Located a short car drive from the the town of Leek, home to kitsch independent stores, a billion charity shops and some pleasant coffee shops to sup away the time with a latte on a Sunday afternoon, Mill Wheel Spa is a small but perfectly formed getaway ideal for a day of unwind and R&R.
Opened in 2015 as an addition to the existing Three Horse Shoes Inn, the Mill Wheel Spa offers a welcome retreat within a rural setting for an afternoon, day or overnight break where relaxation, rejuvenation and invigoration is key. I’ve become somewhat of a spa day convert and believe that once in a while we all need to take some “us” time to recharge out batteries, take care of ourselves and of course, indulge a little bit.
If you’re looking for time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Mill Wheel Spa may be just the place for you.
I went along to Mill Wheel Spa celebrate my mum’s 21st (again) birthday along my auntie for their Mellow Midweek package. With an arrival time of 10am, there was plenty of time to indulge in a glass of prosecco at home before making our way to the reception where staff were ready and waiting to give us a tour of the facilities, talk us through how our day would pan out as well as book us in for our various treatments. As part of the Mellow Midweek package, we had the choice of a 25 minute Back Massage, Mini Heaven Facial or Indian Head Massage as well as a 25 minute treatment in their acclaimed Beach Hut and light snack, served in the bright and airy relaxation room which overlooks the outdoor vitality pool and spa garden.
With a unique and charming thermal spa journey which takes you from cold to hot and back to cold at the heart of the Mill Wheel’s operation, once you’ve slipped into your swimwear and enveloped yourself in a robe it’s not hard to fall under the charm of this little getaway.
With a wood panelled Farmers Sauna, a Stonebath, Rainforest Shower, Mill Wheel Shower centrepiece and Cedar Plunge Pool all rustically decorated with stone, tile and sawn wood panelling, you’re treated to contrasting temperatures through thermal therapy that has been used for centuries and is proven to increase energy, circulation, detoxify and clear negative energy.
We were advised us to compliment each heat experience with the cold from the Plunge Pool to feel the greatest effect and although a little (very) daunting, a 30 second dip akin to paddling in the cold sea of a seaside town promises to stimulate circulation and can help to alleviate joint pain & muscle stress.
It’s also a great way to tighten the skin (hello glowing complexion) and after the initial shriek you’re left feeling surprisingly refreshed!
After setting up base in the relaxation room, the tranquil hub of the spa with sofas, comfy loungers, cushions and plush blankets along with a cosy fire, it was time for our 25 minute Beach Hut experience, which if I’m honest was the treatment I was most intrigued by.
Through the Brighton-esque Beach Hut door lay a unique experience proven to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) to top up Vitamin D levels to help beat those pesky winter blues which were definitely looming at the end of February.
Laying back on warm sand you’re surrounded by a beachscape, the sound of waves crashing and farway sounds of laughter combined with light therapy that takes you from sunrise to sunset in 25 minutes and surrounded by the scent of essential oils.
A quick dash outside wrapped in our towels for a dip in the 36 degree, hydro jet vitality pool exposed us once again to the invigorating feeling of going from hot to cold and as a light sprinkling snow fell on the Peak National Park it was a real treat to be bathed in warmth with a beautiful view of the the snow capped hills in the distance on a Tuesday afternoon.
We each headed for our treatments after a light(ish) snack of the most delicious local produce and glasses of celebratory prosecco; flat breads served with homemade hummus, olives, triple cooked chips, thick white bloomer sandwiches with salmon, beef and ham hock, cream tea and lemon polenta cake isn’t the best way to prepare for an intense back massage, but someones got to do it!
If you asked Dan what his biggest pest peeve is about me, he’d tell you that it’s that I always wanted by back massaged (sorry Dan!). I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve fallen asleep as he’s massaged oil into my tense shoulders and attempted to take the stress away using his hands (oo-err). Dan’s efforts, although lovely, are nothing compared to the paces I was put through over those 25 minutes surrounded by calming music, essential oils and twinkling ceiling.
My therapist first applied a warm oil that allows muscles to be massaged without causing friction to the skin and also helps to hydrate. She first started with flowing strokes that are designed to calm the nervous system and relax exterior muscle tension and then once relaxed gradually increased pressure on specific areas of my back to relieve areas of muscular tension, most probably caused by my admittedly terrible posture and sitting at a computer all day.
By 3pm the various couples and groups of friends had left for the day and we spent our remaining hour flitting between the warmth of the vitality pool and relaxation suite, taking advantage of the empty sauna and one last dip in the coldness of the plunge pool before hanging up our robes for the last time, vowing to return and changing out of our swimwear.
Mill Wheel Spa is an absolute gem, conveniently located in Staffordshire for a few hours away from the day to day to recharge and enjoy the simple act of doing nothing. That lack of structure, to have nothing planned except to sit, swim or enjoy can feel quite alien if you’re used to being busy but it’s worth every second.
And is it just me or is there something extra mellowing about experiencing that midweek when you would ordinarily be at work?
You can find all of Mill Wheel Spa’s packages on their website, including a list of treatments and overnight stay offers.