The Area

The Area

We are privileged to  live in the beautiful Peak District National Park, Britain’s first national park and an area of outstanding natural beauty with its limestone valleys, gritstone escarpments and rolling farmland. The 555 square miles that make up the National Park is a mix of public and private ownership, mostly given over to farming and tourism. To help inspire and plan your stay have a look at the Peak District National Park Website.

Natural History

Some 360 million years ago the Peak District was a coral reef lying under a shallow sea. The hills, valleys limestone gorges and gritstone edges you see today are made up of millions of sea creatures, plants and shells from that time. People first lived here between 10,000 and 8,000 BCE, around 10,000 years ago.

River Lodge sits aside the River Manifold (Many Folds) which has a Carboniferous limestone bed.   The porous limestone means that for large parts of the year our riverbed is dry and the water channel is all below ground with pools of water left which don’t flow.  When it is raining heavily,  water appears above ground and flows into the river.   It is rains heavily and you are lucky enough to be around, you may witness (and hear) the bore as the river ‘comes down’ and starts to flow.


There is plenty of wildlife around you. Some of the highlights are wild red deer who periodically stroll onto the nearby fields, brown hares and glow worms on the path walking towards Ilam in June and July.

Flower lovers can enjoy huge swathes of bluebells and wild garlic in the nearby woods, plus occasional rarities such as lesser butterfly orchids.

There are numerous birds including Tawny and little owls, greater and lesser spotted woodpeckers, spotted flycatchers, tree creepers, nut hatches, great tits who nest in the holes in the wall on the patio, blue tits, coal tits, long tailed titsmarsh tits, raven, buzzards, kestrels, field fare, pied and grey wagtails and a variety of finches.

On the river you can see kingfishers that fly up and down, Goosander, mallard ducks, heron, moorhen and rarely dippers. There are plenty of dippers at Dovedale.

Local Things To Do

Rudyard Lake near Leek
The place where Rudyard Kipling’s parents met and now an active working reservoir which also feeds the local canals.
There is a beautiful 5 mile walk around the lake and a narrow gauge railway to ride on as well as paddle boarding, kayaks and canoes to hire.

Alton Towers  is just 15 minutes drive away with its renowned theme park , splash landings water park and spa.

Tittesworth Reservoir at the base of the Roaches.
Great outdoor play area and cafe with visitor centre.which is the water source for nearby Leek. There are footpaths and walks along the shore side. The nearby Roaches, Ramshaw Rocks, Luds Church  and Hencloud are rocky prominences forming a gritstone escarpment which have many walks giving views all the way to Snowdon in Wales and Winter Hill in Lancashire.

Another Severn Trent reservoir this one  just beyond Ashbourne, has a visitor centre, lots of wildlife and walks as well as bike, canoe rowing boat , sailing boat and windsurfer hire and lessons.

The beautiful National Trust victorian Garden was created by James Bateman with plants from around the world. It’s well worth a visit but currently you will need to book!

Close to the pretty village of Hartington,these beautiful limestone dales are the less visited and quieter but equally beautiful parts of the Dove Valley. There are plenty of great walks in this area and some lovely cafes and country pubs too.
Go Karting tracks in Burslem, Fenton and Buxton.

Swimming pools at Leek, Ashbourne and Cheadle, Waterworld in Stoke

Derbyshire County Cricket Ground– home to England Women’s team

Golf courses- nearest Whiston, Leek and Ashbourne

Football- Leek Town, Macclesfield, Stoke City and Derby County

Tamworth snowdome

Local Shops, Pubs and Restaurants

The nearest shop is the village store in Waterhouses which has newspapers, fresh bread, milk, alcohol and general basic supplies.

The nearest supermarkets are in Leek (Morrisons, Asda, Lidl, Sainsburys) and Ashbourne (Aldi, M&S food, Sainsburys). There is a 24 hour Tesco in Uttoxeter and a big Waitrose there too.

Currently there are less pubs and restaurants open, with more limited times and menus due to the pandemic but they are gradually coming back onstream. There are a few Oxtoby favourites (listed below)  already up and running but you will need to book. Others will be coming online again soon including The Old Dog in Thorpe. Ring first as everywhere asks for pre booking at the moment. Currently open to the best of our knowledge are the following:
  • Isaac Walton Hotel, Ilam – 01335 350981 Currently providing excellent bar meals and restaurant meals with plenty of outside tables with beautiful Dovedale views.
  • Okeover Arms, Mappleton, Ashbourne – 01335 350305 Foody pub, hearty portions. Children, dogs and muddy boots all welcomed!
  • Anayas Premier Indian Restaurant01335 300021 Currently take away only and deliveries
  • Basement Thai Restaurant Ashbourne – 01335 350305 Fresh good Thai food. Taking bookings to eat in and does takeaways
  • The Crown, Waterhouses –  01538 308204 Our nearest pub, alongside The Isaac Walton in the other direction, currently closed for family friendly meals, but the bar is open serving outside.
  • Jervis Arms, Onecote- 01538 304206 Very popular and excellent foodie pub, need to book as smaller number of tables currently.
  • Duncombe Arms, Ellastone – 01538 304206 Restaurant food, pricey but excellent.  Drinks in the garden book for food all day Saturday and Sunday.
  • Rose and Crown, Middle Mayfield – 01335 342498 Only takeaway meals at present but watch for reopening fully as this is an excellent family pub with ‘upscale pub food’
  • The George in Alstonfield is a healthy 3 ½ mile walk away – 01335 310205 It has excellent food, and is open Thursday through to Sunday for lunch and dinner, again you would need to book.
  • The Bowling Green, Ashbourne – 01335 342511 Hearty, local pub food, open and taking bookings.
  • The Riverside Café in Waterhouses  ‘Salties’ – 01538 308434 Takeaway fish and chips, home made Pizzas and Kebabs to order by phone
  • Ilam Hall has a lovely National Trust Tea room and shop.   The Youth Hostel has a bar open to none residents. In a longish walking distance.

Spas and Pampering

Just under a mile away in Calton, Georgina provides massage, facials and hand and foot and nail treatments.
Sally Montague Town Spa, Salon and Studio in Ashbourne 
A wonderful array of relaxing Spa treatments and women’s hair care.
Plenty of pampering and treatments for those who prefer to stay away from the rides in the theme park.
A small luxury spa with lovely packages and therapies just outside Leek set beside a thriving foodie pub and restaurant .
Spa Picture