If you’ve ever felt burned out by the fast pace and disconnection of city life, Forest Holidays will introduce you to a whole new world of wonder.
You’ll find a Forest Holidays location in eleven of the most beautiful rural settings the UK has to offer, including Sherwood Forest, the Royal Forest of Dean, and amongst the pine-covered mountains of Ardgartan Argyll.
(Better still, every luxurious Forest Holidays cabin comes equipped with its very own outdoor hot tub…what better way to relax and appreciate the natural beauty of your surroundings?)
With the company’s ethos firmly upon connecting nature, people, and local communities, not only can you expect a stay that goes hand-in-hand with helping the UK’s forests thrive, but one that actively promotes family-friendly, fresh-air adventure!
To give you a flavour of what we mean, here are some of the spectacular activities you can get involved with during your Forest Holidays stay.
Author: Nina Jervis
(Host Unusual’s very own Dawn Crawford tried out a Forest Ranger Experience at Sherwood Forest…read on to find out how it went!)
You’ll find a resident Forest Ranger at every Forest Holidays location – a wildlife and woodland expert who’s ready and waiting to share the hidden secrets of the forest with you.
Test out your forest survival skills, brew some delicious pine needle tea, or try seeking out some of the most elusive animals around. You can head out on a night-time Ranger experience if you’re a nocturnal type, and there are even Mini Forest Ranger adventures just for the little ones.
It would be shame, wouldn’t it, to stay in some of the most scenic corners of the UK, and not immerse yourselves completely in your surroundings?
That’s why you’ll find walks to suit every ability, from gentle, child-friendly forest trails to challenging mountain climbs (with breathtaking views to reward you with at the end!) For starters, think gazing out over the rippling lochs of Scotland, rambling through Yorkshire’s wide-open moorland, or taking in those immaculate country estates of Norfolk.
(Walking is taken extremely seriously at Forest Holidays, which is why you’ll be able to browse the dedicated Forestipedia page, packed with walk-spiration for your chosen location).
If you prefer cycling to walking, you’re in luck: each location comes with a hand-picked selection of dedicated trails to choose from. Whether you’re in the mood for a whole-family expedition, a long-distance ride, or a thrilling mountain bike challenge, it’s all here.
You won’t even have to load up the car with those tricky cycle racks – since you can pre-book your cycle hire, all ready for when you arrive. Oh, and of course there’ll be a soothing outdoor hot tub waiting for you back at your cabin…just the thing for easing any cycling-induced aches and pains!
There are plenty of on-site activities to enjoy at your chosen Forest Holidays location (archery at Sherwood Forest, anyone?) But to help make sure the serious thrill-seekers can get their fix, some of the best adventure companies are on hand to take you off-road driving, clay pigeon shooting, or introduce you to majestic birds of prey.
In fact, how about taking off in a microlight at Blackwood Forest, zipwiring at Keldy, or gorge walking at Ardgatan Argyll? The only limit is your sense of adventure!
But if it all gets a little too much…
Now, let’s see how Dawn got on as a Forest Ranger when she visited Forest Holidays’ Sherwood Forest location!
It would have been easy to have spent our entire weekend at Forest Holidays lazing in the hot tub, but when you are staying somewhere as serenely beautiful as this, you’d be missing out if you didn’t get out and about to explore.
With this in mind, we decided to book a Forest Discovery session with Sherwood Forest ranger John Jacques. It turns out that John has many other strings to his bow aside from being a forest guru… he’s also a radio presenter and a stunt man, so we knew we’d be in for some lively chat and excitement too!
Our merry group of four (three ‘adults’ – I use the term loosely) and Autumn (9) met up with ranger John at the Forest Retreat, ready to start our adventure on a fresh and bright Saturday afternoon.
After a cheery welcome and briefing, John led us into the forest and within 5 minutes we had already learned about foraging for food, spotted some wildlife, found some woodpecker holes, found herbs and plants that smelled of bubblegum, lemons and curry, and discovered evidence of a passing herd of deer. It was fascinating to be alerted to all the details we may otherwise have missed, and John’s knowledge and enthusiasm were infectious.
We stopped off in a clearing and Autumn was able to try her hand at building a shelter, with some helpful advice and a head-start from John. The finished den looked rather cosy, and Autumn proudly clambered inside to try it out, impressed with her efforts!
Next she was excited to learn that she was going to attempt to light a little fire using a flint. John explained how to set up a fire pit, what materials to use to give the fire the best chance of igniting, and showed us how to strike the flint to make a spark. Autumn gave it a good effort and eventually, after lots of encouragement she managed to get a flame started, which she was most proud of!
During our forest exploration John collected some nettles and told us that we could try some lovely nettle tea back in the café at the end of the session. We weren’t sure how lovely nettle tea would really be, but we thought we’d all give it a try anyway as John explained that it had many health benefits. To our surprise, it was quite nice (although I don’t think Autumn was as impressed as us adults).
Then it was time for the final challenge – bug tasting! John produced a pot of dried mealworms (erm – yum!), and explained that they are edible for humans and are a great source of protein. Not being ones to balk at a challenge, all four of us partook of a mealworm or two – mainly just to say we’d done it! It was our ‘I’m a Celebrity’ moment, but we all agreed that our insect consumption started and ended there.
Before we left, we had a fun chat with John about his stunt man exploits (he’d recently been on the set of the second Maleficent movie with Angelina Jolie!), and then headed back to the comfort of our beautiful Golden Oak cabin for a well-earned rest.
We all really enjoyed the Forest Ranger session; it’s a great way to engage with the natural environment, take notice of the little details and feel a stronger connection with nature, as well as being a wonderful stress buster (a concept Forest Holidays guests can explore further by booking a Forest Bathing experience).
Of course, after a busy Forest Ranger session, where better to retreat to than – yes, you guessed it – that glorious hot tub, sheltered beneath the towering pine trees.
So if you’d like to really get to know the forest, why not book a refreshing Forest Holidays break at one of their 11 locations across the UK, and try a Forest Ranger session for yourself? You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll learn – kids and adults alike!
Here’s Autumn’s video diary about her Forest Holidays experience: