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.


Cockadoodle doo

Say hello to the handsome new addition to our little flock. We can't decide what to call him. He has a lovely crow and seems to be good natured. But he has a hard act to follow...
New cockerel struts his stuff outside Barks Holiday Cottage
We said a very sad farewell to Stewart our cockerel of about 9 years. We had raised Stewart from an egg and he had been a good fellow to have around. Very friendly indeed. He used to come and hang out near us if we were sitting in the garden. He was starting to get a bit tired and was clearly feeling his age, but sadly it wasn't time that did for him but either a fox or a neighbour's dog. Truly not a fitting end for such a fine bird.

Our new chap is not very confident and is a rather short of hens following a second attack, this time definitely by the neighbour's dog. He is on the mend and re-growing his tail feathers, but dare we name him yet???

Just in case you are thinking that you don't want a self-catering cottage where you are going to be woken before dawn by a cockadoodle-doo, fear not, the hutch stops him stretching his neck and getting full volume and they are not kept on the bedroom side of the cottage.

You may however wish you were woken at dawn so that you can get to Alton Towers and be first on the rides. The early bird catches the worm and all that.


2018 bookings have opened

High Season 2017 is now over, it has been very busy! Some very organised people have already booked their repeat visit to Barks Holiday Cottage for 2018. They booked before they left, which is the sort of endorsement that speaks volumes.

We have just published our prices for next year. Please check our availability page for rates for 2018 and get in touch if you would like to check any facts about the cottage or surrounding area

Barks Holiday Cottage - 2018 bookings have started.


The garden is not dog proof

We are down a quiet track and well off the road, but - I need to make this completely clear - the garden is not dog proof because it is not fenced in. There may be chickens and hens pecking about the place too. We really hope that we have made all this crystal clear, everywhere. Dogs are very welcome, we love dogs, we will dog sit while you go to Alton Towers or wherever, we have an award for being dog friendly... but we really need there to be no ambiguity... there is no fenced in garden!!!

Large child-friendly garden - but not dog proof! Spot the free range duck posing in the picture! You can see the fencing between us and the neighbours on each side, but it's open access behind this picture to the track. Well behaved dogs welcome.

This summer we had a bad review and this was one of the gripes. The lack of fences, a wifi issue we fixed there and then and the 'dust behind the radiators'. Yes indeed, we were advised there was dust behind the radiators. Needless to say, thanks to this eagle-eyed feedback, the dust is now cleared away. The wifi is slow round here, and we offer no guarantee of speed or availability as who knows what BT might be up to along our lanes. Most kids seem to manage and their online worlds don't collapse because Facebook, Snapchat and all those games they love so much are all fine. When faster broadband comes this way, we're snapping it up. But when it comes to the garden... we have no plans to turn the garden into Fort Knox. Well behaved dogs and owners are welcome ... but there is no fenced in garden.  So that's that sorted out then!

South facing terrace - not fenced


Stowaway at Barks Holiday Cottage

This little one was trying to stay at the cottage a little longer than planned but we think he needs reuniting with his owner. I suspect there might be a crisis when they get home, unpack and discover he's missing :-(

Catherine Doel
Henmore Marketing

01335 289075


Summer holidays begin

I have set the auto-response message on my phone to 'Summer Holidays 😊'

I want to make the most of my son's summer hols and don't intent to chain myself to my desk 9 til 5 over the next few weeks. However, the reality is that we will simply be a parent taxi service unless we make an effort. Or worse than that, we will walk past his human form slumped on the sofa with a mobile device obscuring the view of his face. I suggest a walk with the dog or a cycle ride and generally get a negative response. Been there, seen it, done it! I need to book in some family time and plan some activities that we will all enjoy!

Once upon a time a trip to Splash Landings was a brilliant family activity, but now he is a teenager he is more likely to go with a couple of school friends ... and we are the taxi service! But this is only because Splash Landings and Alton Towers are on our doorstep. If we were travelling it would be a suitable family activity.

I've discussed this with some other mums staying at Barks to visit Alton Towers. We reckon the key is to get everyone away from home. Grown ups stop thinking about work and chores, teenagers seem to switch on and engage with the rest of the family and younger ones just love everyone doing something all together.

School holidays take some planning! I hope the smiley face emoji on my auto reply turns out to be the right choice 😕

(at the time of writing we have one mini break left in the school holidays - 3 or 4 nights from 21st August please check availability).


Award winning holiday cottage in Staffordshire!

Oh my goodness we won an award in the Staffordshire Tourism Awards.
Silver award in the Staffordshire Tourism Awards
We are thrilled to have won Silver in the Dog Friendly Business of the Year category. We were up against some stern competition, and the Gold award was deservedly won by a dog friendly pub in the south of this huge county of Staffordshire. Apparently they know all their doggie regulars by name and shake paws when they come in etc etc so of course we can't compete with that. But we do our best to enable families to stay together during their holidays, including taking the much loved family dog.

I know from experience it is really hard to fully enjoy a holiday break without my dog. Sometimes, however it is difficult to please all tastes. Your kids want to be riding the rollercoasters at Alton Towers, your dog ... not so much! The dog wants to be hiking the hills of the Churnet Valley, your kids... not so much, especially after a hard day at Alton Towers! Even couples with a dog want to visit country houses and do some shopping and if it is a hot day, the car is not an option and after a long day out sometimes the woods and fields seem too exhausting.  So who hikes the hills with the dog... we do! All part of our 'dog-sitting' service.

We understand that Barks Holiday Cottage is not suitable for all dogs because of the lack of fences and the free roaming chickens and ducks, but the dogs that come here are wonderful. We have met some real characters over the last few years and we look forward to seeing who the year ahead brings.


Last minute self catering availability August

18th August: - 
7 nights is £495
3 nights is £375
3 nights breaks available from Fri 18th or Mon 21st

We don't very often get cancellations, but Tracey and family have had to change plans. So there is a last minute availability in August that is ideal for families to stay for a 7 day holiday or grab a 3 day break.

A 3 day break with the kids in the summer holiday can be jam-packed with entertainment round here. There's a theme park (Alton Towers, no less), two water parks, steam railway, zoo etc etc. And there is loads of walking or more extreme outdoor pursuits like bouldering and rock climbing. After you've done all that, let the kids carry on burning energy on our playing field playing penalty shoot out while you have a cup of tea (or something stronger) on the terrace. Sorted!


Holiday Cottage football pitch

Playing field, ideal for kicking a ball about.
All the meadows are looking wonderful just now, but soon they will be cut for hay. The playing field behind the cottage is kept mown all year as a play area. As you can see there are some bumps to contend with, but most kids seem to want to do penalty shoot outs. The goal in the picture is just behind the tree on the left.

Dear Mrs Duck, she seems to have been left behind by her two friends, the other Mrs Duck and Mr Duck! Or maybe she just waddled along to see what I was doing and photo bomb my picture!


Pickle the blogger dog

We live and work in the heart of the Churnet Valley. Such a wonderful area, full of natural landscapes and heritage features. Over the last few years £3m has been invested in enhancing and restoring the area, mostly due to Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and a partnership group winning a Heritage Lottery Fund grant. One of the projects is brilliant for visitors, as well as being fascinating for locals - the Churnet Valley Guide. I would encourage guests to take a peek.

Anyway, shh, don't tell anyone, but... Pickle, our 10 year old terrier,  has set up an account and has written her first blog post. Personally, I think she has skills. See what you think. Here's her piece: Too Much Mud

Pickle the blogger dog! Read her blog on


Getting fit in the countryside

Churnet Way, Oakamoor to Alton

At this time of year gyms are packed with people burning off the seasonal excess that clings persistently to our midriffs. I am actually a member of two gyms! I justify that on the grounds that the spa at Alton Towers is shut while they do yet more building work there. The gym in Cheadle has fabulous classes and equipment, but no spa...and I do love a spa!

Probably the most effective way I find to kick off the calories is to walk. And the best place to walk is definitely out in the countryside. I was walking my dog along the Churnet Way between Alton and Oakamoor on a misty morning and saw a runner and dog coming towards me. My camera phone hasn't done the scene justice, but the silver birches made a stunning backdrop. To my slight embarrassment it turned out I was photographing another mother from my son's school. So we had a little chat and she is in training for a marathon and getting fit by running along the Churnet Way almost daily.

For cycling, horse riding, running and walking and pushing buggies, this is a lovely route through the valley. And unusually round here, it is on the flat!