I blogged recently about our break at Forest Holidays, in Sherwood Forest. Today, I’m going to tell you about some of the activities we got up to as an Autism family, while we were there…
We arrived on the Monday afternoon, and after unpacking, we went down to the play area outside Forest Retreat. The kids had a brilliant time on the swings, climbing up into the treehouse play area, and going down the huge slide. Once we’d bought a few supplies from Forest Retreat, we headed back to our Cabin for some fun in the Hot Tub.
On Tuesday, we headed over to Sherwood Pines Forest Park. It was literally a 5 minute walk from the Forest Retreat. Forest Pines has 2 huge playgrounds, a den building area and many other activities too. We had intended to do the Superworm Trail, but the wind was too strong in the end, so we didn’t manage to complete it. The play areas were well sheltered by the trees though, and it was another beautiful place which looked perfect for a picnic. It was really peaceful, despite there being a class full of 5 year olds there when we were. Sam loved running around, touching the equipment, exploring the dens and watching the trees. We didn’t see half of what was on offer, so I am sure we could have passed more time here, had the weather been better.
On the third day, we had a Personal Forest Ranger Session. John, our ranger was brilliant with the kids. Sydney (our daughter) is almost 3. She is very shy usually, but immediately warmed to him. Sam (our son) is almost 4. He is non verbal and gets overwhelmed in busy areas. We took Sam on the session in his BOB off road pushchair.
We walked through the forest and John showed us what we could and couldn’t eat, he pointed out different tree types, wildlife tracks and even a fox den! He had Sydney laughing and answering his questions as they walked along. She really did learn a lot! John was very patient with Sam. He stopped when Sam did, talked about stuff Sam was looking at, and showed him things as we went along. Syd collected bugs as they went along, and John helped her to build a bug house. They then released all of her creatures into it. For the final 30 minutes of the 1.5 hour session, we went back to the Forest Retreat and Syd painted some pine cones we’d collected as we walked. She also painted a picture.
Sam became agitated about an hour into the session, and took a while to calm down. The fact it was a private session made it much less stressful for me. I would never have been able to take the kids onto a group session like this, as I’d have been too worried about Sam’s meltdowns spoiling it for other guests. It was really nice being able to do things which I knew Syd would love, without Sam having to miss out.
There are other activities available to do on site, including Bike Hire, walks, archery and in cabin spa treatments. The kids really enjoyed the play area, situated right outside the Forest Retreat – it’s a shame our weather wasn’t better as I can imagine having picnics there on a sunny day would be lovely.
On the Thursday, we headed down to WaterGate Park – this is a small theme park. You pay to get in, and then all rides are free. It’s got a large water park within it, too. It was too cold and wet to enjoy this, but the kids loved the rides! The staff were great with Sam too. He loved the Special Needs swing, the runaway train, merry go round, and all the playgrounds as well. Food was a bit limited, but it’s a fun day out, even it it’s raining as there’s plenty of indoor activities as well.
If you are looking for a peaceful family break, Forest Holidays’ Sherwood Park site is definitely somewhere I’d recommend. Chances are, you’ll need to venture off site for supplies (unless you bring them with you), but the fact you can park right near your accommodation makes this less of a headache. If your child has a therapy dog, they can come on holiday with you too. Make sure you book pet friendly accommodation though and add them to your booking!
We were provided with the break, early check in, the in cabin entertainment package and the ranger session for the purpose of this review. All words and opinions are my own.