At the end of the September we spent a weekend at Landal Darwin Forest Country Park in the Derbyshire Dales. It is just outside of Matlock with quick access to the stunning Peak District. Ollie and I used to live in Sheffield, so it was perfect location for us to explore our the old trails which use to walk down.
As we wanted to make most of our weekend, we decided to leave our home in Cambridgeshire on Friday morning to arrive around 10:30am in the Peak District. It also allowed us to visit Matlock Bath before we check-in at 4pm.
Landal Darwin Forest Country Park
The luxury lodges are set in 47 acres of woodland paradise, only quick drive from Matlock and Bakewell. The park has 127 lodges, sleeping from 2 to 8 people. They are located in the forest which allows you to feel very close to the nature and enjoy time away from hassle and bustle of the city live. The site provides perfect base to explore the surrounding Derbyshire villages as well as stunning Peak District. However if you wish to stay within the park, it offers good vast of activities and fabulous facilities. The site sells lots of discounted tickets at the reception to local attractions like Chatsworth House, Haddon Hall (English Heritage site), Heights of Abrahams, Alton Towers, Gulliver’s Kingdom and so many more.
Our Lodge – Haddon Classic Vogue 3
We absolutely loved our lodge. It was a well-designed and luxurious accommodation for our family of four. The lodge was a well equipped modern kitchen with conventional cooker, microwave oven, refrigerator and dishwasher. In some other lodges you even get a washing machine, however there is laundry on site if yours doesn’t. The living area was very spacious and furnished to the highest standards with big dining table. Everything felt very new and we loved the smell of wood through out the lodge. It made us feel like we were sleeping outside between freshly cut trees. There was also a big Smart TV and DVD Player. We were also given some forest activities spreadsheets and board games which can be exchange for any others at the reception. Our accommodation had a 3 spacious bedrooms, incl. one master with ensuite. We loved that all had good size wardrobes where we could unpack and put our suitcase away.
As we brought our labrador Holly, we weren’t staying in the lodge with the hot tub.
We had two parking spaces just outside our lodge which was perfect during unpacking/packing back.
You can find a fully inventory here.
You can check the 360 view here.
What to do during your stay at Landal Darwin Forest?
The site provides great variety of attractions, so even if it ends up to be a rainy day you won’t get bored. On sites you can find Evolution Health & Fitness which has a swimming pool, spa, gym and beauty rooms. Your kids can enjoy the Little Monkeys indoor soft play centre (entrance not free of charge), Activity Den, Mini Golf Course, Tennis courts, Bike renting, outside playground and little indoor soft play area which is perfect for younger toddlers. During our stay there we had an option to enjoy Archery, Fencing, WaterWalkerz, BodyZorbing and so much more. Lily decided that she wants to try Mini Jet Ski and it was a hit. She absolutely loved it and immediately got a grip about how to use it.
Ollie and I had a go at the CrossBow and had absolutely amazing time (thanks to our friends who kindly looked after the girls). Looks like I was much better at getting the target than my husband.
We recommend you BOOK ACTIVITIES ONLINE in advance to avoid disappointment. We decided to go swimming twice over the weekend and each time we had lots of fun. However on Friday afternoon the pool was really busy with lots of swimming kids classes.
The woodland walks are great opportunity to explore the nature on your doorstep. We actually enjoyed it so much that we did it every day while we stayed at Landal Darwin Forest Country Park. There are several trails and the forest is full of cones and some wildlife.
Eating and Supplies
Darwin Forest has its own onsite shop where you can pick up some essentials, however they do come a bit pricey. You can get delivered on site shopping from Ocado, Sainsbury and Tesco. We decided to shop beforehand and bring everything we needed with us. Matlock is only 10 minutes drive, so you can do a bigger shop there.
If you plan to cook make sure to bring tea bags, coffees, sugar, oil, etc as you won’t find them in the lodge.
However, if you want to take a break and enjoy a great meal, the Foresters Bar and Restaurant serves food seven days a week. All the products on the menu are sourced locally and there is children meals available too. The portions are really satisfying and we loved every bite.
Things to Do Around Darwin Forest Lodge
When we arrived we were given a print out about about events and activities happening in the area during our stay, which was really handy. Due to close vicinity to the Peak District if you are walk fan you will never get bored. We love being close to the nature and enjoy a good hike with the view.
On Friday before checking in, we visited Matlock Bath. We visited this stunning town many years ago, but we have never made it to the top of Heights of Abraham. You can reach the top of the hill by hiking a zig-zag path or use, just like us, a scenic route via cable car. This country park and famous show caverns set in 60 acres of woodland with the view over deep limestone gorge in the Peak District. On the top you will find an adventure playground, caverns (the girls weren’t keen to check them out), cafe’ and so much more. We loved admiring the views from Prospect Tower and Tinker’s Shaft (really worth the climb). We then decided to find an ice-cream in Matlock Bath and have a stroll next to the river.
Mam Tor is a 517m hill near Castleton in the Derbyshire Peak District. It is one of the most famous walks in the area and truly deserves to be visited. We parked the car at the Mam Tor National Trust parking and climbed to the top. Lily (our 4 year old girl) easily walked by herself while I had Bella in my carrier. The views at the top were breathtaking.
We haven’t visited it on this occasion, but it is our favourite walk in the area. This place is famous for the big stepping stones that have helped people cross the river since the beginning of the 19th century. The views from the top are spectacular as well and so worth the climb.
Situated north of Hathersage, Stanage Edge is a popular place for walkers with stunning views over the Hope Valley. As the parking is situated very close to the viewing point, it is great location to reach with kids.
If you are looking for relaxing or adventurous weekend with family or friends, we would highly recommend Landal Darwin Forest Country Park. The amount of activities on site and outside makes it perfect location for a week or just longer weekend trip.
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