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Midweek Break: A Relaxing Day Out in the Midlands

It’s really hard to beat the thrill of a midweek day out—a day spent relaxing and caring for yourself while everyone else is at work. The roads are quieter, the restaurants aren’t packed, and it adds a sense of adventure to an otherwise run-of-the-mill week.

We put together a midweek break in the Midlands itinerary that is ideal for a couple or a small group of friends looking for a day of pampering, relaxation, and sightseeing with just a slight peppering of activity and adventure. But not too much ...

The action all takes place in the Moorlands, just a few minutes northeast of Stoke, making it accessible for people coming from Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Nottingham, and Birmingham. It’s a great self-driving day out and takes advantage of the lower midweek traffic levels to explore stretches of our most beautiful countryside.

In a nutshell, our relaxing day-off-from-work itinerary looks like this:

We’ll start the day with a series of spa treatments for some much-deserved self-care and stress relief at a 4-star luxury country inn and spa. After a few hours of serenity, the day continues with a relaxing midweek Sunday drive through the countryside en route to the Churnet Valley Railway. From here, you’ll be treated to an old-school luxury dining experience on an authentically restored vintage steam train, enjoying a delicious lunch prepared freshly onboard as you snake through the valley. The next stop, just minutes away, gives you a chance to step up the excitement with a falconry flying session before we set off on another country drive. Finally, we wrap up the day with a short nature walk at Greenway Bank Country Park in the late afternoon.



Important notes before we set off:

  • Pre-booking is essential for all of the activities on this itinerary except the last one. We will provide the booking links below.
  • All of the attractions on this list allow you to purchase vouchers for the activities. You could easily turn this itinerary into a birthday or anniversary gift.
  • We recommend wearing your most comfortable clothes after the spa visit. Your skin will feel baby-soft after a morning of pampering, so bring your silk, cashmere, or whatever else feels good to the touch.
  • If the weather is good and you can borrow or rent a convertible for the day, do it!
  • Use this free companion map for easy navigation and to make sure you hit all the best spots.


Stop #1: Morning Spa Session | The Three Horseshoes Country Inn & Spa

The Three Horseshoes Country Inn & Spa, a 4-star luxury retreat nestled right at the edge of the Peak District, is the ideal place to start a day of pampering. Owned and operated by the same family since the early 1980s, The Three Horseshoes offers rural retreats and getaways in some of the UK’s most picturesque locations, complete with gardens, patios, and a stunning view of the Roaches ridgelines. While they also offer fantastic accommodation and dining options, we’re only really here to make use of their incredible spa facilities.

The onsite Mill Wheel Spa is highly rated and well-known within the Midlands spa community. It features a truly extensive array of treatments, massages, and themed rooms that are guaranteed to leave you feeling refreshed and invigorated. With services and experiences that focus on him and her, you could decide to spend the morning together in a mud bath followed by a couples massage, or you could each head off to do your own thing.

Expected costs:
There are 45 different treatments available, ranging between £8.50 and £160.00.
Prebooking required:
Yes. You can prebook or buy a voucher using this link.
Time check:
Try to arrive by around 09:00 and leave by 12:30.
Blackshaw Moor, Leek ST13 8TW
The Three Horseshoes Country Inn & Spa


Stop #2: Post-Spa Country Drive | Staffordshire

Fine… We’ll concede… Stop #2 is more of a 'go' than a ‘stop’, but nevertheless, it’s an integral part of this midweek trip.

While much of the day is spent on beautiful rural roads, the stretch between The Three Horseshoes Country Inn & Spa and Churnet Valley Railway at Froghall station really is something else. While you could easily take the shortest route and get there in about 20 minutes or so, we recommend taking a slightly longer route (see the companion map for details) and taking it easy on the road.

Fresh from the spa, wearing your softest and most comfortable clothing, and with your favourite tunes playing, sit back and enjoy the best countryside views the Midlands have to offer. Be on the lookout for sheep crossing the road as you skirt Peak District National Park before heading deeper into rural farmland and through tiny villages and hidden corners of the country.

Your next stop, lunch, won’t wait for you if you’re not onboard by 13:30; however, assuming you left the spa at around 12:30, you could comfortably spend 30 to 40 minutes on the road, park, and head to the platform at Froghall station without worrying about time or feeling rushed.


Stop #3: Vintage Steam Train Lunch | Churnet Valley Railway

Finally, time for some lunch. Not just any old fare, mind you, but the best local produce and seasonal harvest expertly prepared and served onboard a vintage restored steam train as you wind through the Churnet Valley. This hour-and-a-half-long excursion will take you past incredible scenery and through villages only accessible by rail as you feast on a 3-course meal in comfort and style.

The Valley Pioneer menu offers a diverse selection of international favourites, including Boeuf Bourguignon, Roast Supreme of Chicken, and Gnocchi, as well as a selection of starters, desserts, and drinks from their well-stocked bar.

When making your booking, be sure to use the link below to book an exclusive table for two. Most of their tables seat four, and only exclusive voucher holders can be guaranteed a table for two. Feel free to prebook your drinks to have them waiting for you at your table upon boarding. This ups the wow-factor if you’re treating someone to a special day out.

All their lunch specials include free rail travel for the rest of the day, so feel free to hop off and explore Consall and Cheddleton, jumping back on the next train when you’re ready. Departure is at 13:30, so don’t be late!

Expected costs:
Regular booking £59.50 per person | Table for Two with Bubbly £189.00
Prebooking required:
Yes. Regular bookings | Table for Two bookings
Kingsley & Froghall Station, Froghall ST10 2HA
Churnet Valley Railway


Stop #4: Falconry Experience | Kingsley Bird & Falconry Centre

Just a 5-minute drive down the road from Froghall station lies our next stop, Kingsley Bird & Falconry Centre. They have the UK’s largest collection of birds of prey and offer small groups the chance to learn about and interact with them in their natural environment.

They offer a range of packages, depending on your preferences. Some like to take a guided tour to learn about the different species; other visitors go intending to capture the perfect photo; while others prefer to get up close and personal with falcon flying lessons.

Be sure to contact the team at Kingsley Bird & Falconry Centre to make your booking. They are very accommodating and will gladly help you make your midweek break memorable. Feel free to spend as much time here as you wish. The last stop is a few miles away and best experienced in the late afternoon sun.

Expected costs:
£65 per person for 1 hour of bird flying | £90 per person or 2h 'Mini-experience'
Prebooking required:
Yes. Email or visit their Facebook page to make a booking. You will likely arrive at the Bird Centre at around 15:45 if you don’t get off the lunch train.
Banks Lane, Stoke-on-Trent, SB10 2BX
Kingsley Bird & Falconry Centre


Stop #5: Afternoon Drive Nature Exploration | Greenway Bank Country Park

As the afternoon slowly starts blending into the early evening, you get another chance to explore the countryside. Again, follow the route in our companion map (linked below) to take the less-travelled route through the backroads and past the best sights.

Your destination and final stop for today is Greenway Bank Country Park. This former estate and home of the engineer in charge of completing the Trent and Mersey canals was acquired by the Staffordshire County Council, who redesigned much of the grounds into what it is today. Although little of the 19th-century designed landscape survives, today, Greenway Bank Country Park offers fantastic walking trails and photo opportunities, especially as the sun sets through the trees behind Serpentine Dam.

Expected costs:
Free entry. Parking is available
Prebooking required:
Brown Edge, Stoke-on-Trent ST8 7QX
Staffordshire County Council


There you have it. One complete midweek break that will have you feeling relaxed, rested, and with a better understanding of some of the amazing attractions available in the Staffordshire Moorlands.

Remember to download our free companion map for hassle-free navigation.

Happy and safe travels,

The team at Churnet Valley Railway