Tag Archives: Hicks Lodge

The National Forest on our doorstep

Here at Oaklands Country Lodges we’re very keen to do our bit to preserve our beautiful natural environment, so our guests can enjoy the countryside we’ve worked so hard to protect.

That’s why we’re very pleased to tell you about a wonderful environmental project – in fact, one of the UK’s biggest of its kind – that’s right here on our doorstep. The National Forest, which in 2015 celebrated its 20th anniversary, is the result of a bold government vision with the stated aim of transforming extensive areas of former coal-mining land across the East Midlands into flourishing woodland.

Two decades on and the whole project has been a wonderful success, and continues to be so. The statistics are impressive: in 1995 the 200 mile area across the East Midlands encompassed by the forest has gone from six per cent of woodland coverage to 20 per cent, with a whopping eight million trees planted during that time. Many of these have been by families through the forest’s tree-planting scheme, whereby individuals can buy a tree as a way of celebrating a family event or remembering a loved one.

There are plenty of places you can visit during your stay at Oaklands where you can admire the amazing work that has been done across the National Forest, to regenerate our former coal-mining countryside into a thriving natural environment that brings not only ecological but financial benefits too.

If you’ve got kids, you should definitely pay a visit to Conkers http://www.visitconkers.com/. The heart of the National Forest, there’s plenty to keep the whole family busy for the day, including play areas, a train, a maze, adventure trails, den building, not to mention lovely woodland trails and, of course, several cafes to keep those hunger pangs at bay.

We’ve mentioned them in another of our blogs, but the cycle centre at Hicks Lodge http://www.forestry.gov.uk/hickslodge is a vital part of the National Forest’s work, as is Rosliston Forestry Centre http://www.roslistonforestrycentre.co.uk/ where there’s lots for the family to do, including a lovely natural playground, woodland trails, and birds of prey to admire.

The other way to enjoy all that the National Forest has to offer is to explore all the fabulous walking available through its woodlands. Check out nearby routes on http://www.nationalforestway.co.uk/

The National Forest really is a fantastic project that has been protecting the countryside for the last two decades. Pay it a visit and see what you think.


Get set for cycling this Spring!

We all know the Peak District is famous for its beautiful walking country and scenery, but you might not realise that this area also has its own tradition in fantastic, family-friendly cycling.

The good news is that our cosy log cabins provide the perfect base from which to explore this area’s wide range of cycle trails, with plenty on offer for the whole family. The first port of call for cycling families should certainly be The National Forest Cycle Centre, Hicks Lodge, set in a former coal mining site just outside Ashby-de-la-Zouch. http://www.forestry.gov.uk/hickslodge

Here you’ll find bikes to hire (or you can bring your own), with kids’ trailers for little ones, a huge range of cycle paths which take you round the site’s beautiful man-made lake and, for the more adventurous, bumpy tracks through the rapidly growing forest. There’s a lovely natural play area and a café to warm up in afterwards. Also, on windy days, it’s a very good spot for kite-flying! To find out more great cycling spots in this area, check out http://www.derbyshiresport.co.uk/derbyshire-cycle-routes.

The famous Tissington Trail, near Ashbourne, is an absolutely stunning cycle ride with its 13 miles of traffic-free track running from Ashbourne to Parsley Hay. You can hire bikes and grab a warming drink at the Mapleton Lane hire centre, but check the opening hours first since it only operates in season.

For families or single cyclists fancying a more relaxing pedal, we recommend the http://www.roslistonforestrycentre.co.uk/. Also part of the National Forest, this is an all-round outdoor centre which includes bike hire (only in season) and some very pleasant cycling trails around its beautiful site.

But sometimes you just can’t beat exploring the countryside on your doorstep while on your bike, and for that, it’s well worth checking out the wonderful cycle paths that criss-cross this area. In particular, the Derby Canal Path and Cloud Trail, which runs alongside some beautiful villages such as Melbourne and Wilson, are second to none. You’ll find maps here: http://www.sustrans.org.uk/ncn/map/route/derby-canal-path-and-the-cloud-trail, and, if you wanted to stop for a cheeky pint or bite to eat en route, there’s The Bull’s Head at Wilson which is conveniently right on the Cloud Trail: http://www.thebullsheadatwilson.com/

Happy pedalling!