The idea of a staycation in Sherwood Forest – the legendary stomping-ground of Robin Hood – was an exciting prospect. But while my partner was raring to explore the 3,300 acres of wild woodland, I was more excited about the prospect of having our very own private hot tub and an entire luxury cabin all to ourselves. There’s a wide range of lodges on offer at the Forest Holidays site, including the Golden Oak Treehouse which sleeps 10, but as it was just the two of us we booked the smaller Silver Birch Cabin for our cosy long weekend break. Not that it was small by any means, with a master bedroom and en-suite bathroom, as well as a spacious living room and kitchen area and a second bedroom and bathroom – not to mention the outdoor terrace, barbecue rack and hot tub.
Although there are plenty of parking facilities for those who want to drive, we took the train up to Mansfield and from there it was just a short taxi ride to the site. The wood cabins and the Forest Retreat, the main reception area which houses both a café and a shop, are nestled amongst the tall pines and it’s a pretty impressive sight when you first enter the compound. Check-in is between 4-8pm and once we were given our keys, we picked up supplies – a gourmet dish from Cook and a few local beers – from the shop and walked over to our home for the weekend.
The cabin was both clean and well equipped, with a fully-integrated kitchen overlooking the private terrace and hot tub. It was wonderful to learn that the hot tubs had been turned on prior to our arrival, which meant that they were ready to use straightaway. Although I have aspirations of being an outdoorsy-type the reality is that I like my home comforts, so it was lovely to be able to turn on the under floor heating and snuggle up in front of the flat-screen TV as the weather took a turn for the worst. We’d pre-ordered the In-Cabin Entertainment Package so we had unlimited Wi-Fi, Sky TV channels and over 125 films to choose from. Not only that but there was also a Scrabble set on the coffee table, so suffice to say we had plenty to keep us entertained.
It would have been amiss of us to not experience our very own Robin Hood moment in the forest, so we pre-booked an archery lesson for the Saturday morning. Another couple joined us for the class and it was a surprisingly easy skill to pick up. After a few instructions we were all proficient bowmen – well, at a 30m range – and the lesson ended with a closely fought competition. Although I didn’t win, it was a nice consolation to be awarded a certificate at the end. In the field across from us a family were having their own archery contest, with children as young as six managing to shoot the bullseye.
After a spot of lunch back at the cabin, we headed to the Sherwood Pines Cycle Centre to hire a pair of mountain bikes for the weekend. Along with a chain and padlock, we were given a helmet and a map of the three trails which are situated in the 450-acre country park. For less confident and younger riders there’s a leisurely Family Trail and confident cyclists can challenge themselves on The Kitchener Trail. We chose to test out the 6-mile Adventure Trail through the forest which was a wonderful way to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy our surroundings.
Feeling fairly worn-out from our afternoon of cycling, we headed back to the cabin to unwind in the hot tub. We didn’t quite fancy walking to the Forest Retreat to pick up more food so we took advantage of the option to order food and drink through our TV. The Pizza Night Pack was very tempting, but in the end we went for the Indian Night Package which comprised of two curries, rice, Naan bread, Cobra beers and Indian snacks. Thinking ahead, we also ordered the Traditional Breakfast Pack so I could make a fry up in the morning before we set out on our bikes again to explore the local area.
There are a number of attractions offsite, but the most popular is the Major Oak, the legendary home of Robin Hood. The following day we ventured out to the ancient forest and then we explored the local area, stopping by a wonderful pub which our archery teacher had recommended. On the last night Chris surprised me with their indulgent Prosecco and Chocolates package, which we enjoyed in the hot tub in the peaceful surrounds of the night forest.
A Forest Holidays two-bedroom cabin at Sherwood Forest starts from £370 for a four-night break. Cycle hire is £9 per adult per hour, children’s bikes are from £8 per hour. Attachments such as child seats and buggies are also available.