Hoseasons Darwin Country Park, Derbyshire – Holiday Review
Hoseasons invited us to review one of their holiday parks this Summer, the Darwin Forest Country Park just outside Matlock, Derbyshire. We are always happy to hear the words ‘holiday’ and ‘review’ and nodded vigorously, cleared some time in our diary and set to planning our trip to the Derbyshire Peak District. Before the holiday I had a good browse of their website and was delighted to see a Certificate of Excellence 2013 Winner from TripAdvisor and a David Bellamy Gold Conversation Award – that’s got to be a good sign.
The holiday was a Friday to Friday and as we live only 1.30hrs away we figured we could set off quite casually around lunchtime – big mistake – Friday afternoon traffic is horrendous. It took us much longer because we ran away from the crawling M1 and took the scenic route – and so did many others – sigh. We relied on sat. nav. which was going great until, a few miles before we got to the park the sat. nav. told us we had arrived – errrrr! We kept going, up stepper and steeper slopes and rapidly narrowing lanes before spotting the entrance sign. Huzzah! (Note to self; update sat. nav. maps at earliest opportunity).
Our immediate impression was very, very good. An oasis of calm, very peaceful and very tidy. Check-in could not have been easier, less than 10 minutes, with all the information we needed to hand, so very straight forward so we pootled to our lodge.
The Darwin Forest Country Park is small but perfectly formed. It is not a massive holiday park with many hundreds of lodges necessitating every facility and venue to be oversized to accommodate, thankfully. It is a park with only 122 lodges and just the right amount of space for all. It has an on-site shop, a restaurant and bar, a cafe, mini golf, woodland trails, bikes for hire, tennis courts, plenty of space for kids to run around and most importantly for us; a swimming pool. We like it, we like it very much.
Our lodge, a three bedroom Peveril, was spot on with plenty of space and very well thought out storage. It was clean and all our basic holiday needs were met. Our lodge was one that allows dogs to stay but we are non-dog people (we’re partial to cats and chickens) and could detect a slight whiff of mutt about the place but it’s ok, we could live with it and after a few days it had disappeared, no bother.
The accommodation is good and, for me, it’s the little details that can make all the difference. The beds are comfortable with plenty of pillow choices. The bedrooms have dressing tables and stools with electrical sockets in just the right place for hairdryer/straighteners. There are wardrobes in each bedroom and hooks in the hallway for towels etc. The showers are great and there are decent mirrors and lighting in the bathrooms. Everything is very clean and new. They also give you a generous supply of small essentials for self-catering; dishwasher tablets, bin bags etc.
Once unpacked, we did a quick stop at the Woodlands park shop for breakfast essentials then had dinner at the Foresters restaurant. It was a lovely evening as we sat outside, cold glass of wine, kids happy with the playground and games room nearby. We all thoroughly enjoyed the food – freshly cooked dishes, just our sort of thing. Immediately our two boys made friends with Tom from Dubai and had a happy few hours larking about. The Derbyshire Peak District attracts visitors from far and wide so there is an international mix amongst the guests and we liked that.
After dinner, back at the lodge we sat on the deck with a cool breeze and a forest-quietness of rustling trees. I can see from the corner of my eye that my brood are winding down nicely indeed. So far, very good.
Early the next morning (and every morning, without fail) the boys headed off for a dip in the swimming pool and at that hour they pretty much had it all to themselves. Our youngest was particularly fascinated by the high tech showers and they found the changing areas and the pool itself to be immaculate.
We had a truly lovely week away and throughly enjoyed exploring the area. Our best day, hands down, was spent at Chatsworth House. We’ve been once before, a few years ago but it was a very cold, snowy Easter. However, this time, it was gloriously hot and sunny weather. We purchased an unlimited family ticket for about £50 and it included the farm, woodland playground, gardens and house. We didn’t actually make it into the house – we spent too long at the farm and playground and it was much too nice wandering the gardens and wadding in the Cascade. We were also rather engrossed in watching the BBC film scenes for their upcoming period drama, A Death Comes to Pemberbey by P. D. James. Fortunately, the unlimited family ticket allows us to return within 6 months at half price and we may just do that.
Other highlights of the week away include a day at The Heights of Abraham and another at the Alton Towers Waterpark which was perfect for the glorious heatwave we’ve had this July.
So, if you are looking for a UK family holiday, the Derbyshire Peak District has got to be one of the top places to go. You’ll also, no doubt, be wanting decent accommodation that is within easy reach of all the places you’ll want to visit and you can tick that box at the Darwin Country Park which truly benefits from being just the right size to have great on-site facilities but not too big that you’re fighting the crowds. We give it a very happy thumbs up.
Note: I have used some photos from the Hoseasons website, this is because I lost all my lovely photos when my iPhone, sadly, died. The few photos of ours that I have used were taken by our sons.