3 November 2016

A Relaxing Mid Week Break at Darwin Forest - Review

It is no secret that we love to be in the countrside, that we love to be at one with nature and out enjoying the fresh air.

So when we were invited for a mid week break at Darwin Forest in one of their Classic Vogue lodges I am not sure who was more excited, me or the children.

Sat in the beautiful Peak District between two of my favourite towns, Bakewell and Matlock, it is a wonderful location and with plenty to see and do in the area it is the ideal base to explore this wonderful part of the country.

Since you can't get into the lodge until 4pm we first headed to Bakewell, it is a stunning town full of wonderful independent shops, cafes and of course Bakewell Puddings. We spent the day there, eating chips by the river, looking in the shops and playing on the park.

The children were rather impatient to get to our home for the week, perhaps my biggest mistake was showing them everything that was on offer at Darwin Forest.

On arrival we were greeted by a friendly receptionist who gave us our key and explained where our lodge was, we drove around looking for our lodge and it was just so quiet and peaceful, the trees all beautiful with their changing leaves and colours.

We eventually found our lodge and it sat there looking all inviting in the cold and wet, with just a single light making the lounge glow a warm orange, it was super toasty and warm when we got inside and just what we needed on what wasn't the best autumn day.

With a modern kitchen/diner, lounge, bedrooms and its own veranda, it was such a lovely place to call home for the week.

I bought all of our luggage in and set about making tea, the kitchen was well equipped and had everything we needed for our stay, including dish clothes, tea towels, dishwasher tablets and washing liquid. So you don't need to worry about bringing anything really other than your food and maybe some tinfoil and cling film.

We had a picnic tea and sat in the toasty warm lodge looking out through the warmly lit trees, it was wonderful and with the log effect fire it felt so snug.

Our beds were comfy and warm and we all slept soundly, even though the rain fell through the night and into Tuesday, but not to fear, the rain did not stop play.

With a swimming pool on site we headed there first thing, as did a lot of other people, however it wasn't too busy and we had a good swim about. We drove that morning not really knowing how far it was to walk in the rain, but to be honest everything is within easy walking distance and wasn't too much effort being relatively flat.

Photo courtesy of Darwin Forest
After lunch we headed to the soft play centre, fortunately the children are still both of an age where they enjoy soft play and they made friends and had a great time. As a single parent this sort of thing is great, it means I can grab a hot cup of coffee and sit and read for a short time whilst they enjoy themselves.

It is a big soft play area and so the children didn't get board at any point, they also offer a good selection of food, perfect for hungry tummies. There is a charge of £3.50 per child, but for a few hours of fun this isn't too expensive and is about what we'd normally pay.

Wednesday saw the sun shine bright, sending down a gorgeous golden glow from the leaves above. So we headed out into the woods on the woodland walk and to find the trim track. We spotted a few rabbits, plenty of birds and an absolute abundance of fungi along the woodland floor. The golden leaves carpeting the floor made this a wonderful time of the year to be visiting, wrapping up warm in layers of jumpers.

After our walk we headed to the mini golf course for a quick game, it only cost a £5 and was a great way to spend an hour and for the first time ever I got a hole in one, a complete fluke I'm sure. Afterwards we popped to the park, whilst it was dry we made the most of it.

Since the children had enjoyed it so much the day before, we headed for another few hours at the soft play, it gave them time to blow off steam and me a few hours just to relax, since I was on holiday too.

Afterwards we walked back through the woods to get changed so we could head back out for some tea. I thought it would be nice not to have to cook for one of the evenings so I booked us in at The Foresters restaurant on site, it has a good varied menu including some classics like chilli, pie and pizza. They even have a take away menu, perfect if you don't fancy cooking but would like to eat back in your lodge.

After we'd finished eating there was time to pop into the games room which is just next door, it has pool tables, air hockey and some other arcade games. I got to teach the kids the pleasure that is pool, although not particularly easy with a little 5 year old and an ' I don't need you to show me how' 8 year old, but we had fun and afterwards we wandered back through the woods, listening to the owls hoot.

Once back in the warm cabin we watched The Great British Bake Off, it has been a bit of a guilty pleasure for the children the past few weeks and we haven't watched the last one yet, although we know who won.

On Thursday we had a slow morning doing some Halloween crafts and the children played outside, later that day we headed out so my son could have an archery lesson. We'd had a look at the list of activities before we arrived and my son really liked the idea of archery, so I booked him in for a session when we arrived.

I was a little worried about how he'd get on but I needn't of, he was a pro and Dan the instructor was really patient. It looked like everyone was having so much fun and almost instantly I regretted not booking myself on the course too. The session cost £12 and I feel this was worth it, my son had so much fun and it was definitely the highlight of his week.

With everything from bikes to hire, archery, a swimming pool, gym, tennis, woodland walks and the soft play, there really is something to do in all weathers. This makes Darwin Forest the perfect all year round location. I didn't use the car all week and it felt like I had actually had a break, I loved being able to walk everywhere, it made everything so much more relaxed. The lodges are all well equipped and some even come with hot tubs, this would definitely be the icing on the cake and I am already planning our return visit.

After a wonderful week we finished it off with a trip to Matlock and Matlock Bath, both great towns in different ways. Whether you love vintage and antiques or arcades and a walk down the river with some chips, they are both wonderful little towns.

*We received a midweek break at Darwin Forest to form this review, all words and pictures unless otherwise stated are my own.


  1. Oh wow, that looks like my kind of holiday. It is so nice to get away from the madness of life and it looks like you had a brilliant time

  2. Oh that does look amazing. So many things my son would love there: the pool, the crazy golf, the archery...

  3. Wow. This looks amazing and so much for for the children.
    I do love a good old fashioned spot of outdoors fun.......always a bonus that the kids sleep better lol

  4. We live not far away (we went to the illuminations in the park in your last photo in September) but I've never heard of Darwin's Forest. It looks lovely and so relaxing. A perfect escape.

  5. What a beautiful place for a holiday. This is just the sort of thing that my family love. The boys like all the active stuff and I love the forest element.

  6. That does look like an amazing place to go for a relaxing break x x

  7. That looks like a fantastic place to escape to. That pool looks so inviting and my kids would love all the activities

  8. Darwin Forest looks amazing, sounds like you had a wonderful time. I grew up very close by and know just how beautiful the area is x


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