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Steve Saunders and his family enjoy a well deserved weekend away that’s just an hour’s drive from Bristol

We deserved it. Sometimes you just need a break from the same four walls, the never ending laundry basket and two daily trips to Tesco. It kind of helped that we’d stayed at Forest Barn Holidays before and absolutely loved it, so when the lovely owner Lynda explained that she had a weekend free, it was too good a chance to miss.

Forest Barn Holidays offers a choice of five luxury cottages all situated together in a private hamlet on the edge of Cinderford. Being less than an hour’s drive from Bristol, it meant we had the children home from school and in the car in no time, and at the cottage all before 6pm.

Forest Barn Holidays is situated in the heart of the Forest of Dean

The cottages offer a choice of accommodation sleeping from two to eight people. This makes them perfect for families, couples seeking some time away and family get-togethers. We were lucky enough to have the rather wonderful The Manor, a gorgeous 17th century cottage with five bedrooms – the boys were so happy not to have to share! – an amazing kitchen and dining area, just so much space to chill out and even a hot tub in the huge garden overlooking the forest. I mean, seriously, this place is amazing!

Our plan was to do, well, pretty much nothing. The cottage has everything that you need in terms of Sky TV, every kitchen item imaginable, even the world’s fluffiest towels, slippers and dressing gowns – there’s even wood for the open fires, a pizza over and a welcome hamper complete with eggs from the on-site chickens.

Forest Barn Falconry is right next door

What’s more, there’s even Forest Barn Falconry on site, offering the chance to handle and fly birds of prey. We enjoyed this on our previous visit, with even our then nine-year-old able to take part.

The Manor is one of those places that once you get over how good it is, you can just relax. While the children were straight in the hot tub, we grown-ups relaxed with a glass of red (there’s even a selection supplied, just in case you forget your own) while the pizzas gently browned in the oven.

A family day visit to Puzzlewood

The Forest of Dean offers so much for families, even during the off-season when we arrived. Very close by are the excellent Clearwell Caves, offering a fascinating insight in the world under the forest including a walk through the caves and a very popular Christmas experience (which you’ll have to book up as it sells out really quickly). There’s also the Perrygrove Steam Railway at nearby Coleford and a whole variety of mountain biking and cycling routes.

Our call on the Saturday was Puzzlewood, barely 30 minutes from the cottage and a great family venue. As well as providing the settings for films such as Star Wars, Jack the Giant Slayer and The Secret Garden, as well as Doctor Who and Merlin, it’s a wonderfully ancient and evocative woodland full of ancient moss covered trees and rock formations that do seem almost otherworldly. You will need good walking shoes and unfortunately the track through the forest just isn’t suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs.

Relax in the garden and enjoy a dip in the hot tub

So with the sightseeing box ticked, we were back to the cottage, enjoying another dip in the hot tub and deciding which takeaway to go for – after, we were on holiday. For children, there’s also a play area for under-fives to enjoy, a whole variety of high-chairs, children’s cutlery and changing facilities available. You can even bring your dog too, with food and water bowls supplied, and suggestions for walkies.

Each of the rooms at The Manor is beautifully clean and so comfortable. With the children divided out into their chosen bedrooms, we enjoyed the master room complete with ensuite bathroom and more of those fluffy towels. Yes, I do admit to checking a few word emails while I was away, and thanks to the excellent wifi, this was no problem at all.

The super well equipped kitchen and dining area

The only problem with a wonderful weekend away is that Sunday comes too quickly. Still, even then there was time for a cook old Sunday cooked breakfast, including those very locally produced eggs, and a walk along the tracks from the cottage up into the woods before we left.

As you can tell, we can’t speak highly enough about our weekend away at Forest Barn Holidays. Gorgeous cottages in a wonderful location and so much for families to enjoy.