Spending peaceful evenings gazing up at the stars I came to understand the appeal of Sherwood Forest to Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men.
After a hard day robbing from the rich to give to the poor the outlaw would rest under the branches of the Major Oak (or inside the tree if he was hiding from the Sheriff of Nottingham).
In contrast, after an exhausting day running around after my two young children, I would relax in the hot tub on the decking of my luxury lodge, glass of complimentary champagne in hand.
I was easing away life’s stresses and strains, just as Robin would have done. However, I believe my need for the soothing bubbles and bubbly was greater than his!
My family and I were staying at Sherwood Hideaway, a peaceful retreat consisting of 30 lodges on a former Army training camp within the dense Nottinghamshire woodland.
It’s a very different holiday park to the ones we’ve become used to. There’s no noisy clubhouse, no daytime entertainment, no playgrounds and no wallet-draining arcade games (phew!).
But the lodges are so spaced out we could let our two children off the leash while still being able to keep an eye on them from the kitchen / dining area or the decking – and we’d rarely seen them happier.
In any case, as a base for family-friendly days out, Sherwood Hideaway is pretty unbeatable, with five country parks / estates within a 10-minute drive, one of which you can even reach on foot.
Thorsby Park, a lovely country estate with parkland, woodland and rivers, is a 40-minute walk from the lodges along a purpose-built path that’s also suitable for bicycles.
The magnificent Thorsby Hall is now a posh hotel where Sherwood Hideaway guests (aged over 21) are able to have a swim or indulge in a therapeutic spa treatment.
Its cobbled courtyard is home to a cafe, craft shops, a glass blowing studio, an art gallery and a free to enter military museum (open Wednesday to Sunday, closed over winter).
Our children particularly enjoyed the playground, the free scooter hire and the alien hunt around the grounds (a special event for May half term).
We also crammed three country parks into our weekend away.
Rufford Abbey Country Park boasts gardens, woodland, a boating lake, craft centre, sculpture trail, a terrific new playground and the ruins of a 12th century monastery.
As fans of the author Julia Donaldson, our kids were in their element at Sherwood Pines Country Park where there are trails inspired by her popular books Zog and The Gruffalo.
There are also playgrounds galore, great den building opportunities and, surprisingly, replica First World War machine gun nests and a trench system you can climb down into.
Sherwood Pines is also home to a Go Ape and we wore ourselves out on its ‘Nets Kingdom’, a treetops playground made of jumbo hammock-style netting with slides and giant balls.
As you might expect, Sherwood Forest Country Park is where you’ll find an exhibition about Nottinghamshire’s most famous son, the legendary Robin Hood.
A short walk from the visitor centre takes you to the Major Oak. Up to 1,000 years old and with a 92ft canopy, it’s said that 20 people can fit within the hollows of its trunk.
There’s a six-mile trail from Sherwood Hideaway to the Major Oak, taking in St Mary’s Church in the village of Edwinstowe where, it’s said, Robin married Maid Marion.
On Sundays at Sherwood Hideaway an expert falconer leads one-hour walks (£15 per person) through the pine and birch trees around the lodges, giving guests an insight into Harris Hawks.
Occasionally, there are five-hour walks (£95 per person) where you get to fly birds of prey, and others where you are shown how to capture stunning images of them swooping through the treetops.
Our tranquil, two-bedroom ‘Woodland View’ lodge (no.14) occupied a prime location on the park, with the living areas facing the forest, and the only noise being birdsong.
The impressive decking ran the length of the lodge and featured rattan furniture (a cube dining set and corner sofa) plus that hot tub.
A door from the master bedroom to the decking meant you could tip toe to its rainforest shower without dripping through the living areas.
Spotless and spacious, the lodge was finished to a high standard throughout, with contemporary touches and high quality fixtures and fittings.
It included under floor heating, a dishwasher, four-poster bed, free wifi, an iphone dock, Nespresso machine, barbecue area and cycle rack.
In keeping with Robin Hood country, there was a box of posh chocs to Friar Tuck into and Molton Brown toiletries in the, er, Little John.
Would we return? We Sher-wood!
Adrian and family were guests of The Sherwood Hideaway in Sherwood Forest, where a four-night break starting September 16 starts at £674, based on up to four people sharing a two-bedroom Woodland View lodge, complete with hot tub. Dog friendly accommodation is available. For details visit www.sherwoodhideaway.com or call 01623 824 594.
Out & About
If you’re staying for longer than a weekend there are plenty more opportunities for days out near Sherwood.
- Clumber Park (14 mins): The National Trust estate boasts the world’s longest double avenue of lime trees, plus 20 miles of cycle routes, a serpentine lake and a Victorian pleasure ground.
- Creswell Crags (19 mins): Stone tools and animal remains dating back to the last Ice Age, between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago, have been found in this limestone gorge honeycombed with caves.
- Bolsover Castle (25 mins): An English Heritage property where you can enjoy wall walks, magnificent views and display a Cavalier horsemanship set to Baroque music in the Riding School.
- National Water Sports Centre, Nottingham (47 mins): Set in 300 acres of parkland there is a range of activities including water skiing, white water rafting, sailing, pond-skating and canoeing.
- Wollaton Hall, Nottingham (47 mins): This Edwardian mansion (Wayne Manor in a Batman film) is set within 500 acres of gardens and parkland and houses natural history and industrial museums.
Newspaper article here