Short break - Mill Wheel Spa at Three Horseshoes, Leek

Fine dining venue The Stables

Fine dining venue The Stables - Credit: Archant

The Mill Wheel Spa, two minutes from Leek in Staffordshire, is a brand new, purpose-built haven of tranquillity that I am almost unwilling to share with you

The Mill Wheel, which cascade water onto spa users at the pull of chain: beware though, it's as like

The Mill Wheel, which cascade water onto spa users at the pull of chain: beware though, it's as likely to be chilled as warmed! - Credit: Archant

t’s not that I have a single bad word to say about this lovely, lovely place. It’s just that if I go round telling everybody about it then it’ll get all booked up and I may not be able to find my spot on the beach so easily in future. Yes, you read it right, I said beach.

I think I’d better start at the beginning. One horrible dark day last month, after a full week of frenetic Christmas activity, including Nativities (1), Carol Concerts (2), pantomimes (1), shopping trips (2) and Christmas drinks (no comment) my friend Amanda and I headed to The Mill Wheel Spa on a Friday lunchtime in search of some pre-Christmas calm. It only takes an hour from Knutsford and we arrived in good time for lunch, which was excellent timing, because the Spa is part of the Three Horseshoes country inn, which has been providing a place to rest and eat for weary travellers for many, many generations now. Owned by the Kirk family since 1981, the inn has evolved from hilltop pub to pub/restaurant/hotel/wedding venue and spa and has done it all beautifully.

After a delicious burger and baguette stopover (accompanied by a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, obviously) we headed to the Spa. Opened only nine months ago, it offers a small but perfectly formed opportunity for some seriously R&R, plus face and body treatments to really shout about.

Our package included all the Spa facilities, plus a treatment, and we’d booked ourselves a Rasul for two too. If you’ve not had a Rasul, they’re a much more pleasant way of getting muddy than running 10km for charity. In short, you rub various types of mud into your face and body and then sit and giggle in a steam-filled room, until suddenly showers switch on above you and you realise why you’ve been handed a shower cap. It was bliss, to be honest. The smooth clay I applied to my face helped soften and smooth my skin, while the coarse mud rubbed into arms and décolleté brought a new smoothness to winter-tired flesh.

The outdoor spa pool is a relaxation zone whatever the weather.

The outdoor spa pool is a relaxation zone whatever the weather. - Credit: Archant

Prior to our Rasul however, we hit the beach. This totally unique experience, only to be found at Mill Wheel, is quite fabulous. A room filled with warm sand, upon which you stretch out and listen to the sound of waves lapping the shore, while lights work to take you from dawn till dusk in 25 minutes, including a brief hit of UV light to boost vitamin D levels and help combat SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). It was a totally relaxing experience and I’d definitely do it again.

The Spa also offers the ‘Farmer’s Sauna’, which is a little different to a conventional sauna, in that the temperature increases gently and there are occasional herbal steam shots that activate intense perspiration without straining the circulation. The ‘Peak District Stonebath’ takes local stones and heats them in an oven, then the basket containing the hot stones is dipped into a basin filled with cold water, filling the room with steam. I thoroughly enjoyed both!

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After a couple of hours relaxing in the various spaces offered in the Spa, we were taken for our treatments. I had chosen the Heaven LIA Facial and Amanda opted for the Heaven Bee Sting Facial. Oh lordy, what heaven awaited us. Complete and utter bliss.

LIA stands for ‘Lymph Drainage, Incandescent Massage and Accupressure.’ It is designed to remove puffiness around the eyes, lift and plump the skin and bring a new glow. I can tell you now that it’s an extraordinary experience. Only very few therapists in the UK are qualified to deliver this facial, all personally trained by Deborah Mitchell herself, who is the personal facialist to the Duchess of Cambridge and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Well, if it’s good enough for Kate…

Plunge pool - if you dare!

Plunge pool - if you dare! - Credit: Archant

My therapist was Katie Kirk, co-owner of the Mill Wheel Spa and driver behind the design and build of this marvellous place. The facial massage I experienced as part of my treatment will stay with me for a long, long time. It was utterly joyful and left me feeling marvellously spaced out and my skin looking younger than it has in a very long while. Amanda’s facial included a deep cleanse and a very light AHA peel, followed by a bee venom mask. The bee venom works to plump and re-energise the skin and, like my LIA facial, keeps on working for days after the treatment. That night we both sat there admiring each other’s wonderfully fresh, glowing complexions and swearing to come back soon!

Following our treatments we hurried off to our room and the hot tub on the terrace. A private tub for two, it was perfect for two women needing head space and some peace and quiet to fill with inconsequential chatter; no children or partners demanding our attention! It would of course be a marvellously romantic treat for a couple and my husband was quite miffed at missing out.

Dinner in the 2AA Rosette Stables Restaurant was a perfect mix of fine dining and down-to-earth hospitality. The menu is filled with tempting goodies, beautifully cooked and served in elegant fashion. My lamb hotpot was unctuously filling and fabulously comforting while the rain lashed down outside and Amanda’s Sea Bass was light and fresh and perfectly cooked.

You wouldn’t believe how exhausting an afternoon of Spa relaxation can be. Asleep before Graham Norton said goodnight, we woke next day feeling marvellously refreshed and ready for everything the rest of the Festive Season could throw at us. Set up for the day by a traditional full English, we were home by 10am, barely missed by children and husbands.

A break at Mill Wheel Spa delivers a powerful relaxation hit, yet barely takes you out of your life. It’s like the luxury equivalent of a power nap: you go, you chill (to the max) and you’re ready to get on with life again with barely a break in your stride. Genius.

Mill Wheel Spa @ Three Horseshoes

Buxton Road, Blackshaw Moor, Leek, Staffordshire, ST13 8TW

01538 300296 |