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Have you forgotten what a weekend is? A Darwin Forest Lodge in the Peak District

In, out, in, out, shake it all about. Loved this lodge so much, kids happy playing in the forest, grown ups lazily moving from hot tub to deck to sofa. Enjoying the papers, the peace and the sunshine ❤️ haven't been this happy and relaxed in ages @darwin_forest

In, out, in, out, shake it all about. Loved this lodge so much, kids happy playing in the forest, grown ups lazily moving from hot tub to deck to sofa. Enjoying the papers, the peace and the sunshine ❤️ haven’t been this happy and relaxed in ages @darwin_forest

 

‘You can tell when you absolutely love something from the heart from your instagrams,’ said my friend Becky ‘I know you always see the good in the places you go and choose places you think you will love, but when you completely, utterly feel at home somewhere I can always tell.’

There is always subtext in the words we write, but I guess I hadn’t always realised how much. Becky was right, I fell headlong for Darwin Forest in the glorious Peak District, and had the most transformative, wonderful weekend. Long baths, lie ins, a hot tub, easy family meal times, walks in the forest, kids building dens, reading the paper, naps, films, chatter, pottering, lots of tea and cake. I would go so far as saying I had forgotten what a weekend can be, and this reminded and refuelled me. Sometimes you need a proper break, to do nothing, switch off and get some headspace, Darwin Forest was the perfect place for that. Here’s why.

The Peak District is stunning

The Peak District is utterly magical, the scenery is breathtaking and having spent most of my life living alongside it, it feels like home. At Darwin Forest you are so close to Chatsworth, and some of the South Peak District’s most beautiful walks at Dovedale and walking cycling along the Manifold valley. You are 20 minutes from the most incredible Bakewell puddings and the pretty towns of Ashbourne, Bakewell and Matlock. Alton Towers and Gulliver’s Kingdom, the Height of Abraham, the plague village of Eyam or the Blue John Cavern in Castletown, there are so many amazing days out locally, Darwin Forest have lots more local inspiration.

Forest lodge living is easy

If I could live anywhere, it would be in a Scandi style lodge in the forest, in fact that’s what Mr A and I spent large chunks of the weekend plotting. The open plan design of the Darwin Forest lodges is brilliant, within 20 minutes of arriving we had unpacked, had the oven on and pizzas on the go while we relaxed in the living room and the kids set the table. We stayed in The Meadows, which is a secluded area with only three luxury lodges, although looking around the park, all the lodges are well spaced, high quality and surrounded by forest – if you want some extra luxury and remoteness, this is an amazing option. Throughout the weekend the kids came and went out of the French doors, which stayed open all weekend, yet it stayed cosy indoors, we never do that at home as our Victorian house is always chilly. The Skyline lodge let so much light in, alongside the wooden walls it really did feel so uplifting to be cocooned in nature like this.

Darwin Forest

Lodge living rules! @darwin_forest

Darwin Forest - 9

Darwin Forest

Soothe away the stresses

Water is so calming, I loved the big bath tubs which called out for a Friday wind down bubble bath with prosecco or a Sunday morning laze with the paper, to the hot tub which we spent every spare moment chatting away in. From the hot tub on our deck we could also see across to the forest where the kids could play safely without supervision.

Settled into our @darwin_forest luxury lodge for the weekend. Will be making time for the hot tub, long baths, walks in the forest and catching up with family #familytravelmoment

Settled into our @darwin_forest luxury lodge for the weekend. Will be making time for the hot tub, long baths, walks in the forest and catching up with family #familytravelmoment

Darwin Forest - 2 (2)

 

Being in nature makes people happier

All sorts of research has shown it, but I know I am happy the moment I set foot somewhere green. Darwin Forest lodges are set in the forest, with access to a forest trail, nature walks and wild flower meadows.  I loved our family walks through the forest, my Sunday morning run, our lakeside walk, but it was the view from our bedroom of the wildflower meadow that made me most insanely happy. Snapping pictures of mushrooms, buttercups, trees = my favourite kind of photos.

Darwin Forest - 1

Tea in bed with a view of the previous pic, 7k run through forest, eggy bread for brekkie and surrounded by family, I could not be happier or more relaxed @darwin_forest

Tea in bed with a view of the previous pic, 7k run through forest, eggy bread for brekkie and surrounded by family, I could not be happier or more relaxed @darwin_forest

 

The view from the back of our lodge, our bedroom window overlooks this meadow, it is gorgeous to wake up to @darwin_forest

The view from the back of our lodge, our bedroom window overlooks this meadow, it is gorgeous to wake up to @darwin_forest

Darwin Forest - 4

The perfect place for all ages

We have family nearby who popped by to say hello, the kids had a brilliant time building dens in the wood, while the grown ups chatted in the hot tub. It was the perfect place for multi-generational adventures.

 

Loads of activities

With Pokemon Go just released, Mr A decided to test it out and caught his first Pokemon in Darwin Forest, it was also a really safe place to let the kids have a little go, but ultimately we came to be tech free, and it was so easy to unplug here, although I can report the wifi in our lodge was great, but phone coverage is patchy, so plan ahead.

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Darwin Forest has plenty of things to break up a lazy day relaxing, because lets face it, kids aren’t quite as good at doing nothing as grown ups on holiday. What I really loved was that there weren’t too many distractions either, so they were more than happy to do plenty of what modern kids need to do, play outdoors. When ours were ready to take a break from building dens in the woods, we enjoyed swimming, mini golf, tennis and there is a Trim Trak around the edge of the park, with climbing wall, monkey bars and a few other challenges.

There is Little Monkeys indoor soft play which looked awesome, but it was too sunny to be indoors during our stay. Foresters Bar and Restaurant is a lovely place to relax, with a playground next to the terrace. There is a good quality shop where mine bought bouncy balls, a frisbee and art supplies and we stocked up on food, drink and treats.

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Darwin Forest - 8

There are lots of new activities to try this summer too:

Darwin Flyer A5.indd

People keep coming back for more…

I thought this was so lovely, a fairy tree which visitors have hung mementoes on, many of whom have returned for a second, third or more visit. Darwin Forest clearly captures people’s hearts.

Darwin Forest - 5

I’ve stayed in a few lodge parks, this has to be the most relaxing, there was a real sense of peace and quiet and not so many options that you end up worrying that you might be missing out. So there you have it, windows into a perfect weekend spent in Darwin Forest Country Park, in the Peak District, and windows into my heart, which is so much happier for having unwound in this stunning setting. This would be my go to place for a local weekend escape and my dream base if I was visiting to explore the Peak District for a longer visit.

A couple of people asked me about dogs, we couldn’t find a weekend at late notice that had a dog friendly lodge for Max, but dogs are very welcome in some lodges and I saw lots of happy dogs enjoying the woodland walks.

More questions? These FAQs are really useful, or leave me a comment or tweet @pennyalexander_ and I will let you know. Don’t just take our word for it, check out Kate Take 5’s review, we met up with her and her lovely family to show her Dovedale when she came over from Ireland, and my fellow Space in Your Case writer, Katie, at Mummy Daddy Me made the most of a Winter break in the forest too and visited Chatsworth at Christmas, a magical thing to do.

Pin it to your travel bucket list!

A luxury forest lodge with hot tub in England's glorious Peak District. A Weekend Unplugged!

Disclosure – we were guests of Darwin Forest, opinions remain my own.

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5 Comments

  • Reply Claire at Tin Box Traveller

    I feel totally relaxed just watching your video! What a lovely place to unwind and enjoy some quality family time. The facilities look ideal for a chilled out family break. And you’re right about the Peak District – so much to do if you want to be a bit more active. Lovely!

    29/07/2016 at 8:00 am
    • Reply parentshaped

      Thanks Claire that is so lovely to hear. I need to go back, hump day today in a long but lovely summer holiday week at home! x

      10/08/2016 at 7:12 pm
  • Reply Sam - Travelling With Our Kids

    Oh wow looks lovely. Looks like a great place for a family getaway. Im away for a look on their website to see if i can find the dog friendly lodges now 🙂

    14/08/2016 at 9:50 pm
  • Reply Ellie

    I love that there is so much to do on your doorstep, my two love exploring and adventure playgrounds and this looks great for children to be free to explore. The Peak District is such an idyllic part of the world and I can imagine beautiful in all seasons. I absolutely love the idea of a hot tub, perfect for relaxing in after a busy day. And with plenty of beautiful towns on your doorstep there is always something to do.

    28/09/2016 at 10:45 am
  • Reply Valencia S. Dsouza

    Forest place is really good as it is filled with nature. Its best when your out with your family and friends.

    17/02/2017 at 10:37 am
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