When the days start to get colder and the nights start to draw in, where better to retreat to than a cosy cabin sheltered under towering pine trees?
And even better, a luxury cabin with a wood burner, underfloor heating and a big bubbling hot tub on the decking! Sounds too good to be true, but luckily for us, this is what was waiting for us on our recent trip to one of Forest Holidays‘ ten sites, Thorpe Forest in Norfolk.
Our party of five made our journey on a dark Friday afternoon in November, arriving in the early evening down the long tree-lined lane to Thorpe Forest. Our first stop was the cosy Forest Retreat, where we checked in with the friendly staff, and had a little look around the well-stocked shop and café.
We treated ourselves to some posh ready meals by Cook to take back to our cabin, and couldn’t resist a couple of bags of Joe & Seph’s gourmet popcorn too (having recently run a competition with them, it would be rude not to!).
Our home for the weekend was a Golden Oak cabin sleeping up to 6. Forest Holidays also offer smaller cabins for romantic getaways, and larger ones (which include treehouse bedrooms) for bigger groups. Our cabin was a dog-friendly one, as Oscar the dog does not like to be left behind and miss out on holiday fun.
The cabin itself was nestled along the winding track beneath stunning towering pine trees which were so tall we couldn’t see where they ended against the night sky.
Lights are kept to a minimum here at night, so the low lighting outside our architect-designed cabin created a cosy, serene impression as we parked up outside. Both sleek and cosy in equal measure, the inside of the cabin lived up to the expectations of the outside.
We entered into a large open-plan lounge with flat screen tv embedded into the wall, wood-burner at the ready and stunning floor-to ceiling windows framing the view like a work of art.
The adjoining kitchen had all the mod-cons you’d expect from a luxury let, plus eco-friendly amenities and a large dining table looking out onto the decking.
With two cosy twin rooms and a spacious kingsize ensuite double room plus a family bathroom, all needs were catered for. The underfloor heating was a real bonus on a chilly night, and Oscar the dog was delighted to be able to curl up on the warm floor but we had other plans – despite the spitting rain, we wasted no time in getting in the enormous bubbling hot tub that was beckoning us from the secluded decking outside. Dinner could wait!
The rest of the evening was spent watching movies on the comfy sofa, eating popcorn and chatting about what we’d get up to the next day.
After an incredibly peaceful nights’ sleep, getting up to the glorious forest view was blissful. The sun was out (lucky us!) and we were treated to a visit from a tiny wren peeking through our window. We assumed he was telling us it was time for hot tub part 2, so we willingly obliged and spent the morning bubbling away in the tub under the tall trees, chatting and nature-spotting.
We were so relaxed by this point that we decided we were too lazy to cook, and headed to the Forest Retreat café (above) for a tasty lunch, after which we took a long woodland walk to explore the site, which lead us through the trees and across to the River Thet. The constantly changing colours of autumn were in full effect, which made for some spectacular sights that we attempted to record on camera but will never do justice to the real thing.
After our walk, guess what – we were STILL feeling too lazy to cook, so we headed back to the Forest Retreat and ordered the Pizza Night package to be delivered direct to our cabin. We also decided to try out one of the many activities offered onsite and ended up booking ourselves in for archery the next day, before heading back to our cosy cabin.
The pizza delivery came right on time – two enormous pizzas, garlic bread, fizzy and locally made ice-cream. As delicious as it all was, even our rather greedy bunch couldn’t finish it all in one sitting. Pizza for breakfast it is, then!
The next morning was just as bright and cheery as the previous, and we set off to try our hand at archery. I had only tried this once before and I was not particularly good at it, so I was quite surprised to find that I seemed to have improved and scored top in our group (ok, there were only four of us – but I still came top!). I put my victory down to the expert tuition of our guide – everything was explained really clearly and we were all encouraged and praised for our efforts.
More time wandering and exploring the woodland followed, and on our return I saw a kestrel perched on the post in front of our cabin. The last evening was spent watching movies and pretending that we didn’t have to go home the next day.
But all good things must come to an end, and that morning we reluctantly said goodbye to our forest hideaway.
It has been widely recognised that the Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku (Forest Bathing) is excellent for reducing stress, enhancing wellbeing and contentment, which was certainly true of our Forest Holidays break. We left feeling relaxed and revived, and we all agreed that we’ll visit again in the Springtime for another dose of Forest fun!
Take a look around our Forest Holidays Thorpe Forest Golden Oak cabin: