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.


Should we put up Christmas decorations in the cottage this year?

Some people want to enjoy a Christmassy break in a country cottage.  Others want to escape all matters pertaining to Christmas and just enjoy the country air.  We'll have to see who books.
Happy Christmas and New Year to everyone in the mean time.


Spa and relaxation at Alton Towers

I have spent all week up and down a ladder painting our window frames.  I am completely exhausted by it all.  Not only the physical effort but the drain on my nerves from being up a ladder - not keen on heights.

Alton Towers relaxation rooms
So having saved a fortune on painters and decorators I think it is time to treat myself to a spa session at nearby Alton Towers.  Entry to the relaxation rooms is £15.  The spa is definitely my favourite part of Alton Towers (as previously mentioned, I don't like heights so Nemesis etc is not for me).

Barks Holiday Cottage in September: 3 nights £275, week at £395.  Please check our availability for self-catering accommodation near Alton Towers for Scarefest and the Fireworks


Free tickets to Alton towers

12,13,14 September mini break £275
29th September onwards - 3 nights £275, week at £395 for accommodation near Alton Towers during Scarefest, half term and Fireworks 

Back in the spring sometime we purchased The Sun newspaper every day for a week just in order to apply for our free Alton Towers tickets.  We hadn't realised the dates would be so restricted and were really pleased that we managed to get tickets in August.  The date was put in our diaries months ahead. Exciting - a jolly day out to our local theme park.

Then the date starts to hit our radar and the week fills up with millions of clashing activities. How strange that even though we had known about this day out to Alton Towers for a long time, by the time the date came around it didn't fit into our schedule all that well.  Add to that my failed intention to find another child to come along too.  It was going to be just me and my 8 year old boy.
Nemesis is too much for us!

In the end we were dropped off at Alton Towers at 3pm on a beautiful sunny day on which the rides were closing at 6pm.  Neither of us has graduated to the likes of Nemesis yet so we headed off to the wet rides and the runaway train.

The mother and daughter who shared our bathtub on the log flume had forked out for the fast track ticket and were faintly smug about the fact they had done two rides in the time we'd taken to queue (staff were being truly incompetent but that is another story).  In contrast to us she had planned her trip to Alton Towers and it had remained a priority in her diary - so for her the fast track upgrade was a really great idea.  As far as we were concerned we had nipped to our next door village for three hours of free entertainment completely accepting the fact we were only going to go on our four favourite rides.

We spent a lovely time together on a sunny day.  Funnily enough the highlight was not one of the rides but squirting water at each other on the pirate ships.  We left Alton Towers soaking wet and within 10 minutes we were home and dry with the kettle on!  Perfect.

Our thanks to The Sun and Alton Towers - we enjoyed ourselves tremendously.


'Ola' sang the holiday cottage guests to Pickle

We have had a lovely Spanish family staying in the holiday cottage.  They stayed for two weeks, the first of which rained daily.  I really wanted them to see the Churnet Valley in all its summer glory so thankfully the second week of their stay was glorious and one sunny day the children walked onto the ridge and flew their kites.  Three kites fluttering high in the clear blue sky was a magical sight.

My Spanish is hopeless.  I made a joke that I only know how to order two beers and it turns out that every time I've been to a Spanish bar I have been ordering 'two heads'. Oh dear!  Our guests, of course, had a much more impressive command of English. The children played with our son and another child from the village and they just get on with it.  The language of football is international and my son learned a few more vital words, like goal and strawberries.  Even Pickle seemed confident in Spanish, responding with a wag of her little tail when the children sang out, 'Ola Pickle'.

I have been sent some gorgeous pictures of their stay in the UK.  They visited Leek and Ashbourne, Trentham Gardens, Mow Cop, Peak District villages .... but they didn't bother with Alton Towers because there is so much to do and see around here.  Love it!

Honeysuckle-scented walk in Churnet Valley, nr Alton Towers

I snapped this pic on the morning walk into the valley to take my son to school.  We smelled the honeysuckle long before we saw it. It had recently rained and the air was fresh, clear and wonderfully perfumed.

It has made me think that I should grow more scented flowers around the holiday cottage terrace. Maybe some night scented stocks would add to the ambience of sitting on the terrace with a beer or glass of wine after a hard day taking the kids to Alton Towers.  Sorry, did the mention of a hard day at Alton Towers ruin the feeling? The thing is that the families that come and stay with us say that whilst they love Alton Towers they also want to be completely away from it all by evening.  And peaceful Barks Holiday Cottage, surrounded by grassy meadows and fragrant woods may only be 2.6 miles from Alton Towers, but it certainly counts as 'getting away from it all.'

Barks Holiday Cottage, 01538 703436

short break accommodation near Alton Towers

Bookings have been tremendous this summer. We are now down to our last mini break during the summer holidays.  If you promised the kids that trip to Alton Towers....!

August 29th - 1st Sept  a 4 night break for that last get-away before terms starts for £365.

If you would like to book  a mini break in the countryside, in the next village from the gates of Alton Towers please contact us directly or use our online holiday cottage booking form.

Countryfile calendar photo session on our way to school

Every morning for us is a Walk on the Wildside so this morning the camera has been taken over by my photo-hopeful young son. If you see any Churnet Valley photos in the Countryfile calendar selection be sure to give him your vote.

Barks Holiday Cottage, 01538 703436

The Churnet Valley woods are fragrant with bluebells


Snow damage in Churnet Valley

We've had April snow before, but this time it made an impact. I am walking in the Churnet Valley, amazed by the new damage following yesterday's blizzards.
Today it is another day - sunny and bright.


Alton Towers has opened for 2012

If I had a £1 for everyone that asks how far we are to Alton Towers I'd be quite well off by now ... would've earned my first £1 of the season this morning! (2.6 miles btw).  This week we have holiday cottage guests that have come from Scotland with their teenage girls to enjoy some Alton Towers thrills and spills.  Lovely folk, have just enjoyed chatting to the parents while they wait for the teens to surface for the day.

It marks the real start to the 2012 season. For us locals there is this lovely spell between the sun coming out and the Alton Towers new season opening when we have the Churnet Valley to ourselves and those that come here to walk. Thanks to the lovely spring weather this year, that magical time was long.  Alton Towers has been open for a week so far, but unlike some seasons I haven't noticed the impact yet.  Only once, when I was taking my son to cubs at Alton Village Hall, have I been inconvenienced.  Cubs coincides with the the park exit rush and the Towers traffic through Alton village is always impatient and unforgiving so we have to wait a while to join the main road turning right.  As the season progresses this actually improves because there are so many cars that the traffic slows and is more inclined to let us join the flow.  It's just the way it is!

Luckily we are not resident in Alton so we aren't troubled by traffic except on cubs day. And Alton Towers brings us lovely guests too. There is something about benefiting from Alton Towers tourism that makes me a whole lot more forgiving about the inconvenience of having a major UK tourist destination in the neighbourhood.  Funny that ;-)


Mrs Duck says it's spring at the holiday cottage

Mrs Duck celebrated spring by laying her first egg of the year.  The first of many I hope.  My son sells them to the holiday cottage guests for 30p per egg - they are great for baking but I prefer our hen's eggs for my boiled egg breakfast.

Mr Duck is also affected by the arrival of spring, feeling a greater need to chase the hens off 'his' patch.  He is very aggressive with them.  Stewart, the cockerel, is no match for Mr Duck's temper.


stunning video of Staffordshire Peak District

Here's the proof of how lovely it is around here!  Expertly captured by @terrybnd (as found on Twitter).  I think Terry is better at photography than selecting music . . .Enjoy.


Alton Towers Spa reopens for 2012

Now I do love a spa evening and it is very spoiling and indulgent for me that Alton Towers is less than 3 miles from here.  Even more luxurious is that during the winter season when Alton Towers theme park is closed there a many fewer tourists here and the spa is blissfully quiet of an evening.  (Obviously, the fact that Alton Towers is closed has an impact on our holiday cottage bookings because we are having to rely solely on people coming walking in the Churnet Valley.)

Anyway, the Alton Towers spa is re-opening today after a few days closure for a refurb.  Yippee!!! It was time for a spruce up!  I hope the price remains £12.50 because that is affordable for an occasional treat for me and in the range for the holiday cottage guests who want to pamper their tired walking legs after a day hiking the Churnet Valley hillsides.

If you are looking for a spa break - this might be an option.  A short break at Barks Cottage for 3 nights - come back from the spa and put your feet up in front of the log fire.  How about it?

Sounds of spring in the Churnet Valley

Walking back from the depths of the valley this morning I heard the unmistakable sound of the woodpecker.  I understand that the male woodpecker bashes his head like a pneumatic drill against tree trunks to impress female woodpeckers. Bizarre ritual when you think about it, but lovely to hear echo through a misty valley and a sure sign that spring is on the way.  When I reached the top of the hill the sun was shining and the frost was melting and all was right with the world.