Mum’s Birthday Staycation – Part 2

Tall trees at Hardcastle Crags

Did you see my post last Thursday: Mum’s Birthday staycation – Part 1? Well, here’s part 2, what we got up to and where we ate on the Thursday. Sadly, I only took photos of the scenery, which was very beautiful – but no food.

After an extravagant breakfast of pastries, fruit, yogurt and nuts, our excursion for the day was Hardcastle Crags – a National Trust site. Thankfully, we’re all members so parking was free. It’s a wooded valley, home to a 19th century mill and over 15 miles of footpaths to explore… needless to say we didn’t see it all, but some of the areas were closed off too, which was a shame.

Stream at Hardcastle Crags
Stream and bridge at Hardcastle Crags, with the mill in the background

The mill itself is one mile from the car park – and that’s also the distance to the toilets and café, just a heads up. We walked along a dust track on the way to the mill, and after stopping for a sit down and a drink – no paddle, although that seemed popular with kids and dogs. Alfie loved playing pooh sticks on the bridge, while I just loved the peace, although it was busy along the bay of the stream. I think we had factored in lunch at Hardcastle Crags, but options were limited in the cafe, and we decided to go elsewhere – and Rob found somewhere in the next village. We went back the scenic route, following the stream. We went over steppingstones and quite strenuous terrain (slippy in some places and fairly narrow, making distancing a bit of a difficulty). But it was a proper adventure, and Alfie loved it!

As I mentioned, lunch was had in the next village, Hebden Bridge – and Rob found a really nice bar/restaurant called Old Gate. Despite numerous tables outsides, unfortunately we were unable to eat al fresco, but inside wasn’t so bad – there was a beautiful breeze with the large windows and doors open. Like I said, no photos of the food, but it was delicious! I had a really lovely Chilean wine too… wouldn’t normally order a Chilean white but I panicked when put on the spot.

Alfie had the fish & chips from the kids’ menu, which came with beans – but it was so much food! I was in shock when it arrived at the table, it was genuinely the sort of portion I’d give myself at home. Mum and I opted for the sharing option again – bar snacks were on a 3 for £12 deal, so we went with that and then ordered from the ‘light bites’ section too. We went for mozzarella dippers with Napoli sauce (£5) which were so cheesy and delicious. Sweet potato fries with aioli (£4) – and it was the first time I’d had crispy sweet potato fries. They weren’t cold or soggy, amazing! The southern fried chicken strips with sweet chilli dip (£5) were good too – you can’t go wrong with some good fried chicken. The chicken was tender, and the coating wasn’t greasy. Then we ordered a portion of the salt & pepper calamari with aioli (£7) because it’s my all-time favourite starter/snack. It was largely very good, and well cooked. But there were one or two pieces that were a bit chewier and stringy. But the coating was light and crisp, and very well-seasoned.

We went back to the cottage for some relaxation and because Rob was cooking dinner that evening – Teriyaki chicken (tofu for him), with rice and stir-fried broccoli. A games night followed, and we all had a laugh playing Mumbo Jumbo.

Stone arches at Ilam Park, on a beautiful day

On Friday, check-out at the cottage was 10am, and we decided to stop off at another National Trust site on the way home. We took a picnic with us to Ilam Park, which was so beautiful. The weather was lush, so it was quite busy, and the car park was nearing full. After a walk around the grounds, we struggled to find a shady spot for the picnic, but we ate amongst these beautiful arches. With it nearing 30C, we had to have an ice cream too – of course! The backdrop of the Peak District was stunning, coupled with the bluest sky. I wish we could have spent more time there, just watching the world go by. A lovely end to the most wonderful staycation!

Love, Lucy xx

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