With celebrating our ten year wedding anniversary this year, we knew that we needed to mark the occasion differently from what we do every year – which isn’t a lot! A decade together seemed the perfect excuse to steal ourselves away for a few days and really be able to enjoy spending some time together alone and reconnect as we did all those years ago.
When we were invited to stay in a luxury woodland lodge in Darwin Forest, we knew instantly that this was the type of break that was needed. We were booked in a one bedroom lodge for four nights and simply couldn’t wait to escape for a bit (having only ever previously spent one night away from the kids).
The Peak District has always been on our list of places to visit, so we were very much looking forward to getting the opportunity to explore the nearby beauty spots during our stay.
We stayed in one of the Glade Lodges which felt much more private and secluded than the other areas. It is the ideal place to visit when you just want to get away from your day to day responsibilities and enjoy some peace and quiet in tranquil surroundings.
It’s the kind of place to collect your thoughts and do things at a slower pace. We loved the decking area for being able to enjoy our breakfast surrounded by nature and kicking back with a drink and a good book later on in the day.
The accommodation is tastefully decorated and has all of the mod cons that you need. It has a fully equipped kitchen including a dishwasher and a wine cooler. There was also a utility cupboard with an ironing board and iron and best of all, a mini washing machine. I’ve never seen a half size one before, let along stayed in a place that provides one. It was so good to be able to wash through our swimwear once we had been in the hot tub – what a brilliant idea. We’ve stayed in places before and it’s not much fun having to use launderette facilities and we often just made do.
There are various facilities on site, including a pool, spa and gym, a bar and restaurant, a cafe and a convenience store. It’s also geared up for kids with a soft play centre and an activity den for older children.
On our first night we opted to order a takeaway from the restaurant and we pleased when they offered to let us select a meal that wasn’t usually on the takeaway menu. The staff were really friendly but unfortunately we didn’t enjoy our meals (a rather flavourless chilli and unseasoned burger), so we didn’t return to eat there again. We used the shop a couple of times and they had everything there that we needed, including matches for our anniversary candlelit dinner.
It wasn’t our aim to get involved in activities during our stay but there are a few things available to book if you want to do something extra, such as archery, crossbow, snorkelling and gym classes to name but a few. If you’re staying with kids then they offer activities like waterwalkerz, bug hunts and sea scooters to keep them more than entertained.
As our break wasn’t with the kids and it was more about us taking it slow, the lack of things to do wasn’t an issue for us at all. You come here for the peace and quiet and that’s exactly what you get.
On our anniversary, we decided to take a trip out to visit Dovedale which is a National Nature Reserve. We had glorious weather when we went and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing all what this beautiful part of the country had to offer.
We took our time wandering about, with no particular time limit or having to worry about the needs of children.
We walked across the famous stepping stones and a did a little bit of precarious climbing to reach some caves.
It was a stunning location to spend the day in and we would highly recommend it to others visiting the area.
One of the best features of our lodge was the hot tub situated outside on the decking. We had always wanted to stay somewhere that had one and it rounded off nicely every evening by being able to look up at the night sky and enjoy a glass of prosecco.
The bathroom also has a door leading out the the hot tub, so you can head straight into the shower or straight in to the sauna. The proximity of the door will also make it much more bearable to get in and out of the hot tub in the winter months too!
Our aim for our special anniversary was to rediscover some time as a couple and enjoy just being in each others company again, without the usual distractions. Darwin Forest provided a luxurious sanctuary for us, where we found the peace and quiet that we so often crave.
We returned home feeling more refreshed than we have done in a long time and that’s down to a few days away in a beautiful location – it can do wonders for the soul.