Three generations of our family and a huge amount of team members over the years have been lucky enough to work and live in Dimmingsdale.
We are aware of the ecological and historical importance of Dimmingsdale to the Churnet Valley and the county. As a business, we make it our aim to protect and enhance the valley wherever possible. All business operations are analysed to ensure as little impact on the valley around us as possible. You can find details on our efforts and policies below.
As well as aiming to make the Ramblers Retreat as sustainable as possible, we also want to have a positive impact on Dimmingsdale. When we’re not making and serving delicious meals, drinks and homemade cakes you can find Ramblers Retreat team members out in Dimmingsdale, showing a lot of love and appreciation to a hidden gem that we’re so lucky to work in! From litter picking, chatting to and directing our lovely visitors to being waist-deep in one of the ponds, carrying out conservation work with our partners, we’ll always do what we can to care for the valley we call home.
We actively promote the ecological importance of Dimmingsdale in all of our promotional material and literature, to educate guests on the importance of this beauty spot to Staffordshire.
We also manage groups of volunteers who are line managed by the Ramblers Retreat to assist Forestry England in their conservation, protection & development work in Dimmingsdale.
We have a working partnership with Forestry England to care for and enhance Dimmingsdale. This covers a huge number of areas, however focuses on inspiring our visitors about Dimmingsdale as well as liaising with any projects or developments, assisting with conservation work, carrying our litter picking and actively promoting the forest code to all visitors to Dimmingsdale.
We also work alongside & support Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, the county’s leading nature conservation charity who have been working to protect the wildlife and wild places across Staffordshire for over 50 years.
We have supported Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s Alton Community Group for over 25 years, providing a venue for the group to hold educational talks, activities and meetings as well as promoting activities to our local Churnet Valley communities.
You can find friendly Staffordshire Wildlife Trust representatives on our entrance lawns on a busy summers day, informing guests to Dimmingsdale of the important work they carry out across the county as well as asking for your kind support.
We work alongside the Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership (CVLLP), an organisation led by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust who support the local people and organisations who look after the Churnet Valley. This amazing group of communities, businesses, organisations and volunteers work behind the scenes and often unnoticed to care for this beautiful and fascinating landscape.
Whenever possible, we buy our ingredients from local suppliers within Staffordshire & Derbyshire. This allows us to support our local community, reduce our environmental impact and ensure the quality of our ingredients are consistently high.
Almost all of our menu is homemade, not only does this mean high quality, lovingly made food for all of our customers, but it also reduces food miles and unnecessary packaging.
Due to our unique location on the Staffordshire Way, Churnet Valley Cycleway and at the entrance to all walks through Dimmingsdale, our main promotion of sustainable transport is our support of walkers and cyclists.
A huge majority of our guests visit us as part of their walk, ramble or cycle through the Churnet Valley, Staffordshire Moorlands or Peak District. We welcome ramblers, walkers, road & mountain bikers, rock climbers and dogs (with free treats for your four-legged friends) at the Ramblers Retreat to make visiting as part of a walk or cycle ride through our beautiful valley as easy as possible.
Due to our unique position at the centre of the Churnet Valley Greenway, guests are also able to travel by car or public transport to Oakamoor, Alton or Denstone and walk or cycle to Dimmingsdale and the Ramblers Retreat via the accessible, family friendly converted railway line, reducing the amount of traffic in Dimmingsdale Valley.
The majority of our staff are also call the Churnet Valley their home, meaning they are able to walk or cycle to work or travel with reduced miles.
All waste is sorted into recycling bins and separated into cardboard, paper, plastic, aluminium and glass, all of which is collected by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council. By having a menu which is virtually 100% homemade and made using local, seasonal produce; our food waste is minimal.
We buy in bulk where we can and as locally as possible to reduce the transportation of good and packaging.
All of our menus are printed on recycled paper and our takeaway packaging is made from plants, not plastic and are therefore completely biodegradable. We offer a discount to all of our guests who use a reusable cup for takeaway hot drinks.
Our cold drinks range is 100% plastic free. All cold drinks are stored in aluminium cans or glass bottles, which are infinitely recyclable and do not degrade like plastic. We’re currently researching and trailing methods of removing plastic milk bottles from the Ramblers Retreat.
As well as our work in Dimmingsdale & the Churnet Valley, we actively work to make our woodland gardens a safe and welcoming place for native flora and fauna.
We actively feed wild birds during spring, autumn & winter as well as providing water during the summer. The vast majority of the planting in our gardens is bee and pollinator friendly, we leave deadwood in our planted areas and have bug hotels dotted around our gardens. Bird & owl houses are located across our gardens and outbuildings, with more boxes in our area of woodland behind our gardens. We also also have a dedicated ‘wild area’ at the back of our gardens, to provide a haven for wildlife. We have a wildlife friendly pond in our gardens which is a home to frogs and a range of wildlife.
No chemicals are used within our gardens; any delicate plants or fruit & veg grown on site are protected using our own recycled coffee grounds.
Wherever possible, we use plant based cleaning products to clean our toilets. Our cleaning products are made by Ecover & Method, using recycled packaging and refillable bottles. No product in use is tested on animals. By using plant based cleaning products we’re able to keep the Ramblers Retreat clean whilst doing no harm to the world around us. In our kitchens and dining areas, where we require stronger cleaning products, we use refillable spray bottles which are refilled from our cleaning product station, reducing our waste packaging output and plastic use.
Energy efficient technology has developed hugely since we opened in 1981. We are transitioning to low energy LED lighting and all lights and appliances which are not required are not turned on outside of opening hours.
We have upgraded the insulation and windows of Dimmingsdale Lodge to ensure that temperatures are stable and heat energy isn’t wasted.
As we purchase new equipment and develop as a business, we purchase catering appliances with high energy efficiency ratings to reduce the levels of electricity consumed by the business.
We’re a registered Refill station- so we’re working towards reducing the amount of single-use plastic used by providing tap water to all of Dimmingsdale’s guests with reuseable bottles!
Our refill area is located at our garden serving area, so you can top up your bottle after you’ve had your coffee, lunch, cake or ice cream with us, ready for you to take whilst exploring Dimmingsdale! Don’t forget you also get a discount on our hot drinks if you bring your own travel flask to take away and just in case you don’t have a re-usable water bottle, our take away mineral water is sold in aluminium cans- infinitely recyclable unlike degrading plastic!
To tackle the issues associated with single use coffee cups, we’re pleased to offer a £0.20 to all of our guests who ask for their takeaway hot drink in their own reusable cups. While biodegradable coffee cups are sometimes better than their plastic-lined counterparts, they aren’t quite perfect, which is why we believe it’s important to encourage the use of reuseables as much as possible.
*cups must be presented clean- we’re currently following ‘contactless coffee’ proceedures to keep you safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.