out of 10
Mainly fantastic with a few issues. We stayed here in November to celebrate my Husband’s birthday and we seem to be the only ones who experienced a less than idyllic time. We appeared to have accidently timed our stay with the logging of many trees. The mud from the machinery made the rough track like a mud slide, so some careful manoeuvring was required through the ‘DANGER DO NOT PROCEED PAST THIS POINT’ signs. When the house finally came into sight it truly was a ‘wow’ moment. It sits very proudly on the land, and we were excited to stay here.
A few points to note if you have a dog. 1) dogs aren’t allowed upstairs. We have a small dog and he always sleeps at the foot of the bed with us, so this was a shock. 2) You can’t wash your dogs in the bathroom as it clogs the septic tank. That is completely understandable, but you are in a muddy forest, and we wished we’d known this beforehand. Our dog is small and we managed using the mop bucket outside, but you'll struggle with larger dogs. Rather than being dog friendly, it feels more like dog tolerant. Finally, 3) The garden isn’t secure. We watched a family of muntjacs feeding, but our wonder turned to horror as a huge dog belted across the lawn to chase them away. The dog belonged to one of the many dog walkers in the area who don’t seem to worry where their dogs are.
We started to settle into our evening at the Lodge and the fire was wonderful (once I’d cleaned the door, as it was so caked with soot you couldn’t see the flames). Other reviews have mentioned the peace and quiet and we were expecting near silence. However, it is a working forest and each morning at 5am, on the dot, the workers started up their diesel tractors, with full headlights etc and proceeded to move felled trees right by the boundary of the property. In addition to the forestry works, the local Military base flies directly over the property. My husband was delighted as two V-22 Osprey’s flew right over! These make a frightening din and pretty much cleared any wildlife in the area for the rest of the day. Then there are the dog walkers who park opposite the gates for a walk about, and the constant stream of Anglian Water vans who keep an eye on the big compound across from the drive, and the vans for the Forestry work. Also the description mentions the views from the roof. The reality is that you can't get up there as the roof isn't strong enough to support the weight.
We had no problem with wifi at all, and the house is nicely heated throughout the night, so we stayed in comfort. The muntjacs visit twice a day which is wonderful and there is a little mouse who lives in the Yew Tree by the kitchen window who pops out for food in the garden. The grounds are ample, and it was a joy to sit and watch the leaves falling from the Silver birches as if they were snow. We took our Slow cooker with us and had some wonderful meals waiting for us after a long walk. We did use the electric range and found it easy to operate. I was slightly put out at the instruction to take our recycling home when there is a recycling bin in the grounds.
I did read a review that said the décor wasn’t great. I can’t agree with that, and we loved how it has been set out. It has been decorated in keeping with the building but in a clean ‘all mod cons’ kind of way. However, the old stuffed ‘Heron with Coot’ display and the Barn Owl have absolutely seen better days and aren’t in keeping with modern thinking (they need a decent burial). They gave the dog something to bark out till he realised they weren’t alive. If you have small children beware of the ornaments on top of the tables etc. Easy for little hands to grab.
All in all, it is a wonderful property and this review is purely to provide the information I wish we’d had, so we weren't quite so 'Rose tinted' when we got there. You can feel free to ignore it as you wish. The forest is shrinking, and you can see the edge of it behind the house as the sun sets, barely a quarter of a mile away. So whilst we had a wonderful time here, I hope this honest review helps future guests realise that it isn’t quite in the middle of nowhere (you can still hear the main road in the evenings), and the forest is very much a working site. The house is amazing and we have fond memories of our stay, however we are unlikely to return due to the unsecure garden and the fact that our week was incredibly noisy.