Claire Spreadbury and her brood head to Cheshire for rest, relaxation and to reconnect with nature...

Trying to entice a hormone-ridden 11-year-old outside to learn survival skills in the forest, when it's pouring with rain, is quite a tall order. Long, painful sighs evolve into deafening silence, followed by several devastating death stares. So, I use my jolliest sing-song voice to over-compensate and get us out the door.

Forest rangers Gerry and Mike lead us into the woods and brief us on how to build a shelter. Rosie shuffles about looking for wood while Poppy, her eight-year-old sister, runs about the forest enthusiastically grabbing everything needed to make the A-frame.

We're in Cheshire's largest woodland, at Forest Holidays' brand new site in Delamare Forest, and we're getting stuck in. After the year or so we've all gone through, immersing yourself in nature has never felt more necessary, and within 20 minutes, all signs of Kevin The Teenager have completely disappeared, as my mainly wonderful eldest daughter builds a spit, bench and herb garden for our genuinely epic den.

We're all pretty proud of it. And as a reward, we mooch over to another part of the forest, where the kids use Swedish fire steels to light the campfire, and toast and gobble fluffy marshmallows until we feel sick.

Claire Spreadbury and her family, outside the den they built in the forest. Photo: Claire Spreadbury/PA

Claire Spreadbury and her family, outside the den they built in the forest. Photo: Claire Spreadbury/PA

The 11th Forest Holidays site opened on April 12 and is situated deep into Delamere. Dark wooden lodges are dotted about the forest and despite being brand new, the site looks reassuringly rustic.

We're in a White Willow Premium cabin, exclusive to this location, which contains everything we've come to expect from an open-plan family cabin, plus lots of fancy extras, like two robes per person - one for the lodge, one for the hot tub, Hypnos mattresses, a Nespresso machine and Nutribullet, a wireless charger and in-built Bluetooth speaker, complimentary Prosecco, and an outdoor grill, fridge and pizza oven.

I keep finding myself swinging in the egg chair, staring out the floor to ceiling windows. Waking up to the light of a new day streaming through the tall pines is a total delight. And being completely surrounded by forest feels wonderfully good for the soul.

Smatterings of dappled sunlight make the tree trunks glow as we amble towards the reception to sign up for the Peter Rabbit trail (£7.95 per child).

Rosie might have rolled her eyes (again) at the utterance of Beatrix Potter's most famous character, but the holiday spirit soon kicks in, as we meander round the one-mile track, looking for clues, spotting birds and learning about nature.

It's easy to feast like kings here, whether you bring all your food and cook in the kitchen, order food or recipe boxes that make life easy (the pizza packs, £17 - which come with ready-made dough and toppings to make and cook two pizzas in your outdoor oven - are utterly delicious), or stop off at the Forest Retreat and enjoy food and drink made by someone else and not served in your home - which still feels like a novelty.

Sink a refreshing bottle of Peroni (£4.50 for 660ml) or watch the sun dip down behind the trees over a G&T (£5.75) while the small folk explore the two-towered treehouse, beautiful bug hotel and handmade adventure playgrounds, which include a fallen sweet chestnut tree, lovingly carved into a bench by local tree sculptor, Andy Burgess.

For a proper treat, afternoon tea (£17.50 per person) is delivered and set up wherever you want it in your cabin. Forest-themed crockery comes with an array of Tea Pigs pyramid bags, and delectable sandwiches, scones, cakes and pies are piled high on wooden towers.

We can hardly move after gobbling less than half of it, but it sets us up for an afternoon of mountain biking.

Forest Holidays White Willow lodge at Delamere Forest. Photo: Forest Holidays/PA

Forest Holidays White Willow lodge at Delamere Forest. Photo: Forest Holidays/PA

The undulating landscape makes for the perfect play area as the hire bikes' giant tyres (£32 adult/£28 child, for the whole weekend, or bring your own) bump and hop across hills, streams and grass-strewn woodlands. Rosie squeals and gasps as she follows her dad down steep and scary paths, before using every last ounce of energy she has to pedal back up.

And if you want to get out of the forest, there's plenty to explore in an around Cheshire, too. Go Ape (£25 per person) is just the other side of the forest, which you can walk to in 20 minutes, before climbing up and around the trees, testing your balance and bravery. Every heart-thumping step is worth it for the adrenaline-fuelled zip wire finish, most often accompanied by delighted squeals and a messy (but soft) crash landing.

There's also the brand new Bewilderwood outdoor attraction - full of treehouses, wobbly wires and slippery slopes, one of the country's best zoos over in Chester (both are around a 20-minute drive away), and in half an hour, you can reach The Ice Cream Farm, where you can scoop and lick at an impressive 50 flavours of the good stuff. The adventure park is a bit young for our two, but we happily join the queue for the new drive thru, and snap up four cones of deliciousness (dairy-free options are plentiful, too). Single standard cones are £3 for one scoop, but anyone really hungry can attempt the quadruple for £6.

More R&R can be found back at Delamere, but after the sixth slam of the door, I was beginning to wonder if the in-cabin spa treatment was actually worthwhile.

After months of longing for a massage, booking local Glo therapists in to pummel the stress out of my home-working shoulders was a no-brainer. I tried to banish the family, but Poppy refused to go for a bike ride. Now fully camouflaged up after completing her den-making kit in the woods outside the lodge, she wanted to stay and play at being Bear Grylls. But Bear Grylls gets bored, hungry and nosy after quite short time periods...

It wasn't quite the serene experience I would have had at a spa, but it was still lovely.

Maybe it's the fact I've been staring at the same four walls for the best part of 14 months, but I'm not sure Saturday nights with the family get much better than making pizza, cooking it outside, playing giant Jenga on the deck and splashing about in a hot tub watching the stars come out, all the while being surrounded by trees in the middle of a forest. Even the 11-year-old seemed happy.

• Plan your trip:

White Willow Premium cabins at Forest Holidays in Delamere start from £830 for a two-bedroom lodge for four nights. Visit

A two-hour Relax & Unwind mix and match spa treatment costs £150.

The Forest Discovery Ranger Experience costs £10 per adult, £8 per child, and The Forest School Den Kit costs £60.