Visits to my mother-in-law’s home in Burnside in Scotland always include long day excursions, visiting quaint towns in the Scottish countryside. On one particular trip to Calendar, after the obligatory Scottish Woollen Mill visit and tea at the local hotel, we ventured out to explore Loch Lubnaig. As we drove around the small loch, at times the road so close to the edge I thought we may totter in, out of a thick of trees we saw a group of holiday homes.
It was dusk and the glass-sided cabins were glowing like fireflies on the edge of the loch. I was so intrigued I asked hubby to turn around. Equally intrigued, he did so (surprisingly) without complaining. I took note of the name, Forest Holidays.
I’ve since learned more. The Forest Holidays concept is simple. Quality accommodation that blends in with the environment so you can relax, unwind and enjoy the forest. There’s no outdoor lighting, to cut down on light pollution. It’s just you and the Forest and a hot tub. It’s quite magical.
You are encouraged to bring a flashlight for night walks. You can go on long mountain bike rides. Or just hangout in your cabin surrounded by rusting leaves. One of my friends is such a fan she’s been on 5 Forest Holidays with her family in 3 different locations (there are 8).
My 11-year-old’s perspective The hot tub is so amazing because most hotels and resorts have one between all the guests – here we had one to ourselves! It was really cool because there were two areas to lay down and 3 seats – all with different jets. It was so fun and I wish I had my own!
Forest Holidays Blackwood Forest in Hampshire is just under an hour from where we live in the Thames Valley. We stayed as guest of Forest Holidays the weekend after my big annual BritMums Live blogger conference, and I really needed a break.
Our retreat for the weekend was a 3-bedroom Golden Oak Cabin. Golden Oak cabins are the most luxuriously appointed, with an outdoor hot tub, fluffy robes in the en suite, a log burning stove and underfloor heating throughout. There’s a flat screen TV (we never used it!) and you can order a wifi package. The furniture is good quality, comfortable and stylish. The decor is modern and forest friendly, our cabin was all purples and new leaf green. With the wood burner in the corner, you can imagine long weekends in the Autumn.
There are loads of little luxuries: heated towel racks, underfloor heating, eco-friendly and gorgeously scented Anyah toiletries, forest-inspired decor, including a lamp made of tree bark, snails, a gorgeous hand carved wooden fruit bowl. We also loved some of the simplicity, for example our waterfall showers only had one setting, eliminating the usual *how does this shower work while standing with no clothes on* moment.
If you’re curious about what the inside is like, here’s a little tour of our Golden Oak cabin …
The Forest Retreat The hub of all the activity is the Forest Retreat. It’s a combined shop and restaurant. The shop has limited essentials – milk, cheese, sausages, pasta, apples, wine and beer and some luxury items like Butterkist popcorn and Jude’s ice cream! There’s some cool forest-themed gifts and momentos, and a whole wall of pet supplies and gifts (select cabins allow pets).
I was glad I did a big Waitrose shop for supplies before we came. We ordered fresh-baked bread and croissants and a paper for each day. If you don’t bring your own food, you won’t go hungry. You can eat in the restaurant, or they will deliver dishes such as a rustic steak and mushroom pie with mash or a Butternut squash and spinach cassoulet direct to you cabin door.
There’s also a very reasonable priced pizza night pack. The center also offers several Forest activities you can sign up for, all at extra cost, such as a Night Vision walk (with authentic night vision equipment), Bushcraft Skills or Young Explorers and Geocatching. What you must do is cycle! There are several forest tracks to explore. This was a huge highlight for all of us and a way to fit in some exercise (which in a weird way adds to the relaxation). We’re already looking at coming back!
Here’s a video of our 10 kilometre bike ride…
Read my articles on the Forestpedia Blog:
My 10-year-old’s perspective Our cabin was very cool because of the forest. It was really fun join in the forest, whether it being exploring, playing, sketching but most of all – building a fort! Since the forest is in your backward, you can spend as long as you want making the ultimate BEST FORT EVER! It was soooooo fun building a fort. There are loads of big branches perfect for building a fort. Our had two rooms and a roof and lots go log chairs and a table. It was really cosy.
IF YOU GO:
Forest Holidays Blackwood Forest Larkwhistle Farm Rd, Winchester, Hampshire SO21 3BG +44 0333 011 0495 forestholidays.co.uk
I’ve woken up in forest heaven! @forestholidays #forestholidays #BlackwoodForest #familytravel #ttot #travel #uk #England A photo posted by Susanna Scott (@amodernmother) on
Our accommodation was provided by Forest Holidays for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own and my family’s.