I have visited Center Parcs Whinfell Forest 6 times. The first time was way back in 2000, when it was called Oasis. I went with a bunch of uni friends and we had a blast. All I remember is laughter, crazy parties, sunny BBQ’s, diving down flumes, outside pools, dinners out, boat trips and being young, wild and free. I was 18. I first visited ‘Center Parcs’ (same location and closest to Scotland) when I was 23, with an ex boyfriend and we had a fab time, enjoying all the activities and restaurants.
The past 4 times visiting, have been as a ‘Mum’, still young, wild and free of course and enjoying all those 2000 memories, minus the wild parties. Center Parcs is an amazing place for kids and we love it. We took the risk of booking to go post pandemic, it seems like everyone I spoke to before we left was having to isolate, so I was super thankful that we were able to go. I love an adventure and Center Parcs is a great playground for all ages. I’ve put a little vlog below with my thoughts about visiting Center Parcs post pandemic. I hope this helps if you are considering if you should stay or go, I feel a song coming on.
We got the last cabin available for the dates we looked at. It was nice inside and did the job but the cobwebs outside are a little off putting. If you are scared of spiders then it may be a bit of an issue! I know that a lot of the cabins in Moorland View and 3 Oaks have pretty big cobwebs outside, which is a shame as I love spending time outside the cabin, soaking in forrest life. I had a sneak peak at some other cabins, the lakeside ones look lovely and the luxury treehouse cabins are really cool. There are also some pretty cool cabins opposite the big playpark by the village centre. They have showers outside and the patio areas are much cleaner and nicer to sit in.
The pool is still open which is great as it is a highlight for so many. At the moment (July 2021), if you are staying for 4 nights you can go twice and if you are staying for 3 nights over the weekend you can only go once. It was so nice being in the pool with less guests as pre pandemic it can get very busy. The wave machine wasn’t on and the showers are turned off so you can’t have a wash as you leave the pool but hopefully this will change soon. All the restaurants are open, our lunch was cancelled at Bella Italia but we were able to book a couple of dinners (always love a curry at Rajinda Pradesh) and a lunch at The Lakeside Inn which was fab as their softplay is open and it was boiling so we enjoyed a table outside.
The soft play at Cafe Rouge was closed but they did provide arts and crafts to keep the kids happy. These things are important when you want to have a nice chilled meal and get into proper holiday mode.
You have to book everything in advance online, even the pedalos so be prepared.
I had a trip to the spa which was fab. It was so nice to have my first facial in well over a year (I was allowed to take my mask off) and the massage was super relaxing. I was sad when the hour was over (it was bliss). I floated back to the cabin, after treating myself to some nice skincare products. I say we may as well make up for lost pamper time.
(Tan on a UK holiday – check ✓
This was the first time we took our bikes and I loved it. It was great cycling all around the resort with the kids and also nice to see so many kids enjoying their freedom and cycling around alone. We got a lot of use out of them. Sometimes the kids would go for a mini cycle adventure in their pjs on the roads around our cabin. I love this kind of stuff.
We were delighted to be there when there was a bit of a UK heatwave every day but one thing I need when the sun is strong is cold water to swim in. The outside pools are heated and the lake isn’t used for swimming (although we did get desperate on a hot day and paddled a bit). Charlie caught a fish too!
Lake Ullswater, the second largest lake in the English Lake District, is a short 15 – 20 minute drive from Center Parcs. It was amazing to pop out there on a hot day and have a cold dip. We all enjoyed it and the water is so lovely. Lake Windermere is only a 20 mile drive from Lake Ullswater. I was keen to go there too but got outvoted. What can I say, you have to pick your battles. I would have loved to have taken the tent and extended our trip a couple of nights but I am super grateful for the sunny, relaxing week we had. It was a game changer with us all having the bikes this year and something we had been looking forward to.
To sum up our week if you are still considering if you should stay or go to Center Parcs Whinfell Forest post pandemic –
It was relaxing, fun and I could easily have stayed for another few days. Getting some wild swimming in and lots of cycling and time to chill out in the forrest during a heatwave was the icing on the cake. Both Hubs and I have had two covid vaccines, which helped to add a little peace of mind. Limiting the news consumption is always useful too, especially when on holiday. Somewhere in the world, there will be people chilling out by waterfalls, with no clue what covid is. I say chase more waterfalls when you can, it’s important. You got this.
Jojo Fraser is an award-winning author, podcaster and keynote speaker, dubbed as ‘the Queen of positivity and a kindness advocate. She is a Tedx speaker and a regular speaker on BBC Radio. Jojo is known for normalising discussions around our mental health, making it accessible and relatable to all. She has quickly grown a reputation for having a huge impact even on the most sceptical of people. She has a huge passion for helping people to get their mojo back.
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