Gifted. My family was invited to visit Whitemead Forest Park and offered complimentary accommodation. My opinion was not influenced by this.
Whitemead Forest Park is nestled within the Forest of Dean, not far from Chepstow and Monmouth. The park has so many accommodation options, it’s bound to suit every type of adventurer. There are camping and motor home pitches, wooden lodges, stunning glamping pods and comfortable apartments too. We were initially planning to stay in one of the glamping pods, but due to availability, we ended up staying in one of the luxury apartments – a real treat!
Some of our experience may be different to usual. We visited in September 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic. Although our full lockdown is over, social distancing and safety measures have changed some things. If you’re reading this in the future when we’ve beaten covid, then hell yeah!
Upon arrival it was easy to check in. We queued in the car at the check in pod and were processed quickly and enthusiastically, before being directed to our accommodation. We were staying in Primrose Walk which is very close to the main entrance. Wherever you are on site, the signage is excellent, the site map is simple and it’s generally very easy to get around and navigate whether in the car, on a bike or on foot. Unlike sites such as Center Parcs and Bluestone, you can continue to drive your car whenever you want – but there really seemed to be little to no traffic once everyone had checked in and it felt very safe.
Apartments at Whitemead Forest Park
We had a ground floor apartment, which was way bigger than I expected! It really was huge! Both the master bedroom and the twin bedroom were massive. Two bathrooms, one with a bath and shower, the other en-suite from the master with a shower, and a reasonably sized open plan kitchen, living room with pull-out sofa to accommodate an extra two people, and dining room. Both the living room and the master had patio doors out onto the grass rear, with a dining set and picnic benches and with big windows and sliding doors it was really easy to feel like we were outside, with all the luxuries of being in an apartment.
Everything was spotlessly clean, comfortable and stylish. I would definitely recommend an apartment if you’re looking for a bit of luxury or you feel you need more space. I was particularly impressed with the fact it had a full size freezer and not just a little box freezer in the fridge – always handy when you’re on holiday with the family and want to buy some meals and ice cream.
Some of the apartments, and the park in general and the other accommodation, are pet friendly, which was really nice to see. On this occasion we didn’t bring our puppy Ivy, who had a holiday of her own with my mum, but I love a family-friendly park which also allows dogs and I would definitely bring her next time we visit.
Facilities at Whitemead Forest Park
Unfortunately due to the pandemic many of the facilities were limited or closed so I can’t give a full accounting of them. The pool was completely closed and the restaurant / bar was only offering a takeaway service. Although it would have been lovely to have a meal out and go for a swim, the site still has plenty to offer so we weren’t upset about these closures as they’re understandably for a good reason.
We were visiting with three and a half year old William. This is such a lovely site for young children. There are two playgrounds; the infant playground has swings, a really large and modern playhouse with extra wide slide and a fun roundabout that he loved.
The infant playground is right next to the outside seating at the restaurant, which is ideal for parents wanting to be close by but still relax. It also has a giant chess set, connect four and ping pong tables to keep everyone entertained, and loads of grass for running on.
There’s a separate larger playground that’s ideal for older children, but William still had fun climbing on everything, with daddy’s help of course. It has quite a lot of climbing opportunities, as well as larger swings.
There’s plenty of space for everyone to walk, run and play, with basketball and football options too. The grounds are well kept, and some of the trees, such as the giant redwood, are very impressive.
I’m told that there’s usually an array of entertainment on offer, from outside pursuits such as archery at the archery range, to fencing, teddy bear making, bingo, live dancing and music and more. Again, unfortunately due to the pandemic the normal activities weren’t taking place, so we had a chilled out weekend walking around the site, playing in the playground, relaxing in our garden, and we also took a day trip to nearby Puzzlewood.
Was there anything bad?
To be honest there wasn’t anything bad. We didn’t really get to experience the full site as we would have under normal times and that’s because of safety reasons so is of course perfectly understandable. We certainly felt safe during our visit, which is the absolutely most important thing. If I was going to criticise it’s that we were considering eating out for breakfast – the decadence of someone else cooking breakfast – but there wasn’t a single gluten free breakfast option listed on the menu, despite the fact that most breakfast ingredients don’t generally contain gluten. The menu was limited takeaway whilst we were there, whether that’d be the case in normal times I couldn’t say. There were gluten free options for lunches and dinner.
The only other thing I can say that’s a negative (for some) is do not plan on using your phone much whilst you’re there. The free wifi was unusably slow even next to the main building – we couldn’t even check email – and phone signal is sketchy, but there was a spot outside the apartments that had some signal strength on three, so your mileage may vary. Of course sometimes it’s nice to just get away from everything. I have to remind myself that I grew up without a phone!
The location of Whitemead Forest Park is excellent. The Forest of Dean is an absolutely amazing area with loads of fun things to do. Whitemead Forest Park is very centrally located within the Forest of Dean, with walking paths and cycle paths nearby too. If you want to drive, it’s really well located for visiting local attractions, from Tintern Abbey to the Forest of Dean Steam Railway. With the pandemic, we didn’t want to visit too many places so we we only made our way to Puzzlewood, and you can read our review of that as well!
Will I be back?
We will definitely be back. Whitemead Forest Park is a gem. We had a casual, relaxing weekend in a beautiful environment, breathing in the nature and playing in the park. It was a good reset after all the anxiety of the last few months. Next time I’d love to try out the glamping pods, or maybe bring the puppy too!