RUDYARD Lake is just a quick motorway journey away, but it transports you to another world. It has been a holiday mecca for thousands of couples for decades, but it could also be considered a hidden gem of the north west.

Nestled in a fold of densely wooded hillside, Rudyard Lake is so quintessentially English, it is almost like taking a step back in time to a place where the pace of life was a little less hectic and a lot more genteel.

It is a haven of peace and tranquillity that is hardly believable given it is less than 40 minutes away down the M6. For sun worshippers it is a risk to take a holiday in rural England, especially given last year’s disastrous summer, but if the sun has its hat on during your stay at the lake then there can be few better places to soak it up.

At 2.5 miles long and more than two centuries old, Rudyard is one of the longest and most idyllic stretches of water in England occupying a picturesque setting between the Peak District and the Staffordshire moorlands. As you wind your way through the scenic Cheshire countryside, you can almost feel the pace of life slowing down.

The Bothy – a privately-owned lakeside cottage, proudly sporting four stars from the British Tourist Board – sits on the bank of Rudyard Lake.

It is a lovely single-storey wooden cottage with a stunning view of the peaceful waters and rolling tree-lined hills.

Small and cosy, this fully-equipped, two-bedroomed cottage sits below stepped gardens and has a waterfront terrace, private pontoon and fishing and boating rights.

Tastefully decorated, and complete with luxurious leather sofas and a huge open fire, it is hard to imagine how its owners can tear themselves away.

If you want to take part in some outdoor activities you have access to a fishing boat, canoes and mountain bikes, all supplied by the owners.

And for nights in when all you want to do is watch the world go by, there are reclining deckchairs, a barbecue and hot tub overlooking the lake, which so enchanted a certain Mr and Mrs Kipling they gave its name to their famous son.

No detail has been overlooked, from the complimentary food and wine on arrival to fluffy white bath robes. There is even a bed for the dog.

As tempting as it was to shut out the world and relax at the cottage, it seemed a shame not to explore our surroundings.

There is a beautiful five-mile walk around the lake, which takes on some of the Staffordshire Way.

It is a gentle trek but you soon work up an appetite and by the time you reach the Lakeside Cafe you will be more than ready for a breakfast of bacon, fried eggs and Staffordshire’s finest delicacy – the Stokie oat cake.

The Bothy’s canoe can be used to paddle about on the lake, but there are plenty of rowing boats for hire from the Lakeside Visitor Centre or you can always take a trip on the cruiser Honey.

And for those of you who are not water babies, the miniature steam train that runs along the east shore is a bit of novelty and day licences are available for keen anglers.

Just a short break at Rudyard Lake can leave you feeling more relaxed than if you had taken a long break in an exotic location – unspoilt and unhurried it is almost like finding paradise in your own backyard.