self-catering holiday cottage, holiday rental near Alton Towers and Peak District

Self-catering near Alton Towers and Peak District - Call Barks Holiday Cottage 01538 703436 email or book online.


Alton Towers in the Dark - Scarefest

Barks Holiday Cottage availability:

HALF TERM ALTON TOWERS - Sorry, we are fully booked from 20th – 31st October.

SCAREFEST - We have a few short breaks available during the remaining Alton Towers season, Scarefest starts 17th October. Please ring 01538 703436 or email to check.

WINTER BREAKS - Alton Towers closes 1st November but we remain open for cosy weekends by the open fire, countryside walking weekends and as a base for various outdoor activities – including pub walks!


Alton Towers in the Dark

On Friday night I went to Cloud Cuckoo Land – and yes I have come back, but there was a moment when I started to wonder if I was going to live in Cloud Cuckoo Land forever. My son and I went because we were invited to a local fundraiser.

All my sons mates were there and they had the run-around of this one section, Cloud Cuckoo Land. It was really great fun for the under 7s and adults-in-charge. There was the Alton Towers Driving Challenge, Froghopper, the Carousel, soft play bouncy castle area, Cuckoo Tree swings and Charlie’s Chocolate Factory. Everything at Alton Towers has height restrictions and there were no exceptions granted, even for a private party. Parents were dragged onto rides where an accompanying adult was required. Nine year olds burst into tears because they were too tall to go driving. Little ones sobbed that they weren’t allowed to be propelled into the night sky on the Cuckoo Tree swings. Fair enough.

My son started quietly on the Driving Challenge – serious look of concentration and unnecessary stopping at red lights. “it’s the law mummy”, one little girl was heard saying. We moved on to the Carousel –“it’s for the little ones”, announced my son as he carefully checked his safety harness. He graduated to the Froghopper and his grin rivalled that of any wide mouth frog. “Again”, they all shouted and ran to the entrance gate and boarded straight away. There were no queues because we were all VIPs on this occasion. Half an hour from closing, pitch dark and we thought we’d exhausted available options, being too tall for Soft Play. It was at this point that a brave decision was made to try the Cuckoo Tree swings.

“Flap your arms, it will make you go faster” advised the voice in charge of the ride. My palms were sweating just watching my 6 year old flying through the air, high up in the night sky, in a chair on the end of chain. Why was I concerned? He flapped all the way round, even when others had decided holding on was sensible. My friend said “it would be better if he sat back a bit.” I flapped, in a mother hen way. He stayed on this ride continuously for half an hour.

It was well past the published close time and you’d think that the Alton Towers staff would be keen to get away but they called to children to have a last, long turn at the Driving School. Parents were wanting to leave. It became slightly surreal as the voice over the Tannoy directed the children where to go and what to do and I began to suspect that we had entered a world from which we would never be allowed to return. I imagined them saying, “And now children, you belong to us, here at Alton Towers Cloud Cuckoo Land.”

I can see why Alton Towers is staying open until 9pm during Scarefest. We all made ghost noises while we passed beneath the haunted castle and crossed the dark park next to the lake.


Alton Towers Scarefest until 1st November

17th Oct to 1 Nov is Alton Towers Scarefest
Barks holiday cottage is only 3 miles to Alton Towers
Availability in October for 3 night (for £295) and for a weeks self catering holiday (£450) for family of 4/5
9th October - for 3 nights self catering £295
16th October - for 3 nights self catering £295 or full week for £450
Fully booked 23rd October - 1st November, sorry.
After 1st November we will be taking bookings for walking weekends - please call 01538 703436 or email to check availability and prices.
Scarefest season
Alton Towers is quite tempting at this time of year, even for me who wimps out of any kind of scary ride. The children are back at school so there are no queues, the weather is sunny and warm and the gardens look amazing.
It is nearly Alton Towers Scarefest time! At aged 3 my son was terrified by the painted faces and witches hats, now a few years on he'd probably love it!
We still prefer Splash Landings and the thrills of the waterpark, which reminds me that I am on a promise to take him there after school one day.


Tour of Britain cycles the moorlands

Barks Holiday Cottage, self-catering accommodation near Alton Towers and Peak District


Tour of Britain cycles the Moorlands

James made a deliberate visit to King of the Mountain – Wootton Hill and was given a flag to wave encouragingly at these keen cyclists as they powered up the hill to the ‘finish line’ (although there was no finish in the sense of them stopping). Three riders were clearly leading the pack, as announced by a van with loud speaker courtesy of ITV, heavily escorted by motorbikes. A few minutes later the peloton arrived, whizzed through en masse and that was it.

I caught the Tour of Britain inadvertently as I returned from a meeting in Matlock along the A52 between Ashbourne and Stoke. At the highest point of the ridge, with a grand view of most of Staffordshire and Derbyshire, I became stuck in a traffic jam. A traffic jam that is not causally linked to Alton Towers is such a rare occurrence it is almost worth blogging in its own right. I figured out it was the Tour of Britain when the motorbikes, 40 or more, roared past with lights flashing. Meanwhile the A52 in both directions gently filled with quarry lorries, the main traffic on this stretch of road. Then the pack of riders, tightly packed together and seemingly not in a rush to my inexperienced eye, breezed over the ridge and off in the direction of Blackbrook Zoo. The view and zoo would not have registered with the riders who were head down and intent on their mission. Before the quarry lorries and I could resume our journeys, there was the amusing spectacle of the 50 or so support vehicles with the cycles on the top. More cycles were visible on the top of 4x4s than in the peloton.

It’s quiet in these rural parts, can you tell?


Walking routine

Holiday Cottage - £295 for 3 nights and £450 for a week

Alton Towers 3 miles; walking in the moorlands, woods and valleys is on the doorstep



I hadn’t walked through Carr Wood since the last day of term when we picked the raspberries.  Seven weeks of summer holiday have passed and we have had a lovely time and met some interesting people and lovely families who stayed in our cottage, Barks, for a self-catering holiday.  All but one group of guests went to Alton Towers, and some stayed longer and took in some extra local attractions. 


During this time I didn’t do much walking.  My old dog Echo was pleased about this but the young dogs wanted more.  So the young ones were pleased by the resumption of our school routine this morning, and I am sure Echo joined us in spirit.  Raspberries have been replaced by blackberries but we didn’t stop this morning.  It is time to shed some calories and get marching up that hill again. 


The walking is so wonderful around here that I am disappointed that more guests don’t pack their walking boots.  Having said that, with Alton Towers Skyride out of action I would recommend walking boots for the miles you need to walk when you go for the day.