Bank View Farm, Totley, South Yorkshire
This eco-friendly boutique bed and breakfast sits on the edge of the Peak District, not far from the bustling city of Sheffield.
Consisting of four luxuriously appointed suites and cottages, the farm is surrounded by beautiful scenery and nature galore.
Rachel and Alex Wall bought Bank View Farm in 2009, and turned the group of then derelict buildings into one of the most sustainable homes in the Sheffield area. Highly efficient insulation, coupled with heating from a ground source heat pump, keep the farm warm in cold weather. Solar panels generate electricity and provide hot water.
We stayed in The Hayloft, a one-bedroom suite that's furnished and decorated to an excellent standard. We were staying to celebrate a special occasion – and this felt like a real treat, from the vases of fresh-cut flowers on the windowsills, to the wonderful modern bathroom with large corner bathtub and complimentary Cole & Lewis toiletries.
On arrival we were delighted to find a welcome tea of homemade cakes had been left for us in the lounge. This lovely room has an opulent feel, with plush sofa, soft lighting and polished wooden floors. It's a comfortable space to relax in after a day exploring, with smart TV, and tea and coffee making facilities. A sideboard filled with crockery, cutlery and wine glasses, as well as a fridge, means that guests can prepare a picnic to eat in the glorious grounds.
In the sophisticated bedroom there is a king-sized mango wood sleigh bed, a second smart TV, and a cosy window seat offering wonderful views across the gardens and to the moors beyond.
The Hayloft features its own private, secluded courtyard garden, filled with plants and colourful flowers. A table and chairs here is a pleasant spot to enjoy a glass of wine or meal al fresco. Bird feeders have been set up in the courtyard, and you can watch the birds' comings and goings from the window seat in the bedroom.
At breakfast, guests are served food that's produced locally or on the farm. This includes apple juice from the orchard, honey from the farm's beehives, mushrooms from the kitchen garden, and freshly laid eggs. Sausages and bacon for a traditional English cooked breakfast are provided by local, award-winning butcher, Moss Valley Meats. Vegetarian and vegan options are available, as well as cereals and freshly baked pastries.
The gardens and grounds at Bank View Farm are a delight, with borders and containers full of lavender and other nectar-rich flowers. There are alpacas, turkeys and giant tortoises to meet, and a traditional orchard area where geese and chickens free range under the fruit trees. In the kitchen garden, food is grown alongside a profusion of flowers – these are used to decorate the guest rooms and dining room.
The grounds have been managed to attract all sorts of wildlife, and guests are encouraged to explore the different areas. This includes meadows, where the grass has been left to grow long and wildflowers flourish – an ideal habitat for pollinating insects, toads, birds and small mammals. Paths have been mown through the meadows, to allow easy access for visitors.
There's also a wetland area, wildlife pond, native hedgerows and a small woodland – together creating a fantastic network of habitats to boost biodiversity. Badgers and foxes are regular visitors to the farm, and there are lots of birds to see and hear, as well as bees and butterflies on warmer days.
For even more nature, guests can take the 6km circular walk to Blacka Moor Nature Reserve. This fascinating mosaic of woodland, heathland, scrub and streams is managed by Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, and forms part of the internationally important Eastern Peak District Moors – designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The nature reserve is home to red deer, common lizard and many different species of moorland and woodland birds, as well as the elusive green hairstreak butterfly.
Further afield there's the Peak District National Park to explore, with countless opportunities for walking and cycling in stunning landscapes. Attractions within easy reach of Bank View Farm include the National Trust's Longshaw Estate, Chatsworth, Padley Gorge, and the spectacular gritstone edges at Curbar and Baslow.