Last month we went back to Centre Parcs having had such a great time last year. We opted to try for a different location to see how that varied so Sherwood Forest came out as the one we were going to try, as Chris has fond childhood memories from there. If you want to read about our last visit you can find it in A break in the woods – Centre Parcs Elveden.
Sherwood Forest is over 3 hours away from us and we wanted to make sure we got into Centre Parcs at 10am just as it opens to make the most of the first day there. In order to do this we drove up there the day before which was a Sunday, so we could take our time and just stay overnight in a nearby Premier Inn.
This worked really well for us we could plan our stops on the way up for the children, (and me, I still get travel sick on longer car journeys even as an adult) and not have to rush our journey. The traffic was much kinder on a Sunday too.
Day 1 at Centre Parcs
On the Monday morning we got up, we were all suitable refreshed. We had a good breakfast at Premier Inn and checked out ready to head to Centre Parcs. The journey was just half an hour from the Premier Inn we stayed at, and we were so glad we had made the decision to do that. It meant we were all relaxed and fresh for when we got to Centre Parcs.
When you arrive you drive up to the check in hut and are given your accommodation keys and welcome pack.
If you didn’t know already when booking your stay you select the exact position of the accommodation you want so are able to select how far away you want to be from the main village. Or whether you want to be on the outskirts or by the lake etc
We opted to be on the outskirts, hoping we would get more wildlife visitors there. You can’t actually get to your Lodge until 3pm so once you check in you are guided to the car park to park your vehicle and then off you go until you collect your car to get to your lodge later on.
Tip – You can pay £35 at booking to be allowed into your accommodation early. We did this last time and it allows you that extra time before everyone tries to get their cars and get to their lodges, especially as parking is limited around the Parc.
Once we parked we got out the car, unloaded the buggy and realised we had left Mollies one and only coat at home. It was much colder than expected so that was not the best thing to have happened. So we wrapped her up and headed into The Village area.
We had never visited the Country Club part of Elveden and Chris was keen to see if it was as he remembered so we made that our first place to go to. You head through The Village and then around the lake to the other end of the Parc. It was a nice little walk, with a couple of little bridges, luckily it stayed dry even though it was chilly. But it was so nice to be out in the fresh, country air.
We got to the country club and there was a new Nature Centre there we had a little look, it had a nice information area and some exhibits to look at, including some taxidermy. So be warned there, if you don’t like that sort of thing.
Outside there was also a Family Pitch and Putt too. The weather was holding out so we thought we would give that a go before lunch. Chris popped back into the Nature Centre to pay for our clubs. Henrys never done anything like this before and although we showed him how to hold the club he developed his own way to do it. We had 12 holes to play and that took us right around to lunch time.
We went into the clubhouse to see if there was anything suitable for lunch, but for us there wasn’t, it was a hot menu serving main meals. Not really what we wanted for lunch so we went out and headed back to The Village. As soon as we started walking Henry had a rather long meltdown, lasted virtually the whole walk back. Not much different to the one we had last time on the first day, and I can say the reason was probably the same as well, overtired and over excited. We grabbed lunch in Starbucks and just got some fresh food ready to take back to the lodge.
Tip – Take as much food with you that you can, the supermarket although well stocked is quite expensive.
It proved a wise choice to get the early entry to the lodge as there was only a small layby outside our one this time. The lodge we picked was the exact same layout of the one we had in Centre Parcs Elveden, which was great we knew straight away where everything was and it helped us all settle in much quicker.
We had a couple of hours at the lodge to unpack and have rest before we ventured back out to explore The Village more. We ended up going upstairs to look at the bowling and there was a small baby area there so we let the children have a little play. Henry made a little friend while there, which was nice. We had ordered a Dine in option for dinner that night as it had still felt like quite a long day even though we didn’t drive that day.
Day 2 at Centre Parcs
We had a bit of an unsettled night as Henry had wet the bed and then ended up in the double bed with us. So having spent most of the night worrying about it we first went to Guest services to sort it out. We were both pleasantly surprised at how the lady handled it, she was very friendly about it and told us not to worry and they would send over some clean sheets. That was a huge weight off my mind. What a relief!
Chris and Henry were going to go swimming first so I took this opportunity to have a browse around all the shops. I knew there wouldn’t be much other opportunity to do so. I went back into the bowling area where you could see some of the pool from there while we waited for them to come out. From what I heard Henry had tried one of the age appropriate slides and he did not like it one bit. Chris said he was scared stiff. He never did go on a slide after that.
When they finished we headed back to our lodge for a break and lunch. We had a few hours to use before Henrys booked in activity so having walked past it earlier we decided to have a go at crazy golf. We only played the first 10 holes and just as well as it started raining as soon as we started playing. Henry enjoyed this more than the Pitch and Putt, so we said we would come back another time to do the whole course.
After this we walked over to the Jardin des Sports area which we hadn’t been over to yet. This is where all the indoor sports are, and there is a large dining area and soft play. As you can imagine soft play was packed, but apparently you cant walk past a soft play without going in, who knew?
We still had some time and it was now raining so we paid for the Football Pool for an hour. This was definitely one for Chris he enjoyed this way more than Henry.
That gave us just enough time to walk to the Outdoor activity centre, just as we did the heavens opened and it rained the whole way. At Sherwood Forest the Activity Centre is up a hill and the Off Road Explorers is up at the top of the hill. We were not prepared for that.
Henry did this activity at Elveden and he loved it, he was so excited to be doing it again. Unfortunately it continued to rain the whole duration of this activity and Chris was soaked as he went around the track with him. I don’t think Henry minded too much he still loved it. You can read about Elvedens version of this in Centre Parcs Elveden Reviewed.
We had dinner in Bella Italia that evening and the children shared a meal as there was too much for Henry and I don’t like paying for a child’s meal when Mollie is barely going to eat any. Turns out she ate more than Henry. Despite a tantrum we had a lovely meal.
Day 3 at Centre Parcs
Wednesday started with Henrys first activity, which again was one he had done before at Elveden. It was quite windy so the lake area was very cold, Chris was taking Henry on this again, I’m not that comfortable with water. I had to go around the side of the lake to see this, but it was bitterly cold and windy I was trying to find a sheltered spot to see. No success.
Henry loved this again, even though Chris had said it was smaller area to do the boating in. After this we went and walked up to the Country Club again to do the Family Putting as he said he had enjoyed it last time. That took us to lunch time, so we made our way back to the lodge for a little break and lunch.
Tip – Unlike last time, we planned our days so that we could be back at the lodge each day for lunch. It saved us so much money because we were not buying lunch every day. It was also nice to go back and have a freshen up and relax to break up the day.
We had our second activity of the day booked in, for the afternoon in the Jardin des Sports, Tiny Sports Day. We looked into this last time and didn’t think Henry was the right age, this was a busy activity there were a lot of children and adults taking part. All the children seemed to really enjoy this activity and it was lovely to see all the smiling faces. Henry was just beaming the whole way through, I think this turned out to be one of his favourites.
After this we all went in for a family swim before dinner, Mollie wasn’t so sure, she hadn’t been in a pool for a long time. She was crying for a good 15 minutes, she did eventually come around and once she did she loved it. It was lovely to be able to get her involved as so far she had spent the majority of the time just watching from her buggy.
After the swim we went back to Bella Italia for dinner as it worked so well the evening before. Thankfully there was no tantrum this time, which made it so much more enjoyable. We then made the walk back to the lodge, which is something I really enjoy doing in Centre Parcs. It makes you feel like you are out in the forest, really away from it all.
Day 4 at Centre Parcs
Thursday was our last full day and we had nothing planned until the night before where we had booked in an activity, which was a total new one for us. Before that started we had some time for a couple of games of pool, admittedly this was probably more for us adults than Henry.
The activity we arranged was Archery – Little Johns and Robin Hood. Neither of us really knew what to expect, it was all indoors in a seperate part of the building, and all I can say was how well done it was. Honestly it was far better than we expected and Henry really loved it.
We had another lunch back at the lodge so we could pick up our swimming stuff as well. The weather stayed relatively dry so we chanced another game of the Adventure Golf and this time we went for the whole course, it was busier this time, which almost caused a few issues with patience but luckily it was kept under wraps. It didn’t rain this time either.
We went for our last family swim after the Golf and we tried the Hucks restaurant for dinner. Which has the buffet for the children, and thankfully they didn’t charge for Mollie as again she wouldn’t be eating a lot. It was a nice spot to eat looking out over the lake, as you can imagine it was bittersweet that we were coming to the end of our holiday.
It was a lovely last walk back to the lodge, taking in the last of the forest air. We finished off our evening (after the children were asleep) with a glass of wine and packing and thinking about our next trip to Centre Parcs. Which I think could be very different as we will be tied to half term and that throws up a whole lot of other things that we haven’t had to deal with the last 2 times we have been. But we shall see, I very much look forward to finding out though.
If you would like to read more detail about all the activities we tried then take a look at my other post Centre Parcs Sherwood Activites Reviewed
Have you been to Centre Parcs? I’d love to hear.