With four people and two dogs making the trip over to the ever-majestic Peak District, we booked out the two shepherd’s huts at Brosterfield Farm – Bertie’s Retreat and Digby’s Hut – for a two-night stay. We personally stayed in Digby’s hut, but have stayed in Bertie’s previously, so are familiar with both.
We travelled mid-June 2019 and although the weather was pretty terrible, the stay was lovely and relaxing. There are plenty of places to go and good pubs to visit in the vicinity, plus you’ve got the tranquil surroundings of the hut to enjoy. Despite the weather, the clouds did part for a few hours, just enough time for us to fire up the wood-powered hot tub at Digby’s and enjoy an al-fresco drink.
Digby’s Hut and the wider Brosterfield Farm are jewels of the Derbyshire Peak District sitting almost bang centre of the national park. Very nearby is the village, more like a hamlet, of Foolow.
Foolow is around 7 miles from Castleton to the north and 6 miles to Bakewell to the south. A little further away and you’ll find Sheffield about 15 miles to the north-east, Manchester roughly 32 miles to the east and Nottingham at 40 miles south-west.
Foolow village centre is about a 10-minute walk from Digby’s hut. The centre consists of a small village green, duck pond, ancient cross (possibly 15th century), handful of houses, a small church and a pub – The Bull’s Head – and very little else!
Features of Digby’s shepherd’s hut
First of all, Digby’s hut is an immaculately presented place to stay. It’s the second hut to be established at Brosterfield after Bertie’s, which is just next door and separated by a wooden partition.
Getting to Brosterfield is fairly simple from the main A623 road as long as you don’t miss the sign to Foolow. The farm entrance is slightly hidden – look out for the ‘Brosterfield Farm’ iron sign (pictured). That road then takes you down passed the picturesque cottages and houses belonging to the farm and round the corner to the shepherd’s huts.
Nestled next to the old stable building, Digby’s is completely clad with superb wood panelling and a curved corrugated steel roof. There’s a small wooden, non-covered staircase leading up to the main door and a beautiful stone wall providing a boundary to your private space.
Inside there’s a great kitchen well-equipped with stove-top cooker, small fridge, microwave and Belfast sink. There are also a number of built-in cupboard and lovely wooden work top. To one end of the hut is an extremely comfy double bed, partially panelled off to create a separate room-like feel. Underneath the bed there’s a couple of excellent storage drawers, big enough for a small suitcase and large holdalls. At the other end and separated off with a lovely wooden door is a very well-presented en-suite bathroom with small sink, toilet and powerful shower.
In the main living area there’s a small sofa, walled-TV, small table and log burning stove. The wood burner comes with kindling, fire kits and a bag of logs. The main unit is raised off the ground but there’s no guard. There’s also an additional fan heater which pumps hot air from the floor level under the sink and controlled by a thermostat.
Outside you’ll find the so-called ‘luvtub’. This is a superbly made, Scandinavian, eco-friendly, wood-fired hot tub. Once full of water and the fire was roaring in the attached nearby stove, it took around an hour to get up to temperature but stayed hot for a good while. Very nice touch this one.
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Main features round-up:
- Permanent double bed
- Small two-seater sofa
- Small table
- Log burner
- Mains thermostat-controlled heater
- Cupboard storage space
- Electric stove top
- Kitchen sink and bathroom sink
- Large shower
- Essentials – towels, soap, bed sheets, pillows, toilet paper
- Outside table and chairs
- Hot tub
Things to do near by
On our first evening we decided to check out the dog-friendly Bull’s Head just a couple of hundred metres up the road. We had a great meal here and I enjoyed a couple of nice pints Bakewell Best, brewed by Peak Ales based in the Chatsworth estate. A very nice drop. The Bull’s Head is a lovely little pub with friendly locals, and we were entertained by a folk band who bumbled in just after our meal and practiced a few tunes.
After a spot of breakfast and a coffee in the morning, we geared up in our waterproofs and took a short drive up to Monsal Head, only 5 or 10 minutes up-road. The car park up at Monsal Head was plentiful although you do need change for the pay machine, which is a bit of a pain if you’re a cashless millennial like myself.
At the top of the cliff we took the path left down and through the woodland next to the River Wye. At the bottom of the gorge we took a left and walked along grassland and then up to the impressive Monsal Head bridge and on to the Monsal Trail, which would have been much easier to get to if we took a right at the top of the cliff.
We passed through the huge tunnel and along to the old station where we headed off the trail and up towards Great Longstone where we stopped off at The Crispin pub. This was a great little pub and we had some much-needed food and I had a top notch pint of Wizard. Really good.
After this much needed pitstop and break from the weather we continued up Butts road, passed the Packhorse in and back to Monsal Head.
Special mention for proper pub lovers – Three Stags Head
After drying off back at the hut and a dip in the hot tub we wanted to try out the other nearby pub, the Three Stags Head. This wasn’t explicitly recommended but I’d read somewhere that this was a great pub and served ’freshly made classic pub cuisine’, according to Google. One point to note, we walked down the main road to the pub but this isn’t advisable at all as the cars fly past and there’s not much pathway, if none at all.
Now, I’ve been in a few pubs in my time, but I don’t think any quite like the 17th century Three Stags Head. We walked in, look around for the dining area but quickly realised it wasn’t that type of pub. If truth be told, we wanted to walk straight out again. But we saved face and decided to stay for one. And we were so glad we did. This is a spit and sawdust pub if ever there was one – the old landlord swinging on his rocking chair and elderly landlady coming around with a load of cooked chicken for the dog, which he couldn’t have been happier about.
The barman was extremely friendly and offered me a sample of all the beers as a ‘try before you buy’. Abbeydale brewery down the road in Sheffield provide most of the beers and I opted for a Deception pale ale. We squeezed on to a couple of seats, got chatting to some great people and ending up staying for three! I got talked in to trying the 7% Black Lurcher, named after the resident lurchers, and it was fantastic. We couldn’t spot any freshly made food and it probably goes without saying that it’s cash only.
If you get the chance, give this pub a go, for the experience if nothing else. They do not make them like this anymore.
Price and communication
We paid £110 a night (at the time of writing) which is on the average to high side of a shepherd’s hut stay. We couldn’t really fault anything with the hut, amenities, location or anything else for that matter, so if you’re looking for a more luxury stay then I don’t think you can go wrong here. We’ve booked through Airbnb previously, but on this occasion we went directly through Penny at Brosterfield Farm.
Communication over email was prompt throughout. When you get there the key is left in a lock box outside the hut itself and you’re given a code to open it, so normally there’s no need to see the owners who I believe live offsite now all the buildings have been converted to accommodation.