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 2017 season details

I have just received the Alton Towers 2017 opening details:-
The Theme Park will re-open on Saturday 25th March and close on Sunday 5th November next year. Scarefest dates haven’t been confirmed yet, but it will be back in October and they'll be running the fireworks again on the 4th and 5th November. The mid-week quieter trading period closed dates are also still being firmed up, apparently. Please also note that the Alton Towers Spa will be temporarily closed from January whilst building works take place on the new CBeebies Land Hotel. The Spa will re-open in Summer 2017.

Barks Cottage is very close to Alton Towers and a number of our guests will be planning their visit to us around these Alton Towers opening times. We hope this is useful information.


Last Alton Towers fun for 2016

Barks Cottage, less than 3 miles to Alton Towers

On the 31st October Alton Towers is open 10am - 9pm with rides in the dark. The theme park is then closed the rest of the week until the weekend of 5th and 6th November when it is the dazzling Alton Towers fireworks spectacular, plus the 9pm closing time.

Despite the fact that the theme park is closed, Alton Towers Waterpark, Splash Landings is open from 10 - 4pm all week. And there are lots of other things to do in the area.

The last of the autumn leaves will be on the trees in the Churnet Valley so why not take some air before a lovely tea room visit?

Please call 01538 703436 or email


Half term Oct 2016 and Alton Towers Scarefest

Funny how flurries of bookings come at once. Suddenly, the mini breaks over half term are booked. The last available is for two or three nights from Friday 28th October.

Scarefest is still on at Alton Towers. In fact Scarefest is different this year as there are some weekends before half term when it is on. We currently have availability for 8 & 9th and the 15th & 16th.

Check our availability or email us on or call 01538 703436

Autumn is here... dog walking time

Where did the summer go? It seems to have gone by in a whoosh. I didn't go anywhere this summer because I was in charge of the cottage and our pigs, ducks, hens and dogs. My poor, poorly dog...

But luckily the holiday atmosphere comes to me and we met lots of interesting and friendly people. It is lovely. We had a family from Holland stay for two weeks so had quite a few chats with them, and best of all they had boys who liked a kick about with my son round the football nets. The days of my son vetting booking enquiries according to the exact age and gender of the children are pretty much passed, but he still lights up when sporty lads are staying.

Now term has started and the demographic of our guests changes. The last few weeks we have had couples staying, often with their dog. The last people had a rescue collie, Mr Darcy, and he lived up to the name of Jane Austen's handsome character. He was a friendly boy who considered burying a bone in the long grass, but then sat in the sun and chewed it instead... contentment. Mr Darcy's owners reminded me that if you have a dog vacancy in your family, to hold out for the right dog. They visited the collie rescue place a few times until Mr Darcy chose them. Perfect fit I'd say - and they can come again!

September is fully booked at the cottage and even November has the odd booking. October is a bit of a peak season what with school half terms in England and Scotland and round here it is SCAREFEST at Alton Towers.
Stellar 2007 - 2016


Summer holidays 2016

We have just had an enthusiastic enquiry from a lovely lady wanting a date in August and it is so sad to have to turn someone down when we have no availability that week. Aagh, we have the weeks either side ...

This is the situation as of today.  Please check the availability page or contact us on for the latest for school summer holidays 2016.

Alton Towers beckons, the Peak District is near and the Churnet Valley is on the doorstep...

Staffordshire Way in Churnet Valley

Our holiday cottage is in the Churnet Valley - an area of natural beauty that is starting to become better known. Recently I was commissioned to re-write the guide to the Staffordshire Way. So I decided to start with the sections near to home. It has been a lovely piece of work that will continue as budgets allow during the year.

Today, my son was playing cricket in the north of the county so I set off at the beginning of the Staffordshire Way at Mow Cop. Armed with my map, a hat and scarf and a bottle of water my two dogs and I left the little folly castle and headed up the Gritstone Way / Staffordshire Way. Well we thought we did...

I am actually very proficient with a map but was lured the wrong direction without consulting it by the style of track and the various way markers. Half an hour later, I was back to the point where I went wrong and off we went again. Another 15 minutes later I was back studying the map at that same point and finally got going along the right track.

It really is a disgrace that such an important walking route is badly and in some cases misleadingly marked. So far my commissions have focussed on the best bit of the Staffordshire Way around us in the Churnet Valley but I shall have to make a strong case to the 'powers that be' that the beginning of the walk needs to be sorted out. I'll make that call tomorrow...

Meanwhile, it is lovely weather for walking and our cottage is well placed for walkers as well as being handy for Alton Towers. Please do check availability and enjoy a walking break from Barks self-catering holiday cottage - pets welcome.

Call 01538 703436 or email
Check availability

Last minute Spring holiday cottage, Peak District and Churnet Valley

We have a change over at the holiday cottage tomorrow and then the rest of April currently is available.

Barks Holiday Cottage is perfect for walking in the Churnet Valley and the Peak District and is pet friendly.

The spa at Alton Towers is excellent and only a few minutes away. The local towns of Cheadle, Ashbourne and Leek have much to offer - each is different. Antiques, heritage, dining and snacking, shopping...

Please enquire: or call 01538 703436
Check latest availability and book online


Snow drops in the frost

I left husband in charge of the solar panel fitters who are lodging in the holiday cottage and went on a half term jaunt with our son. Even after just a week away things looked different on my return. Spring has inched a little nearer.

This morning was a very chilly frosty day, with -5C registering in the car. The birds were particularly eager on the nut feeders and the snowdrops in the lane opposite the holiday cottage were droopy in the frost.  The sun stayed out all day and the snowdrops revived. I hope the birds did too, there have been huge numbers flocking round the feeders all day.

Roll on proper Spring with more of this sunshine - combined with a bit of warmth.


Solar panel installers

It is quite unusual to get long bookings, but we have just said hello to a team of solar panel installers needing self catering accommodation in this part of Staffordshire while they work on a job somewhere round here for three weeks. Perfect! Things can be quite quiet at this time of year.

We have now had our own solar panels on the roof for a while and they are great. We have set the underfloor tile warmer to come on in the kitchen and bathroom when the sun shines. This is not designed to be a full heating source, but just makes it nice to pad about in bare feet. The main heating is the gas central heating, which warms the place up in trice and keeps everyone cosy .

Alton Towers - Merlin annual pass sale

Lots of the families that stay at Barks Holiday Cottage use their annual Merlin passes to visit Alton Towers. One family stayed at Barks three times during the autumn as they were especially keen on Scarefest.  I think they got value out of their Merlin pass!
The Merlin pass is currently on sale with Individual passes reduced from £169 to £119 and Family passes reduced from £129 per person to £99pp, allowing up to 3 adults to be on the pass. Premium and VIP passes are available for extra - click the image above to compare costs and benefits. I couldn't actually see when the sale ends though.