YHA Sherwood Forest - A review

This Summer we decided to travel to Stonehenge and back in 2 days. This was a 700+ mile round trip for us from Northumberland! Some say we are mad - however we ended up having a fabulous time (minus a few squabbles in the car and maybe a few frustrated tears from me when the Sat Nav took us into a farmers field!). We were introduced to the YHA concept when I discovered YHA Cholderton which is only a few miles away from Stonehenge and turned out to be the perfect place for our family to stay the evening before our visit. I was looking for somewhere budget friendly to stay in the Midlands for one night on our return journey and decided to book a Youth Hostel again - this time in Sherwood forest which was about 2.5 hours South of our home in Northumberland.

Our experience at YHA Sherwood Forest was just as good but completely different to that of YHA Cholderton. Cholderton is an affiliate Youth Hostel where as Sherwood Forest is a modern, purpose built Youth Hostel for the association. Located on the outskirts of Sherwood Forest, I think it would make a perfect base for a cycling or walking holiday or simply a family base to enjoy some of the fantastic facilities in the area.


All beds are now made up for arrival at Youth Hostels in the YHA - we had a room for five people which included a double bed for the grown ups and a decent en-suite bathroom. It honestly felt more like a hotel room than a hostel. The rooms were named around Robin Hood characters too which I thought was a nice little touch. The absolute best part however was that we had a door direct from our bedroom onto our own private outdoor terrace. We could come and go as we pleased without using the main entrance and had our own bench where we could sit and watch the children play with others on the grass. Perfect and just what we needed after hours in the car.


We arrived after dinner had been served so decided to pop into the nearby village and pick up a Chinese takeaway. We helped ourselves to plates and cutlery from the communal kitchen and more or less had the dining room to ourselves. There was a bar in the dining room which was open until 10pm too and a couple of cold beers certainly hit the spot!

The indoor facilities were very good with free wifi available in the upstairs lounge, giant connect 4 and jenga plus board games, books and tv.

Out and About

You are on the outskirts of Sherwood forest and it does get VERY dark which is something I really appreciated. We sat on our terrace when the children were sleeping and spotted a toad and a hedgehog! I can't believe how dark it was at 9pm!

Across the road from the hostel you will find lots of forest trails and a children's fairground too. The Sherwood Forest steam railway and Superworm trail are also only a few miles away.


We wanted to get an early get away in the morning so decided to book breakfast in the dining room for the bargain price of £5.25 per adult and £2.99 per child. This was a real bargain - we could help oursleves to cooked items, fresh fruit, croissants fresh from the oven, yoghurts, cereal, toast, tea, coffee and fruit juices. Although I wouldn't go as far as to say breakfast was a taste sensation, it was en-par with wetherspoons/brewers fayre and really set us all up for the journey home. Next time we stay in a Youth Hostel, I will definitely be adding breakfast onto our package as it was more than worth the £20 we paid. You can of course cook/prepare your own breakfast too in the well equipped kitchen but for £5.25 - I much prefer someone doing it for me!

Early morning snuggles!

Overall, we LOVED YHA Sherwood Forest and will certainly stop here again as we travel up and down the Country. In our eyes, it had all of the facilities and convenience of a hotel room, plus a lot more (family games, communal kitchen, lounge, private terrace, bar......). Prices start at just £15 per person per night for a bed in a single sex shared room, or from £69 per room for a private family room for 5 people with a double bed and en-suite like ours. 

You can find out more and book here:- www.yha.org.uk/hostel/sherwood-forest

My Travel Monkey

Our ultimate guide to staying in Tynemouth

Tynemouth is one of those places I would love to live and at the beginning of the Summer Holidays I was able to realise that dream when we stayed at Longsands Lodge with Cottages in Northumberland. Our 5 bedroom house was a hop, skip and a jump away from the main front street so we had lots of opportunities to road to see all the area had to offer.

The Priory Pub in the heart of the village has always been a firm favourite for drinks (and I love that it's dog friendly). We stopped for lunch as loved their homemade fish and chips for only £5.95.

Gareth James Chocolatier is an independent chocolate shop in Tynemouth. They make THE BEST chocolate brownies and you cannot visit without buying one to take home.

Dill and Bear is highly regarded coffee shop in Tynemouth - small but perfectly formed it is a wonderful place to stop for a morning coffee.

Lui's Bistro is one of our favourite place to stop for tapas with the kids. They have some fantastic deals, especially during happy hour (four tapas and a bottle of wine for £21 is a favourite).

Lola Jeans children's cutlery

Lola Jeans Buffalo Wings

Lola Jeans is hidden under a small archway in Tynemouth and is probably one of the bars we visit the most. We always order their steak platter, spicy buffalo wings and homemade chips as recommended to us by Sally when we stayed at the beautiful Martineau Guest House. Love that they have Disney Films on through the day too.

Marshalls Fish and Chip shop is like stepping back in time - everything you'd expect from an established fish and chip takeaway and restaurant - recommended to take out and enjoy on the beach.

The Gibralter Rock in Tynemouth has a reputation for it's fantastic 2 for £10 Carvery meals which we featured on the blog a few years ago. Still a firm favourite, we have been back time and time again when we fancy a proper Roast dinner.


We enjoyed a lovely 'date night' at Gulshan's Indian Restaurant in Tynemouth during our last trip. We dined from the Thursday night banquet night which features popadoms and dips, a starter, main course, rice and coffee for only £12.95. Service was a little slow as they were busy but the food was spot on and we will be returning soon.

There is a wonderful market in Tynemouth station every Saturday and Sunday featuring local antiques, crafts and food. Nothing like a good browse and picking up some bargains!

The Victoria Restaurant in The Grand Hotel is the place to book if you fancy a fine dining experience. We loved our last visit featuring Monkfish tails and English Sparkling Wine.

Ora Tynemouth is the place to be on a Thursday night - 4 tapas and 2 glasses of wine for £20 plus live music in a stylish wine bar - perfect for date night.

You won't be able to miss Tynemouth Priory as it stands proudly above King Edward's Bay - it is really worth popping inside too with lots of hidden areas and bunkers to explore.

King Edwards Bay and Tynemouth Longsands are your closest beaches and they are both gorgeous with Longsands stretching for miles and King Edwards Bay feeling more like a little undiscovered cove. A trip to Crusoes on the beach is a must - they serve around 15 varieties of Sausage Sandwiches!

Tynemouth Village really does have it all and is a wonderful place to stay for a staycation or to recommend to friends and family who are coming to the region to visit. I'd love to hear where you'd recommend in Tynemouth.


Kids Days Out Reviews

Our £250 Honeymoon at Dacre Lakeside Park, Yorkshire

Today I'm going go back in time to November 2006 and tell you a little about our honeymoon. We were new parents and very young (I was only 22 when we were married). Money was very tight so we shopped around for a budget honeymoon. Luckily, as it was November, there were lots of deals to be had and we finally decided on a few nights away in a lovely log cabin on the side of Dacre Lake. I was NOT handy with a camera back then - in fact I'm pretty sure these photographs were taken from a disposable camera! The photo's on Dacre Park website are so much more professional! Our honeymoon only cost £250 for a few nights (including hot tub) and was a real bargain. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way!

Love's young dream!

Gorgeous verandah and hot tub overlooking the lake.

Check out the 'state of the art' TV.

We didn't really do too much apart from a few walks around the lakes and a trip to York where we enjoyed lunch at Betty's and climbed Clifford's Tower. We went shopping at M&S for lots of yummy food and enjoyed lots of Champagne we had been given for our wedding. It was so nice to just relax for a few nights after the hectic wedding and having a baby! Harry was only 7 weeks old but I felt comfortable enough leaving him with my mum for a few nights - and when we returned she had worked her magic and he was sleeping through the night. Perfect!!

I would love to return to Dacre Lakeside Park one day - and who knows, we may even take the kids this time.


The North East Blogger Awards 2015

I can't believe a year has passed since the North East Blogger Awards 2014. Winning North East Blogger of the year was honestly so unexpected and I was on a complete high for weeks and months afterwards (in fact I think I still am??) as this post written shortly after winning shows.

Winning the award really made me consider blogging as a career and gave me the final push I needed to reason with myself that I could actually do this! A few months later I registered as self employed and have never looked back. I've worked on high profile campaigns ranging from #BlackpoolsBack and DFDS Seaways to days out with npower and The Calvert Trust. I have travelled all over the Country with my family enjoying amazing opportunities and I honestly don't believe I would be in the position I am today if it wasn't for the North East Blogger Awards. It's not easy making a career from blogging and it takes a lot of dedication and sheer hard work but it is amazing being able to work flexibly around my children doing something I am 100% passionate about and I think I must pinch myself at least twice every day.

Another achievement I am extremely proud of is running the North East Network of Brilliant Bloggers with Karen who blogs over at Adventures of a MonkeyFooted Mummy. If I hadn't have won a North East Blogger Award I doubt I would have had the confidence to do this but we now have over 250 members and it is so rewarding being able to facilitate a supportive group which holds lively discussions and debates and shares advice and knowledge in the way we do. We even held our first NEbloggers picnic at the beginning of August and are planning more meet ups in the future.

Clearly, the North East Blogger Awards were career changing for me last year and I was absolutely delighted to be asked to sit on the judging panel this year. O PR would like a blogger's input and I will happily step into that persons shoes. I know first hand the work that goes into creating a blog post and promise to read and consider every single nomination carefully. As there are 250+ members in our blogger's network (and more North East bloggers that aren't) this is going to be a difficult task but it really is such an honour and I promise to remain completely impartial.

How to Nominate - Key Facts

  • There are 11 categories to choose from, you can enter as many or little categories as you like, just make sure you read the rules of entry first.

  • A shortlist will be announced mid-October with the winner being announced on the evening (10th November 2015 at Bonbar - tickets on sale soon. All welcome - it is set to be a wonderful evening celebrating all of our region's bloggers).

Tips for entering

  • You only need to be nominated once for your blog to be considered, however I would personally write a post explaining the awards to my readers and let them know how to vote for their favourite bloggers (a bit like this one I published last year). Many of your readers may love to nominate your blog but they can't do that unless they know about the awards.

  • You can download a 'nominate me' pin from the North East Blogger Award website to help spread the word and make sure you use #Nebloggerawards to join in the conversation on social media.

  • You might feel shy or embarrassed about putting yourself forward for North East Blogger of the year. There are specific criteria you must fill if you wish to be considered.

Personally I think ALL bloggers should put themselves forward for this award. Most of us will have been to Intu Metrocentre in the last 6 months and if not, it's only up the road. The opportunities I've received from simply having 'North East Blogger of the Year' in my profile far outweigh any embarrassment I may have felt about entering. My advice is to give it a go - if you think about it you have nothing to loose but everything to gain. Even the smallest blogs are eligible to win this award if they fill the criteria - now is the time to have confidence in yourself and just go for it!

Follow the NEbloggerawards

Please email all enquiries to : nebloggerawards@opr.co.uk

Remember, nominations will close on 25th September 2015 and the ceremony will be held at Bonbar in Newcastle on Tuesday 10th November - I hope to see a lot of you there.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

YHA Cholderton - family friendly accommodation near Stonehenge

Stonehenge is somewhere we have always wanted to visit but something we have just never got around to organising. We did have plans to visit over Easter when Harry was learning about it at school however various factors meant that it wasn't meant to be.

Summer is a wonderful time to tick things from your bucket list and this Summer I was determined Stonehenge would be ticked from ours! Stonehenge is almost 350 miles away from our home in Northumberland and as I have discussed previously, it can be difficult looking for places for a family of 5 that do not break the bank or involve us sleeping apart.

During our research, we stumbled upon the YHA website and I was pleasantly surprised to find YHA Cholderton which was only a few miles away from Stonehenge. We could book a six bedded family room with private en-suite for £100 in August including bedding which seemed very reasonable to me. I especially liked how we weren't restricted to a 2-3 night stay as you often are during peak travel times and that we were all able to stay together in one room. This particular hostel is based on Cholderton Charlies farm which really appealed to us as we were able to visit the animals and playbarn at no extra cost whilst staying at the on site hostel (entry to the farm would normally cost £7.95 each).

It is worth noting that YHA Cholderton is an affiliate of the YHA and is managed independently.

I had huge pre-conceptions of what I expected a Youth Hostel to be like - in some cases these were true. Yes we had to make our own beds, strip them in the morning and take our sheets to a laundry cupboard and sleep in bunkbeds on beds that weren't as comfortable as our bed at home. However I can cope with all of that as the facilities on offer for families were simply amazing. 

Family en-suite room

We stayed in an 8 berth private en-suite room which was very spacious. We had gorgeous views over the Wiltshire countryside, lots and lots of space, our own bathroom, plenty of plug sockets and individual reading lights. We were given our own keys for our bedroom and the main front door and I was more than happy with how safe the place was.

Dining Facilities

What I loved about YHA Cholderton was that you had the best of all worlds - there was a cafe serving pre-booked meals and snacks, a clean and well equipped kitchen for you to cook your own food, a nice bar area, a conservatory dining room and main dining room and lounge (with FREE WIFI) and lots of outdoor seating too. 

We arrived fairly late in the evening (too late to order an evening meal from the hostel) so headed to the local pub instead which was about 1.5 miles up the road. 

The Crown Inn is everything you would want from a Country Pub - cosy corners with homemade food and friendly service. My lamb and mint pie, chips and vegetables were very homely and just what I needed after 10 hours in the car with kids. Children's meals were decent too - homemade, fresh and plentiful. Hubby decided to treat himself to a Sirloin steak which was £18 and bumped our bill up considerably. Overall though, £50 for a hearty meal and drinks for the 5 if us was good value. If it hadn't have been raining we would have probably stayed for another drink whilst the kids played outside too.

Facilities for children

Most of the time if the kids are happy, we are happy and they were more than happy with the facilities on offer at YHA Cholderton. Inside there was free wifi in the lounge, a well-stocked bookcase and toy basket and a TV. Outside there were huge gardens with good quality play equipment including decent trampolines, sand pits, play frames and much, much more. Unfortunately it was raining on the evening of our stay but I can imagine how wonderful if must be for parents in the summer to sit out on the terrace with a bottle of wine as the kids play.

Free access to Cholderton Charlie's Farm

Staying in the Countryside does have it's downsides (being woken up by a Cockerel for example) however having free access to Cholderton Charlie's Farm directly from the hostel, even when it was closed to the public was such a treat for the kids. Getting up at 8am didn't seem so bad when it meant we could visit the farm's animals as they were waking up - we had the farm completely to ourselves which was fantastic. The happy piglets in particular were a delight!


You can pre-order breakfast at the hostel for £5.25 per adult and £2.99 per child which includes continental and cooked breakfast, cereals, fresh juice, tea and coffee. Bargain! You can of course make your own too and the smell of people cooking their own bacon sandwiches as we left certainly made our mouths water! On this occasion though, we decided to visit Cholderton Farm Shop which is less than 2 miles up the road. We were the first customers of the day as we waited outside for them to open their doors at 9am. Some friendly chickens from the farm kept us entertained.

Cholderton farm shop is small and friendly - the staff were very accommodating and welcoming - moving tables for us and bringing the children their own 'Cholderton Farm' word searches which were very well received. We ordered an Americano, pot of tea for one, 3x juice for the children, 2 bacon sandwiches, 2 children's sausage sandwiches and a round of toast which set us back a very respectable £17. Not expensive at all considering the quality - you really can tell the difference when you buy from a butcher I think. The bacon was thick and crispy and the sausages were perfect too.

Finally.....our visit to Stonehenge

I will be blogging about our trip to Stonehenge seperately however I will say it was such an amazing feeling to finally experience a trip and tick something from our bucket list together as a family. It is advised to pre-book a time slot to visit Stonehenge. We had booked 10:30am-11am but it wasn't a problem when we turned up just after 10am. It took us about 10 minutes to drive to Stonehenge from Cholderton however I have heard it can take longer if you visit later in the day. 

Definitely worth the 700 mile round trip!

After our morning at Stonehenge, we stopped off at Oxford for lunch and then stayed overnight at the YHA Sherwood Forest on our return journey home to Northumberland which was a completely different experience to Cholderton - I guess every hostel is unique! Look out for a blog post in the next few weeks featuring our Sherwood adventure.

There are a variety of room types available at YHA Cholderton and it is perfectly placed for families who would like to explore Stonehenge and other Wiltshire attractions. Prices start at just £20 per head. You can find out more and book here:-  www.yha.org.uk/hostel/cholderton

© North East Family Fun | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Designed by pipdig