Ribby Hall Village, Lancashire – Review
By Richard Jones
“This one’s got three in, Dad,” cried Isla, excitedly, as she surveyed the remains of the spiky shells that had smashed open on the path.
In this age of iPads, laptops, gaming consoles and digital television, I found it refreshingly nostalgic that my daughter had developed a mini obsession with the humble conker. Throughout our weekend at Ribby Hall Village, Wrea Green, roughly halfway between Preston and Blackpool, Isla, seven, and her three-year-old sister Evelyn collected an abundance of horse chestnuts that now serve a dual purpose as ornaments and spider deterrents on their dressing tables at home.
However, it wasn’t just conkers, or indeed acorns or pine cones that caused excitement and adventure during our stay. Ribby Hall provided the perfect setting to get away from life’s stresses and spend some good old-fashioned time together as a family in the great outdoors. This year’s long summer holidays are now a distant memory for many, and Ribby Hall is ideal for an autumnal or winter getaway, with Halloween and Winter Wonderland breaks on offer from October to January 2015.
The village, set within 100 acres of beautiful Lancashire countryside, is celebrating its 20th year throughout 2014. It’s open 365 days a year,. Guests have the option of staying for three, four or seven nights. They have a choice of luxury accommodation. As well as the splendid self-catering cottages and lodges, holiday packages at Ribby Hall include free and unlimited use of the leisure complex. This includes the adult-only and family fun swimming pools and the soft-play area. A great place to hold kids parties.
There are so many activities to enjoy, including a mini golf course, the Segway Rally and a giant climbing wall, that you may have trouble fitting them all in during one trip. New for 2015 are the Laser Tag, Play Time for the tiny tots, Balance Bikes, Baby Ballet, Toddlers Tumble, Cirque du Ribby, a refurbished gym, and a new picnic area in the village garden.
“Roster of places to eat”
However, arguably the jewel in at Ribby Hall’s crown is their award-winning Spa Hotel. After a short stay there a few years back in this relaxation haven, I can honestly say it is one of the best spa venues in the UK. Nevertheless, despite the great facilities indoor and out, our favourite activity of the weekend was the village’s free nature trail. It loops around the perimeter of the site. Here Isla and Evelyn came face to face with real-life squirrels and ponies near the equestrian centre. There are also fictional birds and lizards carved into the ginormous tree trunks.
During the weekend we also set sail for a pedal boat ride around the village. This despite dad experiencing steering problems (“I was slowing down to watch the ducks, honestly!”). The ride is both amusing and relaxing in equal measure. There is also plenty of family entertainment for families to go at in the evenings, and we spent our Saturday evening at The Bar & Grill.
Despite the restaurant’s basic-sounding moniker, the mouthwatering food here was nothing short of amazing. After tea, it was time for some Disney’s Frozen-themed face painting and bingo. Before the finale – an exhilarating glow-in-the-dark kids’ disco hosted by Scotty G. The Bar & Grill is just one of Ribby Hall’s growing roster of places to eat and drink. Alternatives like The Restaurant & Cocktail Bar, The Brasserie, The Lavender Tea Room, Papa John’s Pizza Store & Takeaway, Starbucks Coffee House and The Island Clubhouse are also well worth a visit.
“Old-fashioned family time”
With all this, combined with the home comforts of your luxury cottage, we were reluctant to leave the confines of Ribby Hall Village for the duration of our break, if at all! However, there are countless attractions within a short drive of Wrea Green, including, of course, the bright lights of Blackpool. Again, autumn is a great time to visit the seaside town. There’s the added bonus of the world-famous illuminations, as well as age-old sights the Tower, Pleasure Beach and pier.
It had been some years since I last visited the ‘Vegas of the North’. But it was strangely comforting that little had actually changed since I was Isla’s age. Obviously there were no shiny conkers on the beach. But our day out at the seaside, much like our weekend at Ribby Hall, proved that even in the hustle and bustle of the 21st century there’s a lot to be said for good old-fashioned family time.
Richard Jones and his family were guests at multi-award-winning, five-star holiday village Ribby Hall Village in Wrea Green, Lancashire. They offer accommodation in one of their 175 luxury cottages from £12 per person per night.
Visit ribbyhall.co.uk or call FREE on 0800 107 0336 for more information.