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Barnacre Holiday Cottages, The Old Shippon, Arkwright Farm, Eidsforth Lane, Barnacre, Garstang, Lancashire, PR3 1GN

telephone : 01995 600918

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The Big House Party Book by Jane Knight

October 2005

Barnacre Cottages, Lancashire

Jane Knight the Travel Journalist from The Times newspaper came to see us after we won the silver award at the National Excellence in Tourism Awards.

This is what she had to say in the entry about us for her Big House Party book.

Complimentary free-range eggs and friendly animals are just some of the perks of staying in these four sensitively converted farm buildings.

You get a really upmarket farm experience at Barnacre, with everything from beautifully presented interiors to fat, well-cared-for hens that peer through the French doors (and even walk in if you leave them open).

Converted from 18th-century farm buildings, all four cottages are swish, modern and very well maintained, with Italian tiles and parquet floors, leather sofas and pine tables.

Everything is top quality from the Villeroy and Boch crockery to the Mark Wilkinson designer kitchens - the kind you'd love to have in your own home. These come with granite work surfaces, American-style fridge freezers with ice and spring water dispensers, and all the other kitchen goodies.

There's also an Aga in the Old Stables, the largest cottage which sleeps 8. Here the kitchen forms the centrepiece of an enormous 50ft room thats perfect for an informal group supper with a lounge area at one end, and a dining area the other side of the kitchen, which opens on to a conservatory. Although the pine table only seats eight, tables from the other cottages will easily fit in the conservatory to seat up to 23.

Upstairs, as with the adjoining cottages, medium sized bedrooms and bathrooms sit under the eaves, but with sufficient head room and natural light, thanks to a crop of skylights. As well as pine sleigh beds and built in cupboards, there are plenty of homely touches such as candles, books and ornaments scattered liberally around.

You might also encounter some hand painted motifs of mice where you'd least expect them - peeping over a light switch or sliding down the bannisters.

The Old Stables is at the end of a terrace that incorporates Pheasant and Partridge cottages, both of which also come with enclosed gardens ideal for children.

Friendly owners Terry and Sue Sharples live at the other end of the row and do everything they can to make their guests feel at home, particularly the younger ones, who might find a box of toys waiting for them when they arrive at their cottage, and who are encouraged to help feed and pet the animals. The Sharples also try to be flexible on departure times whenever possible.

Standing alone on the other side of their home is the Piggeries, with an impressive wood ceiling rising to an apex and two ground floor bedrooms. Like the other two smaller cottages, this one has an open plan kitchen leading onto the dining and sitting area with a wood burning stove.

With such well equipped cottages, you might be forgiven for staying in. But it's worth venturing out; Barnacre is in the middle of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with views over the fields that go on for miles. Don't think of coming here without a car; it's a 40 minute walk to the local village.

Another advantage to staying here is that you can reach either Blackpool or the Lake District in less than an hour but you don't have to be close to all the other tourists. At the end of a busy day's sightseeing, leave the crowds behind and head back to this peaceful farm, where the hens obligingly lay complimentary free-range eggs, and where there are ducks roaming in the garden, a pet lamb in an adjacent field, and the omnipresent Rascal the dog and Tom the cat.

Jane Knight & Liz Bird