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Simply Emma Reviews Forest Holidays

Clear blue skies and warm spring sunshine accompanied us on our long weekend cabin break at Forest Holidays, Strathyre earlier this year. The weather was beautiful and quite possibly the best we’ve had in Scotland this year. We really couldn’t have picked a nicer weekend to enjoy the stunning setting in which our accessible Forest holiday cabin was set.

Forest Holidays have nine amazing locations throughout the UK, all set exclusively on breathtaking Forestry Commission land. Two of their locations are in Scotland, one of which is their Strathyre site, a short 30-minute drive from my home and one I was excited to be invited along to.

GETTING THERE

forest_holidays_strathyre_siteforest_holidays_strathyre_beautiful_locationThe drive up to Strathyre is pretty special and holds a lot of happy memories from my childhood and now even into adulthood. Passing through Callander, a place that my family have driven to many times just for chips and a cone by the water (it really is the simple things I love the most).

Continuing through leafy roads lined with masses of forest, rolling hills and the majestic mountainside of Ben Ledi. Only 5 miles from Callander, you’ll then reach the Strathyre site of Forest Holidays. As we crossed the bridge over the river and down the short tarmac path to the site, we couldn’t help but take in the beautiful scenery.

ARRIVAL

forest_holidays_strathyreforest_holidays_strathyre_retreat_hubWe parked up and headed into the Forest Retreat where we were welcomed by a lovely woman who checked us in and gave us details on the range of activities available and the surrounding area. We then made our way to our cabin after being given an info-pack with lots of extra information.

forest_holidays_strathyre_retreat_cafeforest_holidays_strathyre_retreat_shopThe Retreat is the hub of the site and is where you can book activities, buy groceries, essentials, souvenirs, gifts, eat in the café or have some drinks from the bar. Everything you need for a great holiday. There is also an accessible toilet in the Retreat next to the reception.

WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE CABIN #38

forest_holidays_strathyre_accessible_cabinforest_holidays_strathyre_wheelchair_accessible_cabinforest_holidays_strathyre_carparkOur home for the weekend was cabin 38, a silver birch cabin adapted for wheelchair users and people with limited mobility. The site is well sign-posted so the cabin was easy to find. I enjoyed the flat smooth paths from the carpark to the cabin. There is no direct parking next to the cabin itself, so we just parked as close as we could in order to unload our bags and then parked in our designated parking bay. The above photo shows the location of our parked car from our cabin (indicated by arrows) and as you can see it’s not very far.

forest_holidays_strathyre_wheelchair_accessible_silver_birch_cabinAs I rolled up the ramp of our cabin, I instantly feel in love with the view and was really excited for our weekend in the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. Our cabin looked out onto the beautiful forest on one side and on the other side, we had Ben Ledi towering over us. Incredible. Ben Ledi is a very popular mountain with climber’s novice and experienced, and one my partner has climbed many times.

LOUNGE

forest_holidays_strathyre_silver_birch_cabin_livingroomforest_holidays_strathyre_wheelchair_accessible_silver_birch_cabin_livingroomforest_holidays_strathyre_accessible_silver_birch_cabin_kitchenOur accessible cabin is described as ‘style and substance’ but it wasn’t just modern and stylish, it was cosy and that’s what I love about cabins especially out in the forest. The open plan lounge, kitchen and dining area was very accessible and I felt comfortable moving around in my wheelchair. The kitchen has been adapted for wheelchair users with a lowered sink and cooker, which is great if you are able to or enjoy helping out in the kitchen.

The fully equipped kitchen also includes tableware, cutlery, glasses (even plastic tumblers and champagne glasses for the hot tub) and more. The website lists everything that is available in the cabin and you’ll receive various emails leading up to your stay with additional information and things to bring with you.

forest_holidays_strathyre_accessible_silver_birch_cabin_livingroomforest_holidays_entertainment_packageThe flooring throughout the cabin made manoeuvring easy and smooth. The lounge was the perfect spot to enjoy the view and wildlife (including a dear who came up to the decking one morning) out the huge floor to ceiling windows. Although I’m not a morning person, it was amazing to wake up each morning to the sunshine streaming through these windows.We also enjoyed the great in-cabin entertainment center with lots of recent movie releases, sky channels and the option to order food to the cabin. You can order everything from stone baked pizzas to curries and more. How about that for luxury?

Each day we would receive messages through our TV from The Retreat letting us know what activities were available that day. This was a good way of staying connected and informed.

ACCESSIBLE DOWNSTAIRS BEDROOM

forest_holidays_strathyre_accessible_cabin_bedroomforest_holidays_strathyre_accessible_cabin_double_bedroomforest_holidays_strathyre_accessible_cabin_twin_bedroomThe cabin sleeps four people in two bedrooms, one double downstairs and one twin bedroom upstairs. Obviously, I had the accessible bedroom downstairs, which lead off from the lounge. The bedroom was spacious with a large double bed, bedside cabinets and wardrobe.

The bed was great as it had so much space underneath for a portable hoist to roll under and even space to store items or equipment to keep the floor clear. There were two spotlights above the bed with a switch to control the lighting. Shelving built into the wall next to the bed was handy for storing clothing and other bits.

ACCESSIBLE BATHROOM

forest_holidays_strathyre_roll-in_showerforest_holidays_strathyre_wetroom_bathroomThe downstairs accessible bathroom has a large wetroom shower with a good sturdy fold-down shower seat attached to the wall. The shower head and controls were all within easy reach and the water pressure was great.

The toilet and sink were on the other side of the bathroom. I loved that there was so much space for turning my wheelchair and there was more than enough space for a hoist or other mobility equipment as well as extra people. The toilet was slightly higher than a standard toilet and there was both fold-down and fixed grab bars next to it.

There was also two fixed grab bars next to the sink for extra support. I really liked the bathrooms accessibility features, in particular, its spaciousness and wetroom shower, but the sink was a little too small for my needs. This didn’t cause me any major inconvenience as I was happy to be able to roll under the kitchen sink easily if I needed to.

The upstairs en-suite bathroom had a toilet, sink and cubicle shower.

PRIVATE OUTDOOR TERRACE

HOT TUB HOIST

forest_holidays_strathyre_hot_tub_hoistforest_holidays_strathyre_hot_tub_simply_emmaOne of the main reasons I book cabins is for the hot tubs. I find them amazing hydrotherapy for my weak tired muscles, but getting in and out of the hot tub can be difficult as I cannot independently do this myself. I need to my physically lifted which can be really strenuous not to mention quite risky for the person doing the lifting (sorry Allan) as well as myself.

However, Forest Holidays have found a solution and installed a hot tub hoist in this silver birch accessible cabin. Pretty damn amazing don’t you think? Having never tried one before I was really excited about using the hoist to get in and out of the hot tub safely and hassle-free. It did just that. A hot tub experience is meant to be a relaxing one after all. It was incredibly easy to operate and made the whole experience more enjoyable and therapeutic for me and more importantly Allan and his poor back.

forest_holidays_strathyre_hot_tub_hoist forest_holidays_strathyre_hot_tub_hoist forest_holidays_strathyre_hot_tub_hoist Once the hoist lowered me into the hot tub we just raised it up and left it sitting out of the water. This allowed me to move around and sit where I wanted. Then when I wanted to get out we’d lower it back into the hot tub and I’d shimmy onto the seat. Of course, you can always stay seated in the hoist while in the hot tub if you prefer. At times I enjoyed being half submerged in the water while seating on the hoist seat as it was the perfect way to cool down with the breeze.

DECKING AREA

forest_holidays_strathyre_private_outdoor_terraceforest_holidays_strathyre_private_outdoor_terrace_breakfastforest_holidays_strathyre_private_outdoor_terrace_viewWe had amazing weather during our stay so we spent a lot of time outside on our large private decking area. There is a BBQ rack on the decking and you can buy a BBQ starter pack from the Retreat as well as BBQ food if you don’t already have your own.

We enjoyed sitting outside in the warm sunshine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Perfect relaxation! I’m already wishing I could wake up every morning to breakfast outside with the beautiful view from our cabin. Unfortunately, our back garden at home doesn’t quite have the same feel as the cabin. I can dream though!

ACCESSIBLE LOCH LUBNAIG

forest_holidays_strathyre_wheelchair_accessible_trial_loch-lubnaigforest_holidays_strathyre_wheelchair_accessible_trial_loch-lubnaigloch_lubnaigIf we weren’t in the hot tub or relaxing on the decking or watching movies then you’d find us down at the loch side. There are great cycle paths throughout the site with stunning Loch Lubnaig running alongside and although there are openings to get down to the loch, not many are accessible due to the rough uneven gradients.

Amazingly we found an accessible way down that was very manageable (albeit a tad bumpy) for me and my power wheelchair. The terrain was a mixture of compacted gravel and stones, which I thought would sink under the weight of my power wheelchair, but surprisingly it didn’t at all. I’m pretty certain that manual wheelchairs would manage as well. It’s extremely worth it. Just look at that view!

forest_holidays_strathyre_wheelchair_accessible_loch_lubnaigwheelchair_accessible_trail_loch_lubnaigkid_on_loch-lubnaig_fishingloch_lubnaig_glistening_waterrelaxing_on_loch-lubnaigkid_on_loch-lubnaigThe opening down to this area was next to cabin 33, which was only a short walk from our cabin. It was lovely to sit down at the lochside and watch Allan teach our nephew how to skim stones and explore. We all had a great time together and loved how tranquil it was. We could have spent all day sitting there as the view of Loch Lubnaig and the mountains is spectacular. My Mum kept saying how relaxed she felt which is something my Mum never does.

LOCATION

The location of Forest Holidays Strathyre makes it ideal for exploring local towns, villages and nearby cities such as Stirling, Aberfoyle as well as the Highlands. Callander is the nearest town and only 5 miles from the cabins. There are plenty of shops and local produce as well as lots of Scottish history for a great day out. Nearby attractions like Go Ape, a safari park and the National Museum of Rural Life are some options for great family days out whilst staying at the site.

ACTIVITIES

forest_holidays_strathyre_kids_playforest_holidays_strathyre_bug_hotelforest_holidays_strathyre_activitiesforest_holidays_strathyre_activitiesThere is so much to do both at the site and the surrounding areas, so no matter what you’re interested in you’re bound to find something. I’m sure we would have explored more of the area had we been staying longer, but after only just returning from a busy trip to Vienna, a relaxing break was just what we wantedneeded to recharge those batteries.

On-site activities including archery, canoeing and air rifle shooting are available and suitable for wheelchair users. If you’re interested in taking part in any of these activities it’s advisable to notify staff prior to booking to ensure everything is in place. There are also guided safaris, and forest survival and explorer activities which are great to keep children entertained. My Nephew enjoyed the on-site play park and looking for insects in the bug hotel.

If you’re feeling adventurous or just want to get out and explore the area then you can hire the amazing all-terrain wheelchairs from Trossachs Mobility. The Retreat staff will be more than happy to help you arrange this. You could even take it down to the loch and explore the nearby trials. I’m hoping to try the all-terrain wheelchair soon and I can’t wait. I’ve enjoyed lovely walks along Strathyre many times, which you can read about here.

If you’re looking to unwind and enjoy some well-deserved pampering then there is also a range of in-cabin spa treatments on offer.

FINAL THOUGHTS

forest_holidays_strathyreforest_holidays_strathyre_cabinsIf you’re looking for an accessible cabin holiday amongst the forest with excellent facilities, staff, activities, scenery and more then I recommend you check out Forest Holidays. Our accessible cabin break at Forest Holidays Strathyre was brilliant and exceeded our expectations on all levels. The hot tub hoist was a major bonus and shows huge steps are being taken in the right direction towards greater accessibility for all. As a family we couldn’t fault our cabin. It was a perfect break which we all thoroughly enjoyed and can’t wait to return.