As we cycled away from the bustling Village Square, a deathly silence descended on the forest, broken only by the rustling squirrels, foraging rabbits and the towering pines, cedars and maples creaking in the breeze.

I craned my neck up to stare at the statuesque trees, imagining they were not gently swaying from side to side, but in fact groaning as they grew a couple of millimetres.

It’s not just the tall trees that have matured over the past three and a bit decades at Center Parcs Sherwood Forest – almost every aspect of the resort has grown since it first opened its gates in 1987.

As well as the natural woodland habitat maturing, new lodges, buildings and other amenities have sprung up, all with the aim of making the popular park even more relaxing and adventurous.

Like many groups who visit Sherwood Forest year in, year out, my family has also grown substantially.

It only seems like yesterday that my wife Rachel and I were pushing our youngest daughter Evelyn around in her pram or pulling her elder sister Isla along in a trailer on the back of our bikes.

Nowadays, we have two adventurous and energetic young ladies to keep entertained, and our weekends at Center Parcs look dramatically different to they did five or six years ago.

But one thing that hasn’t changed is our love for Sherwood’s Subtropical Swimming Paradise, which has seen a £15million expansion in recent months.

We have been visiting the oasis of pools and flumes since Isla and Evelyn were in armbands and swim nappies, but now, as they begin to tower over their mum, they can explore it on their own.

Thankfully, that wasn’t the plan – Rachel and I didn’t miss out on the fun – so the four of us merrily threw ourselves down the legendary winding rapids time and again.

New for this year is the colossal Tropical Cyclone, one of the largest interactive four-person raft rides in Europe.

Riders can choose from four light and sound themes before embarking on 125 metres of twists, turns and sways.

For younger kids, there are also two new areas in the pool revamp – Venture Bay and Venture Harbour.

Fifty yards or so from the pool in the Village Square is American restaurant Huck’s, which again has always been a highlight of our Center Parcs trips.

Most families’ Center Parcs breaks are cram packed full of adventure, and if you are capable of riding a bicycle, they are a must.

We picked up four mountain bikes from the Cycle Hire Shop and rode around the park for hours, wandering off-road and getting muddy on the forest trails, before stopping off at Starbucks for a refuel.

In the past, we would complete our weekend with a couple of sedate and leisurely activities like pony trekking or archery.

However, this year, the kids demanded that we ramped up the adrenaline with two high-octane activities.

First up, we had a game of Laser Combat, as the four of us, armed with state-of-the-art laser guns, raced around the woods in shoot ‘em up missions against teams of strangers.

Then we moved onto the Aerial Adventure course, which is bigger and better than before.

Isla immediately found her head for heights and led the way on the high-ropes, climbing up ladders and over bridges, in-between descents down thrilling zip wires.

I tried my best to keep up with her, while also having an eye on Evelyn behind me.

When she fell behind, I began to wonder where she was – but it soon became apparent she was just waiting for her anxious mum!

However, despite Rachel’s initial nerves, we all made it round in one piece to the finale – a spectacular 100ft-high and 100metre-long descent on a zip wire over the lake.

Although the days at Center Parcs tend to be action-packed and tiring, the evenings are just as relaxing as they always were, and after running, biking and climbing around the forest, it’s always a treat to come back to the cozy lodge.

We stayed in a sumptuous four-bed Executive Lodge, and while Rachel headed to the Aqua Sana spa for her Swedish Body Massage, I started roast dinner cooking in the oven, and played a few games of winner-stays-on pool against Isla and Evelyn.

Then, as the sun set, the three of us stepped out into the forest and towards the sauna, where I was planning on resting my aching limbs.

There was almost total silence – I could just about hear the odd crackle from the flaming log fire in the living room and the occasional creak in the woods.

But this time, it definitely wasn’t the swaying or growing trees, but rather my old bones creaking after two days trying to keep up with the kids.


Richard Jones and his family were guests at Center Parcs Sherwood Forest, where prices start from £299 for a midweek (four nights) break in a two-bedroom Woodland Lodge (sleeps four).

For more information about Center Parcs, visit or call 03448 266266.