Reviewer Laura Mason shares her experience of taking a multigenerational escape to Forest Holidays in Sherwood Forest.
When the suggestion came up of going away with my in-laws, I was more than a little dubious. While we get on ok, the thought of being in a confined space with them for a number of days could quite possibly be the tipping point. However we went ahead and decided on a long weekend break to Forest Holidays.
Forest Holidays is somewhat more rustic than its well-known competitor. I wasn’t sure what to expect, at a comparable price point I knew it wouldn’t be too shabby but without all of the extra activities and facilities I was worried the kids may be bored.
The Forest Holiday locations are spread throughout the UK all set exclusively within spectacular Forestry Commission estates in beautiful woodland and lochside locations. Our visit was to Sherwood Forest, Robin Hood’s country. Beautifully nestled in the wooded landscape, we drove up the cobbled roads to a luxurious secluded lodge that had the aura of being a million miles from anywhere; I knew we were in for a good weekend.
We piled in with everyone taking pick of their bedroom before filling our kitchen with our goodies. Lodges range slightly in style but sleep up to groups of 10. The lodges are very spacious with a lot of living space for families to socialise; the Scrabble board game is a nice touch. While the natural-toned furnishings and finishing are definitely what I would consider to be high end, and the discreet wooden art (such as the owl and slugs on the wall) amused the children, what really blew us away wasn’t the décor or the interior, but the huge floor to ceiling windows that welcomed the stunning natural forest into the lodge.
Each lodge also comes with an outdoors area, a balcony with bird table, which is great for watching wildlife come up close and personal. Silver and Gold lodges also feature the added bonus of a hot tub.
While Forest Holidays doesn’t boast the huge swimming pool, full schedule of classes and activities and so on, what it cleverly does is really encourage you to build your own break. On site we really enjoyed the play area, Bug Hotel and meeting the Forest Ranger that does a number of walks and activities for different groups that is done in a really engaging way as he educates the groups on the local environment, plantation, insects and wildlife and the local history.
Food and Drink
All of the lodges are self-catering, which offers great flexibility for fussy eaters and parents that are perhaps watching the pennies. Fully equipped kitchens feature everything you need and some extras such as dishwasher, completed with tablets, so you have all the comforts from home. On site there is also a small café and bar, located within the central Forest Retreat, that serves delectable pizzas which can be enjoyed inside or as we preferred al fresco. Edwinstowe is the local village and has a lot of pubs, eateries and takeaways. I can highly recommend the Bistro at Edwinstowe for a delicious reasonably priced meal, the lasagne is my top pick!
Forest Holidays is all about spending quality time together. You will find phone signal probably on the weak side and no Wifi as standard and that’s not a bad thing once in a while. Fortunately there are a lot of attractions right on your doorstep taking advantage of the beautiful woodland environment. A mere 500m walk and you are at the Sherwood Pines Visitor Centre, a must-visit for anyone with children – the playground is amazing, and we saw the Gruffalo! There’s also a Go Ape centre along with bike hire so days worth of entertainment literally on the doorstep.
Further afield, about a 15-minute drive, we ventured out to White Post Farm. I highly recommend this as a day trip, it’s a little deceiving but upon further exploration it’s a never ending venue filled with animals, interactivity, a lot of play – soft play, outdoor play areas, games (check out the sheep racing!) and even a pantomime. Oppose White Post, there’s Wheelgate Park. Unfortunately due to torrential bad rain (only in British summertime!) we had to cut out visit short but it’s another very toddler/child filled park with a mix of rides, soft play and, what I imagine is great fun in the sunshine, a sprawling water park.
What you need to know…
To find out more and book a Forest Holidays break, visit www.forestholidays.co.uk
White Post Farm is priced from £7.20 for children and £7.80 for adults www.whitepostfarm.co.uk
Wheelgate Park is priced from £6.39 for toddlers and £11.99 for children and adults www.wheelgatepark.com
For more information on Nottinghamshire and all it has to offer, visit www.experiencenottinghamshire.com