A few weeks ago, one Saturday, we decided that we needed a day out. Our eldest needed to get away from revision and we needed to get away from home, so we decided to head to Sherwood Pines Forest Park for the day.
We’ve been going to this National Forestry Commission forest for years and I love the amount of space it has. The car park near the main centre is always full, and there are people round the play areas, café, and other facilities, but as soon as you get away from the hub you rarely see another person. I am always amazed at how the forest can swallow up so many people, although I suppose I shouldn’t be – it consists of over 3,300 acres of woodland.
When the girls were little we would take our bikes. The first time we all took bikes the girls, who were five and seven at the time, had been riding for about a week. The forty miles of trail within the park are graded – green for child friendly paths, blue for that bit harder and red for total off-roading. We reckoned that if we stayed on the green trail they would be fine. A couple of hours later we were cycling down a red trail, totally lost. It was when we could see houses that we realised quite how wrong we had gone. Thankfully we all survived the adventure and it didn’t put the girls off cycling – I was actually quite proud of them. Since then we’ve spent many a happy Saturday cycling the trails.
If you don’t have a bike then you can hire one, along with the helmet and anything you may need for any little people you have with you, so there really is no excuse not to get out and explore the area.
There is also a Go Ape with high ropes, tunnels and a fantastic zip wire, although this comes with quite a hefty price tag.
If you are looking for something a little more affordable, the orienteering is really good value for money. If you want you can even book to go on an organised event. Bush craft and willow weaving are two that spring to mind.
There is a park for the little ones, and beyond that there is a den building area containing de-barked, pre-cut branches for the older kids although this looks a little safe for me. I’d much rather see kids playing in the bracken and building dens from all the wind fall branches that can easily be found.
What we really love about Sherwood Forest Pines is the barbequing area – basically a couple of large fields that are dotted with pine trees and edged with bracken. We always drive past the first field as it gets a little crowded, but, if you’re lucky, you can pretty much have the last field, or a good chunk of it at least, to yourself.
This Saturday we went alone, just the four of us and Jess, although it is a fabulous place to take a bunch of friends to. You have loads of space for eating and ball games, there are play areas and woods for the kids to lose themselves/build dens in, and the loos are just a short walk away. What more could you want?
It wasn’t long before the barbie, raised from the ground as requested, was lit and we sat around talking about something and nothing whilst the hot coals went to work on the sausages.
After a long, slow, late lunch we took our ancient pooch, Jess, for a short walk, getting back just in time to buy ice creams before the café closed. The perfect end to a perfect day.