Darwin Forest Lodges in the Peak District Review – We arrived at Darwin Forest on a misty evening in March. From the road I could see the lights of the lodges twinkling warmly welcoming us to our weekend holiday home. Darwin Forest is a large 5 star self-catering holiday park in the Peak District not too far from Chatsworth House. It would be a fabulous location for a week’s stay as there is so much to do, both at the park and in the area. It’s beautiful walking countryside too. We were only there for the weekend but managed to pack plenty in as you can see from the video we made (there’s a lodge tour of all the rooms at the end too). If you are visiting for longer you might be interested in what other great days out in the Peak District are available.
Darwin Forest Lodges
The lodge itself was very clean and modern. We had two bedrooms, one with twin beds and one with a double, and oh my goodness the beds are so comfortable! Which is something, if you read my reviews, you might know I don’t say very often! I often find beds too hard but these were great.
The bathroom is a good size with a large bath (taps in the middle!) and a shower over it. The living room has two sofas, a music system, a large flat screen Samsung Smart TV with all the Freeview channels. There is a very squishy rug that was hailed as ‘the best rug ever’ by the kids (who knew they’d get so excited over a rug?!).
The kitchen is bright and well equipped. There is a large fridge freezer, that has its own wine rack built in – I was impressed, naturally we filled it!
There is also a dishwasher, microwave, cooker and toaster. The cupboards are well stocked with crockery and nice wine glasses. I didn’t realise until I wrote that sentence how judgemental I was about wine glasses in the accommodation we stay in. But actually I am, so there we have it. I like nice wine glasses and I cannot lie!
On the deck outside our lodge was a good sized patio table and four chairs and (the best bit) a hot tub! The hot tub is lit under the water for night time relaxing. It’s a lovely thing to do in the middle of winter or the height of summer with the family.
Activities at Darwin Forest Lodges
The following day we had a relaxing couple of hours in the morning before heading to the first activity of the day body zorbing! Basically this involves a body size inflatable ball with a tube section in the middle that the kids get into.
They then race some races to warm up before the games began. The instructor, Natalie, explained each game to the children. Master T was the tallest and stockiest one there so had a distinct advantage in being able to knock the other children over quite easily (much to his sister’s disgust). I particularly enjoyed the ‘ten pin bowling’ where the kids lined up as pins and took it in turns to knock the others down. There are lots of other activities available like archery, crossbow or snorkelling. You do need to pay extra for these. Body zorbing was for age 6+, was £8 per child and lasted an hour.
When we had finished, we were in need of a coffee so headed to Little Monkeys soft play. The soft play frame is impressively large with lots of slides. You do need to pay for soft play but at £3.50 for lodge guests, I felt this was very reasonable. The food was good in there too and we stayed for lunch. It’s worth noting that they serve breakfast there until 12.30 too. There is a shop on site that sells all those little things you might have forgotten to bring, as well as wine, beer and extra loo rolls! You can also get cashback here when you spend over £10, if, like us, you rarely carry cash. Oh and while I am talking practicalities, there is a laundry on site too.
Woodland Walk and Trim Trak
There are lots of lovely woodland walks all around the site. The Trim Trak is fabulous (don’t be put off by the name, it’s a lot more fun than it sounds!), a walk through the woods with nine different sets of wooden play equipment that the kids loved to discover and climb on.
It also follows a shallow stream for a lot of the way that older kids can paddle in.
There is a fallen tree towards the end that forms a brilliant den, and a large noughts and crosses set that kept the children entertained.
There is a pub restaurant on site. You do have to book ahead for a table though as we didn’t, and we couldn’t get a table! We did get takeaway both nights though which was very nice.
Darwin Forest Park Playground
Next to the pub restaurant there is a cracking enclosed children’s playground which is ideal for older kids like mine. I can imagine this is a lively place in the summer. There are lots of tables outside the pub, and it must be lovely to sit there on a warm evening having a glass of wine while the kids play.
Near the pub there is a good games room and arcade with pool tables, air hockey and table tennis. The table tennis is free but you need to purchase bats and ball from the site shop, do if you think ahead this could be something you brought with you. There’s a dance machine, motorbikes and a grab machine in there too so take some cash. I didn’t see an ATM on the site but the shop gives cashback if you spend over £10.
There is a good size swimming pool at Darwin Forest that is free for lodge guests. There is a spa too, but I didn’t try it as I was in with the kids. If we had been there longer I would have got Mr Wonders to look after them for a couple of hours so I could try it! The changing rooms are communal so you can go in as a family. The lockers take a pound coin (old or new!).
Darwin Forest lodges make a great place to stay for the weekend or the week. The lodges are modern, clean and well equipped and the hot tub is a lovely bit of luxury if you choose a lodge with one! The park itself is in very pretty woods and there was lots to do for the kids. A great place to use as a base and explore the area too.
You can look for availability and book here.
Darwin Forest Country Park invited us to visit and review. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.