Hardstoft is a tiny hamlet in the country of Derbyshire, four miles east of Clay Cross. This peaceful rural community consists of a series of homes and farms, strung along Deep Lane and the B6039, which runs north to Holmewood and south to Tibshelf. The countryside surrounding holiday cottages in Hardstoft is unspoiled, with fields and ancient woods crisscrossed by scenic footpaths. There are no shops in the hamlet, but there is a popular pub, the Shoulder, where local ales and good food can be enjoyed. Hardwick Hall is a must-see on self-catering holidays in Hardstoft, just east of the hamlet. Widely considered one of the finest Elizabethan buildings in the country, it is managed by the National Trust, and open for visitors to explore. A wander around the interiors is highly recommended, with lavish furnishing from the 1940s, and intricate Elizabethan embroidery.

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Nearby, the Hardwick Inn is a 15th century sandstone pub serving an excellent carvery and other hearty dishes. The former mining town of Clay Cross will be a stroll or drive through the countryside from your holiday cottage in Hardstoft. In the town centre, you will discover family-run businesses and unique industrial architecture.

A short drive westward from Hardstoft, the Peak District National Park is a paradise for outdoor pursuits, with 555 square miles of limestone dales, turbulent rivers, plummeting gorges and windswept moors. There are several adventure companies in the area, such as Peaks and Paddles, offering white-water rafting, abseiling and canoeing. For a more peaceful experience, climb aboard one of Peak Rail’s steam trains and watch the countryside float by.

Another popular attraction in the area is the cable car to the Heights of Abraham, a woodland park with caverns, fossil exhibitions and the Victoria Prospect Tower. The neigbouring village of Matlock Bath, nicknamed ‘Little Switzerland’ by the poet Lord Byron, has been a popular place to visit since the 17th century, when spa waters were discovered there.