Bit of a different trip for us this time, despite visiting Alton Towers for about 30 years (jeez that makes me feel old) and staying at the resort a few times over the years, I had never stayed in the local area or ventured into the countryside that surrounds the park - so this time we put that right and I was very glad we did. First up though was a day at the theme park. Visited on Tuesday 21st Sep, for the first trip of the year. We loved Oktoberfest during our visit in 2020 so I was looking forward to getting back and seeing how things had developed. We arrived at the car park around 9.40am and was a little surprised at the amount of cars that were already there so early, was starting to wonder if it would be busier that we expected *gulp* - anyway spoiler alert, it wasn’t. In fact we didn’t queue for anything longer than 15 mins all day - result. I won’t give a blow by blow account of the attractions we covered, but during the day we managed 16 in total: Oblivion Mixtape Smiler Rita Th13teen Gangsta Granny x2 Hex Nemesis x2 Funk n Fly Galactica Wicker Man x2 RMT Duel In terms of the new stuff, enjoyed it all. The Retrosquad rides made for a nice bit of variety and were fun attractions, I hope it leads to at least one new permanent flat ride in next year or so. Gangsta Granny actually took me by surprise. I thought it was quite a charming ride, is it a headline attraction? No. But it certainly provides something different and fun and modern to the park and was a much more well rounded ride than I was expecting. The rest of the David Walliams area needs work, hopefully the Theatre and Nickelodeon buildings can be brought back into life very soon to help round out this area of the park. We also had an explore of the gardens, I was pleasantly surprised at how well they were being kept, long may it continue. In fact with the exception of Galactica and the graffiti in the 13 queue (which needs sorting as it’s rank) I thought the park was in pretty good shape overall. Oktoberfest delivered again for us, we spent a few hours on the lawns and in Mutiny Bay Courtyard, preferring the latter as the entertainment was more suited to us. Rob Burton the accordion man was great as was the singer that was on in the afternoon. Whilst the ride queues were low, the park didn’t feel quiet, there were lots of people milling about on pathways and good attendance in the Oktoberfest areas which made for a nice atmosphere. It’s great to see the park expand and continue these events, there certainly seemed to be plenty of guests spending on beers and food during the day (us included!). We left the park via Towers Trading and the Donut stall just before 6pm to get the monorail before it stopped running and headed off to our accommodation. We stayed at Quarry Walk Park about 15 mins drive from the park. It was great. Really quiet and secluded, with a hot tub and views of the trees/countryside, would definitely recommend! Since they say life is all about balance, we dialled it down for day 2 and went on an explore of the local area (sorry die hard rollercoaster fans, this is probably where I lose you, if you haven’t stopped reading already). We parked up at Ramblers Retreat (about 10mins from Alton Towers) and followed one of the walks on their website which was about 5 miles. It takes you through forests, along rivers and lakes, past farms and houses and down ‘Earls Drive’ - happy to report no mysterious beggar women were appearing in the road during our visit. We then treated ourselves to a meal at the Ramblers Retreat (which was delicious and the location was fab). This was all very relaxing and I hadn’t ever appreciated just how beautiful the area around Alton Towers really is. It’s safe to say this will be added to our future trips when we can. Overall a great couple of days away, both at the park and in the local area. I’m just totally knackered from all this excitement, must be the old age! Thanks for reading.