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Review of Hoe Grange Farm, Matlock, Derbyshire

Reviews
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Posted by Florence Fortnam at 10:58 on Wednesday 09 January 2013

Florence Fortnam visits Hoe Grange Farm, a working farm on the edge of the Peak District whose eco-friendly log cabins provide a great family-friendly holiday

>> For bookings and availability check our listing for Hoe Grange Holidays

The Alpine-style interiors in Daisybank. Photo: Florence FortnamThe Alpine-style interiors in Daisybank. Photo: Florence Fortnam

The setting
If you arrive on foot via the High Peak Trail, as we did (or, indeed, on four legs – yes, you can bring your horse on holiday with you!), you needn’t worry about missing the farm gate – as soon as the 18m-high wind turbine comes into view you know you have arrived. Heading off the trail and through the gate, the valley suddenly opened up before us. Having negotiated our way around a herd of friendly cows, we made our muddy way down the fields and through the farm, passing barns piled high with hay and stables of bright-eyed calves, and were welcomed at the farmhouse by Felicity, David, and a couple of waggy-tailed dogs.

The cabins
This is a proper working farm, set in a valley of rolling hills and grazing livestock, but your home for the week is not a ramshackled, energy-leaking barn or cottage, as you might expect. Instead, Felicity and David have constructed four pristine log cabins, the heating and electricity for which is generated almost entirely by renewable energy. Sleeping between four and six people, the cabins are set up on a gently-sloping courtyard tucked away behind the farm buildings – away from the commotion of the farm, but close enough to hear the moos, bleets and crows of the local residents, giving you a real farm holiday experience. Each cabin has a raised wooden deck and a little fence, offering plenty of privacy and outside space to guests.

Inside, the smart cabins are as comfy as can be, with the wooden walls and splashes of red from the cushions and curtains giving them a cosy, Alpine feel. Huge windows and French doors down each side of the cabins let in big sky views – perfect for star-gazing as there’s definitely no light pollution around here! Big sofas, whirlpool baths, chunky wooden furniture (much of it made by local carpenter who works on site), king-size beds – they are luxurious and spacious.

One of the four eco cabins. Photo: Florence FortnamOne of the four eco cabins. Photo: Florence Fortnam

Hoe Grange has won plenty of awards for its accessibility for disabled guests, with sloping ramps up to the cabins, specially-designed wardrobes, kitchens and bathrooms, and space for assistance dogs. Felicity and David are also the proud owners of a new off-road wheelchair, available for guests to hire. The 'Boma 7' can tackle pretty much any terrain, allowing less abled guests to enjoy the fields, tracks and trails now, too. Hoe Grange is the first accommodation provider in the UK to provide this type of wheelchair.

The food
The welcome pack has some local goodies to keep you going – biscuits, milk, homemade bread, eggs from their hens. If you enjoy cooking, this is the sort of kitchen you long to find on holiday: spacious, well-equipped, and well thought out, and not the sort of kitchen where you spend half an hour trying to locate the colander – everything is where you imagine it should be. Felicity and David provide a ready meal menu (frozen dishes from Angel Cuisine and delicious desserts from The Pudding Rooms, all made from local produce) should you wish to eschew cooking duties for a night or two.

The green
Some really impressive eco faciliites here. Felicity and David have invested in the latest technology to ensure that their place is as carbon neutral as possible. Their twenty rotating solar panels track the sun and are 40% more efficient than static panels – there’s even a solar panel on the side of the tracker to power the motor! Together with the recently installed wind turbine, it provides over 80% of their energy needs. Our cabin was heated by the ground-source heat pump - over half a mile of geothermic piping has been laid in a neighbouring field. The cabins are insulated with sheep wool and water comes from their own borehole. There is lots of information about their eco initiatives in the cabin porches.

The farm's green endeavours - rotating solar panels and wind turbine beyond. Photo: Florence FortnamThe farm's green endeavours - rotating solar panels and wind turbine beyond. Photo: Florence Fortnam

How to get to Hoe Grange Farm by public transport
Hoe Grange may not be the easiest place in the world to get to via public transport, but it’s worth giving it a go, especially since you get 10% off your stay if you arrive without a car. The nearest train stations are Cromford and Wirksworth. From here, you can catch a bus to Brassington. Alternatively, catch the train to Derby and pick up a bus to Ashbourne, and from here take the bus to Brassington. From Brassington it’s a 2-mile walk to the farm, or Felicity can arrange collection. 

The activities
If you need tips on things to do, the big map on the porch wall will point you in the right direction, from walking and cycling routes, to historic sites of interest and local towns. The farm gate leads directly onto the High Peak Trail, a former railway line, which runs for over 17 miles – perfect for cycling, walking and horse riding. You can create your own circular routes by linking up with the myriad footpaths and bridleways that lead off the trail – you could easily spend a week doing this alone!

The High Peak Trail. Photo: Florence FortnamThe High Peak Trail. Photo: Florence Fortnam

Top tip
This place is a children’s paradise, so make sure you bring your brood! They’ll love getting to know the farmyard friends and will enjoy the mini adventure playground just in front of the cabins (you can keep an eye on them from the comfort of your living room). Guests are free to wander the surrounding farmland and David can even give you a tour.

Verdict
Hoe Grange is an inspiring place, where traditional Peak District farming rubs shoulders with cutting-edge green technology. David and Felicity are leading the way on the green accommodation scene and have tons of awards to their name. You couldn’t be better placed for an activity break, and everyone is catered for – including the horse. And at the end of a long day in the outdoors, it’s heaven to abandon your muddy wellies at the door retreat to the comfort of your super cosy cabin.

>> For bookings and availability check our listing for Hoe Grange Holidays

Hoe Grange's friendly cows, with the turbine in the distance. Photo: Florence FortnamHoe Grange's friendly cows, with the turbine in the distance. Photo: Florence Fortnam


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