Emme Wade spent more than 20 years working on getting away from it all, and now that she has, ironically enough, she invites everyone to come and join her.
Wade owns Water Valley Bed & Breakfast, a rural retreat just three skips of a stone from civilization but far removed from its din and glare. Close by the Natchez Trace, 35 miles from Nashville, the Water Valley B & B is both a stopping-place and a destination, an out-of-the-way oasis offering another sort of b & b: beauty and breathing room.
Emme’s “little place in the country” consists of a farmhouse with three bedrooms and two baths, a converted country store with two more bedrooms and two baths, and a party room available for meetings and special events. She bought the property 30 years ago, and spent two decades fixing it up it’s not in her nature to be in a hurry. She decorated with period antiques the buildings date from the late 1800s from her personal stock. “I’ve collected stuff since I was 12,” she says.
Wade grew up in Brentwood, outside Nashville proper, when it was still country. She spent years in the restaurant business in Nashville. When she found out about some land up for auction in Water Valley, she put in a closed bid, and won it. She only wanted the property, but then she found a carpenter and jack-of-all-trades to help her work on the buildings. They renovated a little bit at a time.
“It’s been restored but not over-restored,” she says.
It was always a place for her family to go, for reunions and picnics and the like, and when she opened it to the public five years ago, it was with the attitude that everyone was family a very laid-back family.
“We’re relaxed,” she says. “There aren’t any rules for early arrival or late checkout when you stay here a night you get the day before and the day after. It’s a comfort zone.”
The B & B can accommodate six to eight people for sleeping. Wade welcomes couples, groups and individuals in quest of rest and relaxation, quiet and inspiration, communion with nature and communication with one’s self, in particular with that small, muffled voice inside that screams, “I’ve had enough!” She’s hosted writers, artists, photographers, cyclists, canoeists, horseback riders, fishermen, birdwatchers, corporate groups, wedding parties, and ordinary travelers for overnight or weekend or stays, or longer.
Given the name Water Valley, you might not be surprised to learn that there are five lakes, various and sundry creeks and three notable rivers, the Duck, the Buffalo and the Piney, in the vicinity. For landlubbers, there are riding trails the Natchez Trace Riding Stables has a horse for everyone, Wade says, and offers a splendid guided ride and bike paths galore, including the historic Trace. Nearby Honda Hills has 80 acres of space for dirt bikes and four-wheelers, and Williamsport Lakes is an 1,800-acre spread containing four fishing lakes (croppie, smallmouth and redeye in abundance), johnboats for rent, and walking and bike trails all around the lakes.
(To readers in whom the above information causes sensory overload: it’s less than an hour to shopping, including some of the best antique shops in Middle Tennessee.)
Emme Wade is a convivial hostess, conversationalist, and cook. Her breakfast is “a little more than a Continental breakfast,” she says. There’s a kitchen on the premises, but she doesn’t prepare any other meals herself unless she gets the urge. “If Emme served us nothing more than the salad, we would be in heaven! Her hospitality is the only thing that topped the meal, and it was an immeasurable pleasure to be in her B & B that almost hums with loving care,” was the guest-book comment of a couple celebrating their first wedding anniversary at Water Valley.
Another couple wrote on their 15th anniversary: “Emme, the wonder cook and storyteller extraordinaireThanks for giving us the chance to relax and playYour B&B; felt like homeThe love in which it was built and decorated permeates throughout, and we loved soaking in all your treasuresYou’re a real treasure, too!”
Follow these directions to the secret treasure: From Nashville, take Hillsboro Road out of town, turn right on Old Hillsboro Road. Go past Hwy. 96 and Leipers Fork to Fly (14 miles), where the road ends. Take a right. Go over the bridge and past Fly Country Store. Turn left on Old Leipers Creek Road. Go over a bridge to Water Valley Road. Turn left; the B&B; is immediately on your left. For a scenic route, visit www.watervalleybb.com.
Emme’s $99 (tax included) special includes a room and breakfast, and access to the kitchen. Rent the house (sleeps 6-8) including kitchen for $250 per night. Call about Emme’s signature country weddings and private parties.
Water Valley Bed & Breakfast is at 3520 Water Valley Road in Williamsport. Call 931-682-2266.