Rooted in the story of Britain’s forests
The concept that was to become Forest Holidays came into being in 1973 when the Forestry Commission built a number of cabins on the edge of woodland next to Loch Lubnaig at Strathyre.
The Forestry Commission had, up until the 1970s, been primarily concerned with the production of timber. In the 1970s, this central focus was expanded to include conservation and recreation. The introduction of camping, caravanning and cabin holidays was part of the recreation plan. A more diverse range of tree species were planted and the importance of woods and forests in the landscape began to be recognised. At the same time, the Forestry Commission realised the importance of forests for wildlife habitats, and habitat and wildlife management became another central avenue of their work.
Over time, more cabins were opened at Deerpark in Cornwall and Keldy in North Yorkshire and in May 2006 the Caravanning and Camping Club won the tender to manage the cabin locations. Forest Holidays was born.
All our locations are in forests that are managed by the Forestry Commission on behalf of the nation. Many have a history of recreation dating back over decades and many wooded areas have seen a wide variety of uses before they were planted. Deerpark, for instance, in the mid 1800s was home to one of Cornwall’s many tin mines, the old mine-tower is still standing to bear testament to this historical industry. From 1845 to 1965, it was an explosive works and made explosives for both World Wars. Visit the Forest Retreat today and you will find many Victorian relics that have been unearthed from surrounding land, offering a glimpse into the forest as a working environment which created employment for scores of local people.
From seedling to sapling
Back to our story and over the next eight years, new cabins were built at Ardgartan Argyll in Scotland, Cropton in North Yorkshire and further south at the Forest of Dean – at that stage the largest of our locations, with 76 new cabins. New locations were also opened at Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire and Blackwood Forest in Hampshire.
During this time, Forest Holidays became independent of the Caravanning and Camping Club and a shareholder restructure brought in much needed development funds whilst maintaining a special relationship with the Forestry Commission, who continue to hold a 20% stake in Forest Holidays.
Our latest location, Thorpe Forest in Norfolk, was opened in 2014 and we now have guests enjoying the forest in almost 600 cabins at nine locations.
A strong future with the forest
Our growth into the company we are today and our plans for the future in partnership with the Forestry Commission are underpinned by a strong sense of responsibility to protect and enhance the forest, a belief that people and nature should be connected and a commitment to contribute to the local communities who are our neighbours. Our dedicated team is driven by a common purpose and a deeply-rooted set of values that go beyond the simple nuts and bolts of what we do as a company.