Landal Darwin Forest Luxury Lodges
This was our first stay in a lodge and we couldn’t have chosen a better location than the beautiful Landal Darwin Forest Luxury Lodges set in the picturesque Peak District in Derbyshire between the pretty villages of Matlock and Bakewell. When you know the park has been awarded 5 stars, you realise it’s going to be a bit special and we weren’t to be disappointed. It was only just over a two hour journey from our home in Bedfordshire up the M1 and we were soon meandering around pretty countryside roads before arriving at the reception area to meet Caroline who was to give us a guided tour of the park. Checking in was quick and efficient and there are lots of brochures and leaflets on display to give you some ideas where to visit whilst you are staying at Darwin Forest.
We took a woodland walk around the perimeter of the park, amongst the vibrant purple rhododendrons, whose petals had fallen on the ground in places to create a confetti like effect to walk through. This walk would become a regular activity during our three night stay here. Colourful meadows with buttercups and wild grasses, a gently flowing stream and tranquil settings that put you in a relaxed state of mind and allowed you to appreciate the beauty of the natural environment.
As Caroline pointed out to us, this walk was a nice distance, one that could be completed in about half an hour or so. There were much longer walks available through the forest, where you also had the option of hiring bikes out.
We were then shown to our lodge, which was an “Elite Vogue” model (No.110) which was located in the corner of the park, with trees and shrubs bordering the lawn. These lodges are luxurious, from the light and airy contemporary furnishings, well equipped appliances, open plan living accommodation, car parking right outside your lodge for two cars and the best of all, a hot tub on the wooden decking. The one bedroom had a king size bed with flatscreen television and ample storage. Inside the ensuite bathroom there was a spa bath, separate shower and to our surprise your own sauna.
The kitchen was equipped with microwave, fridge, freezer, dishwasher, kettle and tea/coffee. The living room had a comfortable wrap around corner suite, soft furnishings, smart flatscreen television which gave information via the home screen for items such as the restaurant menu, weather and local attractions. A soft glow fire was the centrepiece, which would be so nice and cosy to sit around during the winter months.
Two large sets of patio doors opened out on the decking balcony giving access to the hot tub. This for us was the icing on the cake, if you do visit Darwin Forest, I strongly advise you to book a lodge with a hot tub. Just to sit outside in the evening (up to 11pm) whilst the jets of warm water gently soothe away the aches of a long day exploring the Peak District was divine. The hot tub is heated all day, so is constantly available to take a dip whenever the fancy takes you. We used this facility all three days of stay and we looked forward to it each evening. Take a glass of bubbly with you and just sit and watch the trees and listen to the birds as the sun goes down.
The onsite facilities are first class, with the Evolution Health & Fitness Centre where you will find a heated indoor swimming pool, spa, gym and beauty rooms. Complimentary use of the pool is included, whilst the gym is only £3.75 per session. The sauna, steam room and jacuzzi are also only £3.75 per session. There are also classes for pilates, spin and body conditioning. The equipment in the gym were very modern with plenty of exercise machines available.
The younger members of the family are also very well catered for here, with the Little Monkeys Play Centre providing hours of fun filled entertainment, with soft play areas, wavy slides, climbing frames and ball ponds.
We found the Explorers Cafe next door very convenient for a light meal and had a full english breakfast on one occasion and jacket potatoes on another.
We found a pair of the most gorgeous poppy fields in the nearby village of Hassop and parked up in a lay-by to explore them. I had been waiting several years since I had photographed my last poppy field and so this was exciting to see this stunning display in the countryside and well worth the wait.
The quaint and historic village of Eyam had been on our list of interesting places to visit for a long while and travelling from Landal Darwin Forest Luxury Lodges it only took about 25 minutes. Step back to rural England in 1665 when the plague was rife in the city of London, far away from this idyllic White Peak location. However, a tailor’s assistant called George Viccars was said to have opened a bale of cloth that had been delivered from the city and hung the cloth in front of the hearth to dry, unwittingly disturbing the disease ridden fleas inside the parcel. He soon became the first victim.
The disease swept through the village between September and December 1665, 42 villagers died and by the following spring many of them were going to flee their homes. The newly appointed vicar, William Mompesson decided to intervene, by isolating the entire village to prevent the disease from spreading to the larger towns of Sheffield and Bakewell.
It must have been a huge decision asking the villagers to sacrifice themselves including Mompesson’s wife Catherine, who was one of the victims that succumbed to this epidemic and whose tomb can be found in the village churchyard. In just over a year, 260 of the inhabitants had perished but his decision to quarantine the village were though to have saved thousands of lives.
Today, this village is a beautiful place to spend an hour or two, looking around the church and churchyard, the museum, Plague Cottage, where the disease first broke out and after this tour you should definitely partake in a cream tea at The Village Green Cafe We enjoyed our first visit so much, that we made a return the next day to sit outside on the village square and watch the world go by at a leisurely pace.
The fabulous panoramic view of the Peak District taken from Mam Tor. The stone surfaced footpath from the car park to the top will reward you with one of the most dramatic viewpoints in the Peak District. Mam Tor is an ancient hill fort overlooking both the beautiful Edale Valley on one side and Castleton on the other.
We hired cycles whilst we were staying at Landal Darwin Forest Luxury Lodges for £7.00 for a half day or if you are feeling more energetic £12.00 for a full day. There are an abundance of cycle routes that surround the park to be enjoyed and it’s refreshing to be exercising in this natural environment.
We thoroughly enjoyed our relaxing stay at Darwin Forest and would highly recommend the park. You have the best of both worlds, you can either stay on the park in a luxurious lodge with excellent facilities at your disposal or you can explore the picturesque Peak District and retire to the comfort of the lodge in the evening. The highlight of this trip for both of us was the simple things such as being able to chill out in that hot tub with a glass of bubbly and those walks through the vast woodland on your doorstep. If you would like to take your dog with you too, contact the park because some of the lodges are dog friendly. Darwin Forest also have a 10% replacement program, so that the lodges are constantly being updated and kept fresh.
A big ‘Thank You’ to all of the staff at Landal Darwin Forest Luxury Lodges for the lovely welcome you gave both of us and having us stay.
Our stay was complimentary. As always, all opinions are my own.
Places to Visit
Eyam - Plague Cottage & village quarantine history
Castleton - Peveril Castle, ruined Norman fort in scenic location
Chatsworth - Stately home in the Dales, the seat of the Duke of Devonshire
Alton Towers - Theme Park
Haddon Hall - Medieval manor house
Heights of Abraham - Country park and famous show caverns set in 60 acres of woodland