So next up on my little local series, how to spend a full packed day in Staffordshire Moorlands!
First up starting the morning in Leek, a picturesque market town on the edge of the Peak District. On Saturday mornings there is an antique market situated on the historic cobbles of the old market square with stalls selling an assortment of hidden gems. We often find beautiful vintage furniture or unusual trinkets to add to our home and you can normally spot a bargain! My particular favourite find of ours was a wooden chair with a wicker back and delicate hand painted japanese (of course) paintings with the most beautiful fabric, and a 70s style sideboard (pictured below).
Opposite the road from the market place is the Foxlowe arts centre which reguarly has exhibitions, bands and film nights. It is also home to a lovely little cafe and garden.
Down the road from the market there is a beautiful double fronted shop called Era. From my favourite Nkuku frames, to unique pieces of vintage furniture and botanical prints - it's the perfect place to buy a gift for a loved one (... or just for yourself!).
A short walk from Era is a shop called Picture Book. Picture Book (or 'The Red Bookshop' as I have always called it) has been in Leek for as long as I can remember. With an array of all different types of books and absolutely beautiful cards (I have bought many just to display in a frame!), this shop is so lovely and feels quite nostalgic of times pre-Kindle! I bought the most beautiful flower book recently and really treasure it.
Time for a cup of tea, and Leek has a number of lovely little cafes, One of my favourites is Spout. With a quirky and cosy feel to it, beautiful interiors and a delicious menu - it's a perfect brunch spot. It also opens late Friday and Saturday night where you can enjoy a beer from The Bottle Lab which sells an assortment of imported ales, lagers and gin and is located within the cafe. It has a very relaxed vibe about it and somewhere we love to visit on a weekend.
Next door to Spout is one of my favourite antique shops, Odeon Antiques. Leek is known for its plethora of antique shops and we regularly have a rummage, hoping to come across some unique items. We are always adding things to our wish list in Odeon Antiques, though sometimes sadly out of our price range, it has so many beautiful investment pieces which we try to save our pennies for! It specialises particularly in industrial salvage style.http://www.odeonantiques.co.uk
Around the corner from Odeon Antiques is one of my absolute favourites, Period Features, which is full to the brim with gorgeous hardwares, lighting and rugs with rustic textures. This is the perfect place to pick up those little additions that 'complete' your home, we have bought various antique light fittings, door bells, hooks and accessories from this lovely store and they will also meet all your Farrow and Ball needs. Displayed wonderfully, you don't know how much you need a new shelf bracket until you see them here! Next on our wish list is the bee door knocker!http://www.periodfeatures.co.uk
Walking back into the centre of town, Getliffes Yard is always worth visiting. A walkway of original cobbles covered by a glass dome,with artisan independent shops, cafes and a restaurant, it's a beautiful area of Leek to explore.
You will notice numerous interesting buildings around Leek. One of my favourite being Leek Library which is within the Nicolson Institute, a Grade II listed building that dates back to the 1880s.
There are various mills with beautiful typography such as Shoobridge Mill. The Big Mill along Mill street which has been derelict for many years is also a fabulous building, and one I wish I had the finance to renovate!
A shop that we regularly used to visit was a shop called Alcove which sold an eclectic mix of homeware items and bespoke handmade furniture which was truly unique. Sadly, Alcove has now closed its doors so that the owners can concentrate on their other business of Alcove Bespoke Joinery. I wanted to give this a mention as they have wonderful eye for interior design and I love the style of their bespoke furniture.http://www.alcoveuk.co.ukAnd I couldn't mention Leek without including the Leek Oatcake Shop, where you can experience this staffordshire delicacy at its best!
If you are more of a hiker than an antique browser, then you will want to see the spectacular Roaches set within the Peak District.
With breathtaking panoramic views, these rocky ridges are a must to visit.
Nearby is another fantastic sight, Lud's Church, which is a deep moss and fern covered chasm which feels as though you have entered into another world full of myth and history. Supposedly Luds Church was used as a place of worship in the early 15th century. It is possible to walk here from The Roaches, or nip back in the car and enjoy a beautiful scenic drive. We park at the car park in Gradbach and head through the Youth Hostel (another beautiful mill) to begin the walk through the forest.
At night you can enjoy a wood-fired pizza and a glass of wine in my favourite restaurant, Napoli, which is an italian restaurant with a rustic cosy interior. I especially love the beautiful brick-made bookcase covering the back wall of the restaurant and mis-matched tables and chairs.
Into the night, there are a number of lovely little independent bars to enjoy a drink with a craft beer or two. The first I recommend, Beer Dock, which has a treasure trove of craft lagers and ales imported from all over the world. The second, Beyond the Pale, is a micropub with an array of beers and cocktails to be enjoyed. And finally, Den Engel, which is a Belgium bar with an extensive range of Belgium beer and a lovely little courtyard, perfect for a summer evening beverage.