I’ve just returned from a long weekend in the Peak District, staying at Darwin Forest Country Park, with my husband, baby son and (for 2 nights at least) also with my Mum and Step Dad.
The Darwin Forest Country Park reviews I’d read largely advised me that the place would be stunning but that there would be no phone signal. As an habitual social media-er and someone practically surgically attached to an iPhone, this was an opportunity to just get away from it and spend some time focussing on the family.
We arrived on a Friday afternoon. Check in was advised as 4pm but we actually found our lodge was ready when we turned up shortly after 3. We headed straight there and were pleasantly surprised by the spaciousness, size of the bedrooms and how warm it was! Here are a few photos of the bedrooms in our 3 bed classic lodge.
It was f-f-f-reezing on Friday night (but not in the lodge, which was so cosy!) and the forecast suggested there might be a dusting of snow overnight, but we woke up to a reasonable layer on the ground.
With the parents on hand to look after our son, my husband and I headed out for an early morning exploration of the park in the snow. It’s so, so beautiful. I snapped this photo of the sunrise in the snow with my phone and I’ll share pictures from my DSLR once I’ve sorted them out:
Darwin Forest Country Park Classic Lodges
We had a 3 bedroom classic lodge and it was insanely well equipped. TV, Bluetooth Speaker, all the kitchen utensiles, crockery and appliances you could need and they even supplied dishwasher tablets!
The lodge we were in was an accessible lodge and had a wetroom as well as a bathroom, wide hallways and really spacious bedrooms.
Facilities and Things to do at Darwin Forest Country Park
We spend the first half of Saturday on the park and much of Sunday there too. In terms of things to keep the kids and grown ups occupied at Darwin Forest Country Park, here’s our take:
Woodland Walks and Trim Trak
During our walk, we discovered that there are a few woodland walk options on the park itself. We actually took our baby son on some of those walks on the Sunday morning and he absolutely loved it.
There’s also a Trim Trak, which is brilliant. It’s a run and obstacle course, though some of the obstacles were somewhat hazardous in the snow and ice so I didn’t get to take full advantage. Monkey bars, a traversing wall, balance beams and shuffle bars are amongst the obstacles on the track and the scenery makes it even more enjoyable.
On Site Pool and Gym
The on site pool and Gym (Evolution) is free for park guests. We took our son for a swim on Saturday morning. Considering the park was full, the pool was not too busy at all. The changing facilities are good and the pool itself really is lovely.
There were planned swimming lessons from 11 until 2, so a board outside advised limited pool space. As we got there earlier than that though, we had no problem with pool space and our little boy had a great time splashing.
Forrester’s Bar and Restaurant
We were advised on the Friday that we should book in advance for the restaurant on site if we wanted to go because the park was full. We went to reception on Saturday early morning to try and book but were advised we would need to wait until someone was in the restaurant at Midday. My husband phoned the restaurant but they said they were already fully booked, but that we could sit in the bar and eat.
So we turned up at the bar at around 7 to find the bar and restaurant (same menu in both) were really quiet… far from fully booked. So we can only assume crossed wires. The food was decent though and the prices reasonable.
Darwin Forest Games Room and Soft Play
There’s an Activity Den that has a soft play area for under 5s (free for park guests), a games room and a pool room. The soft play was pretty quiet each time we went in (twice during our stay) and our son made the most of the ball pit and a few minutes playing at driving in the games room!
My husband and Step Dad went up to play pool and while they absolutely loved the room and the tables, they did complain that the cues were all a bit worn and difficult to use.
Don’t expect a huge soft play area. It is quite small, but it has a slide, ball pool and some soft play building bricks. For under 4s, I reckon that’s quite sufficient. And for the bigger kids, there is a bigger (chargeable) soft play centre on site.
There’s a little shop on site that is well stocked and reasonably priced too. We had no issue getting anything we needed there, but similarly, Darwin Forest Country Park was happy to provide us with our lodge number in advance of our stay in order that we could order an online shop to arrive on our first night.
Darwin Forest Country Park Wifi!
I mentioned there was no phone signal. And there really wasn’t any at all! But there’s free wifi for guests across the park and in the lodges and that held up remarkably well. I used if a fair bit for social media, emails etc and had no problems at all, despite the fact I’m usually cynical about the Wifi in places like these… I’ve had a few bad experiences. But it was absolutely great.
Darwin Forest Country Park
We would definitely return to Darwin Forest Country Park. The lodges were absolutely beautiful, service was great and the park is stunning. It was great for a quiet family break for us.
Very much recommended!
More Photos of Darwin Forest Country Park
I uploaded a series of photos I took in the park over on Flickr.