Not everything within the Staffordshire Moorlands and the Derbyshire Dales is located or based around industry. In fact, quite the opposite is the real case; and this is no different for a little-known gem in the middle of the countryside that you will absolutely adore. Situated in the Peak District National Park, this place is indeed Ilam (pronounced ‘eye-lamb’). And let’s just say that ‘lambs’ are one of the star attractions of this place – of course, that’s not the reason to go on its own, but in the springtime, they are so cute!
This really isn’t a place for those fun seekers who really crave the adrenaline rush of whizzing round at sixty miles an hour, but don’t be put off by taking life a little slower whilst on holiday. Sometimes, all you crave is a bit of peace and quiet, away from everything and everyone – and this place really certainly offers a dose of that, giving you the chance to truly recharge your batteries. In a world which is running at a pace which is faster than ever, Ilam will give you the chance to really live life in the slow lane – not in a boring way, but a way in which you can appreciate the sights and sounds of a place which you probably never knew existed.
Did you know: Ilam was the first community in the UK to phase out incandescent light bulbs?
I Am Ilam!
There is so much more to Ilam than what you see at first glimpse of the rolling mountains (those hills really give your shoes a run for their money) – you could really get lost in it all and you may never want to leave. Breathe in the air and smell the beautifully cut grass of the park. Listen and all you will hear is the river Manifold and the occasional bird of prey. Look around and all you will see is the little ice cream van which has been there for all the time that I have known this little hamlet and the green, green grass of home. Really, what isn’t there to love?
Okay, you might think that there’s nothing to do. And perhaps I haven’t convinced you yet that you should take a hike and visit this little plot of land at the bottom of an enormous hill – so what you need to do is close your eyes, take away all distractions and imagine this: a stunning summer’s day, with the sun shining, the birds chirping and fields rolling as far as the eye can see. Now imagine a flowing river just metres in front of you. Imagine strolling beside the river bank and taking in the crisp, fresh, unpolluted air of the Staffordshire Moorlands. Think about stretching your legs and not letting a care in the world distract you. Fancy some food? You’ve now found a flat patch of land to lay down and eat a crisp cucumber sandwich you packed hours earlier in a cute little cool bag. Now compare that to the stuffy, polluted scene of the city and think to yourself, where would you rather be? I know where I would love to spend a free day.
Apart from the cute little ice cream van (which you need to see for yourself), there are other things to look at and there is much more to explore than your imagination would have ever thought of. The main visitor attraction is Ilam Park, which is owned and operated by the National Trust.
That’s all well and good, but what’s actually there, then?
Officially, they say that the Ilam Park is open all year round, but I would certainly recommend that you pick a nice sunny day to really make the most out of your experience there. With a one mile circular walk, family trails, orienteering courses, a tea room, a village church, National Trust shop and a calming river to take in, you definitely need to spend a large chunk of your day within the realms of Ilam to really get the most out of your time in this little-known gem of central England. Not only is Ilam Park great for individuals and families, but its even more exciting for your four-legged friends to run their legs off in the parkland areas, but one word of warning – there are lots of sheep about, so in a lot of the fields when you do find yourself exploring the local area, make sure you keep your dogs on a lead!
Of course, it won’t just be your dogs’ legs which will need a good rest after your day exploring Ilam and its surroundings – it’ll be yours too; and that’s where the National Trust team room will be your saving grace. Offering stunning views of places you’ll be more than eager to explore (or at least slap on your Instagram page) after a well-earned sit down, the tea rooms will almost certainly make it onto your itinerary at some point during your day – and why the heck not; you would have definitely earned it. So why not ‘have your cake and eat it’? Scrummy cake, energising coffee and a well-earned sit down: surely there is nothing better.
Ilam is Famous?!
Ilam has been featured on TV. If you venture half a mile out of Ilam itself, you will find Casterne Hall, which was built in the mid-eighteenth century. This house was used in an episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot called ‘The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge’, as well as in the 1983 version of Jane Eyre, the 1988 adaptation of Sherlock Holmes: The Hound of the Baskervilles, the 1997 production of Far from the Madding Crowd and in 1999, Jonathan Creek: Frog Hollow was also produced there.
Casterne Hall is a Grade II* manor house set high above the Manifold Valley in its own grounds in the heart of the Peak District.
Open to everybody, this little piece of history offers a plethora of things for you to do, including offering the opportunity to have a grand tour of this nearly three hundred year-old house and offers a wonderful place to hold dinner parties, picnics and other special events throughout the year – all you need to do if you are thinking about taking a peek a history while you’re staying in the area is visiting their website and sending them an email.
If you just want to drop by on a public operating day, the owners also hold tours of the house on specific days of the year, usually during the summer months. These commence at 15:00 prompt at a cost of £7.50 per person, however, groups are welcome to arrange a tour prior to their visit and the owners will be happy to take you round the house. If you fancy something at Christmas, for £20 per person, they offer a seasonal delight of a Christmas Tour and Tea during December. Don’t be a grinch – you’ll be a fool to miss it!
There is More to See and Do Than You First Thought…
Loaded with so much to discover, this blog has only scratched the surface of what you can see and do in and around Ilam. With indoor and outdoor activities ready to satisfy your desire to explore the Peak District, you will easily while away the hours. You don’t have to be somebody who knows a lot about nature; you don’t have to know anything about the Staffordshire Moorlands; you don’t have to be a National Trust member. What you do need to be is ready to open your eyes to the world around you – and if you do that, the inspiration you will get from Ilam is literally endless.
Maybe you are an aspiring photographer – now is the chance to test out your skills and get those Insta photos on point.
Do you have the desire to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life? Well, this is the place for you: young, old, on your own, or in a group – there are so many ways in which you could take in your surroundings and while away the hours.
There is so much around the UK and around the Staffordshire Moorlands which you could miss because you might be drawn in by the flash and fabulousness of hugely famous attractions. But, dig a little deeper, and you might be surprised at what you could find. Just a few miles from Ashbourne, Alton Towers and Uttoxeter, I could virtually guarantee that you never knew that this place existed. Go on, open your eyes (and nose) to the wild, get away from your phone (yup, mobile signal isn’t the best there) and explore!