What is it? A four-day break in a log cabin on Cornwall’s south-west coast.

Where? We went to Deerpark in Cornwall but other Forest Holiday Cabin locations include the Forest of Dean; Keldy on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park; Cropton in North Yorkshire; Argyll on the shores of Loch Lomond and Strathyre close to Callander, both in Scotland.

Description: Fancy a bit of glorified camping? Lynley Benbetka took her three children on a Forest Holidays adventure to Deerpark Cabins in Cornwall, taking advantage of all that nature has to offer. Funnily enough, the kids didn’t miss their computers, their Wii or cable telly one single bit…[pictwo.jpg]

To enjoy a bit of what I would call “glorified camping”. All the outdoors without the tent – we thought it was much more fun!

Regular Ranger activities include ‘Forest Survival’, ‘Amazing Animals’, ’Woodland Discovery’ and ‘Rove with the Ranger’. Other activities available were rock climbing, archery and canoeing.

At Deerpark, evening entertainment is a little different and consists of Ranger activities like ‘Duskwatch’ and ‘Night Vision’, which involve looking for bats, deer, moths and owls sometimes using nighttime vision equipment.

There’s no childcare onsite.

This is more of an activity holiday than a pampering opportunity. Even though it’s nowhere near as basic as staying in a tent, if you want a sauna, whirpool and whole range of beauty treatments, you’d better look elsewhere.

Local activities: There are several pretty towns nearby which are worth a visit. The Eden Project is just down the road and there are plenty of other exciting possibilities such as a high zip wire ride, animal farms and a monkey sanctuary.

Wish we had known: That there is no mobile phone reception onsite.

Our top tip: Make the most of the Ranger activities and the bike hire. Kids will love these.

Kids say: “I loved being able to go out on my own whenever I wanted, feeding the fish in the millpond and all the activities,” says Youcef, aged 10. “There were lots of adventures,” says Imane, aged seven.

Getting There: We drove from London to the site, in Liskeard, Cornwall, and it took us about five hours and 15 minutes, including a 30-minute lunchbreak. Prices range from L12 per person per night, and there are late booking offers as well as advanced booking offers available in all sites. Look online at www.forestholidays.co.uk or phone 0845 130 8225 for more information about how to book, types of cabins and activities available.

About our stay: My first thoughts on spending a week in the forest were of slight trepidation. What would three city kids make of no computer games, shops, or cable TV? Verdict: they loved it. One of the most notable qualities at Deerpark is the friendliness and hospitality displayed by all the staff. They clearly enjoy their work and did their utmost to make us feel comfortable. The tiny but well-stocked shop doubles as reception. I overheard one woman asking if they stocked any aluminium foil. On finding there wasn’t any left in the shop Stuart, general manager, immediately went back into the house behind the shop and brought back what was clearly their own aluminium foil and just gave it to her. Every Tuesday and Saturday morning, all guests are invited to a “rubber duckie race” where everyone learns about the activities on offer, meets the staff and the other families staying at Deerpark, and joins in the fun of watching their nominated rubber duck splash down the millpond stream in a hilarious race. [boy.jpg] This is just like camping only better. The wooden cabins are dotted around the site and have either a wonderful view of the surrounding forest or overlook the river and millpond. Although our neighbours’ cabins were relatively close, the spacious balcony’s outlook dispelled any claustrophobic feelings. Our two-bedroom cabin was light and airy and supplied us with all our needs such as cooker, microwave, dishwasher, duvets, pillows, TV – and even two bathrooms. I was a bit surprised that there is no mobile phone reception at all onsite and no wifi so I did make use of their payphone next to reception, which felt a little like stepping back in time. The various activities at Deerpark transformed our holiday from a nice stay in the forest to a far more interesting encounter altogether. There’s something going on every day. Martin is the vastly knowledgeable on-site ranger and he leads the “edu-tainment”, a term coined at Deerpark. We didn’t try everything but we did take part in “Forest Survival” and “Amazing Animals”. Each of the Forest Activities is, on average, two hours. Martin taught the children (and adults) about map-reading, orienteering, forest creatures and plants in the first hour and a half of Forest Survival during a gentle walk through the surrounding forest. The last half hour or so was spent building a shelter out of the branches and bracken around us in the forest. Amazing Animals was equally informative and involved pond-dipping in large trays, identifying the contents and then heading down to the stream with nets and looking for more waterlife there. Youcef, 10, caught a baby trout, bulhead and an eel. He found all the activities fascinating and would love to have done more. Deerpark have mountain bikes for hire, which is well worth trying. We kept ours for our whole stay and really made the most of them, following various trails though the forest, on one of which I discovered a bit of mobile phone signal. Bliss… Perhaps the best aspect of our time at Deerpark was the independence the children enjoyed. They spent a huge amount of time trailing around on the bikes, feeding the huge carp, ducks and geese and playing at the playground perfectly safely by themselves. That alone was definitely worth the five-hour trip from London! [picone.jpg] * Lynley Benbetka is a mum who takes care of her three children and loves to travel. Originally from New Zealand, she now lives in London but goes on holiday whenever she can!

Created: 2010-09-18 14:23:56.827

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