During the October half-term we spent a lovely mid-week break at Center Parcs Whinfell Forest, and I thought I'd share some of the things that we got up to. We've been lucky enough to enjoy quite a few holidays at Center Parcs now (you can find links to my other posts at the bottom) but this was our first visit to Whinfell. It's quite a long way from our home, but we were able to break the journey up there by staying with family. It's admittedly not particularly cheap to visit Center Parcs during the school holidays, but unfortunately now that the children are in school and with teachers in the family that's our only option! This holiday was with part of the rest of the family, and we were a party of six adults and two children.
Our visit didn't get off to the best start as the main road where the entrance is located was closed in both directions all day due to an accident. By looking at maps we discovered that there was a back service road into Center Parcs on the other side of the park, and so we took a chance and made our way around. Fortunately Center Parcs had opened this entrance and we were able to cut across the park to the Arrivals Lodge. There wasn't a great deal of communication from Center Parcs about this on their social media channels, but at least they knew what to do and it saved us a very long wait! There were posters up that evening apologising for the delays caused, suggesting that people who had missed activities due to late arrival would be refunded.
We stayed in an Original Style Executive Lodge with four en-suite bedrooms. It had a sauna in the lodge, with free wi-fi, daily maid service, fully equipped kitchen and open plan living area.
It was perfect for several different families sharing together, as having the en-suite bathrooms and two separate floors gives you some privacy. The kitchen was large with plenty of storage space as well as two large fridges and all the equipment that we needed for preparing meals. The living area didn't quite have enough sofa seating for all eight of us at once, but we could all easily fit around the large dining table. It was located in a nice quiet little cul-de-sac of about eight houses and we deliberately chose a lodge that was close to the central area to save too much walking for little legs.
We don't tend to do many of the extra activities that Center Parcs has to offer, as we find that they are very expensive. We did bowling as a family for an hour, and some of the adults visited the Aqua Sana spa. Generally we found that once we'd spent the morning in the Subtropical Swimming Paradise and had our lunch, there was enough to keep us occupied - either exploring the park or quiet time in the lodge with games and colouring. We also spent quite a lot of time Pokemon hunting in the forest and you can read more about that here - Playing Pokemon Go at Center Parcs Whinfell!
The Subtropical Swimming Paradise has plenty to keep everyone entertained for several hours. There's a large central pool with regular waves, flumes and slides, and warm pools with bubbles. There's a fast lazy river style rapids and an even faster outdoor rapids with an outdoor pool that you can also swim around (although it was quite cold out there so we only ventured out once!) Our children aren't very confident swimmers and so we borrowed them a free buoyancy vest each which meant they were better able to enjoy the pool. The pool didn't feel too busy and we never had a problem with finding a changing room, there were plenty of family changing cubicles which could fit us all comfortably.
We also spent a lot of time walking around the forest. The first Christmas decorations were being put out which made an evening walk magical, having visited Center Parcs at Christmas before they really do go to a lot of effort with the seasonal touches. But this holiday was mainly about enjoying the beautiful Autumnal colours in the forest and hunting for treasures like pine cones and colourful fallen leaves.
We were lucky with the weather and it was mainly dry, albeit a bit colder than we were used to coming from down South! I even finally made it to the Pancake House - the opening times never seem to fit in with what we are doing and so this time we made a special effort to fit a visit into our day and I enjoyed a delicious Caramel Crunch Belgian Style Waffle.
We had a lovely holiday at Center Parcs Whinfell, it's a great place to visit with the family and plenty for everyone to do.
You might also enjoy some of the other blog posts that I've written about our previous trips to Center Parcs. We have visited Center Parcs Elveden Forest at Christmas, and I've also shared some tips on Things to do for free at Center Parcs, Elveden Forest. Also in the UK we spent a week at Center Parcs Longleat just before Harry started school.
More recently we have tried out Center Parcs Erperheide in Belgium, and enjoyed it so much that we returned for a second Holiday to Center Parcs, Erperheide. I'm a big fan of the Belgian Center Parcs and you can also read more about the VIP Accommodation at Center Parcs, Erperheide.