Due to a combination of young children, dogs and busy schedules, my immediate family doesn’t get together that often. My sister-in-law, who’d enjoyed a Forest Holidays break in North Yorkshire with friends, suggested that we – me, my husband, and son and daughter, aged four and two respectively, my brother, his wife, and their son and daughter, aged nine and seven, and my mum and stepdad plus their two whippets – try out their site in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire.
The cabins appealed to us as we could have our own space but come together for meals and activities. As it worked out, my mum and stepdad’s cabin was next to ours but my brother and his wife were a short walk away, since they’d chosen a different type of cabin with a hot tub. This made getting together after the kids were in bed a bit tricky, with one of us missing each meal due to babysitting. That said, even had we had all been in adjacent cabins, they were a little too far apart for us to be able to rely on monitors.
'We crammed Dora and Arlo into a trailer and took them on a cycle ride on one of the more pedestrian paths, watching as mountain-bikers with mud up their backsides skidded down the steeper hills. I went for a run, passing ramblers on the way, and the kids spent a lot of time in the hot tub.'
On the other hand, when you’re holidaying in the midst of a beautiful forest, you don’t want the cabins to be packed tightly together. And beautiful it certainly was during this autumn half-term visit, with the ground covered in acorns and a thick carpet of red leaves. My urbanite kids Dora and Arlo fell upon the acorns and spent the first hour contentedly picking them up and stuffing their pockets.
After a long drive, we were grateful for the creature comforts of our cabin: underfloor heating, picture windows from which to view the wildlife, comfortable beds and lofty ceilings. The cabins are nicely integrated into the forest and the interiors are smart, with wooden floors and plasma TVs; my brother’s had a chest of family games in addition to the hot tub.
The sun shone on us all weekend, and dogs, children and adults alike enjoyed the glorious hilly walks. Nick and I crammed Dora and Arlo into a trailer and took them on a cycle ride on one of the more pedestrian paths, watching as mountain-bikers with mud up their backsides skidded down the steeper hills. I went for a run, passing ramblers on the way, and the kids spent a lot of time in the hot tub.
The cabins, for all their luxury, were stocked with only enough crockery and cutlery for four, so every time one of us cooked, the rest of the family had to bring plates and so on. In terms of not having to fit around other people’s routines and agendas (and dogs), it was good to have our own cabin, but after the third night of traipsing through the woods (very dark but magical) with food and plates and cutlery, with one of us having to stay with the sleeping kids, we wondered why we hadn’t opted for a larger cabin, where we could congregate in the evenings with a little more ease. With five-bedroom cabins sleeping 10 now available on the Forest of Dean site, with one of the beds in a treehouse extension, that might be an option for next time.
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