We've not long returned from a week away. Far from our usual holiday which we'd have which would be to the South of France to a beautiful gite with glorious surroundings and a private pool. Things were too uncertain..... ridiculous really to think that we're still in this situation surrounding covid and travel uncertainty. We have flights booked for later in the year to NYC and even that now remains uncertain which is incredibly frustrating. Instead, we booked a Forest Lodge break not far from us in Sherwood Pines, Nottingham. Bit of a random one but there was lots to do around the area and we needed to get something booked prior to prices being even more inflated than they are! I was able to get Bluelight discount buy I can't lie the price of almost 2k (before discount) for 1 week is eye wateringly expensive and on par what we'd spend for 2 weeks abroad, but I digress, it is what it is and it was nice to be away.
Forest Lodges is nestled in Sherwood Pines which is Sherwood Forest. Within acres of forest lies a selection of lodges (Golden Oak - slightly bigger, Silver Birch and some tree houses) all placed with plenty of space in between and providing lots of privacy and not overlooked by others. We stayed in a Silver Birch which was 1 double (with en suite) and 2 twin beds, separate bathroom, it had a lovely big sofa and chair, large wooden table and plenty of kitchen essentials. Hot tubs are standard in all the lodges, all be it ours possibly had seen better days but a very welcome touch and the children were delighted despite us having our own at home! We had a lovely spot (we had paid a little extra to choose our lodge so we knew we wouldn't be overlooked). There is a strict noise policy in place too which is worth mentioning that they ask that after 10pm noise is kept to a minimum out of respect for nature and the residents. We had zero issue with noises, it was incredibly peaceful. The first night wasn't ideal however since Elarna woke at 2:30am for the toilet and then continued to wake for every hour and then at around 5am she woke Alfie up so I then declared the day had started and threw open the curtains and sat on the decking and watched the sun rise while the kids had a quiet splash in the hot tub! As much as I was shattered watching the sun come up was pretty special.
The trouble with holidaying in the UK is you feel like you've got to do something every day, or at least we did as otherwise we felt like we should have stayed at home. This not only ramped the cost up but was also pretty tiring! Below is a brief round up of things we did so if you're in the area from our most enjoyable to the least so if you're looking for inspiration maybe this will help, I will include links where possible. all these things we paid for.
- Yorkshire Wildlife Park (Doncaster) Just a short drive away from Sherwood Pines is this fantastic wildlife park, we had a great day here but be prepared for a ton of walking as it is huge! Not really any indoor areas, the enclosures for the animals are massive which is great to see. Tickets are pre bookable for timed entry, it felt very covid secure and we spent several hours walking around. We went in at 10am and left at around 3ish. There are lots of picnic areas and loads of bins for rubbish, there are some nice play areas for the children also. Huge car park which is free and there is a restaurant called Evolution before you enter which is Jurassic themed, would suggest pre booking as we did if you fancy it. Great day out, really enjoyed it.
- Rufford Abbey (Ollerton) This is a great place to visit if you're looking for less expense. £4.00 to park for the whole day if you want and I think you could quite easily. Dogs on leads are allowed and we saw lots of families with picnics and garden games/footballs which is great. There is so much to keep everyone occupied, sculptures, walking trails, a lovely lake which you can hire a row boat or pedalo and a fantastic mill car splash which is basically a ford that the children can stand either side of and make loads of noise or heckling as the cars approach to see if they will speed up through it and make a huge splash and get the kids wet! This made my day seeing the kids faces light up, after everything we've been through in the last year this was just such a simple thing making everyone smile. There is also tea shops available, a little garden centre, an ice cream parlour and a little gift shop selling a variety of things. Highly recommend for a day out with the kids! Lovely place.
- White Post Farm (Farnsfield) £45.00 for family admission for all day. This is a lovely little farm that's been running for around 30 years, gets great reviews on Trip Advisor so thought this would be a nice place to visit for my 2 kids that love animals. It's much bigger than I imagined with lots of animals to see including a ton of goats, small animals that you can pet such as rabbits, guinea pigs, Llamas (or maybe Alpacas, I can't remember!) and other small furries. There is also a reptile room with snakes, spiders etc etc, although I felt this area was a little tired looking and could do with a bit of a refresh however my reptile obsessed son thought it was great. There is a brilliant outside play area and also a slide inside the barn with a small soft play (however the soft play is currently closed). You can pay extra for animal encounters, goat yoga (yes you read that right), tractor rides and also for bags of food to feed the animals. I would say we spent a good 4 hours here, we took a picnic and there was lots of places to sit and eat. Overall a nice little trip out.
- City of Caves (Centre of Nottingham) Around £26.00 for family admission, pre booking recommended. This is a fascinating trip underground to see the UK's largest network of caves. These caves are truly fascinating! We loved that you scan the QR code and have an audio guide while going around. There is just enough information provided to keep you interested, it's a perfect amount of time and a real insight into the caves beneath the Broadmarsh shopping centre. Truly fascinating!
- Sherwood Forest Free to enter other than paying for car parking. No trip to Nottingham would be complete without heading to Sherwood Forest and walking to see The Major Oak which is an Oak Tree of around 800 - 1100 years old! It's a huge thing, for some reason I was expecting it to be bigger but it is pretty impressive all the same! There are lots of walking trails to do and a large play area. On a dry and fine day you could easily spend a whole day here exploring, we however had what I would call 'typical' British weather, dry and warm one minute and absolutely hammering it down another. There was a little event going when we visited with a few stalls such as face painting, charity stalls, local jams etc and further into the forest suitably themed dressed up people with lots of information about how people would have lived back in Robin Hood days! Overall definitely worth a trip, it would have been a shame to not visit.
- Robin Hood Experience £20.00 family of 4, no pre booking required. This is just down by the castle, I had been as a child but had no memory of it. I would say don't go with high expectations! It is absolutely fine for the kids, I found out a bit amusing, it is quite child like inside, a 3 storey house just basically telling the story of Robin Hood and you enter in each room for a bit more info, the whole house is done out in theme with plastic mannequins, I mean it's ok and for £20.00 it isn't too bad. The whole thing just needs a bit of a spruce up I would say, my husband and I agreed it was far better than than the castle!
These are the places that we visited while we were there over a week, we crammed a fair amount in, it felt tiring but also so much to see around the area and there is more! I also want to mention that we also visited Nottingham Castle, well what a waste of money this was, £35 for a family of 4 and with little to do once inside, apparently it's had a £31 million update and I can only assume this was spent on making a glorified art gallery and on the kids play area, which was the best thing about it. So if you go and are expecting a castle it isn't that so I would avoid and spend money else where such as the Justice Courts where I wish we had gone instead! We also wanted to go to Cresswell Crags but pre booking for tours is essential, something which we didn't know when we arrived and paid for our car parking! No signs or website access to say this is what is needed and the woman behind the till was fairly abrupt when telling us there was no availability and that tours get booked up days in advance. It looks good though so we would like to return and we will book in advance!
Overall we did have a lovely week, anytime away is nice and I truly appreciate that but it didn't quite hit the same as being abroad I have to be honest. We definitely didn't feel particularly rested when we returned either! However if you're looking for a nice week away with lots of things to doo I can highly recommend Nottinghamshire, there is lots to see and do. Any questions please do send me a message and happy holidays.