I have never shied away from my hatred of the weekend. I find them a bit of a struggle, especially in these winter months when getting out is that bit harder. So being the good egg he is Mr Tammy offered up a mini break for the weekend at Darwin Forest County Park. I was there in a heartbeat.
Where it is
It is set in the Derbyshire Peak District all of an hour from our house, yet still enough time for the boy to vom all over himself and his car seat. Literally as we pulled onto the park, couldn’t of waited another 3 minutes. It is a short drive from Matlock, Chatsworth House, Heights of Adrian, Alton Towers, Chessington, and a number of small picturesque villages.
I am going to hazard a guess at it being on high ground given there was snow on our arrival, yet none in the surrounding areas. Snow was pretty much the theme for the weekend.
The park consists of circa 150 luxury lodges that have been awarded 5 stars by Visit England. I do concur that they were ‘luxury lodges’. The decor, the furniture, the layout, everything inside was to a very high standard and beautifully maintained. They really are a little home from home. We tried to book a lodge with hot tub but sadly there were all taken. So instead we got to watch our neighbours drink Gin from theirs. Lucky us.
We couldn’t help but feel we were nestled away in a Swiss cabin in the Alps, we had a beautiful white blanket of snow, surrounded by trees and wooden lodges and a gorgeous faux fire that really well heated the lodge. It was really picturesque.
The Park – for families
One of the reasons we chose this park, other than location was the onsite facitilites. You know how I struggle to entertain the two and three year old in the house all day. Given the copious amounts of snow we had all weekend the facilities really were a life saver.
There is two soft plays (argh). One is absolutely mashoussive and jam packed with things for kids of all ages. Our two LOVED it. There is however a surcharge for entry and it is open to the public, which on a cold an grey Saturday meant it was extremely busy. You can also purchase your usual soft play type food and drinks. There is another smaller soft play free of charge for park guests for under 5s. Our two did like this however after calling the 4 story jungle it did feel a bit tame to them. There is also a games room with pool tables, table tennis and arcade games for the older children.
Next to the restuarant/bar there is a great outdoor playground, it was too cold, icy and snowy for us to use but I imagine in the warmer weather it is a pretty well placed activity for parents and children a like.
There is also a swimming pool with a small children’s section. Our two are real water babies so that was a massive hit, not to mention it totally knackered them out.
You can hire bikes, do archery, fencing, waterzorbing, mini golf, tennis, go on woodland walks and follow trails. We attempted this after 3 hours of soft play but the kids were so knackered and cold outside it quickly ended in ‘I want to go home now’. Even the pull of muddle puddles and Snowmen couldn’t quite cut it.
We would certainly like to return in the warmer weather or at least when it doesn’t snow all weekend to make the most of the outdoor activities and the surrounding local areas.
The Park – for adults
I mean some of the above does apply to adults the activities and of course happy contented children generally makes for happy parents. There is also however a well equipped gym, again at a surcharge and open to the public. Both Mr T and I used the gym and there was certainly enough there for a good workout. There are adult swimmingly lanes should you not fancy the gym.
There is a spa, I did not get use this much to my dismay but I heard good things about it. I do believe there is a surcharge for this too. Beauty treatments and massages are also available. Again, I was not privy to these because you know, kids.
In addition you have an onsite bar and restaurant, we ate there several times although we were unable to book a table for two on the Saturday night as it was fully booked! I found this a little odd given that when went there for a drink it wasn’t full but I do believe there may have been staffing issues over that weekend. There is however a wonderful selection of gins so it was all good. Well there was a good selection all spirits really, if that’s your thing.
A really good, family friendly park. The accommodation really was faultless and the site is really well looked after and set beautifully in the woods. You will have zero signal however but wifi is available free of charge. The onsite activities were great for our little ones. We would definitely like to return in the warmer weather to see more of the local area. On the Sunday a lot of nearby roads had been closed due to the amount of snow. We did venture out to a nearby village for Sunday dinner but luckily we had a car that is designed to cope in said weather conditions. Had we not there is no way I would have got in the car that day. Despite a few skids and some questionable hills it was worth the journey as we found a wonderful pub in nearby Tensely that I would certainly recommend. One thing I will say is we were both surprised at how busy it was and this was during a cold weekend in January so I can only imagine how busy it must be during the summer months.
We all really enjoyed our stay in our snowy cabin in the woods and I would certainly recommend to those looking for a luxury lodge staycation holiday or weekend away.