victorian garden, restored maintained and operated by the National Trust. A visit here takes you on a global journey from Italy to the pyramids of Egypt, a Victorian vision of China and a re-creation of a Himalayan glen.
Strap up your walking boots – or try a little pedal power – and explore the deep limestone valley of steeply wooded slopes and towering rock pinnacles of The Manifold Valley. A favourite for walkers, cyclists and horse riders, the eight-mile Manifold Track follows the route of the disused Leek and Manifold Light Railway.
Or climb the steps to Thor’s Cave, one of the most spectacular sights of the valley at 250 feet above the track. The magnificent views are well worth the climb, while the cave itself is believed to have been home to cavemen 10,000 years ago.
The historic market town of Leek, on the southern edge of the Peak District National Park, has an unspoilt town centre with imposing Georgian and Victorian architecture. As well as a raft of independent shops, thriving traditional markets include Wednesday’s weekly outdoor market and a monthly fine food market held on the third Saturday of the month.