Slow down and get away from it all

Long Valley Yurts at Knotlow Farm in the Peak District
Long Valley Yurts at Knotlow Farm in the Peak District
Picture: Loraine Cogan

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The first thing I did when we arrived at Knotlow Farm in the Peak District was bang my head on the surprisingly low door frame of our accommodation.

As my wife was quick to point out, it was my own fault for checking work e-mails on my phone.

From that point on I vowed to turn my phone off and to look where I was going – two things that helped make this a great holiday.

The farm is in the heart of the Peak District National Park surrounded by 100 acres of farmland and well away from any busy roads.

You get to it down a long track off an even longer winding road, after being held up by the odd tractor, and once you’re there the views are stunning.

Since 2011 it has been the latest home of Long Valley Yurts, a company that offers posh camping holidays in the Peak District and the Lake District.

Here they have four yurts on this spacious family-run site.

A yurt, in case you’re wondering, is basically a round tent-like structure, complete with a wooden floor and, at Knotlow Farm, a wooden door frame.

These ones also have a cosy wood burner, a gas cooker, fold-out beds and electric lights.

They were originally used by Turkish nomads who, what with being nomads, needed to be able to pack up their homes and move them around.

The one we stayed in is a little bit more luxurious than the sort on offer in the 13th century but the basic idea is the same.

From our comfortable base we were able to explore the Peak District and enjoy the great outdoors.

We hired bikes from the nearby town of Ashbourne and rode along the Tissington Trail, which is an old railway line.

The trains stopped running in 1967 and now it’s popular with walkers and cyclists.

We enjoyed, or perhaps endured, a 30-mile round trip with a minor detour to try out the Waterloo pub at Biggin for a nice pint of Black Sheep real ale.

Back at Ashbourne – a town full of antique emporiums and coffee shops – we went for cream teas at the popular Flower Cafe.

The nearby village of Tissington is real picture-postcard stuff and has a Victorian sweet shop as well as a glass factory and a candle-making shop, if that’s your thing.

One place I would definitely recommend is the White Peak Farm Butchery in Tissington. We didn’t have any coins to pay for six of their finest sausages and seeing as they didn’t have change for a tenner they kindly let us have them for free.

While that sort of generosity might be exceptional, everywhere we went the people were friendly and happy to help.

The Royal Oak at Hurdlow, with its stone walls and roaring fires, is another spot that’s worth a visit for the great food. 

But while country life is all very nice it’s still good to have a bit of an adrenaline rush from time to time and fortunately Knotlow Farm is only about a 40-minute drive to Alton Towers.

We headed there on a Wednesday and dodged the queues to get on all the big rides.

I hadn’t been to the amusement park for about 15 years and the rides they’ve introduced in that time are fantastic, particularly the roller-coaster Thirteen. 

Back at the yurt we relaxed to the more sedate pace of life where you can do as much or as little as you like.

ESSENTIALS

Long Valley Yurts have sites in the Peak District in Derbyshire and the Lake District in Cumbria. A five-night stay during off peak costs £285.

Go to long-valley-yurts.co.uk, call (01539) 731 089 or e-mail glamping@long-valley-yurts.co.uk.

An adult ticket to Alton Towers is £45 and it’s £36 for a child. A family ticket costs £33.75 per person.

You can save 40 per cent by booking seven days in advance. Go to altontowers.com or call 0871 222 3330.

Peak District National Park Authority offers cycle hire from a number of locations.

An adult’s bike costs £15.50 a day. A child’s bike costs £8.50 for a half day or £10.50 for a full day.

Go to peakdistrict.gov.uk, call (01335) 343156 or e-mail ashbourne.cyclehire@peakdistrict.gov.uk.