It’s been our dream for years to split our time between house sitting and van life. For us it’s the perfect balance – spending half our time caring for animals, and the rest of the time exploring and choosing our own adventures. When we came across Sherwood Pines campsite we booked in immediately, as we were drawn to the photos of towering pine trees, picturesque walking routes and the fact it’s just a stone’s throw from the Sherwood Forest. We stayed from Tuesday to Saturday in early March, enjoying four nights of forest camping in our converted VW Transporter. Here’s what you need to know when booking your stay at Sherwood Pines:

Location

Situated in Kings Clipstone, just an hour’s drive from Sheffield and close to the famous Sherwood Forest, Sherwood Pines is owned by Camping in the Forest and is the company’s flagship site. There are over 150 pitches across 40 acres of beautiful forest woodland, with hard-standing and grass pitches, and serviced pitches with water and an electric hook-up. The campsite is open all year round, and backs onto a Forestry Commission site which makes it an idyllic spot! In just a few minutes, you can walk from your pitch into the Forest and enjoy walking routes, bike trails, play areas and organised events such as Park Run. As Sherwood Pines campsite is only a few years old, we found it modern and spacious and they’ve thought of everything you might need for a comfortable stay. Check out our full video tour to explore the site with us!

Our arrival

The campsite is well sign-posted from the road, with a large Forestry Commission sign meaning you can’t miss the turning! The road approaching the campsite winds through tall pine trees for a few minutes, away from the main road, so once you arrive on-site it feels like you’re truly in the middle of nowhere in the peaceful forest. Upon reaching the reception building, we pulled into the New Arrivals lane and before we could hop out of the van, a friendly staff member came out to greet us! She explained that another member of staff would show us around the campsite and we could take a look around before choosing our pitch. We were given a tag to hang from our rearview mirror with the code we’d need to get through the entry barrier next time.

We met Keith, the staff member showing us around, as he hopped on his bike and lead us down the short road, past the staff pitches, to the campsite. It all feels new and fresh – the roads and pathways across the site are well-maintained, and the tall pine trees surrounding the site provide a breath-taking backdrop, no matter where you pitch up! Keith showed us the facilities block (more on that below), explained where the chemical disposal and fresh water points are situated and gave us some insights into what to expect on each pitch. We chose pitch 6 as it backs onto the forest, with a line of trees also separating us from the grass pitches in the centre of the site. The pitches along this side are closer to the facilities block, without being too close to this area where there is more vehicle and foot traffic, and a children’s playground.

Site facilities

While we’ve been lucky to stay on campsites with great facilities thus far, the Sherwood Pines facilities are outstanding! Though there is only one facilities block, they’ve really thought of every kind of visitor and their needs. On one end of the block, you’ll find a dog wash room to clean off your four-legged friend after muddy walks in the forest, complete with a shower/bath for your dog and entryway with a bench for placing your belongings and space for drying off afterwards!

Down the side of the building you’ll find the men’s toilets, urinals and showers. There are two rooms – at off-peak times one is always closed so that when it’s time for cleaning, the staff can close it off completely and open up another, meaning you’ll never have to wait for cleaning to finish! Also on this side of the building is the laundry room where you can pay to pop your clothing in the washer or dryer, and there’s an ironing board for those who like to have crease-free clothing! The dish-washing area can be accessed from either side of the building as it’s a long, thin room, with 8 sinks available with both cold and hot water. For visitors with accessibility needs, 2 sinks are lower down than the others.

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Along the other side of the building, the women’s toilets and showers have the same set up as the men’s in that one room is always closed, so that when it’s time to close the bathroom for cleaning, the room on the other side can be opened up. The dish-washing room is also accessible from this side, and there is a bin at either end in case you need to dispose of any food bits before you wash up. The room we were most impressed with was the Backpacker room – an area containing tall lockers with built-in heaters, where visitors can hang their damp clothes to dry! As two people who have desperately tried to dry rain-soaked clothes by hanging them all around the inside of our small van (to no avail) this to us is a fantastic addition to the facilities block. You simply pop £1 in the locker, lock the door and take the key, so you can return at your leisure later in the day once your clothes are dry! These lockers work like those at swimming pools, or a supermarket trolley – you get the pound back once you’ve placed the key back in the lock – so this service, unlike using the dryer in the laundry room, is completely free.

The facilities block was always completely spotless when we used any of the rooms – the staff here really keep on top of the cleaning! Outside the block, there is a motorhome service point with a grey waste disposal area (one of the long, grid ones – not a teeny manhole cover where you have to line up perfectly!) as well as general waste and mixed recycling bins, and a fresh water tap. Behind the tap, in its own fenced area, is a bike servicing point complete with a dozen tools for those needing to tend to their bicycles before heading off on one of the many cycle routes through the forest. There’s also a bike wash point, which we’re sure is always appreciated by cyclists after a muddy bike ride.

There are a couple of chemical disposal points at either end of the campsite, meaning no matter where you pitch up it’s not too far to walk with your waste in tow. For visitors with four-legged friends, dog poo bins are dotted around the edge of the site. There is decent Wi-Fi across the campsite, much better than some of the poor-excuses-for-Wi-Fi we’ve experienced at campsites previously, in that it was actually possible to load websites on the Sherwood Pines Wi-Fi!

The pitch we chose was a hard-standing gravel pitch with an electric hook up point, and was completely flat according to our level. We enjoyed watching squirrels and birds playing amongst the trees right next to our windows! Depending on the kind of pitch you choose, some were completely unserviced, such as those on the grass, while others had access to their own electric hook up and fresh water tap. Depending on how much privacy you like to have, you might prefer to choose a pitch on the perimeter where you’ll only have a neighbour either side of you, as opposed to the central pitches lining the pathways.

Check out our full video tour on Instagram:

Atmosphere

Our stay at Sherwood Pines began on a drizzly Tuesday afternoon at the end of February, so there were only around 15 other pitches occupied when we arrived. As the road leading up to the campsite winds through the forest, away from the main road, it was completely peaceful as we walked around the site and we didn’t hear any traffic. Aside from a small cluster of motorhomes who had chosen to park next to the facilities block, every other camper was spaced out across the site so we barely heard any sounds from any of the other visitors! That being said, from check-in time at 1pm on Friday afternoon there was a constant stream of traffic as large groups of new guests arrived on site. By Saturday morning, when it was time to check out at 11am, we were slightly relieved to be heading off as we left the campsite with huge family groups on either side of us as we passed through.

This is our biggest piece of advice for those looking to enjoy the campsite, the surrounding area and the tranquility of being situated in a forest setting – book your stay during the week!! The atmosphere on site completely changed on Friday afternoon, as children sped along the paths on electric scooters and groups moved from camper to camper in their party. We were glad to have picked our more privately-situated pitch, just far enough away to not be disturbed by through traffic. Don’t get us wrong – it’s fantastic that Sherwood Pines caters for families, with a large play area for children to enjoy, as well as setting up spaces for glamping pods that Keith told us are coming soon! But as two quiet, ‘Let’s have a cuppa and snuggle up with a film’ kind of people, take it from us if you’re the same – avoid the weekend crowds for an idyllic forest stay.

While you’re in the area…

As we’ve mentioned, Sherwood Pines campsite backs onto a Forestry Commission site. Sherwood Pines is the largest park in the East Midlands of England at 3,300 acres, and even following the walking routes laid out by the Forestry Commission we barely saw anyone else as the forest sprawls for miles. Chris tried out the picturesque 5km and 10km running routes, as well as completing the Park Run which is a 5km group run held every Saturday morning from the visitor centre. For those who prefer two-wheeled adventures, there’s bike hire available so visitors can ride the many, many cycle routes that wind through the forest without having to bring their own bike. For something a little different, there’s a Go Ape high-wire course, and Segway hire if you want to admire the forest without taking a single step!

We made lots of four-legged friends in the forest as dogs are allowed to walk off-lead here, as long as they are kept under close control. We spent some time in the deserted play area too – you’re definitely never too old for play time! On the weekend these areas were busy with families and children completing the Gruffalo trail, which involves hunting for carved wooden figures in the woods.

A short ten minute drive from Sherwood Pines takes you to the Major Oak – a famous tree in the Sherwood Forest. According to local folklore, this enormous hollow oak was used as a shelter by the legendary Robin Hood and his merry men, and as such the Oak attracts around 350,000 visitors per year. There are four walking trails here, from the 30 minute Giants Trail which takes you on a circular walk from the visitor centre to the Major Oak and back, to the 2 and a half hour Wildwood Trail that we chose to take, so we could admire the wildlife habitats, plethora of twisted, ancient trees and enjoy the tranquility of the forest. The visitor centre has a gift shop as well as a small but modern cafe for those needing to take the weight of their feet after exploring!

On our last full day staying at Sherwood Pines we drove 20 minutes away to visit the National Trust’s Clumber Park, enjoying a gentle stroll through some of its 3,800 acres of picturesque parkland. The highlights of our visit were viewing the Ornamental Bridge – a Grade II listed bridge built between 1763-1770, where we stood to watch swans and goslings glide along the lake – and the walled kitchen garden. As we visited in late Winter the garden itself was a little bare, but the stunning jewel in the crown of the garden is the greenhouse. When we visited it was filled with daffodils, hydrangeas and cherry blossom, the scent of which hit us like a burst of fresh Spring air as we entered. As with every National Trust place we visit, the park is beautifully maintained and we’d highly recommend taking a walk here, followed by a cuppa in the cafe.

Other places of interest

Had our stay at Sherwood Pines spanned more than a few days, there are a number of other places to enjoy in the area:

  • Creswell Crags. 22 minute drive from the campsite. An archaeological museum in a limestone gorge, caves and fissures, with prehistoric tools and art.
  • Hardwick Hall. 35 minute drive from the campsite. An architecturally significant country house from the Elizabethan era, the exterior of which was used as Malfoy Manor in the Harry Potter films! For us it was a toss up between visiting Hardwick Hall or Clumber Park, and on this occasion we chose the latter, though we’d love to return the area to see the Hall and surrounding estate.
  • Rufford Abbey. 10 minute drive from the campsite. A country estate that was originally a Cistercian abbey, which was converted to a country house in the 16th century after the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
  • Sherwood Forest Arts and Craft Centre. 10 minute drive from the campsite. An atrium and courtyard situated opposite the visitor centre for the Major Oak, the building was once a coach house and stables of the former Edwinstowe Hall. Nowadays, it is home to a variety of craftspeople selling every form of handcrafted art, from candles, soap and jewellery to paintings, chocolate and fossils! Special events run throughout the year with activities for all the family.

Overall there is SO much on offer at Sherwood Pines campsite, it really goes beyond the standard of what we’ve come to expect when we pitch up at a campsite. Aside from sparkling facilities and well-maintained pitches, the location of the campsite makes it perfect for exploring the Sherwood Forest, nearby National Trust places and local attractions. We’ll definitely be back to explore more of the area, using Sherwood Pines campsite as our base! Find out more about Sherwood Pines via their website.

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