Manchester Evening News
Cath Ascroft and her merry men arrowed in on a stress-free weekend in Sherwood Forest.
Sitting in our own private hot tub sipping champagne in the blazing heat, it felt like we had won the lottery. But this wasn’t the Caribbean, instead were enjoying a rare bit of summer staying at Sherwood Forest in the heart of Nottinghamshire, where the non-stop rain had been transformed miraculously into 28C of glorious sunshine.
Like many others in recession-hit Britain, we’d not managed to stretch to a foreign break this year and instead opted to stay in the UK knowing the downside would be the weather. How wrong could we be.
Temperatures got so warm on our weekend at one point my other half went to sit inside complaining it was too hot.So while he sat sweltering watching sport on the settee and our two-year-old had his afternoon nap, Mummy enjoyed some well-earned me time relaxing with a book in the tub under a giant sun umbrella.
The weekend, however, hadn’t started off quite so stress-free. Setting off late as usual, with a car stuffed with all the things a toddler needs, we followed the satnav. Now if there is one thing I hate it is satnav. Yet again I was proved right when the stupid thing decided to send us on a not so merry dance to Leeds before putting us smack bang in the middle of Friday afternoon rush hour traffic. This almost caused a major domestic as I sat muttering: “If we’d just followed the map we’d be there by now.”So we finally arrived quite frazzled at our destination, Sherwood Hideway, home to the legend of Robin Hood.But within seconds of being shown to our accommodation the mood lifted.Although I have stayed in a number of lodges before, these were something else.The luxury cedar lodges are tastefully furnished. From the stunning, huge open-plan and very well equipped kitchen and dining area, to the beautiful bedrooms all individually decorated by an interior designer who has done a great job.
Giant soft pillows and Egyptian cotton bedding completes the look, which is more like a boutique hotel in its design. There is an ensuite wet room and separate bathroom with a full size bath. The modern lounge, which opens out on to the large decking area, has flat screen television and with DVD player and log burner for those chilly nights. As we explored further we found a welcome gift of a box of chocolates and lots of little added extras like fluffy bathrobes, slippers and Molton Brown toiletries. “Let’s move here permanently,” I said to my partner. He annoyingly, but correctly, pointed out that we would have this place looking as messy as it does at home as soon as we moved in all our junk. So very happy in our new surroundings, we slipped straight into holiday mode and into the hot tub on a private decking area looking out to the forest.
It was getting a bit late and both my boys were getting hungry so we decided to order a pizza to be delivered. A large selection of menus for various local takeways are held at the reception office and all can be delivered straight to your door, which is fantastic for hungry kids and adults alike. Despite it getting dark, it was still lovely outside so we sat on the decking enjoying our pizza before putting a very happy but shattered toddler to bed.
Well rested the next morning we headed out to get some supplies. Although there is no store on site, the nearby town of Ollerton a couple of minutes drive away has a large supermarket and a good selection shops, including a butcher, bakery and chemist. The weather was still stunning so we decided to make the most of it and picked up some meat to cook later. A barbecue is provided but you are only permitted to use one of the disposable barbecue packs available at reception or at a number of the shops locally.
Boring stuff done we went off to find a mini steam train I had spotted in the folder of things to do. Staffed by volunteers, the Sherwood Forest Railway is fantastic. The trains were bought in 1999 by an enthusiast who, with help from family and friends, created the mile-long route. Built by hand, the track runs though farmland with little tunnels and a level crossing. It was such a hit with both father and son that they enjoyed another go while I had a cup of tea.
Later that evening we barbecued our steak and made some chips and sat out again to eat al fresco, feeling more relaxed than we had in ages. Had we been on a romantic night away we might have gone to enjoy a meal at nearby Thorseby Hall, which is on the same estate as the Sherwood Hideaway lodges. The restaurant, with two AA rosettes, boasts an impressive-looking menu. although we only looked and didn’t get to taste. There is also a spa with a range of luxury treatments available and offered at a discount for lodge residents. Our final day dawned and we decided we couldn’t visit Sherwood Forest without exploring the legend. So off in search of Robin Hood I went with my merry men to the visitors centre to begin our hunt. It didn’t take long as within minutes we were surrounded by mini versions of the man himself.
Dozens of children were running around merrily wearing little felt hats and brandishing wooden bows and arrows purchased by proud parents at the gift shop.We set off to explore the woodland trails and came across a historical re-enactment weekend and as we made our way through the forest we met a host of characters, from 12th century peasants to soliders from the Boer War. Archery, weaving, making copper pots – it really was like being part of living history. We ended up at the mysterious and ancient Major Oak tree, which is 52ft tall and believed to be at least 1,000 years old. Legend has it that Robin Hood himself hid from his enemies in its branches. A trip to the adventure playground and an ice cream finished us off and we headed back with the little one asleep before we had even pulled out of the car park.
So all packed up we regretfully headed home and true to form we were hardly on the motorway before the weather started to change. “I wish we had another night so we could light the log burner and get cozy,” I said. And that is the great thing about these lodges. Despite us being lucky with the sunshine, they are perfect whatever the weather.Great for a family break or a romantic weekend away, this place really hits the spot for a relaxing getaway.
Forget sun sea and sangria. Just head to the Sherwood Hideaway instead.