Woodland wonderland in Yorkshire
Dave Mark and his family experience indulgence in a log cabin in Yorkshire.
I was four when i decided that there really is no feeling in the world like walking in the woods and finding a really cool stick.
A stick is a magical thing. It can be a wand, a machine gun, Gandalf's staff, a majorette's baton (if nobody's looking). Stick-finding formed a major part of my childhood and neither my hunger for sticks, or skill in finding them, have left me. At 32, I remain so obsessed with the hobby that, even after a magnificent short break in Keldy Forest, in a blissful pocket of North Yorkshire, it's all I can go on about.
My partner, two children and I were staying in a swish wooden cabin deep in the heart of the forest, a few miles from the bustling market town of Pickering but a million miles from anywhere in terms of relaxation. When the idea of staying in a cabin in the woods was first mooted, I imagined a wind-blown, rickety shack with a corrugated roof and metal bathtub.
What we got was luxury al fresco. I'd warned the kids it might not be a weekend break for the faint-hearted, and the looks on their faces when I explained that moss and leaves might have to serve as lavatory paper will live with me forever. But once we'd followed the winding road through glorious rolling fields and picture-postcard villages, it became clear there was no risk of roughing it.
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Twenty minutes later, immersed in bubbles in a hot tub, watching a gentle rain adding extra fizz to my glass of champagne, I did not look much of a woodsman. But I did look very happy.
We enjoyed three nights of unashamed bliss, utterly secluded in a leafy cocoon impenetrable by either mobile phones or wi-fi.
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So gorgeous are the surroundings, there's really no good reason to leave the cabin if it wasn't for the terrific activities on the doorstep.
Keldy holiday accommodation suits all tastes, ranging from the modest Evergreen Cabin to the luxurious Golden Oak Cabin.
With a Canadian-style wooden front porch, floor-to-ceiling windows, open-plan lounge and kitchen and superb bedrooms you could just sit in the hot tub and read if you fancied it.
But the emphasis is on the great outdoors, with enthusiastic, well-informed rangers ready to take walking groups off the beaten track when they spot something interesting.
And in a superb hideaway just a 10-minute walk from the nearest cabin, nature-lovers can sit and watch badgers each dusk.
The walks are perfection for novices or experienced ramblers. There's a 'please yourself' ethos, offering the chance to wander for miles in the vast loveliness of the North York Moors, or to stick to well-marked circuits in the beguiling forests of Cropton and Dalby.
I was having an amazing time – and then I found a really cool stick. n
Forest Holidays offers short breaks and longer stays in log cabins and tree houses in beautiful forests across the UK. All sites operate exclusively within The Forestry Commission Estate. The forests are at Deerpark (Cornwall), Keldy and Cropton (North Yorkshire), Argyll and Strathyre (Scotland) and Forest of Dean.Reservations – telephone 0845 052 2703 or visit www.forestholidays.co.uk