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.


Holiday cottage near Alton Towers 2012 availability

Some people are super organised.  They know the place they like and they make an early commitment. I look forward to a change of scene from our lush, hilly countryside and love a few days by the sea - and I am happy that we are already booked in at our favourite spot in north Norfolk.

Similarly, we have taken bookings (some of them repeat bookings from this year) from families looking for a change of scene at our pet friendly spot on the doorstep of Alton Towers and Trentham Gardens etc.

Five bookings made so far for 2012 and it is still November, so we are happy about that. 10% of the whole year sorted!

Please check our 2012 availability page if you are looking for a particular week for your self-catering holiday near Alton Towers.


Alton Towers Fireworks - Barks holiday cottage availability

Have you ever been to the Alton Towers fireworks - absolutely fantastic!  We have Barks self-catering holiday cottage accommodation available:

29th, 30th, 31st  October is available at £275 for the 3 nights mini break
1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th Nov is available midweek for an Alton Towers firework break for £225 for 4 nights
5th, 6th, 7th Nov is available for an Alton Towers firework break for £225 for up to 3 nights

Thanks to someone else's effort (much better than my own!) here is a YouTube clip to entice you


Holiday Cottage New Terrace for 2011

Holiday Cottage terrace

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The holiday cottage terrace is a lovely south facing spot.  On sunny change over days I really enjoy having lunch there, just for a change.  In the hot spring sunshine I sat on the bench with my coffee and thought it was more like North Africa than North Staffordshire.  Now the new garden beds are flowering (need new picture to show you) there is a more English rose look.  And just over those trees, across the Churnet Valley, nestles an enormous theme park, Alton Towers.  You wouldn't even know it was there unless you were one of our many guests who'd booked a stay after googling Self catering near Alton Towers or similar.

We have had families staying over the summer and the parents relax on the terrace while the children are larking about on the area we call the playing field.

One of the reasons we put the terrace in is to make the most of the winter sun.  I love to take every sunny opportunity to perch in the sun for 10 minutes with a mug of tea, simply to take stock of my day.


Gorgeous autumn walking

These early autumn mornings should be savoured. They are nourishment for the soul.
The slight crispness in the air, the dew and light mists, and a few heather plants on the moorland make an early walk very uplifting.
A quick pause on the ridge just to share it with you. Good morning everyone!


Comments from our holiday cottage guests

A huge thank you to all our self catering guests for their lovely comments on our Facebook page.

Angela and her family have just stayed in the cottage for a full week and were kind enough to drop us a line onto the  Facebook wall.  I am always pleased that people have enjoyed the area, having done more than just visit Alton Towers.


We have two pigs!

My goodness our two piglets are lovely!  We have a male and female of 7 weeks old in an enclosure in the field we call (optimistically) The Orchard.  The enclosure took some preparation!  We scythed a square route through the nettles and docks, because it was too tough for the strimmer, and erected an electric fence straight from Colditz.  Can't risk these lovelies breaking out and heading for the nearest veg patch!

The girls that are self catering guests in the holiday cottage came back from their day at Alton Towers and have been sitting on the fence admiring the piglets.  Ahhh!

These piglets are small and quite vulnerable at the moment, but soon they will be enormous.  I am a firm believer in happy pork and will do everything we can to make sure these two have a happy life in The Orchard.


photography trip - why not enter your photos?

We will be busy taking lots of countryside photos, and maybe this year we'll even get round to submitting some for the Country file competition.  Not that we have skills in this area, but you never know, keep clicking and we might get lucky.


Self catering availability in this area

Now that Barks Cottage is pretty much full until the end of the summer holidays (just 2 x 2 night mini breaks left), I have been checking on my fellow accommodation providers in the area to see what they have left.  Needless to say we know many of the properties available in easy reach of Alton Towers and nestling within the Churnet Valley.

example of other cottages near Alton Towers that we can recommend
It can be a tiring business finding self-catering or B&B accommodation: as one of our guests commented on our booking form "I was just about losing the will, when I came across your cottage..."  So don't drive yourself mad, now that you've found us, let us point you in the right direction so that we can win big brownie points with our nearby cottage owning mates. :-)

Just drop me an email with your requirements (number of people, number of nights, preferred location e.g nr Alton Towers, in Peak District countryside etc) and I will send you back some details of availability.  Just promise me that next year you'll check with us if Barks is available first!


Alton Towers - and the rest . . .

As you will see from the lovely review that was recently posted by a guest on our Facebook page, there is plenty to do around here other than go to Alton Towers.  And thanks to Taryn, you don't just have to take our word for it.  Her suggestions are great.  Consall Hall Gardens is proving very popular and I still haven't made it there, which is shameful.  Blackbrook Zoo is a little gem - mostly birds and the entertaining penguins, although I hear that Mrs Meerkat is expecting some offspring any day now.

If you need any help planning your stay in this area, please let me know.

And by the way, please stay in touch with us.... join our Facebook page at or chatter with us on Twitter if that is your thing @ChurnetValley


Where's the heatwave?

I'm not sure if we are on the wrong side of the east-west or north-south weather line today. That's the trouble with being in the north Midlands. Anyway, it's warming and drying slowly. Getting my walks in before it gets too hot!


Follow Friday #FF @ChurnetValley

For those that Tweet, you'll know what Follow Friday is all about.  If you don't, it's really not important at all but here's a little window on that world. We haven't tweeted much this week, but what little miniature interactions we have enjoyed have been just perfect.  Thanks to @SimplyStaffs for the #FF and the other suggestions that we followed up on - new connections have been made.  to @LeekArtSpace for helping me spread the word on a local research project. And thanks to @MalvernMeet who was kind enough to tweet to the world that as a previous self catering guest at Barks Holiday Cottage she tried to book again but we were full and defo intends to try again.  You see, withTwitter, it might just be a mini message, but it's the quality that counts.  Always good for morale to know that customers think you've got something right and it doesn't take more than 140 characters to convey that thought.  Thanks, tweeps.

What's the picture about?  No reason really, just that I am about to go on my Friday walk .... so please follow me virtually along the paths into the Churnet Valley.  In other words, it's the non Twitter alternative to #FF by @ChurnetValley.



last minute June holiday cottage availability - Peak District Alton Towers

Last minute self-catering holiday cottage availability June 16,17, 18, 19 - NOW BOOKED
ideal for a short break to Alton Towers or Peak District.

We are having a terrific season.  Lots of interesting people: the usual mix of walkers and Alton Towers goers.  The new terrace is proving popular as well and the garden is springing up prettily around it.  July is nearly fully booked, August has a week or so left to book, and we already have bookings in September and October . . . but for some reason we have these 4 nights available in June.

June 16th - 19th - (4 night gap)
For 3 nights it's £295
For all 4 nights  it's £345
(If you are a group of 6 or 7 people then the annex is available at £50 per night.)

If you are interested please get in touch or jump straight to our online booking form .


Morning routine: into the Churnet Valley

It's a lovely daily routine to walk the dogs in lush woodland. And a healthy way to start the school day.

Welcome to our world!

Barks Holiday Cottage, 01538 703436


Self catering experts

Our guests this year have been lovely.

So far we haven't had the die-hard Alton Towers fans that spend three solid days over at our neighbouring attraction.  Some families have dropped the children at Alton Towers and then nipped around some of our nearby National Trust properties. 

We are hearing great things about Consall Hall Gardens this year.  We had a guest with limited mobility and she enjoyed a fabulous guided tour there on a buggy; guided by the owner.   

Trentham Gardens is again proving to be a major highlight and guests are keen that I recommend it to others - so I am!  Last week's guests wanted to get a flavour of the area and were discussing Dovedale and in passing asked if Dovedale and the Stepping Stones has nearby retail . . . well, not really! Just the National Trust shop and the ice-cream van.  So I directed them to Trentham Gardens and everyone came back happy.

There is something for everyone!  It is nearly the concert at Alton Towers so I expect the focus to shift back to good old ST10 4DB.

beauty and the beast

The bluebells are amazing. Look carefully and you'll spot the barbed wire.

I think I'll have to start some sort of anti barbed wire campaign because I really can't see how landowners can be allowed to leave redundant strands of it just lurking in our woods. This is how my dog nearly lost her life; she was very lucky to recover with no long term damage except to my bank balance.

I am standing on a footpath in a nature reserve. Is this acceptable? What do you think on this subject?

Barks Holiday Cottage, 01538 703436


New arrivals to holiday cottage fields

Always lovely when the ewes and their lambs are turned out into the fields. We are having to remember to keep the gate shut now so that these little cuties don't graze the plants I just planted around the new terrace of the holiday cottage.

Barks Holiday Cottage, 01538 703436


Accommodation near Alton Towers for concerts

Alton Towers is holding two concerts this season.
JLS, McFly, The Saturdays, Eliza Doolittle - all booked to come and play on 19th June
The Black Eyed Peas - 6th July.  That's a Wednesday I think.

Just to let you know about accommodation near Alton Towers for these concerts.

19th June Concert:
Barks Holiday Cottage offers a minimum 3 days self catering for 5 or 7 people wanting to plan a trip to see McFly, JLS play Alton Towers.

6th July Concert:
Barks Holiday Cottage is booked already for 6th July, so I will check with other accommodation providers nearby and update what's available.


Sunday walk

The horizon had a blue tinge this morning. I've tried to snap it on my phone while walking along, but it hasn't really come out that well.  Looks a bit grey, but it is quite spring like really.

Lovely Sunday walking weather, in fact. Birds are singing cheerfully out here this morning. It is very quiet otherwise. Alton Towers hasn't open its gates yet for 2011 season so it is the perfect time for a walk in this section of the beautiful Churnet Valley.

Think I'd better tell my farming neighbours that their wall needs attention!

Barks Holiday Cottage, 01538 703436


New terrace for the holiday cottage

It's very exciting - a new terrace is being built outside the holiday cottage french windows.  It is south facing, and will be a great spot for soaking up the rays.  The terrace faces in the direction of Alton Towers - although you can't actually see Alton Towers because most of this giant theme park nestles into the beautiful woodlands of the Churnet Valley.

I will post before and after shots, but I can't load a photo of the holiday cottage terrace just at the moment, because it is literally 'under construction' and looks such a mess that it would be impossible to believe that all will be lovely in two weeks time.  It will be unveiled to mark the start of our peak season - when Alton Towers opens. Any time now!

And in case you hadn't noticed - the McFly and JLS Alton Towers concert is now open for booking!!


19th June Alton Towers concert

I am standing by the phone awaiting a booking enquiry for accommodation for the Alton Towers concert on 19th June.  I just noticed that Twitter is trending this concert!

Right now it looks a bit like the younger music fans have yet to badger their parents into making a booking.  Perhaps I should wait until the tickets have actually gone on sale (Friday I think) and then listen out.

Right now we have availability for a 3 night break while the concert is on.  Give us a call on 01538 703436 for more information or email or of course you could DM tweet me on @ChurnetValley.


“It says Pets Welcome so I'm all ready to go!”

Dogs know what they want - they want to go on holiday too. And in case we can't work this out we need to be given clear messages.

Hard to explain that we are, on this occasion, unpacking. Perhaps the message is "Next time I'm coming too, right?!" Answer: "On a walking weekend in the Staffordshire Alps definitely yes, on a week's skiing in the French Alps definitely not."

Barks Holiday Cottage, 01538 703436

Spring at the Holiday Cottage

I have to confess that I have egg on my face. Well technically I suppose I actually don't have egg on my face because I made such a fundamental cock up that it isn't possible. Sorry if anyone thinks this is offensive language but you'll see where I'm going with this in a second.

Ashes the hen outside the holiday cottage
 Those that follow 'Barks Holiday Cottage nr Alton Towers' on Facebook might remember that some time ago I asked for suggestions for names for our new hens, the offspring of Stewart and Ashes. I can't say that we were overwhelmed by suggestions from our Facebook fans (you miserable lot!) so after much thought I named the two chicks myself. I sought names to do with fire (after Ashes and their aunt Cinders) but also I need to consider their markings because otherwise I don't have a clue which hen is which.

Chicks reach 'point of lay' after so many weeks and I was expecting some egg laying action from these youngsters anytime after November, but probably more like now. One of the ways to tell if a hen is about to lay eggs is to check the fullness of its crown. Recently these plump birds have been filling out in the crown department and as the other hens begin to lay in earnest I thought it was time these ladies joined in.

Yesterday my elderly neighbour and her grand-daughter joined us for lunch prior to our visit to nearby Blackbrook Zoo (only 99p entry right now so those looking for last minute self-catering ideas please take note that it's all go around here even when Alton Towers is closed). My neighbour catches sight of our hens lazily looking for pickings beneath the bird table outside our french windows and casually asks me when we took ownership of a different cockerel. No such thing had happened I reply assuredly, we were retaining Stewart despite his unhealthy intimacy with his sisters. And no, those young birds are Phoenix and Flash, last year's chicks and no, they are most definitely hen birds. How do you know? I just know!

You can see where this is going by now, I bet. That same afternoon I heard a strange croaky sort of cock-a-doodle-do and sent my son to the window to investigate. How much proof does a person need to make her change a firmly held perception? This was not the voice of Stewart; I had accepted that immediately, but when I am told that Phoenix is crowing I needed to check. Suddenly the fullness of the crown and size of the birds couldn't be justified away as an aspect of this breed. The recent spat between Phoenix and Flash couldn't be explained away as establishing a sisterly pecking order. These adolescent birds have reached a level of maturity this week, but I hadn't really seen what was taking place in front of me because I had convinced myself way back that they were hen birds.

So I guess that we have 'chicken' on the menu soon. Stewart was so called because, as our explanation goes, he is nicknamed 'Stew, because he soon will be'. But a year has gone by and he has reverted to his full name, Stewart, because nobody in our household wants to stew such a fine creature, of whom we have become so fond. Phoenix and Flash, however have a more certain fate. Phoenix, it turns out, will not rise from the flames and Flash is now thought of as 'Flash in the pan'.

Meanwhile I wish I hadn't refuted my neighbour's assertion quite so confidently. There is no getting around the fact that I now have egg on my face over such an elementary poulty-keeping cock up.



Off season breaks are available and are perfect for a getaway.  If you can't decide between a spa retreat or a country cottage break then I have great news - do both at Barks Holiday Cottage.  Seriously!  Treat yourself to both the easy, cost effective way:
  • make full use of the Alton Towers spa which has entry to the sauna and relaxation rooms from just £10 midweek off season.
  • country retreat, open fire, great views, all mod cons - weekends from £185
  • enjoy walking the Peak District and Churnet Valley - great pub walks from the doorstep.

    Family weekend getaways:
  • waterpark breaks - midweek special deal for families with pre-school children at Barks Holiday Cottage
  • cycling along the nearby car-free trails of Churnet Way, Manifold Valley, Tissington Trail