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?
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