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“Wild Birds and Monkey Nuts!”

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Darwin Forest Country Park
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed September 20, 2011

Me and my partner have just returned from a very relaxing week at Darwin Forest Country Park. Here are our honest observations on this wonderful area in which to stay.

Cabin Fever!

The Riber lodge we stayed in (number 52) was well laid out. The kitchen was modern, well kitted out and we cooked a few meals successfully on the integrated oven. There was a large dining table with 4 chairs, but the table is far too close to the sink to get in and out comfortably.

The living room which adjoined the kitchen had a flat-screen TV, dvd player etc. The room was nice and cosy at night with the lights and heaters on. A great bonus for us was the french doors which opened onto a large decking area with a good sized table and 4 chairs.
A downside of the livingroom was the size of the sofa...it was a small 2-seater! and quite uncomfortable if you spend more than half an hour sitting on it....

The bedrooms were spacious and had plenty of storage (we had a 2 bed lodge meant for 4 people so we received a 2-person discount). We slept in the double bed so cannot comment on the 2 singles. The bed was quite firm as were the pillows, and the duvet and cover had most definately seen better days. The duvet was so heavy, it slipped constantly down to the end of the cover and kept falling off the end of the bed. These items seriously need to be replaced in this lodge.

The bathroom is spacious with a fab shower and piping hot water as long as you get a shower first!

We called into the Forresters Arms a few times, and its a friendly and reasonably priced pub. Food is ok. Typical pub grub.

All the lodges are situated in amongst trees which is fab for seeing wild life close up and personal! We had a bird feeder right outside the kitchen window which we stocked regularly with peanuts, much to the delight of Nuthatches, Coaltits, bluetits, greattits and we even saw a woodpecker!!!

Take plenty of peanuts, wild bird seed and sunflower seeds to attract the birds, and also monkey nuts to attract the squirrels.

There are lots to do in the area for people of all age groups. We didn't have dogs or kids so we were able to visit places like Chatsworth House and Hardwick Hall. Both are amazing.

We bought a book on walks of which there are many in the area. the Dovedale walk is easy and also the Minninglow walk.

We went to the plague village Eyam which is fascinating, and also went to Bakewell (Monday market) and Matlock which are both lovely little towns.

One point to note... there is no mobile signal on the site at all... if you stand by the reception, you might get a feint signal.

All-in-all, a great site, well worth the money out of season.

  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank faith_in_U
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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910 - 916 of 974 reviews

Reviewed September 10, 2011

We first came here Nove 2010, my husband myself and two small children. The park grounds are beautiful. The Lodge we stayed in was beautiful too, very clean, modern and had everything we needed including a cd player. The lodges are placed in amazing locations it is a fantastic place. There are walks in the forests, a childrens indoor adventure centre, gym, swimming pool and a pub/resturaunt. Although i must admit the staff in the pub were very snotty and condescending. We have two autistic children and were made to feel like we shouldnt be in there so we ate our meals outside which wasnt good beacuse it was cold and our meals went cold very quick. Apart from that we enjoyed it very much and are returning this November but wont be eating in the pub !

Room Tip: All are very good
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  • Stayed: November 2010, traveled with family
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1  Thank louisstressed
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 4, 2011

We stayed at the Pinelodge Holidays Darwin Forest site for the last week of August 2011. We booked with the company direct as Hoseasons stated the lodges did not take dogs but the operators brochure stated they did.
Upon our arrival we found the site well maintained and were greeted by a warm welcome from the friendly staff. After only a few minutes we were on our way to our allocated lodge.
Our lodge was a three bedroomed peveril which was very clean, comfortable and had everything we needed for our stay even down to tea, coffee and milk for that first cuppa. It was located in the middle of the site where they are well spaced out unlike other sites we have visited. When we booked we were told about the lack of mobile phone reception on the site but found this a bonus as this was a weeks escape from home. We did not experience any noise issues during our stay and did not use the Foresters Inn or games room at the rear.
As there is quite an age gap between our children I was worried that there would be nothing for one of them to do, but there was plenty for both of them. For the youngest there was little monkeys indoor play area (£3.25 for 2 hrs), the outdoor play park and the Darwin Explorers Club (additional fee). For the eldest there was a well equipped Cadio vascular Gym (£10 for 4 sessions) and the trim trail around the perimeter of the site. For both of them there was the swimming pool, cycle hire, orienteering, and mini golf.
We mostly used the pool which is free to guests and was very well maintained. The changing rooms were clean, all the lockers worked and there was free hair dryers. The pool is good but could have done with a shallow end for our youngest one. There is a small childrens area but people used this to access the main pool so it was a bit of a thoroughfare. As we had taken our family pet we explored the many and varied footpaths on the site including the forest walk which our dog thoroughly enjoyed.
We have visited the area previously so had done most of the well known visitor attractions. During this stay we went to the Denby Pottery Visitor centre and had the Craftroom tour which is interesting and you come away with a free clay frog. We also went to Carsington Water reservoir which has a visitors centre, craft shops, and water activities. Also very good if you have a bike. We went on the Bank Holiday weekend but eventhough the weather was poor there were lots of visitors proving it to be a popular destination.
We would definately visit this site again and based on Darwin Forest would consider a stay at the sister site of Sandybrook.

  • Stayed: August 2011, traveled with family
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1  Thank PCGS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 2, 2011

We stayed in a Riber Skyline for a week and thoroughly enjoyed it. The cabin was spotless. Everything was there for us, even down to washing liquid and dishwasher tablets. 2 TVs, a DVD player and stereo too. The comfy beds were already made up, with a more than ample supply of towels. We stayed in number 14 which meant we were fairly close to the recreation area and all the facilities. We saw this as a real plus, no long treks to the swimming pool etc with our young children (6 and 4 yrs). We paid a bit extra for a hot tub and it was worth every penny. The water was check twice a day. The temperature could be lowered for the kids during the day and turned up for for the evening after they'd gone to bed! Our friends enjoyed it too when they came over for a bbq (which you can borrow from reception, without charge!). The park had loads to offer, including swimming, crazy golf, a trim trail and woodland walks. Days out to Buxton, Bakewell and Matlock were great. I totally disagree that there isn't a lot to do. The staff were so friendly and helpful, taking the time to chat, even giving us 'bogof' tickets for the cable cars. We were made to feel like guests rather than just a chalet number. Our boys loved the crazy golf and played it at least twice every day. After a couple of days the reception staff said we had probably paid enough already and wouldn't take our money thereafter. It's nice touches like that that sum the place up. Yes, it is quieter than Centre Parcs and the like, but we enjoyed that. We didn't use the pub but it looked ok. Overall, the park feels safe and really well looked after. We all voted for it being the best holiday we've ever had and will definitely be back!

  • Stayed: August 2011, traveled with family
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Thank BrianMcclair
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 25, 2011

This has been such a brilliant holiday with our baby. I can't recommend it enough. The park was immaculate. TBH wasn't sure what to expect as never been on a hoseasons break before but we've been really impressed and would love to return. The swimming pool was a lovely temperature, great changing rooms, clean. Our lodge (elvaston) was also better than expected, it was warm, clean, cosy, not too big or too small. some of the equipment in the kitchen could've been better such as the knives and pans but only nitpicking there. sauna was great although only used it once. found the bed comfy had really good nights sleep, even with a baby! you can go for a nice walk round the park. All the facilities were excellent, can't fault this place at all. One health and safety thing I was concerned about is the area where football is played. It is right next to the road and we really didn't think it was safe as children were running right onto the road without looking if the ball was kicked onto the road, feel it's an accident waiting to happen. Surely something should be put in place to make it a bit safer. The onsite pub did lovely meals, ate there twice and couldn't fault the food. We stayed in a lodge which was in a quiet area so noise didn't affect us like I saw in other reviews so maybe worth checking location of your lodge. The baby play area and games room great. About the area, there's a lot to do and see so sure one day we'll be back. Hope it stays as lovely as it is now :-)

  • Stayed: August 2011, traveled with family
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2  Thank RebeccaW
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 24, 2011

We stayed at Darwin Forest for a week from 6-13 Aug 2011. We have stayed at 2 similar parks - Sandy Balls (New Forest) and Clippesby Hall (Norfolk) in recent years - both of which we would highly recommend and in similar price range. Needless to say we had high expectations for our holiday to Darwin Forest as reviews had been good and brochure looked fab. Sorry to say the stay at Darwin Forest disappointed all of us especially the children (12 and 7). The park seemed really quiet and there was no "holiday atmosphere" around the place. The outside play area was really poor to be honest, and could do with a revamp. We used the Liitle Monkeys indoor play area once and kids enjoyed their time in there, it's a really nice facility for the kids to let off steam. We were aware of the price charge for this before we holidayed but think it could be included in the overall price as most children in there seemed to be not staying on park. We used the swimming pool about three times during our stay, fine but smaller than we expected, spotlessly clean showers and changing area. We used the shop over the week for little bits we needed, it was adequate - not a huge choice and as expected a bit more expensive. We didn't use the Pub/Restaurant so cannot comment on that. We found the staff in the reception area friendly and helpful but cannot say the same for the supermarket, Little Monkeys play center and worse, the Evolution Centre - no smiles or friendliness - they seemed to be doing us a favour by even acknowledging us! The lodge we stayed in was a Riber Skyline (No 54) and we were surprised and disappointed at how close it was to the other lodges. Unlike some of the other lodges, we didn't have enough green out the front or back for the kids to run around. The lodge was contemporary and clean (apart from dirty carpets) and kitchen well equipped for preparing and cooking meals which we did a lot of. Unfortunately, due to the bad weather we didnt get to eat on the outside verandah once but comfy patio furniture was provided had we been able to. Darwin Forest is perfectly located to tour the beautiful area and Matlock/Bakewell/Chatsworth House short drives away and high recommended for days out. If we do return to Derbyshire in the future, sadly I don't think we would choose Darwin Forest again.

Stayed: August 2011, traveled with family
4  Thank Julie P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pinelogger, Manager at Darwin Forest Country Park, responded to this reviewResponded September 20, 2011

Thanks for your feedback on Darwin Forest and we are sorry to hear that on this occasion you did not enjoy your holiday to the full. In terms of a "holiday atmosphere" Darwin is lovely relaxing environment in the forest, with lots to do if that is what you are looking for. We are not though a "hi-di-hi" type park and guests will find that the park is a place to quietly enjoy their holiday whilst taking in the delights of the surrounding Peak District. . A smaller soft play area, adventure playground, Trim-trak, swimming pool and woodland walks are available free of charge for guests to enjoy as they wish. A modest charge is made for children to play in the mega indoor play centre, Little Monkeys, but at £3.50 this is discounted from the usual public price.

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Reviewed August 15, 2011

Me and my boyfriend was looking for somewhere to get away for our anniversay! I found Darwin Forest via google and after reading reviews was very excited to go here! We booked on a late deal and ended up paying £300 for the Elvaston Lodge for 3 nights. When we got there we was over the moon with our choice, got the keys to the lodge and off we were. The lodge I must say was absolutely fantastic I could not fault anything! We had our own sauna and after reading how to work it finally enjoyed it! It was very clean and homely! Once unpacked we headed up to the shop to get some dinner and stayed in for the night. In the morning we woke got ready but then found ourselves wondering what we was going to do. I looked into the tourist book and that was no help whatsoever it was more like a local advertisment book and didnt really explain much about the area or things that were recommended to do (tourist points etc). We ended up walking around the park and playing in the games room for the afternoon. The park at this time was like a ghost town. After finally getting a bit bored we grabbed some lunch in the little Cafe, the food was great for what it was (two jacket potatoes) we then went back to lodge had a nap got ready and headed out to the Foresters Inn for dinner. It was quite busy by about 8 but we sat down and ordered. The food was terrible. It didnt taste nice and looked like it came from the microwave. And considering this is the only place in the park to actually eat dinner the standard is very low. I would have rather nipped to the shop again and cooked back at the lodge. We ended up leaving Sunday morning as we didnt really see much point in staying for another day due to the fact there would have been nothing to do. The area is lovely and plenty of trees around, The lodge as I said is wonderful but finding something to do is a struggle. This holiday would be great if you have pre-planned activities to do before getting here and using the lodge as a base point. Once your here if you have nothing planned unless you venture out (and probably get lost) you will get very bored very quickly.

  • Stayed: August 2011, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Cherelle H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pinelogger, Manager at Darwin Forest Country Park, responded to this reviewResponded August 24, 2011

We are really sorry to hear that you didn't explore the local area, as regular visitors will know that the Peak District has so much to offer. Just a short drive away are Chatsworth House and gardens, the lovely market town of Bakewell, gritstone edges for romantic walks, Castleton with its caves, Buxton opera house, Heights of Abraham, Crich tramway museum....the list is endless Alton Towers is less than an hour away for those looking for thrills! Then with activities, there is climbing, walking, cycling, sailing, canoeing, flying, fishing, golf.... all are possible in this giant playground that is the Peak District. Even on the park you can cycle, walk, swim, play tennis, mini-golf, orienteer or treat yourself to beauty therapy. For anybody else reading this, if you are short of ideas, please call into reception and have a chat with us - we love giving guests ideas on what to do and where to visit.

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Additional Information about Darwin Forest Country Park

Address: Darley Moor, Matlock DE4 5PL, England
Location: United Kingdom > England > Derbyshire > Matlock > Darley Moor
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Spa Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Specialty Lodging in Darley Moor
Price Range: $79 - $208 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Darwin Forest Country Park 5*
Number of rooms: 110
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
In the heart of the Peak District, Darwin Forest is a 5-star holiday park in a delightful woodland setting. Accommodation is in modern self-catering lodges with everything provided for a great family holiday. Lodges sleep form 2 to 8 people. Facilities include indoor swimming pool, indoor play area, bar/restaurant, tennis, beauty therapy, soft play and woodland walks. Darwin holds the David Bellamy Award for Conservation at Gold standard and a Visit England Award for Excellence. Handy for Chatsworth, Bakewell, Haddon Hall and all the sights of the Peak District. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Darwin Forest Country Park Hotel Two Dales

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