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Hoe Grange Holidays Glamping Pods Review

Host Writer
Published 15/12/2016 Hoe Grange Holidays Glamping Pods Review

Glamping isn't just for Summer!


It's no surprise that glamping is getting more and more popular, as more of us opt to get close to nature without relying on a groundsheet and a sleeping bag.  And one of the best things about glamping is that, unlike traditional camping, you can do it all year round, without being bound by seasonal changes and potential frostbite!  Even still, many of us still save our summer months for glamping - maybe because we don't quite trust how cosy it can be.  So I tried it for myself with a mid-December weekend in one of Hoe Grange Holidays Glamping Pods.

Hoe Grange Holidays is found on a working farm in the south Peak District, and is owned by the wonderful David and Felicity.  As my partner and I quickly found, their love and commitment has gone into every part of Hoe Grange, which is probably why it feels such a special place to be.

We arrived on Friday night after a rather eventful journey, involving M1 closures and diversions which delayed our ETA by over an hour.  However, David was most accommodating and greeted us with a smile as we pulled up at the farm.  He showed us to Swallow Glamping Pod and ran us through everything we needed to know about our unusual home for the next two nights. 

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One thing that immediately struck me was how spacious the wooden pod felt inside, with a high arched ceiling and perfectly organised interior.  I then noticed all the many touches of luxury that made the pod feel so homely: a huge comfy sofa-bed, thick lined curtains, a fluffy rug, and the small stained glass window set into the bathroom door.  And with electric lighting, outdoor flashing fairy lights, and a wireless speaker, we had every creature comfort in our perfect pod!

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We were also treated to a delicious welcome pack, consisting of homemade bread, a pint of local milk, butter, a couple of eggs from one of Hoe Grange's girls, and two mince pies (‘tis the season and all!).  Tea bags, coffee (both fresh and freeze-dried), and sugar were also in good supply - we certainly had everything we needed to get started.

The microwave and induction hob were ideal for self-catering, and we'd brought a couple of microwaveable meals with us for an easy first night.  After enjoying those, we took some time to read the guide book provided in the pod, and began to get a sense of this beautiful area.  A few pages in, I began to wish we were staying for longer; there is simply so much to see and do in the Peak District.  Miles of trails for walking, cycling, and horse riding, mind-blowing caverns and caves, museums, art galleries and historical houses to explore, and fabulous local food to sample at the many excellent pubs and restaurants throughout the region.

Our next day planned, we transformed our sofa into a surprisingly spacious bed and settled down under the soft, white duvet for a good sleep.  There was no question of us being chilly despite the time of year; two wonderfully warm radiators kept our pod cosy the whole night through.

The next morning, we roused ourselves for a breakfast of fresh eggs, bacon, and toast, before heading out for a bracing walk on the High Peak Trail.  Accessing this popular walking route is easy from Hoe Grange - just a few hundred yards from the pod, up through a field of sheep, through a gate, and you're there!  The misty morning might have hindered our views of the Peak District somewhat, but it certainly added to the sense of myth and mystery which has inspired authors and artists alike over the years.

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Our walk done, we headed back to the pod, changed our muddy boots for clean ones, and jumped in the car to explore further afield.  Our first stop was a Peak District institution: the Barley Mow Inn at Kirk Ireton.  Virtually unchanged since it opened in the 1700s, this three-roomed pub has been run by landlady Mary for 40 years.  She welcomed us at the tiny bar, where ales are lined up in casks and cider is still served from a jug, and while she poured our pints, she told us she'd been making cider that morning from the apples in her orchard.  You can't get more traditional than that!  

After warming ourselves by the fire, we set off for our next stop - Bakewell.  Armed with advice from David, we were ready to sample a traditional Bakewell pudding from this popular little town.  Although the actual bakery which created the English staple is disputed, there's a fairly good chance it was either Bloomers of Bakewell or The Original Bakewell Pudding Shop.  So, just to make sure we went to the right one, we bought a pudding from both!  The traditional Bakewell pudding is different from a Bakewell tart in a couple of ways: firstly, it's made with puff pastry instead of shortcrust, and secondly, it doesn't have the icing and cherry on top.  It does, however, have almondy, jammy goodness in spades!

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After exploring the town (even more special at Christmas, with lights twinkling, trees on each corner, and a craft fair in the town hall), we stopped for some lunch.  We could have gone anywhere, from cosy pubs to bakeries, but our eyes were caught by Tiroler Stuberl - an Austrian restaurant and café.  Partly because it was the last thing we'd expected to find in a quintessentially English town, and partly because we both love Austrian food, we headed inside.  Upstairs, the walls of this timber-framed building are lined with cuckoo clocks, mounted antlers, and other quirky paraphernalia, while a couple of bells hung down for diners to ring when they needed service!  We both opted for a delicious (but filling!) Austrian sausage in a bun, before making a slow walk back to the car park.

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Had we had more time, we would have loved to have visited Chatsworth, which is only a short distance from Bakewell, and looks magnificent in all its Christmas colours.  It's certainly on the to-do list for next time though!

Our own dose of Christmas spirit was waiting for us back at the pod, where we enjoyed a mince pie and a spot of mulled wine as darkness began to fall.   I took some time to read the comments from past guests in Swallow's guest book, and quickly saw I wasn't alone in loving this cosy pod!  Although we didn't have a four-legged friend with us, many entries praised Hoe Grange for its dog-friendly facilities and location, while others (who'd visited in the early summer) loved waking to see lambs in the next field.

A number of guests had also visited Ye Olde Gate Inn at Brassington and wrote very highly of it - which was good, because it was where we were booked in for dinner!  Voted ‘Britain's Cosiest Pub' by The Times, The Gate is only a short drive from Hoe Grange, meaning you have no excuses not to visit.  We received a warm welcome on arrival - it was clear the service would be excellent - and were shown to our table beside the traditional range fire.  The menu was superb, and after much deliberation, we opted for the haggis in whisky and pepper sauce to share, followed by rabbit wrapped in bacon for me, and daube of beef for my partner - the perfect winter feast, washed down with ale and red wine!

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The next morning, I was fortunate enough to be shown the rest of Hoe Grange's accommodation by David before we made our journey home.  The cabins were just as spotless and cosy as the glamping pods, yet perfectly spacious for a family stay.  I quickly understood why families visit again and again, and with outstanding facilities for disabled guests, I could also see why David and Felicity have won so many awards for their accommodation.  I also had a peek inside the wood-fired hot tub and traditional sauna available for hire (just in case you need any more help relaxing during your stay!). 

All too soon, our time at Hoe Grange Holidays was up, and we reluctantly packed up to go.  We left, though, safe in the knowledge that:

  • Glamping in the winter doesn't leave you cold!
  • The Peak District is one of England's most beautiful areas
  • Misty December mornings on the moors are magical
  • A Bakewell pudding beats a Bakewell tart
  • Unless you make the most of those trails, you don't come to the Peak District to lose weight
  • Hoe Grange Holidays is a very special place you'll want return to time and again
  • Two nights just isn't enough...

 

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