AS DERBYSHIRE villages go, Hartington has pretty much got it all.
Quaint shops, beautiful old houses, rolling hills with popular and picturesque walks and even its own pretty centre-piece - a duck pond.
In the centre of this, looking out on the busy heart of the village, is the Charles Cotton Hotel, which is named after one of the area’s most famous writers, famous for helping Izaak Walton a well-known fishing book, the Compleat Angler.
It was here my wife and I decided to spend the night before exploring Hartington and the large stone buidling was a welcome sight as we emerged from the fog and torrential rain that provided us with a grizly backdrop as we threaded our way through what should have been a rather beautiful corner of the southern Peak District.
Paintings of Charles Cotton adorn the hotel’s historic walls and he beams down to you as you enter the main door into the small reception area to check in. We were greeted by a friendly face who showed us up the short stairways to room four, which was absolutely delightful.
It’s actually a suite, in as much as it has a large and comfortable sofa, a huge bathroom with a deep corner bath and a table and chairs in a corner. Light pours in to the room from huge windows that overlook the village to the front and out to the side and it was warm and spotlessly clean during our stay.
There’s a huge television, a small hi fi and tea and coffee cups, along with a complimentary bottle of water, robes and plenty of storage space.
The view out of the windows is one of the highlights. Even in the depths of winter, Hartington is a hive of activity and you look out over the heart of the village towards a few of the shops, watching the walkers as they set off or return from their trips out.
Downstairs there’s a large restaurant, a cosy bar which sells locally made real ale and a smaller, more intimate and less formal bistro.
It was here where we were served dinner, which began, for us, with the soup of the day. It was absolutely delicious. Mushroom and mustard - which is a new one on me, but something I’ll seek out in the future. Probably the nicest soup I’ve ever had.
For the main course we picked the ‘steak of the moment’ as it was venison and it was, as we expected, an absolute treat.
The menu is interesting, if not extensive and, as you’d expect from an establishment with a history so intertwined with fishing, there were some tempting fish dishes on. But the venison was irresistible.
Towards the end of the meal a live singer began setting up so we slumped into one of the leather sofas with the remainder of our red wine and enjoyed a few songs before heading up to our room.
In some hotels, the bar or lounge is lovely enough to spend your entire evening and in some the room is so luxurious you can’t wait to get back to it and relax in your own space. At the Charless Cotton we were torn between the two.
The lure of that beautiful room, with its comfy sofa and enormous bed got the better of us and we retired to watch a film.
As nice as it was to have a live singer entertain us in the bar, we could quite clearly hear him in our room as we were above the bar. It was fun at first, playing our own version of ‘guess the tune’, but it wore a bit thin as it neared midnight.
At one point we did pop back down to the bar and it was amazing how busy it was. Hartington is a small village, all things considered but the Charles Cotton feels like it’s at the centre of the community. It’s obviously a much-loved night-spot and the atmosphere was wonderful.
We both slept well and the following morning made it to breakfast just in time for the 9.30am cut-off which was, again, in the bistro. Four fruit juices, a range of the usual cereals, pastries and yoghurts were on offer and the coffee was lovely.
Of course, we plumped for the full English breakfast and it was another treat. The sausages were a particular highlight, as was the black pudding.
Check out time at the Charles Cotton is 11am which is always a bonus, especially for a messy couple like us, as it gave us plenty of time to put the room back into shape and check out.
It was a sunny but cold morning in Hartington and our first destination was the cheese shop, which overlooks the duck pond and was the perfect place to sample and purchase a few blocks of Stilton.
Hartington once had its own creamery, which sadly now stands derelict awaiting re-development and, following an absence of several years, the production of genuine local Stilton returned to a site a little way down the road in Pikehall. Try the Dovedale Blue, it’s stunning.
Before we left Hartington I took another look at the 275-year-old Charles Cotton Hotel and pictured sitting in its outdoor seating area in the sunshine, watching the world go by. I can’t think of a more pleasant setting for such a delightful hotel.
Offers at the Charles Cotton
Mondays to Fridays: ‘Fireside suppers’ are £9.95 per person for two courses; from 6pm until 7pm.
A free drink is offered with all meals, lunch or dinner, until (but not including) Easter
Mothers’ Day offer: A free drink for mum.
To find out more about Hartington and its surrounding attractions visit www.visitpeakdistrict.com
To find out more about the Charles Cotton Hotel visit