For the adventurous of spirits
Travelling as a single mum with 3 children under 12 years old could seem daunting but I’ve been taking the kids away on my own since they were tiny, even when I was married, so kind of taking it my stride these days.
We are all used to it so we find it incredibly exciting, somehow tolerant of each other’s little quirks and anxieties that come with travel. With a squish here and an extra big squish there, I always manage to get the kids in the car, albeit with numerous bags containing clothes, teddies, colouring books, pens, food, superheroes and goodness knows what else! My party trick is wedging it all in with the kids and managing to close the doors. Ha!
Over the last few years, we’ve had many Summer and Half Term trips to Cornwall, stayed in a hobbit house in Melton Mowbray, a farmhouse in the Lake District, visited Rome and Portugal and regular trips down to Leigh-on-Sea, our thirst and curiosity to uncover great places to stay never seems to dwindle. The thing I love about taking the kids away, whether in the UK or abroad, is their constant sense of adventure and eagerness to try new things, making travelling and the whole experience a total joy as the kids genuinely want to explore and soak up each moment together.
Sherwood Hideaway very kindly offered us a 5-day break over October Half Term in the stunning Sherwood Forest, set on the stunning Thoresby Estate, made famous for its historic association with Robin Hood. This forest boasts a whopping 420 hectares of unique woodland that people young and old will enjoy.
Situated about 9 miles from the M1, and accessible by road and train, the holiday park sits between the nearby towns of Mansfield and Newark and access is from a layby just off the A614 near Ollerton. Our journey from Buckinghamshire was around a two and half to a three hour drive, although due to driving in the night and missing the sign post not once but several times, it took us about an hour longer to find Sherwood Hideaway, by which time I had resorted to getting my daughter to count out tic tacs from a giant pack to keep them busy and quiet as I tried desperately to bring our journey to a close.
As we arrived so late in the evening, we found an envelope stuck the reception door with a little note, key to the cabin, a map and some takeaway menus. My daughter loved opening the envelope and finding the key and all three broke free from the car and went running around in the dark looking for cabin number 9. Watching them dart around like squirrels on a cold, dark night in the woods really was a heartwarming sight.
Somehow, I managed to miss the parking spot outside the cabin (I’m not famous for my driving skills) and get the car stuck in mud. Hilarity ensued for the kids but after a 4-hour drive, I needed the kids in bed and wine in my hand! Abandoned said muddy car, to be dealt with in the morning along with most of the bags.
We awoke to a beautiful crisp Autumn morning. Opening the back doors out onto the decking, overlooking a sea of greens, oranges and brown foliage, silver birch trees and birdsong, our morning started off in the most glorious of ways.
The cabins are very spacious and the kid’s minds were blown, they didn’t know which direction to turn as they ran from one end of the cabin to the other, opening doors to discover all sorts of rooms. They just couldn’t understand how the cabin could look so much like a house inside. Their little faces filled with confusion, amazement, excitement and wonder with the usual ‘this is my room’ and argy-bargy ensuing.
Our cabin had three bedrooms with one en-suite, a twin and a double bedroom, all equipped with wall heaters and fresh towels, robes and slippers. The kids emerged looking like they had been lazing at a spa all day, dressed in over-sized white robes and huge white slippers, if only they were also in a state of zen.
The living room area had an open plan kitchen with dining table and all mod cons expect washing machine (laundry room is on-site). The kitchen is fully equipped and absolutely spotless, it didn’t take us long to fill up the fridge, it felt like home from home especially with a trip to M&S food hall in the nearby town. With a huge dining table, eating in the cabin was very cosy.
The luxury cabins come with their own personal hot tub with beautiful views of the forest, the water temperature is around 39 degrees so is very warm, sitting out last thing at night under the stars is incredible and created space for the children to submerge in water and calm down before bedtime.
The children loved the bubbles and the difference in the cold air and warm water, we had a few early morning hot tubs also to kick start the day, surrounded by the woodland sounds and beautiful Autumn views.
There is lots to do in and around the area, from long woodland walks, falconry experience, photography walks, cycling and even water-based activities over at Nottingham National Water Sports Centre. There’s even a couple of local Spas to help you unwind, and of course, the majestic Thoresby Hall to explore.
Although we had been booked in on a 5-day break, with Halloween falling on the Thursday 31st October and check out being Friday 1st November at 10am, the kids begged to head home early so they could go trick or treating. We only had 3-full days to explore and made sure we put them to good use, without being too overambitious as my 6-year still acts up by sitting down on the spot and refusing to walk any further, I was mindful not to go too far in the event that I would most certainly have to carry him back.
Amongst some of the beautiful walks we did, we packed in Go Karting, Laser Tag, Trampolining and lunch at a local pub, if we had more time we would also have gone to Go Ape over at Sherwood Pine. There is masses to do, so be sure to check out the local areas.
What we loved
The whole experience from the location, the accommodation and the whole ‘wind down’ experience of being immersed in the healing forest, you can’t help but take life at a slower pace and absorb the abundance of nature’s beauty. I can’t think of anything that we didn’t like and despite leaving slightly early, so they could dress up as little ghouls, I know the kids would have been more than happy to stay longer.
Most of all, we loved the silence and the vast open spaces. Although we live in Buckinghamshire, we are surrounded by woodlands and countryside but there is just something so captivating about Sherwood Forest.
Would we stay again
Absolutely, I would love to take the kids there at Christmas time one year to experience the forest gripped by icy, wintery fingers and the eerie beauty that a December or January forest brings. There is something so incredible when the trees are empty and sound seems to travel further as there is little foliage to muffle the sounds.
We stayed at The Sherwood Hideaway in Nottingham, where a three night holiday starting on the 31st January 2020 costs from £527, based on up to six people sharing a three-bedroom Traditional lodge with hot tub.
1. Plan ahead
If we go back to Sherwood Hideaway, I would plan a little better around what free or cheap activities are happening in the local towns for kids at the leisure centres and shop around for discount codes for local attractions such as Twin Lakes theme park etc.
It’s great to not have to cook, that’s half of the fun of being on holiday, so checking offers at local restaurants and pubs will help to keep costs down and afford you the pleasure mamma, of not having to tidy up afterwards.
2. Pack your camera
I love taking photos with my iPhone and I have some beautiful and professional looking shots from my travels from around the world, I would really have liked to have left my phone in the cabin and use a hand-held camera instead. Although I wasn’t using the phone to message or call, the children associate the phone with my attention. There’s also something ‘real’ about having a camera in your hands and taking your time to think about the composition of the shot.
3. Take a few dishwasher tablets
The cabin does come stocked with everything you need but with only 2 dishwasher tablets and eating in the cabin every evening and morning, we had a fair bit of washing up to get through. Pack a few more.
4. Ticks – be prepared
There are signs around the holiday park with regards to ticks and Lyme Disease, as we weren’t prepared for that, the kids were a bit nervous, as was I. To enjoy the forest in a relaxed manner, I would advise buying a tick removal set (particularly if you have a dog with you) and getting some long socks to tuck your trousers into etc. There are ticks all around the UK but as there are signs up, it’s best to be extra vigilant.
5. Enjoy the go-slow
Most of all, the best tip I can give is to really soak up the beauty of the environment, enjoy the luxury log-cabins and allow everyone to go just a little bit slower. Life is so hectic and busy, staying at the Sherwood Hideaway is a brilliant chance to unwind, revive your energy levels and give your mind a break from the constant overwhelm of daily life.
MyFamilyClub 5 Star Rating
We have given a 5-star rating for Sherwood Hideaway Holidays for:
Quality of accommodation
Value for money
Friendliness of staff
Overall family friendly experience