We all slept pretty well on our first night. I owe that to the darkness and quietness of Pinelodge Holidays Darwin Forest. Elsa did wake up screaming at 5am but that was due to being terrified and unable to see. Other than that, we all woke at nearly 8am!
We had a simple breakfast of cereals followed by a really relaxing morning. I was able to take the deepest bath I’ve ever had, in peace whilst the girls played and Hubby snoozed for a little longer.
For us, Pinelodge Holidays Darwin Forest was in the perfect location for the days out we had planned. The first on our agenda was Matlock Farm Park. It’s literally 5 minutes away by car, probably the shortest journey we did the entire trip.
Matlock Farm Park is in beautiful countryside location. It’s open from 10am year round and is a really affordable day out with a family of five costing just £38. It’s a farm but there’s also a riding centre onsite which can be booked in advanced for lessons or treks.
The 10am opening and the fact the farm is located a few minutes from Darwin Forest, allowed us to have a really chilled morning before arriving for opening time.
After you go through the entrance you walk into the farm. It’s a huge open space in the peaceful countryside. We had been given a list of activities and experiences on during that day. We also paid for animal feed.
Straight away I realised how friendly the animals were. The ponies came up to us to be fed, even the ferrets and lambs were ready for a stroke.
Talking of lambs, the first thing on our agenda was to help feed the lambs. I wasn’t sure what to expect, whether it might be a demonstration but along came a member of the farm team with lots of bottles of milk.
The girls were handed a bottle to share between them and given a numbered lamb to feed. The girls did a great job of taking it in turns to cover the poor lambs head with milk. They loved it and it was a great free experience!
After feeding the lambs we took a look in the pet barn before heading up to the Tots Area play ground. It’s designed for younger children but as it wasn’t school holidays in the Peak District the farm was quiet. Freya and Eva loved playing a island imaginative game.
I had my eye on the Meerkat Feeding on the timetable. Thankfully the listed experiences all happen relatively soon after each other which enables you to be kept busy, they repeat in the afternoon too in case you arrive later in the day.
We managed to tear the girls away from the play area and head to the Meerkat enclosure. I had assumed we’d watch the farm keepers feeding the meerkats, but actually she came around with a plate of different foods that the children could pick and throw in. I really enjoyed seeing my daughters so happy as they threw their pieces of fruit for the meerkats to eat.
The Meerkat enclosure is right by the Garden Room Cafe. Hubby popped in to look at the menu then came out very excited that they had a decently priced full English. So off we went inside to warm up, have I mentioned yet that the weather was so cold and windy!?
Hubby ordered a Full English breakfast for himself, beans on toast for me and the girls had toast too. It was really quick service and the food was really good quality and quantity. Considering the girls had already had cereal, I was shocked to see them polish off their two slices of toast each and then pinch some from Hubby too!
The Garden Room Cafe is one of two eating places at Matlock Farm Park. There’s also plenty of outdoor seating and areas for picnics too. Elsa had spotted little pots of fruit, they were only £2 and I loved the variety inside. I was also pleased to see the grapes were cut. Inside the fruit pot there was segments satsuma, honey melon, strawberries and grapes.
The farm is set out on a bit of a loop. I like it when that happens as you don’t miss anything by taking the wrong path. Along the route there’s various animals to stroke and feed. Like I said above, all the animals were so friendly. Elsa fell in love with a little goat that very gentle with her.
We got round to where the Ferret Racing is at the right time. They offer free bets to see who will win and if your lucky number gets picked, you get a prize. We all had so much fun cheering on the different ferrets. Right at the end we was able to stroke them. Sadly, although we had the right winning colour ferret, our numbers were not picked. It was fun nevertheless!
There are three outdoor play areas at Matlock Farm Park. After the ferret racing the girls decided it was time for some more playing and headed into the obstacle course play area. Eva and Elsa had one go on the gokarts too. They are £1 per go but it lasted a good amount of time.
Matlock Farm Park is definitely a small farm. You can make it a full day out by taking things slowly, taking part in the daily activities and allowing your children to play longer in each play area. I was struggling with feeling so cold if I’m honest but was still really enjoying myself.
After a little while playing, we headed back to the path to continue exploring the farm. We wandered past the duck pond and the girls loved it when one of the ducks escaped from under the fence. We spotted The Ark barn. Inside there was two friendly ponies, Alpacas, pigs and Emu! The girls were able to get really close to stroke the animals.
The right hand side of Matlock Farm (from where you enter), is definitely the horse area. The riding centre is over there. We saw people queuing for the pony rides so decided to join it. I assumed the pony rides would be free like other farm parks we’ve been to before, but it was going to cost £2.50 per child, so I quickly made up an excuse to the girls and we wandered towards to entrance area where the lambs were.
It was actually time for the second lamb feeding session. They’d also welcomed a few tiny lambs since the morning. I was lucky enough to get to hold one of the 3 day old lambs whilst the girls attempted to feed him. Due to his age, I ended up absolutely covered in lamb formula milk but it was great fun for all of us. Lambs are so adorable!
We actually found a Bouncy Castle tent near the toilets. It’s not heavily sign posted but I noticed the little sign. There was nobody in there so the girls enjoyed bouncy for half an hour or so by themselves.
There’s also a new Rainforest Indoor Play Barn at Matlock Farm Park. It’s next door to the Garden Room Cafe. There’s beautiful seating outside and indoors is a little soft play for younger children and a huge wooden play structure with drop slide. The girls took themselves off for yet more fun whilst Hubby and I watched on from the seating area.
I was really impressed with our experience at Matlock Farm Park. The whole farm is clean and well kept, the animals are all super friendly and also well looked after. I love the daily activities that allow visitors to get involved. I’m just sad that the pony rides were a little expensive. There’s also a little gift shop and I quite liked that the exit from Matlock wasn’t through the gift shop so we was able to avoid it.
The girls were beginning to get a bit grumpy and tired so we decided to leave Matlock Farm Park a little earlier than it’s closing time of 4:30pm. We headed back to Pinelodge Holidays Darwin Forest. We snuggled up in our warm cabin for a little while before deciding to head for swimming.
Sadly, the pool was super busy when we arrived so instead we ended up in the onsite playground. Hubby took himself to the little shop to buy some sausages for dinner. When he arrived back to the playground Freya had decided she wanted to go back as she was too cold.
I stayed on with the other two for about fifteen minutes before heading back myself. I went a different route and came across the Darwin Forest Activity Den. There was a little soft play designed for under fives, arcades room and pool tables. Eva and Elsa enjoyed about half an hour in there before we head back for our dinner.
It’s quite nice to take a slow paced approach to life when you are on holiday. Hubby had bought the chocolate we needed for our Easter nests. He’s not normally a baking with kids kinda guy so I really enjoyed watching him make these with Freya and Eva. The Easter nests were definitely a yummy treat before going swimming.
We arrived at the pool for 7pm, there was about three or four other people in there, very quiet! We all had a wonderful time bonding in the water. The girls had roped Hubby in for a game where he was the shark. The pool was lovely and warm, we only left because it was nearly closing time – 9pm!
The girls were hungry when we arrived back at the cabin. Why does swimming make you so hungry?! I let them have some crisps before settling down for the night. Unlike the night before, Freya managed to get herself to sleep well and the other two also fell fast asleep.
As always, I have a video from our adventures at Matlock Farm Park and Darwin Forest. I hope you’ll enjoy watching them. There is a playlist linked in the description of my video with all our Peak District holiday adventures.