DOG-FRIENDLY COTTAGE REVIEW: Birch Cottage, Staffordshire

20180529_175725BIRCH COTTAGE, WARSLOW, STAFFORDSHIRE

WHAT’S THE SCOOP? This cosy 18th century cottage is located in the heart of the Peak District National Park, making it ideal for walkers. It was fully renovated by sisters Sue and Helen in 2017 and is now a modern home-from-home with period touches, such as wooden beams and latched doors.

Birch Cottage is part of Seven Chimneys  – a “cheek by jowl” jumble of cottages. In the summer months, you can relax in the picture-postcard garden with views over the surrounding fields, or curl up in front of the traditional stove in winter. The cottage is accessed via a narrow grass track and the local pub is just a five-minute walk away.

ARE MUDDY PAWS WELCOME? Most definitely. Up to two dogs can stay at a time and there is a £25 one-off fee. The cottage is packed with pet paraphernalia such as poo bags, bowls and towels – there’s even a “Mud Daddy” gadget to hose your dog down with if they get really mucky while out on a walk!

The lovely enclosed garden is full of wildflowers and overlooks the surrounding fields and farmland but be aware that the wall height is pretty low so would not be secure for bigger dogs. There is also a set of outdoor furniture so you can sit and enjoy the view.

lounge2AND WHEN I’M DOG TIRED? The cottage, which sleeps three, has everything you’ll need for a short break and more. There are two comfortable bedrooms – a spacious double with great views of the surrounding countryside, and a single. Both rooms have plenty of storage space and are next to the family bathroom, which comes with complimentary toiletries.

Downstairs, the well-equipped country kitchen has a cool, tiled floor and all the essentials from washing-up liquid to tea towels. The cosy lounge boasts a large wood burner that heats the whole house and a hand-picked selection of games, books, DVDs and local magazines ensure you’ll never be bored, even on rainy days.

It’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into the design of the cottage. There are fresh flowers dotted around and if you like any of the stylish accessories, such as the placemats or mugs, you can buy them from the sisters’ online shop, The Clever Badger. They have also provided a folder with lots of information about the best things to see and do nearby. Just look out for those low ceilings and doorframes!

20180529_151641HOW ARE THE SCOOBY SNACKS? The cottage is self-catering but guests are presented with a lovely welcome hamper upon arrival. Ours contained all the essentials such as tea, coffee, sugar, butter, bread and a bottle of wine, which was much appreciated. The cupboards are full of pots and pans which makes cooking a breeze. There are even egg cups, which I thought was a cute touch.

The nearest pub to the cottage is The Greyhound, a five-minute walk away through sheep fields. It apparently serves lovely food but at the time of writing, dogs were not allowed inside due to the owner’s bull mastiff being rather unfriendly. Ironic, considering the name! There is a small garden area but the pub is currently on the market so fingers crossed its dog policy will change in the future.

The Manifold Inn, in nearby Hulme End, is a great place to go for traditional pub grub and local ales. The pub garden and outdoor seating area overlooks the Manifold River and dogs are also allowed in the bar area and conservatory. The Waterloo Inn in Biggin also comes highly recommended – it’s very dog-friendly, has a large garden and serves hearty, home-cooked pies.

ANY FOUR-LEGGED FRIENDS TO PLAY WITH? No, but Sue and Helen have four dogs each so if you’re lucky, they might bring along a little playmate for your pooch when you check in!

20180529_121322WHERE’S GOOD FOR WALKIES? There are some great walks across the Manifold Valley that start right from the front door – you’re in the Peak District National Park, after all! Maps are provided to help you plan your rambles but if you’d prefer to follow a more established route, just look for the old railway lines.

I can thoroughly recommend the Manifold Track – a nine-mile tarmac trail that runs from nearby Hulme End to Waterhouses. The Monsal Trail is another traffic-free pathway that starts in Bakewell – a 20-minute drive from the cottage – and finishes in Blackwell Mill. This 8.5-mile trail passes through several old railway tunnels as well as Monsal Dale, where you can stroll across the famous viaduct.

Adventurous types will also love The Roaches. This rocky Peak District gem, located above Leek and Tittesworth Reservoir, is steeped in local legend and loved by hikers and climbers alike. Lud’s Church – a deep, moss-filled chasm – and Doxey Pool are both must-sees and make for super-scenic photos. For more inspiration when it comes to dog-friendly things to see and do, check out my Ruff Guide to the Peak District.

20180528_171916WHAT ERNIE LOVED: The cute enclosed garden, having access to great walks from the doorstep, keeping an eye on the neighbouring farm animals

WHAT I LOVED: The peaceful location, having a garden to relax in, being walking distance to the nearest pub

GET ON THE DOG AND BONE: Overnight stays at Birch Cottage start from £70. Click here to find out more or to book with Owners Direct.


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