From drover’s inn to cream tea hotspot, Emma McDonald’s remote North Yorkshire home has lived many a life. Now it’s all about retreat and rest as a smart holiday getaway.
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Dressed in farmer’s garb of waterproof dungarees in preparation for a spot of lambing, Emma McDonald laughs as she recalls the more delicate cream tea days at her home, Chequers.

“Probably about 300,000”, answers the question of how many scones mum-of-five Emma baked during the days when Chequers was a destination tearoom on the Cleveland Way.

If you’ve ever made the journey from Osmotherley over the North Yorkshire Moors towards Helmsley, you might have stopped to take a breather at the teashop and indulge in a buttery scone. These days you can do that in an altogether more unhurried manner, minus the crowds.

Swapping her farming gear for a pair of decorator’s dungarees, Emma has transformed the old teashop into a super-cosy, rustic and charming holiday cottage.

She has laid flagstones, bricks and tiles, transforming the low-slung traditional stone building into a place of peace and retreat with an easy-going chic style that perfectly suits today’s demanding staycation visitor.

So on arrival you step from the gravel driveway into a welcoming space that abounds with home comforts old and new. Baskets filled with logs for the ultra-efficient woodburner that steals the kitchen’s limelight, urging you to linger in its warmth.

An abundance of sofas that rather than sit on, you plunge into, so comfy are they. By their side are tables laden with magazines with a space for your restful glass of wine. In the evening, candles flicker from every surface giving a warm, welcoming glow.

You’re on top of the world in these parts but staggeringly solid walls have kept this place cosy for centuries. Windows look out to the valley and landscape beyond – you can dip down to Osmotherley or take to the moorland and join the meandering Cleveland Way or Hambleton Hills straight from the kitchen door. Or just plant yourself on a chair on the patio and soak up the views – from gorse to heather to snow and the biggest of skies.

Thick wooden doors creak as they lead you to solid, aged stairs which head up to two bedrooms with luxurious en-suite bathrooms with lovely Temple Spa toiletries.

Solid beams and sturdy walls hint at the character of the building but thick carpet, curtains and bedcoverings bring the best of cosy modernity to the rooms. And these are beds with a priceless view.

The building forms part of Emma’s family farm but its history is that of a drover’s inn. It is surrounded by hilltop stretches of turf which would have been overnight stopping places for drovers’ cattle being transported down from Scotland. The drover’s would stay at the inn.

The walls must have many a tale to tell and Chequers retains a real sense of that history from flagstone to fireplace.

The building downstairs is made up of four rooms which blend into one another. A hearty hallway is the place for muddy boots and map-reading. Cosy sofas by the window in here make it the perfect spot for reading.

The generous kitchen/diner boasts uninterrupted views from every window. The on-trend kitchen has dark grey units, solid oak work-tops, and a Belfast sink. The natural spring water running through the taps is a nice surprise. All mod cons in here including an induction hob, dishwasher, fridge, freezer and a Stoves range cooker.

There’s also a further beautiful dining area within the main living area. This area is also home to the lounge where the star of the show is a gorgeous wood and brick inglenook fireplace. Complete with a large wood-burning stove this really feels like the heart of the home, where you can settle down for the evening by the glow of a real fire.

For Emma, who used to live in Chequers, it’s a joy to open it up to other people who appreciate its wild location. But she’s nowhere near stopping. The next plan? Get her hands on a cement mixer for a spot of landscaping!


>> Great food, atmosphere and a good pint at The Golden Lion or gastro goodness at The Three Tuns. Great fish and chips form the village chippy too.

>> If you’re a bit of a foodie, nearby notables include The Black Swan at Oldstead which was named ‘Best Restaurant in the World 2017’ by TripAdvisor.

>> Walk, cycle, jog. There are walks and cycle routes in every direction. You’re very close to the famous Cleveland Way as well as many more well-known and picturesque moorland walks, some of which lead all the way to the sea.

Gorgeous Cottages 01642 263 240 | [email protected]

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