[AD]. Thank you so much for having us, Hoe Grange Holidays – you can find out more and book your own stay on their website!
If you know me, you’ll know I’m a firm fan of little getaways in unique surroundings – the quirkier the better, in my humble opinion. However, when you add mobility issues and a beast of a power-chair named Janice into the equation, finding suitable but equally as adorable mini-breaks becomes a heck of a lot trickier.
I’m not quite sure where it came from, but for years I’ve dreamed of having a little autumnal getaway in a log cabin – a cosy little escape where I could fully unwind and feel at peace, watching the colours of the surroundings change from green to gold with a good book and a cup of tea in hand.
In my head, though, cute and cosy log cabins just didn’t quite seem synonymous with the practicalities of accessible accommodation. As such, you can only imagine my joy when I discovered Hoe Grange Holidays – in particular, their wheelchair-friendly log cabins.
Located in the rural Brassington area of the Peak District, less than half an hour’s drive away from the historic town of Matlock, Hoe Grange Holidays boasts a range of self-catering, eco-friendly accommodation options. Scattered around the working farm are two glamping pods, a gypsy caravan, and four log cabins – all of which incorporate award-winning accessible elements. Additional access guides for each of the log cabins can be found online, and the fact that this information is provided in both written and audio form makes a statement about the team’s commitment to equality right off the bat.
Our Log Cabin
We were lucky enough to stay in the Daisybank Log Cabin for three nights this November, and I can say with absolute certainty that our time at Hoe Grange Holidays provided one of the most positive access experiences I’ve ever had. The cabin had level access throughout, including gently sloping pavement leading from the car parking spot directly outside the accommodation through to the decking and front door. I will say that my (admittedly unreliable) power-chair struggled with a very slight ridge on the floor by the front door, but moving around both inside and outside the cabin proved to be seamless. If you use your mobility aid indoors there’s plenty of space to manoeuvre and many additional features, or if like me you generally just use aids for longer distances, the porch between the front door and living room proved to be a perfect spot for storing my power-chair when it wasn’t being used.
I expected myself and my best pal Izzy to be fighting over the beautiful master bedroom, but I was pleasantly surprised by the roomy twin bedroom too – both single beds are electric profile beds, like my own bed at home. These comfy beds allow you to elevate the head and feet by using a remote, and let me tell you, they can be a bit of a Godsend for us disabled folk managing pain and fatigue.
This bedroom is also just a few steps away from the accessible wet room, featuring what could be used as a wheel-in shower with plenty of grab rails, drop down support bars for the toilet, and even a Pressalit Care adjustable wash basin which can be adjusted in height and moved along the wall to create more space for transfers and carer assistance if required. If, however, you too are a bath person and use warm baths for symptom management, do not fear – the second bathroom includes a gorgeous whirlpool bath which also has grab rails and gloriously, doesn’t take long at all to fill up when you’re in need of a soak.
The kitchen includes everything you could possibly need for a self-catering holiday, including a separate fridge and freezer, a microwave, an oven and four hobs, and mercifully a dishwasher, reducing the need for you to spend long periods of time stood up doing the dishes after every meal. The kitchen also includes a pull-out unit for wheelchair users, meaning they can get closer to the sink and also use that unit as a lower-level surface top. Besides that, Izzy and I were unanimous that this cabin was the best-equipped holiday accommodation we’ve ever stayed in – there was every kitchen utensil you could imagine, and if we had brought the right ingredients, we could have baked a cake in there with complete ease. As such, we wasted no time in making an occasion of any and every hot drink we consumed by using the tea set and cafetiere.
Being open plan, the kitchen meets the living space, featuring beautiful patio doors leading out onto the decking. Again, we had ample room to laze around on the two sofas, as well as on the comfortable rise and recline armchair positioned in front of the electric log-effect fire. Really, it was this living area that made the most profound statement about Hoe Grange Holidays, and something that really resonated with me – that although these lodges had clearly been designed with accessibility at their heart, there was no compromise on style and character. Rather than having that cold, clinical feel that accessible spaces can sometimes emit, our cabin was utterly adorable and felt like a warm and cosy space, that also happened to have some cracking accessibility features. This, in my opinion, is exactly what the travel and tourism sectors need more of.
The Outdoor Space
If I haven’t quite sold you yet, you just wait until you hear about the outdoor features. The relatively private decking includes a dining table and chairs, and… wait for it… a hot tub. In fitting with the eco-friendly ethos of the site, the hot tub is filled up and maintained on request by the guests, and once that’s done it’s incredibly simple to use – all we had to do was remove the lightweight protective cover and we were good to go, there’s even a hoist available that slots into the decking on request.
Though we weren’t quite brave enough to take a dip in the evening under the iconic dark skies, what with it being mid-November and my body’s reactions to temperature change being unpredictable at best, we enjoyed a gorgeous afternoon in there experimenting with all the different features under the midday sun. Before now I’d never really been a hot tub enthusiast, but after enjoying some leisure time in there surrounded by the beautiful rolling hills, chatting absolute nonsense with my best friend, it’s safe to say I’m a convert. I feel as though it might have done my sore muscles a bit of good too…
Off-Road Wheelchair Adventures
Now, allow me to tell you about what must have been the highlight of my stay. Hoe Grange Holidays is located in a beautiful part of the world, surrounded by gorgeous routes for walking, cycling, horse riding… and off-road wheelchairing. The site offers two models of off-road wheelchair, meaning that for the first time in seven years, I was able to go on a walk for leisure. Two models of the Boma 7 off-road wheelchair (one controlled by handlebars and another by joystick) are available for hire on-site (£30 per day or £150 per week), and having never tried one of these aids before, I can tell you with full confidence that they are worth every penny. On both of our full days we made our way up the hill to the back of the site leading to the High Peak Trail, and enjoyed a leisurely walk along the path, taking in the stunning countryside views and savouring every second.
In both this blog post and the vlog, it’s difficult to fully capture just how much joy I found in this experience. The style of the chair (a high back with legs elevated out in front of you) and the ease of driving it (even for me and my concerning lack of spatial awareness) lent themselves particularly well to my disability, and bundling up warm in my thermals, I was able to be out and about for a couple of hours at a time in an environment my own power-chair, bless her heart, would never be able to manage. The suspension allows you to travel over all kinds of surfaces without your body having to absorb the impact, meaning I could just ‘walk’ alongside my best friend and fully immerse myself in the experience. Perhaps this might sound like just a small thing, but it’s something we never imagined we’d be able to do. As much as I would wholeheartedly recommend Hoe Grange Holidays regardless of the off-road wheelchair, it’s this element that elevated our stay to a whole other level and confirms in my head that I will be coming back here one day.
As well as their game-changing accessibility, Hoe Grange Holidays are also widely renowned for their commitment to sustainability. Their eco-friendly ethos, ‘leave nothing behind but footprints and take nothing away but memories’ is reflected in all they do, and guests are actively encouraged to be mindful of the environment during their stay. Over 85% of the site’s energy comes from solar panels and their wind turbine, and the pure mineral water running through the taps comes directly from their own borehole beneath the fields. The team use only eco-friendly products, favour A+ related appliances that reduce energy use, and have radically reduced their single-use packaging and committed to sending zero waste to landfill by offering easy recycling processes for all guests.
The log cabins in particular pay heed to this approach, constructed using FSC timber and insulated using sheep wool – as an Always Cold human being I’m a particularly harsh critic of insulation methods, but our environment remained warm and cosy the whole time we were in there. The team are also keen supporters of the Derbyshire Wildlife Fund and Peak District National Park Foundation and committed to sustainability, as well as champions of local small businesses. What became clear to us throughout our stay is that this is no case whatsoever of greenwashing or eco-tokenism – Hoe Grange Holidays really are committed to offering a gorgeous holiday experience in a responsible and environmentally friendly way. Really, what’s not to love?
Our Tips and Tricks
So, have I convinced you yet? Before you rush off to book your stay, here are our chronic illness-friendly tips and tricks for making the most of the experience:
- Make a meal plan and come prepared with all your food, especially if you have allergies or dietary requirements. The gorgeous remote location means there are no shops nearby or accessible without a car, so it’s vital you have everything you need for your stay. If, however, you aren’t a special snowflake like me with my squillion allergies, the team provide a divine welcome pack of bread and treats on arrival, and they have a small on-site shop which provides meat and fresh milk, as well as other bits and pieces like orange juice and locally produced ice cream.
- Bring offline things to do – there is Wifi in the cabins so you won’t be completely cut off, but signal can be patchy so make sure you’re not relying on this entirely for entertainment. Personally, I found this a blessing in disguise – put your out-of-office on and snuggle down with a good book in front of the electric fire instead. You deserve it.
- If you’re planning on using the hot tub, for goodness’ sake, don’t forget your swimwear. I very nearly forgot to pack my cozzie and I don’t mind telling you I would have cried if I’d had to miss out.
- I really need you to know that Hoe Grange Holidays have two kittens on-site, Kit and Kat, who are the most gorgeous and affectionate little floofs I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. You’ll usually find them playing near the stables and office just south of the lodges, and they were always up for a fuss. Quite frankly, it’s a miracle that one or both of them didn’t end up ‘accidentally’ coming home with me…
- Though the cabins would make a gorgeous base for a solo retreat, if you’re using the off-road wheelchair you’re much better off having a companion with you who can open gates for you and offer some company. If you’re venturing out in the cold like we did, wrap up and run yourself a whirlpool bath to warm yourself up again once you’re back – this worked wonders for me!
I feel incredibly lucky to have finally experienced my cosy log cabin dreams at Hoe Grange Holidays, and really hope I’ve been able to communicate just how much I loved our time there – hands down one of the best mini-breaks I’ve ever had. If you’re thinking about booking (and trust me, you should), the website is an absolute goldmine of information and resources, and the team, David and Felicity, will no doubt be happy to answer any further questions you may have.
Thank you so much again, Hoe Grange Holidays, for such a wonderful experience – we’ll be back!