We have just returned from a glorious week spent in Yorkshire staying with Forest Holidays in Cropton. Our accommodation was a beautiful, well equipped Golden Oak lodge situated in a woodland meadow, in the heart of Cropton Forest. The site benefits from having a Forest Retreat, where guests can meet the team, enjoy a meal or a drink, book activities and buy selected groceries. They also have a great takeaway service where you can order a pizza to be delivered to your lodge and a bakery ordering service so you can get freshly baked bread, croissants and pain au chocolats made to order in the mornings. We sampled both the pizza and the breakfast goods - both are delicious!
Our lodge had three bedrooms (one double, two twin), with very comfy beds, two bathrooms, plus a large open plan living area with a good kitchen (with microwave, dishwasher, oven, hob and all crockery and utensils) complete with dining area. A large flat screen TV allowed us to enjoy some great movies in the evening, taking advantage of the Forest Holidays pre-bookable in-cabin entertainment package. This gave us unlimited wifi, access to over 125 movie titles (which included Cinderella, Focus, The Boy Next Door, Fifty Shades of Grey and Big Hero 6) and the Sky channels including Sports for the duration of our stay. (This costs from £35 and we were well impressed with it.)
The outdoor hot tub really is a wonderful addition to the lodge and we used it everyday. Freddy absolutely adored his hot tub time as did I! It was blissfully warm and relaxing. Toiletries in the bathrooms were a nice touch, and there were robes and slippers for Ian and I to use, along with fluffy hot tub towels provided for everyone. We also had a log burner in the cabin, which we used to make a roaring fire on the cooler nights.
The lodge was very comfortable, spacious, light and airy and yet still homely with lovely artwork and sumptuous furnishings. The views of the forest through the huge windows gave a magical feel to the accommodation, connecting you to the nature outside.
There are some lovely walks and cycle routes around the site, where we enjoyed spotting the flora and fauna of the forest. We saw plenty of rabbits, birds and bats during our stay. There are deer in the forest but they proved too elusive for us to spot. My favourite wildlife spotting was made whilst we enjoyed a sunset hot tub session when a barn owl flew directly overhead carrying some prey in its talons. That was something I had never witnessed before and I was pretty excited!
The Forest Holidays site is a perfect base for exploring the North Yorkshire Moors and the coast is just a half hour's drive away. Nearby towns include Pickering, Helmsley, Whitby and Scarborough, with the city of York being an hour away.
We spent a day at nearby Dalby Forest, which is a massive area of national park land featuring a visitor's centre, forest walks, cycle trails, adventure playgrounds, an activity centre, Go Ape, a shop and cafe. Parking is £7 for the day, and you can drive between the areas within the forest throughout your visit.
Freddy loved the well equipped adventure playground which had things to climb and clamber over, swing in, spin on and jump off! A stream ran past this part of the forest and children were paddling and splashing in the water. It was a real wonderland for the kids. The cafe was lovely for a quick snack and a coffee and had lots of outdoor seating.
We went for a lakeside walk around Staindale Lake, which was lovely with good paths and boardwalks and with plenty to explore. It is such a pretty area and very peaceful.
I did a bit of research before we left and discovered that English Heritage had several sites in the area that we were staying in. Whitby Abbey, the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula, is a lovely gothic ruins overlooking the coastal town of Whitby. (After the castle we walked around Whitby and had a brilliant lunch of vegetarian Homity Pie, mash, peas and gravy in the quaint, old Humble Pie shop!) Helmsley Castle and Pickering Castle are interesting places to explore, both found in bustling market towns. Scarborough Castle is a big clifftop castle overlooking the North Sea. It was hosting a Clash of the Knights tournament while we were there, which was really great fun. The kids got to meet the knights, try out different helmets and weapons, cheer on their favourite teams in battle and Freddy even learned how to sword fight.
Having the English Heritage membership gives us access to 400 sites around the UK. Using it for some of our holiday days out, virtually paid for the price of 12 months membership, so was well worth doing. It's definitely worth having for family days out and if you do decide to buy one check Google for discount codes, I saved myself 20%!
Whilst we were visiting Scarborough for the castle, we decided to spend some time exploring the seaside town. Unfortunately the weather turned making our beach visit a bit grey and gloomy, but we had our waterproofs and were undeterred by the unpredictability of English summertime. We bought some sticks of rock, dodged the over zealous hordes of seagulls and looked round the souvenir shops. Scarborough reminded me so much of my own family holidays when I was a child, there was a real sense of nostalgia as I walked along the seafront with its array of amusements and shops selling nick-nacks, buckets and spades. Scarborough has a fantastic vegan restaurant called the Calf Cafe, where we had lunch. The food was divine. Their Peanut Butter Cheesecake was out of this world!
We used our Merlin Annual Passes to visit the SeaLife Centre, which had some adorable seals, free roaming penguins and a fabulous display of jellyfish to keep us all enthralled.
We visited York one day, where we again used our Merlin Annual Pass, this time for the York Dungeons, which is always fun. We walked around The Shambles and visited some shops. We had lunch in a lovely vegetarian cafe in York called Goji where I had an Indian platter with chapatti, coconut dahl, a samosa, pakoras and salad. It was delicious. We went to the Fudge Kitchen and were delighted to find that they stock vegan Dairy Free fudge so stocked up on some Salted Caramel fudge for Megan.
We packed so much into our week in Yorkshire. There was a lot of stuff we didn't have time for, (like the Eden Camp, exploring more of the North Yorkshire moors or riding the steam railway from Pickering to Whitby) but we really enjoyed the things we did. We loved the Cropton site with its walks through the forest and we adored our lodge home, which we always enjoyed going back to at the end of a busy day, having a relaxing hot tub session before settling down to a good movie.
Forest Holidays are great for all the family from the youngest to the oldest. My grown up girls loved it as much as their little brother did. We all had a fabulous time, making some brilliant memories of quality family time spent walking, climbing, exploring, playing and eating some good vegetarian meals! We love Yorkshire and definitely plan to return!
Find out more about Forest Holidays and their nine stunning locations at www.forestholidays.co.uk.
I was offered a discount against the cost of this holiday.