The Royal forest of Dean is my local forest, it is just 30 minutes up the road and I do love going for a walk in summer, visiting Puzzlewood or swinging through the trees at Go Ape. Yet I have never stayed overnight or made the most of the forest for finding its hidden delights. Therefore when invited to go foraging and spend a night in the luxury cabins at Forest Holidays with a group of fellow bloggers I packed my bag and couldn’t wait to get started. The promise of a hot tub was the icing on the cake.
I arrived late afternoon and was told that one of my roomies had already arrived. Therefore I ventured into the cabin feeling like I was entering the Big Brother house! I called out a cheery hello and met Amanda, we quickly introduced ourselves and jumped in the hot tub to chat before the others arrived!
The first evening
During the evening we had a lovely social meal at the ‘Retreat’. Which is the hub of the Forest Holidays resort. There is a shop selling artisan goods and local crafts. In addition there is a bustling cafe that serves proper cooked food. It is most welcome after a day of fun in the forest.
As a group we were then taken on a night walk with the Park Ranger Jerry. Jerry is a fountain of knowledge and pointed out different animals and also the evidence of where they had been. We wore night vision googles which were great and this activity is run in the evenings for all guests.
After a good nights sleep we headed off foraging in the forest. Armed with baskets to collect our lunch we were joined by Nick of Hunter Gather cook fame. He was teaching us how to cook with nature’s finest. I was impressed with finding wild garlic, edible herbs and weeds and chestnuts to mention just a few finds from the forest floor.
We stopped to make our refreshments which was pine needle tea. Along with Amanda and my other roomie Emily from Bristol Bites we whipped up a fire to be proud of and chatted over our cup of tea.
Once back at the hub we were able to start putting our lunch together. The table was laden down with our finds but also a leg of vension, some game and a whole array of colourful bounty. Individuals and pairs started planning their meals from those adventurous foodies like Emily who cooked venison and a potato cake with a side serving of vegetables. Others even made game with stuffing and vegetables.
I was rather less adventurous but enjoyed my ‘dirty cooking’ session Nick! Dirty cooking refers to using a fire pit and adding your food direct to the pit amongst the charred embers. I de-seeded a red pepper, lined it with parma ham and then cracked an egg into the pepper. I added the pepper to the fire pit and watched the egg bake. Once it was ready it was delicious and I thought it would actually make a great alternative brunch type meal.
I was rather envious of those making vodka cocktails infusions using juniper berries and blackberries. They both looked and tasted delicious, I only wish we could have made them the evening before and drank them whilst in the hot tub rather than the day we were driving home!
The accommodation at the Forest is amazing, the cabins are spacious, modern, light and airy. The kitchen is equipped with all you need and the bathroom floor is heated. In our Golden Oak Lodge we had three double rooms, one was a double bed and en-suite and then a further two twin rooms. We had wifi (important for bloggers), TV with a whole array of channels and of course the hot tub and indoor fire. I would love to go back with the family who would love to hang out in the forest. I have just got a Go pro and I’m slowly learning how to use it. Below is my first go!
I had a wonderful time in the forest and felt lucky knowing this is my natural backdrop. And this is only a short drive away. Forest Holidays have nine sites in the UK. The Forest of Dean is the largest, with cabins to suit all party sizes from romantic getaways for two to parties up to 10 in the Golden Oak Treehouse.
I would like to thank them for arranging a great break for me to enjoy the forest.