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.
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
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