When in need of a little R&R sometimes a day away doesn’t quite cut it, and so an indulgent overnight stay is required to truly unwind.
Thankfully as I built up to a week’s annual leave to recharge the batteries away from Brides Up North HQ (hey I love my job, but we all need a little rest now and again), I was offered the opportunity to visit the fabulous mill wheel spa on the edge of the Staffordshire Peaks for an overnight break with my partner in tow. How’s that for timing?
All in the name of work (I’m so dedicated to the cause) I took up the kind invitation knowing the venue would provide a perfect subject for a Blissed Out Bride post, in which we explore ideal places for our readers to enjoy some pre and post wedding pampering, as well as girly hen dos. My assumptions were right, as once again we’ve discovered a tranquil retreat in the north of the country for brides and grooms to put on their ‘to do’ list.
The journey from South Yorkshire took just over an hour, passing through picturesque areas such as Ladybower, Castleton and Buxton before arriving at The Three Horse Shoes Country Inn in rural Blackshaw Moor, which houses Mill Wheel Spa.
A family run business since 1981, the hospitality is among the warmest I have ever experienced as we were greeted by Katie Kirk who tends to the inn, alongside her husband and brother- and sister-in-law. Though the level of care, pride and customer service has clearly remained throughout, it soon became apparent that the inn itself has undergone quite a few changes over the years in order to deliver something special to its guests.
Among its most recent additions is Mill Wheel Spa, which offers a wide choice of day and overnight spa packages, including those specifically designed for hen dos, husbands and wives-to-be and newlyweds.
The Mini Moon Break package that we were invited to experience included use of the spa facilities with a rasul and ‘beach hut’ experience, a three-course evening meal in The Stables Restaurant, overnight accommodation, breakfast and a treatment each before departure the following day – boy were we in for a treat!
First to drop the bags off – we were staying in one of the inn’s top garden rooms, complete with four-poster bed and private outdoor hot tub. After a look around we headed to the spa making a mental note to return to the room in enough time before our evening meal to try out that hot tub.
The spa’s facilities focus on a number of hot and cold experiences to clear out the pores and awaken the senses and so we followed the suggested route to get the most out of our visit. First on the agenda is the visual centre piece of the spa, and a UK first, The Mill Wheel Shower, which pays homage to the history of the James Brindley Water Mill in neighbouring Leek and Cheddleton Flint Mill, which were once an important part of the area’s local industry and economy. The large revolving mill pours out water from its shovels in intervals, alternatively warm and cold, a bit like a tame game of Russian roulette.
We are then advised to use The Peak District Stonebath for a ‘steam bath experience’ followed by The Farmers Sauna, with a quick dip in The Cedar Plunge Pool in between (refreshing but freezing!). Next our rasul treatment in a special chamber made for two. We were instructed to smooth mineral rich mud onto our skin while the room heated up, which provided a lot of entertainment as we came to look like we’d emerged from a swamp. The results however were fabulous – at the end of the 30 minutes water rained down washing the mud away and revealing hydrated, soft skin.
By this point the sun had made an appearance so we ventured outside to the spa’s garden for some refreshments, including a little fizz. Here there’s also a three metre square hydrotherapy pool set at an inviting 36 degrees, so we had to have a quick dip. Like much of the inn, this area enjoys stunning views over the Roaches and surrounding countryside, which enhanced our already chilled out mood.
To finish we were treated to a unique experience in The Beach Hut which replicates the positive benefits of being on a beach in the sun by topping up Vitamin D levels. In the secluded room, which is decorated like the seaside, complete with sounds of the sea, we relaxed on a bed of warm sand while the light went from dawn to dusk. We were both so relaxed that we actually fell into a light snooze and wished we could have stayed longer.
We left the spa practically walking on air and changed ready for the evening meal (trying out the hot tub in between – I now want one at home!). The Stables Restaurant prides itself on its exciting modern English and new world dishes, created by executive chef Gary Woolliscroft, and his team lead by head chef Matt Brock. Just one look at the menu told us we were about to have a fine dining experience.
A treat for both the eyes and palate every dish was nothing short of perfection. Our starters of scallops were light on the stomach but deep in flavour whilst the meat we had for main (beef for him and lamb for me) melted in the both and was accompanied by imaginative vegetable creations. Unable to resist we shared a dessert of ‘strawberries and cream’, a vanilla panna cotta with temperatures and textures of British strawberries. Devine.
After breakfast the following day it was treatment time (just when we thought the relaxation couldn’t be heightened anymore!) Within the cosy treatment rooms, complete with mood lighting, I was treated to a Heaven Bee Sting Facial while my partner Andy, had a top to toe Herbal Steam Massage.
Using all organic products produced by Deborah Mitchell, a facialist to royalty and A-list stars such as Dannii Minogue, Victoria Beckham and Gwyneth Paltrow, therapist Katie worked the natural products into my skin using a range of relaxing techniques to restore hydration levels, leaving my skin visibly plumper and smoother. Next door meanwhile, Andy was equally delighted with his treatment which revived his weary cycling muscles back to full strength, just in time for a coast to coast challenge that he’s taken on.
The magic worked in less than 48 hours to revitalise our weary souls was incredible and I would most definitely recommend Mill Wheel Spa to those seeking some pampering either in the lead up to, or following the big day. The tailored hen do options sound fabulous too and the extensive treatment list will please both males and females alike.
Also, if you’re newly engaged you might check out the inn as a potential wedding venue. Its spacious function suite, complete with outdoor terrace, can cater for up to 178 daytime guests and 250 evening guests whilst providing unforgettable accommodation, service and food. Oh, and did we mention it has a spa?
For full details of Mill Wheel Spa’s facilities, accommodation and packages, visit the website.