Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest – Review

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vast empty swimming pool under a huge roof with no swimmers and a few palm trees

Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest

Review

By Richard Jones

Isla’s body was thrown into the air looking like a cross between a crash test dummy and a rag doll. My immediate panicked thoughts were that my eight-year-old daughter was okay. Then as the instructor grabbed hold of her harness, her head spun around, and from a distance I could see a huge proud smile on her face, before she was unclipped and waved to her dad.

Sherwood forest center parcs zipwire through trees while child in blue helmet rides it through canopy of trees“Phew” I thought, relieved that I didn’t have to tell her mum (who was figuratively a million miles away being pampered in the spa anyway) that our daughter had come to harm on my watch. But then it suddenly dawned on my that it was my turn – I was next in line to make the leap of faith and travel down the 100m zipwire to the decking below. So, with my hands and arms still ringing from the various ropes and pieces of wood I had negotiated alongside Isla and my friend Jonathan, I put my trust in the slender-looking piece of wire and hurtled through the canopy to the ground at the other side.

It was a thrilling end to a brilliantly adventurous hour with Isla.

“Daredevil”

This was the second day of our annual family break to Sherwood Forest Center Parcs. This year, more than ever, we noticed a big change over the weekend. It was the first year since we’d started going to Sherwood Forest that Isla was unable to join in the fun at kids’ club. Therefore while her mum and Jonathan’s wife Alison relaxed at the spa, and the younger kids – Evelyn, Poppy and Annie – were transformed into Woodland Adventurers in the creche, we had to find something for daredevil Isla to do with the lads.

We opted for the Aerial Adventure course. Twenty or so obstacles of varying difficulty which test your balance, strength and bravery. Predictably, Isla loved it, and led the way throughout – giving the adults tips and occasionally helping her dad out when he got stuck. Then, as soon as we met up with the mums again, she was begging to take them on the course and show them what it was all about.

In fact, there were a few new experiences this year – another of which was the Mini Jet Skis. In the learners pool (which we never knew existed) at the side of the Subtropical Swimming Paradise, the kids climbed aboard the inflatable motor-powered vessels and played a game of water dodgems.

“Adrenaline rides”

Sherwood forest center parcs purple sofa with red cushions in holiday home with kitchen in background and wooden floorboardsOf course, some things at Sherwood Forest Center Parcs are still the same. In fact, we’d be gutted if they ever changed. We spent both Saturday and Sunday morning in the aforementioned Subtropical Swimming Paradise. We splashed in the pools, bombing down the rapids and sliding down the slides. But again, as the kids are getting a bit older, we were able to do even more of the adrenaline rides. This suited Isla and I much more than splashing around in the kids pool.

And the big girls certainly enjoyed their time out and full Swedish body massages at Aqua Sana. The lads treated Isla to an ice cream and themselves to a swift pint in the sports bar. After this they picked up the trio newly graduated Woodland Adventurers from the creche.

Our accommodation for the weekend was one of the New Style Executive Lodges. These are perfect for a large group with kids because immediately upon arrival you can all relax. The four girls had plenty of space to run around. The adults could play on the pool table and we could all go for a warm-up and detox in the sauna. We even had time to stroll into the woods – our own extended back garden if you will. Here, we regaled the kids with tales of grizzly bears and Gruffalos, while bumping into rabbits and squirrels in our search for acorns, conkers and pine cones.

“Weekend of adventure”

Sherwood forest center parcs four children stand in front of giant pencils at sherwood forest center parcsSunday was the youngest member of our group, Annie’s, third birthday. In the evening we left the peaceful tranquillity of the lodge and headed for a celebratory tea at Huck’s. The kids tucked into ribs, sausage and mash, and pasta, before spending most of the night in the massive soft play area at the back of the restaurant. This gave us adults chance to relax even further. We had a few cocktails to wash down our juicy steaks and seafood.

Then, on our way back to the lodge, we even had time to call in at the disco at the bowling club. The kids danced themselves dizzy (and tired) with Sherwood Forest’s other merry boys and girls. It was a energetic way to end what had been a weekend of adventure and relaxation, new experiences, and a few tried-and-tested forest delights.

Our annual Sherwood Forest Center Parcs trip is changing year on year. Just when you think last year’s break can’t be beaten, it always is. All I need to do now, is get my youngest, Evelyn, on her own bicycle. Her ‘princess’ trailer on the back of my mountain bike is getting heavier and heavier each year. Perhaps in a few years, Isla will be able to pull and guide me around on hers. Well, it was something we both enjoyed on the high ropes in the treetops.

Short breaks at Sherwood Forest Center Parcs currently start from £319.
For more information or to book a short break at Center Parcs call 03448 267 723 or visit www.centerparcs.co.uk

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