A few years ago we attempted to visit Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park with child one. After travelling a considerable distance and coughing up for the entrance fee, she decided that the only ride she was interested in was the swings. To me, these swings looked very similar to the ones we had in the park near our house. She was on there about 10 minutes so we probably paid about £1 per swing.
And so, we waited another three years before attempting our second visit to Peppa Pig World.
On this occasion we decided to stay at Sandy Balls Holiday Park near Fordingbridge on the edge of the New Forest. It was November, so we paid around £200 for a weekend in a caravan which was big enough for 8 people (well, you could squeeze in 8 people but I’d say 6 was plenty).
We arrived in the dark, which is never ideal with children and spent about 15 minutes scouring caravan numbers in the dark. The other half of our party was arriving separately, so I saved them the same anguish by sending them our coordinates on Google Maps. Sandy Balls is a large site and I suspect that my mother would still be driving round it now if I hadn’t offered assistance.
The caravan was a ‘woodland’ one which only seemed to be a few months old. We’d stayed in a few similar caravans, but my mother was expecting the kind of caravan which you’d hook onto a Volvo so was very impressed.
“A freezer!” she said with a genuine sound of shock in her voice.
“An en suite toilet!” she bellowed through from the largest bedroom as we unpacked in the lounge.
This went on for about 20 minutes.
In the morning, we got to see the holiday park in daylight and realised that a very nice playground was 20 metres away from our caravan. Luckily the children hadn’t seen it in the dark or it might have caused a few issues at bed time.
Peppa Pig World was 25 minutes away through the New Forest. It’s a lovely drive, as long as you can avoid the horses and donkeys which like to wander into the road.
The park itself was a much bigger success on this occasion. Child one was old enough and brave enough to try several rides and child two even had a go on some of them after seeing her sister’s confidence. The real plus point was that the queues were no more than 10 minutes, although the park was far from empty. It was certainly wise to arrive exactly at opening time, as we managed to squeeze in a couple of rides before everyone else turned up.
My highlight was winning a giant Peppa toy on one of those ball throwing games which you assume are rigged and completely impossible.
We did have a quick wander round the rest of Paultons Park, although quite a lot of it was closed for the winter. I toyed with the idea of trying out their largest rollercoaster before remembering that my stomach complains on a carousel.
Back at Sandy Balls we had a wander round the site which has had a lot of investment in recent years. There’s a well laid out courtyard area by the entrance surrounded by shops, a couple of places to eat and a swimming pool which is a lot cleaner and neater than some we’ve seen. We didn’t eat in the restaurant, but it looked appealing.
We also discovered a second playground which was smaller on the map, but much larger in real life.
As it was a pretty jam-packed weekend, we didn’t take up any of the paid-for activities although we did have a glimpse of the alpaca walks. There was a busy schedule, as well as evening activities if you fancied it.
All in all, our second visit to Peppa Pig World was much better value for money. Although that’s not saying much...
See our guide to holiday parks near Peppa Pig World for more ideas
Here's a guest post from the people behind the Holiday Park Show. We didn't receive any payment for this guest post, but they've kindly offered to give our site a plug and we hope you'll find the article interesting.
With a universal focus on health and wellness on the rise, making sure your holiday park or resort has a spa is becoming a necessity! Learn more, here...
Between 2015 and 2017, the health and wellness market grew by around £500 billion! This isn’t any surprise when we consider our modern emphasis on mental health awareness in recent years. With this in mind, it’s never been more important to implement health and wellness ideas within your holiday park.
So, what’s a simple, yet effective, way to change up your holiday park offerings with ease? Spas and hot tubs!
At the Holiday Park & Resort Innovation Show, on 6th & 7th November at the Birmingham NEC, you’ll get the opportunity to forge brand new contacts to boost your hospitality offerings. Our exhibition welcomes lots of companies, all with expertise in spas and hot tubs, who will take you through all the potential possibilities.
Get your FREE ticket to the show to discover more ways to increase your visitor numbers, by taking very simple steps! Read on to discover more…
The Benefits of Spas
These days, spas no longer make your holiday park or resort special, they’re a necessity! Customers will expect an on-site hot tub to help them relax on their holiday getaway. The question is, what makes a spa so beneficial?
Want to Network With Some Spa Companies, Face-to-Face?
Our exhibition welcomes hundreds of exhibitors from across the holiday park and resort industry, each with a new innovation to inspire you with ways to boost your offerings and, therefore, profits! Within the spa industry, alone, we’ll be welcoming an array of fantastic exhibitors, each with something different to bring to the table:
Want to Meet These Fantastic Exhibitors, and Many More?
As you can see, there are so many benefits to hot tubs, which will keep your holiday park goers happy and relaxed.
Want to discover more about how you could utilise hot tubs to increase your visitors, and boost revenue at your holiday park? Then don’t hesitate to book your FREE tickets to the show, so you can get networking straight away.
We can’t wait to welcome you!
I have a bad habit of holding irrational grudges against places which can't defend themselves.
I fell out with Cornwall some time ago due to a vague association it had with an ex girlfriend. Such things have no logic, especially considering I can't exactly remember what the link was.
Nonetheless we booked a week at Sandymouth Holiday Resort near Bude. The park is only just within Cornwall, so it's a lot nearer than a stress inducing drive to Land's End.
Within about 10 minutes of arriving I had made an important first step towards outgrowing my Cornish prejudice thanks to the coastal view from our caravan. Although the site is about a 15 minute walk to the beach, you can still see the waves crashing and the far reaching vista was glorious. It immediately reminded me of a view from the south west of the Isle of Wight (my favourite place in the world). If I wasn't biased I might even admit the view was better, but I won't.
Sandymouth Holiday Resort is run by Darwin Escapes, which has about 20 holiday parks at the posher end of the market in the UK. We've previously stayed at their Cheddar Woods resort and another nearby called Bath Mill.
We went for a holiday home which was half way been being a lodge and a caravan. If I'm being polite I'd say the bedrooms were compact but there were two toilets, the lounge was a good size and the verandah was fantastic with an unobstructed view. The lodges we stayed in at their Cheddar and Bath locations were much bigger and more spacious, but Sandymouth is in a prime spot in a popular part of the Westcountry.
Our lodge/ caravan in Sandymouth was for 6 people and cost about £1400 for a week. We paid extra for the view and verandah but the posher lodges had sold out by the time we booked. There were cheaper caravans which didn't have verandahs which would have been OK if you just wanted a base, though I'd have felt a bit squashed.
The main annoyance was the caravan behind us which had confused this classy holiday park for a music festival. Despite the local attractions, they spent 23 hours of each day sat on their verandah with music blaring out. The only plus point was that it mostly drowned out their seemingly never-ending conversation. I won't hold this against the park though, and can only blame myself that I am too British to complain.
On-site facilities were impressive and in good condition as the park had a big refurbishment in 2017. We made use of most of it, including the splash park, a good-sized playground, indoor play for under 5s, a restaurant (solid pub grub in a nice setting for about £10 for a burger) and an entertainment venue (we did the toddler disco and Disney quiz, we didn't do the bingo and cabaret). We also went for a swim in the pool. It was clean and the staff were friendly but it was very busy as it was operating at capacity and the main pool was too deep for my children, so it was a bit of a traumatic experience for me. Still, the children enjoyed it and I can't really complain about a swimming pool being popular in July.
If we'd been inclined we could have signed up for paid things like archery and football but we concluded that we would rather explore.
The local beach at Sandymouth was a highlight for me with imposing rocky cliffs and sand at low tide. It wasn't as child friendly as some beaches with the approach requiring some clambering and no facilities to speak of, but it's a beautiful spot. There were lifeguards too, although we didn't get much further than paddling.
We explored a few other beaches during our week, including two in Bude and another at Widemouth. All of them had crashing waves with surfboard lessons on offer and plenty of sand for digging. We had a few close scrapes with bees (why are children's swimming costumes the same colour as flowers?) but avoided most calamities.
Besides the beaches we visited historic Clovelly ("that was steep" I quipped) and an adventure park called Milky Way. The latter was a welcome shelter on our only rainy day with most of it indoors and an entry price which I thought was pretty reasonable (about £45 for 4). We also did a Treasure Trail around Bude, which is a great way to trick children into going for a walk for £6.99.
All in all, we had a blast and holidays are (occasionally) starting to feel like holidays again rather than the exhausting adventures that they have been in recent years with young children.
I'm sorry for holding a grudge Cornwall, will you forgive me?
Somerset sometimes feels like the least popular member of the Westcountry family. Cornwall, Dorset and Devon have more impressive beaches in my opinion, and tend to attract bigger crowds.
However, I’m rather fond of Somerset, having spent much time in Minehead, Frome and Yeovil due to a combination of work, relatives and holidays.
It’s also a little easier for us to get to, coming from the Midlands. For example, if you’re travelling from Birmingham it will take two hours to get to Bath or five to reach Lands End.
I’m also a fan of a good deal, which was probably the biggest factor.
After much searching, I found a four night mid week break at Bath Mill Lodge Retreat reduced to about £400 from about £600. That may not sound like a billy bargain, but this was May half term in a fairly posh lodge park and it was a four bedroom lodge which slept up to 8 people. We had a party of six, but if we’d filled it up with eight people it would have cost us about £12 per person, per night. I reckon that’s pretty good value, particularly as holiday parks in the Westcountry are often a bit pricier than those in the North of England and in Scotland.
The park is run by a company called Darwin Escapes which has about 20 lodge resorts across the UK. We’ve also stayed at their Cheddar Woods Lodge Resort and Spa, which gets similarly positive reviews from customers.
Our lodge was well equipped with TVs in every bedroom (perhaps a little over the top), a dishwasher (essential, in my opinion) and a washing machine amongst other things. The furniture and décor was modern and clean, and the whole thing was hard to fault.
Bath Mill Lodge Retreat is certainly more of a base than somewhere you could spend a lot of time during the day. There was a restaurant and a small gym, but it didn’t have a swimming pool or anything like that. If that’s what you after, Cheddar Woods Lodge Resort and Spa is a better option as it has all that plus a bowling alley and some sports activities. I reckon they could do with a small shop for milk and bread and perhaps a little library of books and games, but it wasn’t a long way to the local shops.
Towards the end of our holiday we did discover a big patch of green space over a river at the nearby stream which meant our children could run and up and down.
We were only there for three full days, so we had no trouble finding things to do. On a wet day we tried out Avon Valley Adventure Park which had a good-sized indoor play area with drop slides and things like pig racing outdoors. We also had a couple of animal related outings to Bath City Farm and Hope Nature Centre, both of which occupied a good chunk of time for very little cost (Bath City Farm was free whilst Hope Nature Centre was only about £3 each).
The only disappointment with Bath Mill Lodge Retreat was the restaurant, which served us undercooked chips and overcooked peas. The building itself is lovely, and it’s in a pleasant riverside spot, but the food was about as tasteless as Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen’s wardrobe contents.
Being British, we didn’t complain of course although we left some diplomatically worded comments on the end of holiday report card.
On our final night, with the children asleep and the wife and I both zonked, we dragged ourselves into Bath when we really would have rather gone to bed. Neither of us had visited Bath since we were teenagers and I was determined to have a quick look round when we were only 15 minutes away.
We wandered the streets at a great pace, admiring one of Britain’s great cities. It was a bit of a dreary evening, but Bath was even nicer than I remembered with row after row of well-kept old buildings and the occasional McDonalds.
Being a gentleman, I took the wife out for a decaf coffee at a Costa which was part of the cinema in Bath. Thankfully, we didn’t have the time to watch a film, as I noticed that it would have cost £30 for two of us (admittedly that was the price of a blockbuster in 3D, but still...). We had a brief rant about the likely decline of cinemas as TVs get bigger and ticket prices get higher.
I got over it, eventually, and headed back to our lodge.
Stay classy Somerset, we’ll be back.
Greetings bargain hunters! Here’s our monthly roundup of the best deals and discounts available at the UK’s caravan holiday parks for April 2019 and the Easter holidays.
First up, it’s Hoseasons which has a bigger choice than any other site we know of, as it provides bookings and discounts for most of the big name holiday parks and many of the smaller family-owned sites. You can easily browse all reduced Hoseasons holidays for April/Easter 2019. We’ve ranked all the offers by the percentage you save from the standard price, but make sure the ‘standard price’ is good value.
To save you a few seconds, we’ve set up easy searches for
Several other big names in the UK caravan holiday market are also offering last minute deals and discounts. Haven is perhaps the best known name, with more than 30 holiday parks, most of which are in prime seaside locations.
You can Search for all of Haven's current discounts and offers on this page, which allows you to narrow it down depending on which part of the country you want to visit.
They’re advertising 'Easter holidays from £299' but it does vary according to how long you’re staying for and in which park.
There's a top 10 guide on our Haven page, but some of the most highly rated ones with customers include:
Meanwhile, Away Resorts are offering Easter short breaks 'from £122' or last minute Spring breaks from £69. Sure, the advertised price is often limited to specific dates at a specific park, but there were some good discounts when we checked.
Park Holidays focus on the south of England with parks across Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Sussex, Kent, Essex and Suffolk. They were offering last minute Park Holidays bargain breaks for April/Easter 2019 in various locations
At the posher end of the market is Aria Resorts which is offering up to 30% off with last minute deals for Easter 2019. Their parks are in Yorkshire, Cornwall, Isle of Wight and Devon. If you go for one of their Isle of Wight parks (and why wouldn’t you) then you can also get up to 50% off the Isle of Wight ferry.
We’ve not had much luck looking for Center Parcs discounts for their five UK resorts at Easter 2019. You’ll find that Center Parcs UK rarely offer big savings. However, those who fancy a bit of adventure might consider Center Parcs Europe which runs separately. They offer up to 20% off if you book at least two months in advance and up to 25% (ish) off last minute holidays.
Back in the UK, you can get 5% off Shorefield Holidays with code M218 (this one is valid until 14/12/19 so we’ll keep promoting it…). They are also running a promotion of £132 for a Monday to Wednesday break at Shorefield or Oakdene holiday parks. The offer is only available outside of school holidays. Shorefield operate a handful of parks across Dorset, New Forest and Hampshire.
If you’re looking to get away pronto, it’s worth taking a look at John Fowler holidays. They often have good last minute deals on holidays but only for breaks which are starting within the next 7 days. They’re also offering £50 off Easter breaks in 2019 (valid on short breaks, 5th to 22nd April). Similarly, Parkdean has quite a few last minute caravan holidays, including some during the Easter holidays. They’re generally available from a couple of weeks before the start of the holiday.
March 2019 is a pretty good time for a cheap caravan or lodge holiday in the UK.
Sure, the weather is iffy and you’ll be looking for at least a couple of rainy day activities, but accommodation availability is high and there are no school holidays to bump up the prices. Bear in mind that some tourist attractions in the UK don’t open until the Easter holiday (i.e. early April this year) so you might need to think creatively for days out.
Here’s our rundown of the best discounts and last minute deals available for March 2019:
Hoseasons is a good place to start your search, as they provide bookings for many of the big name holiday companies as well as many independent holiday parks. You probably won’t find a bigger range of caravan park holidays anywhere else and you can search by price and other factors quite easily.
You can browse all reduced Hoseasons holidays for March 2019, which we’ve ranked by biggest % discount. It’s quite easy to narrow things down by adding in how long you want to stay for and so on. We’ve picked out some of the most popular searches, including discounted Hoseasons holidays in the Westcountry (Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset), Wales or the North of England (Lake District, Blackpool and Yorkshire).
In some cases you’ll find about 25% off standard prices.
If that doesn’t bring any joy, I’d have a look at the ‘last minute’ deals on offer from the big name holiday park companies. You can search for all of Haven's last minute deals.
Haven has more than 30 holiday parks in the UK, covering pretty much every popular holiday resort. I usually advise people that reviews are Haven are a little bit better than some of their competitors, and their prices are subsequently a little higher.
Haven are currently advertising March 2019 last minute weekend breaks from £99 or March 2019 last minute midweek breaks from £79 in standard caravans or £119 in prestige caravans
If you’re new to this business, you might want to read our guide to 6 ways to save money on Haven holidays. You’ll find the best prices are available if you’re able to rent a large caravan and fill it up, rather than booking two smaller units.
Other big names which offer last minute holiday park bookings include Away Resorts which is offering Last minute Spring breaks from £69. That offer is running until May 31st 2019. They’ve got six holiday parks in the UK which are scattered across the country.
If you want a holiday somewhere in the south or south west of England, then you might like to look at the Last minute Park Holidays bargain breaks for March 2019. They’re not as well known as Haven, but they’ve got 30 parks in popular locations such as Devon and Dorset. They’re also offering £30 free food and drink with midweek breaks outside of school holidays.
Aria Resorts is another name in the holiday park market which offers Up to 30% off with last minute deals. Their parks are generally at the posher end of the market and they’re currently redeveloping a number of sites on the Isle of Wight. You can also get up to 50% off the Isle of Wight ferry if you book accommodation with them
John Fowler holidays covers Devon, Somerset and Cornwall and they have a couple of decent deals at the moment. You can get 20% off breaks in March 2019 (no discount code, just go via this link). If you want to get away in the next week, you can browse through their last minute deals.
Shorefield Holidays has a promo code at the moment which is 5% off Shorefield Holidays with code M218 (valid until 14/12/19). Not a huge discount I admit, but every little helps!
Finally in this roundup, there is Parkdean Resorts which has last minute caravan holidays some of which have a decent discount.
Haven is probably the best known name in the UK caravan holiday park market. Their 40 parks are ideal for families looking for a busy holiday with indoor swimming pools, places to eat onsite and easy access to beaches.
Many of their parks get better reviews than their rivals, but they can also be a bit more expensive (based on the price comparisons we've done).
Here are 6 ways to save money on Haven holiday parks
1. Don’t arrive on a Saturday
Unsurprisingly, most of us want to arrive on Saturday for a week’s holiday. However, if you can avoid their busiest changeover day then you can make a decent saving.
For example, a week staying at Haven’s Seaview Holiday Park in Dorset in August 2019 in a standard caravan was £1034 when we checked, if you arrived on a Saturday. However, if you arrived on the Friday before it was only £899, a saving of £135.
You’ll still get a seven day holiday, it’s just not as convenient for people working Monday to Friday.
2. Travel to a Haven holiday park up north
In our (limited) price comparison, we found that Haven’s best holiday parks in the north of England and in Scotland are generally cheaper than their best holiday parks in the South of England. Location seems to be more of a factor than facilities and reviews.
There are exceptions of course, but we picked out 10 of the best Haven holiday parks for our guide and found that 3 of the top 4 cheapest were Seton Sands in Scotland, Thornwick Bay in Yorkshire and Lakeland Leisure Park in the Lake District.
Meanwhile, 3 of the 4 most expensive were Littlesea Holiday Park in Dorset, Devon Cliffs in Devon and Perran Sands in Cornwall.
During August the difference between the cheapest and most expensive can be more than £400 for a family of four.
3. Cosy up and fill up a caravan
This one is not for everyone, but a family of four will make a significant saving if they share an eight berth caravan rather than booking two caravans for four people.
For example, you’ll pay £2068 for two caravans for four people at Haven’s Seaview Holiday Park in Dorset in August 2019. An eight berth caravan meanwhile will cost you £1258 (and it was actually a higher grade of accommodation - searches carried out in December 2018).
That means each family will pay £629 for a week rather than £1034, a saving of more than £400.
But is it practical?
Well, in the example above, a four person caravan has two bedrooms whilst a four berth caravan has three bedrooms meaning that a couple of people will end up sleeping in the lounge. I guess you’d need to know people pretty well to avoid a week of awkward situations. Also bear in mind that an eight berth caravan only has one shower, so you might not get everyone ready until about lunchtime.
One slightly more practical option is to invite a couple of grandparents, as the difference between a two bedroom and three bedroom caravan is generally only a couple of hundred pounds.
4. Book Haven early for the best choice and price
Generally, you’ll find the best deals are available if you book long in advance, rather than if you wait for a ‘last minute bargain’. The cheaper accommodation at popular Haven parks is sometimes sold out months in advance.
For example, when we searched for Lydstep Beach Holiday Park in December 2018 for holidays in August 2019, we found that many of the ‘standard’ caravans were already sold out. As a result, you’re left with the ‘deluxe’ and ‘prestige’ options which are more expensive.
Presumably quite a lot of people are booking their holidays before they’ve even got home and unpacked.
When I checked they were also doing a price promise, along the lines of: 'If prior to your holiday start date, you see your holiday at a lower price, please contact us and we will apply any adjustment to your booking if the price remains available. Subject to availability.'
5. Check Haven's offers page regularly
Always take a quick look at Haven's offers pages before you book. These aren't generally discount codes and promo codes, but are discounted rates around certain dates. You'll find they offer things like 25% or 50% off standard prices, or fixed price deals for midweek breaks.
Most of the deals are aimed at getting people to book outside of the school holidays but it's always worth a look, even if you are fixed to certain dates.
6. Try camping and touring at a Haven holiday park
OK, I know what you're thinking...but bear with me.
About half of Haven's holiday parks offer touring and camping, which means you can bring a tent or your own caravan. The advantage is that you still get to use all the onsite facilities, including swimming pools, kids clubs and so on.
When we checked, a week at Perran Sands in Cornwall in August 2019 was £1137 for 2 adults and 2 children in the cheapest caravan available. Meanwhile, a week in a tent at Perran Sands for four people was £330, a saving of more than £800.
It's one to consider during peak summer season when the weather is better and the difference in price is most significant.
Torquay offers Britain’s best value seaside parking whilst Brighton is the most expensive according to a new study.
Holidayparkguru.co.uk compared prices of parking for four hours in council car parks in 10 of Britain's busiest resorts and found that Brighton was more than four times the price of Torquay.
Most resorts ranged from £3 to £6 for four hours in the car parks nearest to the seafront during the summer, but some South coast spots charge far more.
Price for 4 hours parking:
1. Torquay - £3
=2. Skegness - £4
=2 Shanklin - £4 (from April 2018)
4. Weymouth -£4.50
5. Scarborough - £4.60
6. Great Yarmouth - £5.20
7. Blackpool - £5.50
8. Newquay - £6.30
9. Bournemouth - £10
10. Brighton - £13
Robert Lane from Holidayparkguru.co.uk said
"There's a huge disparity in what councils charge for the prime parking spots along Britain's coastline. You can have half a day at the seaside for a pound an hour or less in parts of Devon or on the Isle of Wight. On the other hand, four hours parked near the beach in Brighton this summer costs the same as parking at East Midlands Airport"
"My advice if you are visiting Brighton or Bournemouth is to park a short distance from the seafront. Unlike most resorts on the list, prices vary hugely depending on which car park you choose. If you’re willing to walk for 20 minutes you’ll pay £6 instead of £13 in Brighton. It’s the same in Bournemouth – if you can manage a 5 minute walk you’ll pay £4 instead of a tenner”
The locations of the top 10 were based on a GB Tourism study comparing visitor numbers at seaside resorts. The study looked for the price during the day in summer in the car park nearest to the sea.
For more information on the survey see https://www.holidayparkguru.co.uk/
Notes to editors
Holidayparkguru.co.uk is an independent guide to holiday parks in England and Wales.
We usually visit the Isle of Wight for our holidays, as it provides free accommodation and babysitting thanks to my mother. However, we broke from tradition to try out Cheddar Woods Resort and Spa in Somerset at half term.
After an everlasting journey down the M5 we were pleased to find we’d been given a prime position at the far end of the site. Usually that would mean you’re next to the bins and the maintenance vehicles but in this case it meant we had an elevated view across the Mendip Hills towards Glastonbury Tor. It also meant we didn’t have any neighbours on one side and that we weren’t near to the restaurant and playground so didn’t have to put up with noise from other people’s children.
The lodge was modern and had everything we needed, including a dishwasher, tumble dryer and washing machine which played jolly tunes when it was finished. There were four televisions, which seemed a bit excessive along with outdoor furniture which looked pleasant, though were unlikely to be used in February.
The complex at the bottom of the hill was very smart with a Brewers’ Fayre-esque restaurant along with a skittles alley, swimming pool, sauna and a small playground. It was certainly the sort of place which is a bit posher than most caravan parks, so it’s not one for our cheap holiday parks guide. Having said that, I thought it was good value at around £700 for a week for our three bedroom lodge (August is more like £1600).
Needless to say, it rained for a couple of days but we managed to coincide these with trips to see relatives in Somerset. The children happily played with Lego and plastic horses all day with second-cousins they rarely see, whilst we drank coffee and rested our heads on the kitchen table.
Despite being in Cheddar we only had a fleeting visit to the Gorge. Mrs Guru and I stared with admiration as we drove through, whilst the younger members of our party either slept or refused to look up from the CBeebies App.
On our first sunny day we applied to remortgage our house before heading to Longleat Safari Park. We spent a happy couple of hours on the adventure playground and with the penguins before heading off on the Safari. It took some time to persuade our four year old that the rhino wasn’t going to charge at the car and we just about got round before the 1 year old began screaming.
On the other two days when we had a bit of sunshine we went to Weston Super Mare, which was a much large place than I remembered from my visit some years previous. The Pier was gutted by fire 10 years ago but has been rebuilt into a headache inducing wonderland with a thousand clankity clank noises competing with each other. I’m sure my father would have described it as a special kind of torture, but we enjoyed throwing 2p coins into the machines until a gold coloured piece of tat fell out.
Besides the arcade machines, the Grand Pier has plenty to do now, with several small rides and a restaurant with great views out to sea. Some reviewers complain about the £1 you have to pay to go onto the Pier although I was happy to pay it after seeing so many piers slowly rot into the sea. I imagine such reviewers would have steam coming out of their ears at the Longleat ticket booth.
So far on Holiday Park Guru I've only attempted to do comparisons for a handful of locations (Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, Wales and the Isle of Wight).
My longer term plan is to spread my caravan shaped wings a bit and explore places such as the Lake District, Northumberland, Norfolk and Yorkshire to help people pick the best holiday parks, based on price, location and facilities.
But which of the holiday locations that we've covered so far has the most to offer for tourists? To attempt a vaguely fair comparison I decided to look at how many attractions each county has, in relation to its size. Wales is obviously larger than the Isle of Wight but you aren't likely to drive from Rhyl to Swansea for a day trip. A high concentration of attractions is more important than a high number spread over a huge area.
So, the fairest way I could think to do this was to look at the number of attractions listed on TripAdvisor. I'm sure there are flaws in this, as you do get rogue shops and other non-attractions appearing on TripAdvisor as an attraction. However, I'm hoping it will even out across all the locations.
First up is Devon, which has (according to TripAdvisor) 825 attractions. I'm not inclined to sift through them all to work out which are legitimate as I was hoping to get to bed in six hours time. Devon is 2590 square miles, which there is an attraction for every 3.1 square miles.
Honestly, I've no idea if that's good or bad before we look at the rest so let's plough on with a comparison to local rivals Cornwall.
Well, according to TripAdvisor you'll find 659 things to do in Cornwall across a land mass of 1376 square miles, which means there is an attraction for every two square miles in Cornwall - significantly more than Devon.
OK, how about Dorset? TripAdvisor reckons there are 437 things to do in Dorset and the county is 1024 square miles, so that puts it somewhere between Devon and Cornwall with an attraction for every 2.3 square miles.
Let's see how Wales compares, which I admit is a whole different kettle of fish to a single English county...
As you might expect, the wheels fall off this flimsy comparison at this point as TripAdvisor doesn't bunch all of Wales into one. Instead it gives the number of attractions per county.
Nevermind, I will move on and pretend this was just an English comparison.
Finally, my beloved Isle of Wight. *He nervously changes tabs*
According to TripAdvisor (as I keep repeating) there are 184 attractions on the Isle of Wight, with a land mass of 146 square miles. So, there is an attraction for every 0.8 square miles.
OK, so I admit the Isle of Wight is small and I was kind of hoping that the result would go this way (as it was my hunch) but that's a pretty sensational victory. I'm certainly biased, but I encourage you to do the comparison yourself and see if you can find an English county with more attractions per square mile than the Isle of Wight.
Sure, you can start arguing about the size of attractions etc...but let me have my moment.
Holiday Park Guru Blog
Occasional thoughts on holidays in England, Wales and Scotland, including the latest deals, discounts and last minute offers.
Westcountry & Wales
Scotland & North England
© COPYRIGHT 2020. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.