As the year began we made a few promises to each other, our version of resolutions – as a family we wanted to enjoy more short breaks together. To pack our bags and head off in search of adventure. And so when the lovely team at Darwin Forest got in touch to ask if we would like to visit we jumped at the chance. We’ve enjoyed a few breaks in a similar setting however we have never visited Darwin before. We love the Peak District and regularly enjoys days out in the surrounding areas so it was lovely to be staying in this part of the world for more than a few hours. This type of holiday definitely suits our little family; full of adventure, lots of activities and places to go and see all within a few minutes drive. If you love being in the great outdoors and cosying up together under the stars of a night then Darwin is the place for you.
And so, a couple of weekends ago we escaped to the Peak District for a long weekend to end the Easter holidays. It was the perfect little break, not too far for us to travel to especially with having a furry baby on board. We were in search of sunshine after a rain filled week and thankfully the weatherman answered our prayers. After two weeks of juggling sports clubs and dodging rain showers we were indeed looking for a little break away from the madness.
After a warm welcome where we were offered a voucher to pick up a free bottle of milk (a lovely touch), we found our lodge on the map (I remember doing just the same as a child) and made our way to our lodge whilst pointing out all the places we wanted to explore. The lodge was light and spacious, with modern fittings yet still with that cosy lodge feel and filled with all the utensils we could possibly need. We quite literally only needed to bring ourselves and Alfs dog bed other than that everything was catered for. Blooming brilliant. The heaters had been popped on for us which made for a lovely welcome. And can we just talk about the shower – a power shower and a half. I don’t know about you but a good shower is high up on the list right?
Despite the lodges being in quite close proximity in certain parts of the park they remain private. We were lucky enough to have been awarded a Pet Friendly Classic Vogue Spa Lodge which had two bedrooms and a slightly larger patio area which housed the Spa and space for Alf. I was a little worried on arrival that there wasn’t quite enough privacy around the Spa but I couldn’t have been more wrong. It didn’t feel intrusive at all. As a family that have never experienced the luxury of a Spa before we were all a little excited to take that first dip. What a treat. Would it be a little indulgent to have one in the garden at home? *inserts smiley face*
And so we very quickly unpacked the food shop (which you can have delivered to your lodge) and head out to the Foresters Bar where we enjoyed Pizza in the cosy cottage style decor. We had originally planned to take our pizza away but as the sun was shining, our doggy was settled and so were we, we decided to eat in. The wine was good, the pizza was very good and of course it was just a short walk back to our lodge so perfect for that first night. We returned on the Saturday evening for round two, George highly recommends the cheese burger, colouring papers and crayons! Definitely one to add to the list.
Our little family are early birds and with so much Woodland around the park, 47 acres to be precise it was lovely to be just a few steps away from such an open space. Perfect for furry babies and the not so furry ones who love to explore. You could lose yourself exploring the forest which is a lovely addition to the park, there’s so much free range fun at your fingertips and best of all, all this fun is free. The area surrounding our lodge was so beautiful, picturesque and a real escape from the hustle and bustle of family life. Stepping out of the lodge in a morning to the sound of birds tweeting and trees rustling is the sound of holiday right? I do love an alfresco breakfast.
As early risers we all decided to make the most of the quiet mornings and each day we would head out to walk our furry baby. George enjoyed running through the woodland area, collecting sticks, building a den, throwing stones into the stream and let’s not forget tackling the infamous Trim Trak which was his favourite part of our stay. On a serious note, the Trim Trak is the best I have ever seen, such a great activity trail. Our lodge was perfectly positioned, in the centre of the park so in a really great spot for all the activities and generally just exploring. As the weather for the weekend looked so good we really wanted to make the most of the great outdoor space Darwin has to offer.
Wait there’s more…
We also enjoyed playing Crazy Golf twice, which you can pay for at reception (£1.50 children, £2.00 adults) as well as Water Walkerz (£5) which was a huge success. So much laughter. I would highly recommend pre booking as there are limited sessions. We were advised that the pool is at its quietest around 5pm and so we decided to book the 5.30pm slot. Our instructor Reiss was a huge hit with George, I think he even picked up a few tricks of the trade. Apparently the park has just reintroduced the Splash Hour on a Saturday morning at the pool which is a huge hit with little ones. We didn’t manage to make it as we couldn’t get George out of the Spa! Living his best life he was.
As much as we loved staying on site we are huge fans of exploring the surrounding area and as we know the Peak District quite well we decided to head over to The Heights of Abraham at Matlock Bath. We last visited when George was 3 or 4 years old and so it was the perfect time to re visit. We spent a great few hours playing on the adventure playground with the biggest slide you ever did see, exploring the Caves, taking in the views, enjoying lunch with a view and generally enjoying some precious family time. We then went for fish & chips on the river. Oh I do love days out like this. Matlock is a great village to explore.
With Dovedale nearby you can have fun hopping across the stepping stones or climbing Thorpe Cloud. And don’t forget to head over to Bakewell, a gorgeous cobbled street village famous for it’s Bakewell Tart, a must when in the Peak District. And don’t forget to take a little walk along the river, I may have been distracted by the Blossom tree but you know me, I do love a Blossom tree and of course it’s perfect for the gram!
And so I give you a few more photo’s from our adventures off site…
And lastly I give you my top tips for visiting Darwin Forest Country Park…
- Enjoy the Woodland and Trim Trak
- Book a Water Walkerz slot – they go very quickly
- Visit the Foresters Bar – perfect for takeaway on your first night
- You can get discounted tickets at the reception for local attractions including The Heights of Abraham
- You can order a food shop and have it delivered right to your lodge as you arrive
- There are a number of local restaurants & takeaways that deliver to your lodge – we enjoyed a curry on one night
- Explore the local area as it really is situated in amongst gorgeous villages
- Arrive early as you can enjoy the facilities despite not being able to check in to your lodge
- Towels are provided (2 each) however I would take extra for the hot tub & swimming
- Wellies or trainers you are happy to get mucky are a must for the Woodland areas
* Disclosure – this holiday was gifted to our little family in exchange for an honest review of our stay in pet friendly accommodation. We loved all aspects of our stay. Thank you Darwin Forest.
I have added this post to Colette’s #TriedTested over on her blog We’re Going on an Adventure.