If you fancy getting away from it all and want to enjoy some beautiful countryside at a price that won’t break the bank, then the Tattenhall Marina floating pods could be just the thing.
With prices starting from just £135 per night (there’s a minimum of two nights stay) it’s a bargain as each pod can sleep up two adults and two kids. VIVA went on a girlie escape, with three of us and the gorgeous Pippet, a two-year-old lab, as one of the pods is pet friendly. In fact, we found Pip was welcomed in most places in this rural idyl and took to marine life like a dog to water.
When we went in January, it was that cold spell where even the hardiest Mancs had to get their big coat on but that didn’t spoil our fun. The pods were toastie and cosily furnished making them an idea base to explore. What’s more the cold snap made the breath-taking scenery even more ethereal and beautiful.
Floating on the water with a wide deck and the tranquil dappling of reflective light, it is so peaceful and a wonderful place to relax. Birdlife is abundant with curious moorhens and ducks swimming up to check out what’s going on, and even the serenest of swans gliding up to take a gander.
From Manchester there are regular trains to Chester that take less than an hour or you can drive and you do really need a car if you want to fully explore the area. It’s about a 20 minute drive from the station.
The surrounding landscape is all cosy pubs and country lanes and on route we popped into The Letters Inn (see what they did there) in Tattenhall village which is within walking distance of the marina.
It’s dog friendly and when we arrived they let us join in the pub quiz which we promptly lost and also served Chinese food which we devoured. VIVA can recommend the dim sum. Our London-based pal couldn’t get over how cheap food and booze is (£3 for a glass of wine! She cried happily).
You get a car parking space and a very warm welcome when you arrive at the marina itself. Oliver and his team couldn’t have been more friendly and nothing was too much trouble. There’s an excellent Boathouse Café Bar serving wonderful homemade food and where possible local produce is sourced such as Lost Barn Coffee, the brew of choice. Again, value for money is brilliant with breakfasts that fuel for the whole day (vegan, GF and veggies are catered for too) and we loved the Big Boater (basically the world’s biggest full English) which was divine and hearty with eggs how you want an abundance of bacon, black pudding, you get the drift. For a tenner. (A tenner! Said the London ex pat).
We also enjoyed afternoon tea after there, with cakes to die for from Carol. The carrot cake was dubbed the best in the world and my coffee and walnut confirmed there is a god. It’s open in the evening s too from Thursdays and over the weekend, with a cosy bar area as well as the cafe, again with quizzes and other fun stuff if you want to stay on site.
The pods themselves have a double bedroom, separate bathroom with shower and a living space with kitchen area, sofa bed, TV, Wi-Fi and heating. You don’t have to bring anything with you unless you want to as the basics are there from loo roll to washing up liquid and a welcome tray of coffee, tea etc. Even milk in the fridge and some yummy dog treats for Pips.
There’s one of those combined body/shampoo dispensers in the shower, so bring shampoo if you’re doing your hair (there is a hair dryer). Space is at a premium but it’s perfect for a couple or a couple with kids who will share a sofa bed and it was cool for friends like us.
It’s glass fronted and the deck is enclosed too if you’re bringing youngsters – but you are on water – floating in fact. This is the charm of these pods where you can take in the wonderful undulating countryside and breathe in the fresh air.
Things to do
There are lots of local attractions and marina suggests spas which looked lush but not one for us with Pips, as well as walks, restaurants and an ice-cream farm just over the road. There’s two castle within an easy drive and we went to Beeston Castle for a wonderful long walk in the trials that are clearly marked where we also saw Peckforton Castle. Both offer visitors the chance to tour or dine, while Peckforton is a tad posher as a wedding venue too.
The marina itself also offers the chance ton hire a day barge and we took one out with Oliver at the helm as the icy waters made this a tad dangerous for us novices to womanhandle. Normally though, you get to drive it yourself and we had a go. It’s easy to do and you can imagine in less icy climes it would be the perfect way to spend a day chugging to a local canalside pub and back.
There are no locks on this stretch so novices can enjoy one of the suggested routes and take in the tranquillity, birdlife and relaxing canal rhythm. There are 300 moorings at the marina and obviously by this stage we wanted to move in, so we had a tour of the barges from the traditional to the more modern with cheerful folk saying hi everywhere we went.
The sell boats here and we had a tour of one gorgeous barge, which is going for £140K (£140K said our London ex pat). As well as the Boathouse Café, there’s load of places to eat and we chose the dog-friendly Pheasant Inn. This is how you imagine English Pubs should be in rom coms, all cosy nooks, roaring fires and hearty food. The staff again were great and the food was gorgeous as we tucked into humungous pies (just excellent) and enjoyed plethora of starters so we can taste all the goodies on offer. Again, excellent value for money.