Forest Holidays have locations across the UK situated in vast woodlands. The accommodation at the parks are a range of log style cabins and are equality suitable for couples, families or groups of friends wanting to get away from it all.
All the cabins are exclusively within Forestry Commission land and the company is part owned by the Forestry Commission.
“As one of the forest businesses that help to fund the work of the Forestry Commission, we support them in their vision of managing the forests for recreation, conservation and commercial sustainability and we help to ensure that our publicly owned forests remain publicly owned.”
There are a range of cabins to rent including wonderful treehouses and luxury cabins with fluffy bathrobes in the en-suite bathroom, log burning stove and an outdoor hot tub. They also offer cabins without hot and there are also cabins available that have been adapted for wheel chair access.
Forest Holidays are designed for you to experience the natural environment and get back to nature. They recognise that they have a responsibility to protect the natural environment and all their sites are designed, built and managed with a sensitivity to their forest setting, incorporating eco-sensitive features to limit the environmental impact. As they are part owned by the Forestry Commission they share a responsibility for sustaining and conserving the forests for the enjoyment of everyone.
Each location has different activities available to take part in such Archery, Kayaking, Canoeing, climbing etc but of course you can just spend your time exploring the forest on foot or bike.
Last year in early summer we were looking after the Grandkids for a long weekend as G and Mr G were away with friends and as the boys didn’t have any football games that weekend we decided to take them on a Forest Holiday to the Forest of Dean.
Forest of Dean
At the Forest of Dean, the cabins are split between the ancient woodland and open meadow. We booked one of the luxury Golden Oak cabins with the outdoor hot tub; well it was a weekend away for us as well.
The Forest of Dean sits between the Wye Valley, the Vale of Leadon and the Severn Vale. The ancient Royal Forest lies at the heart of the area where we had booked our Forest Holiday cabin.
You can find wild Deer in the forest and it has a heritage as a Royal Hunting Forest. The Norman kings loved to hunt deer and wild boar and they introduced Forest Law and officials called Verderers who were charged with looking after the animals and the woods they lived in.
The Royal Forest occupies an area of 204 square miles in the western part of Gloucestershire. The 20 million trees that cover the Royal Forest of Dean include oak, beech, ash, birch and holly trees.
If you are lucky you may also spot Peregrine Falcons from a viewing point at Symonds Yat which have been nesting successfully in the area for the last 20 years.
Arriving at Our Cabin
We arrived at the site on the Friday evening and checked into our cabin which had 3 bedrooms a large open plan lounge, dining area and kitchen. There was a large family bathroom and our bedroom was on-suite. And, of course the outdoor hot tub. There was plenty of space for the kids and the cabin was lovely and clean and the kitchen was well equipped.
We booked the in-cabin entertainment package which provided us with unlimited wi-fi; a must these days; unlimited access to movies, including a selection of new release films and TV and Sky Channels.
The Forest Retreat is the hub of our Forest of Dean location. Here you’ll find our friendly team, on hand to help you get the most out of your holiday. You’ll also be pleased to find a well-stocked shop, where the emphasis is on locally sourced produce and crafts. At the café and bar, meals, snacks and drinks are served all day and can be ordered to take away too.
We decided to eat in the Forest Retreat, on-site café, on the Friday evening which provided a good selection of meals. The kids enjoyed sausage and mash, fish goujons and chicken strips while we enjoyed fish and chips.
One of my favourite things about Forest Holidays is that each location has a Forest Ranger who is an expert in the local wildlife. There are a range of activities that are led by the Ranger where you can learn woodland skills, walk through the forest at night trying to spot elusive animals, discover where the wild garlic grows or how to brew pine needle tea. The Forest Rangers are a great source of information.
On the Saturday morning Mr J and the two eldest grandsons went on a Forest Survival activity with the Ranger where they learnt how to find the best shelter and build it, light a fire with modern and traditional methods and make pine needle tea. They also got to toast some marshmallow. They had a great morning exploring the forest and learning new skills and came back to tell me all about it. The afternoon was spent practicing their shelter building skills just outside the cabin.
After they’d finished den building outside they spent a while in the hot tub until it was time for dinner. We ordered in pizzas from the Forest Retreat which delivered to our cabin and we settled down in front of the TV for an evening of Star Wars and Pizza.
Symonds Yat and Birds of prey
Sunday morning, we headed off to Symonds Yat for a walk along the River and a pub lunch. We then visited the International Centre for Birds of Prey which has over 250 birds. The boys loved wandering around looking at all the different birds and really enjoyed the flying display which included burrowing owls, falcons and a display of feeding Red Kites whilst in the air. It was one of the best Bird of Prey displays we’ve seen.
On the way back to our cabin we stopped off at Tapas Restaurant for an early dinner in Coleford. Tapas is perfect for the boys as they love spicy sausage, meatballs, potatoes and chicken wings so there was plenty of choice for them.
Forest of Dean Night Walk Ranger Activity
We headed back to the cabin around 7pm just in time for our night walk with the Ranger. We were very lucky as our Ranger was Gerry who has a pet Barn Owl called the Professor who came on the walk with us. Before we started our walk, Gerry gave us a quick talk and let the boys put a wild boar pelt on. We then spent an hour and half walking around the forest in the dusk looking for animals. We heard something in the distance but didn’t actually spot any animals, but the boys got to walk with the Professor and play with the bat locator which they really enjoyed.
After a good night’s sleep, we packed up the car while the boys had one last play in the forest and then headed home.
It was a brilliant weekend and the boys loved it, next time we’ll definitely take their bikes so we can explore more of the woodland trails.
Note: the age limits for the activities seem to change quite frequently so check before you book.