by Graeme White of Something Doing
For several years now I have wanted, nay needed, to see more of the UK’s South West especially its glorious coastline – recently this simple dream came true when my flatmate received a 2 free nights stay at Woolacombe Bay holiday village near the appropriately named Woolacombe Sands.
Woolacombe sands is part of Devon’s Golden coast, 3rd best beach in the UK (2013) according to TripAdviser, 25th in the world. It is truly stunning, regardless of any niggles I may have with the area itself and to walk on its smooth clean sands and soak in its crystal clear sea waters, it’s hard caring about any negatives on the surrounding area or life in general.
Without a car we traveled by train from Bristol Temple Meads to Exeter changing at Barnstaple then caught a bus (303 service) that took us straight to the camp site via the pretty nearby villages. The entire travel time was around 2.5 hours and an incredible opportunity to soak up Devon’s beautiful countryside.
A word of warning if you re-trace our steps , the 303 service is a bit scarce and we ended up with around a two hour wait , this did mean we had plenty of time to wander round Barnstaple and get some decent chips at Woods chippy near the bus station.
I had never seen proper country roads until that bus journey, I expect roads to fit two vehicles with excess space for a little maneuvering but that 303 route was unforgiving for motorists. As a bus passenger it was hassle-free and undeniably scenic, well worth it just to see the picturesque pastures and meadows that are core to North Devon’s beautiful landscape.
One thing to mention early on is personal transport is favourable if you decide to stay at one of the handful of camp sites in the area , mainly so you can benefit from the plethora of holiday venues, activity areas and museums that are all linked by pedestrian unfriendly roads and fair distance.
The camp site entrance was a road with the site’s sign on it and no other visual clues. We spent around 10 minutes walking down the road surrounded by thick blankets of leaning vegetation wondering if we were in the right place before stumbling upon what was clearly a holiday camp.
A few pics pf the mobile home we stayed in which was very neat and tidy when we arrived
Another 10 minutes or so got us to the reception building and keys handed over we were into our mobile home. A total 20 minute walk that would probably have been shorter if our party did not consist of a curious toddler.
The mobile home was quite spacious with a stunning view of the coastline from the living room/kitchen area. I am not well versed in mobile homes but it seemed well equipped and certainly catered for our needs. One niggle would be the twin bedroom beds were pretty small, I am around 5ft 10 and found my feet overhanging the mattress so if you’re tall(er) you might struggle to kip in their single beds, might be worth making inquiries as you book.
The campsite was pretty nice , it had a great play area next to a crazy golf course overlooking the bay far below. There is a swimming pool , sauna, wave machine , climbing area, bar/restaurant, club area and mod cons such as a launderette, public toilets/ shower and a surprisingly well-stocked shop.
The camp site staff were always friendly and helpful but genuinely so , they didn’t seem to put on a polite act which was nice, it’s those little details that can say a lot about a place.
The camp site dwellers were also pretty friendly, no one complained about the place during the little conversations we would have at the play area or walking down to the beach, although our holiday park neighbour said it would be nice if the nearby village had more shops.
From what I can gather our holiday site seems to attract large families, like the young mum with four kids who let rip at her young son down at the play area on our first evening –
“Tristen you little sh*t you’ve played up too much today, I’ve had enough, that’s it! Your not comin club wiv me later”
He was upset but he didn’t seem to take the threat too seriously, this was apparent when he started singing ‘ well I am I am I am’ in defiance. The young mum later revealed to my flatmate she had been drinking til 4am with her sister and hangover plus ultra boisterous son plus her other three nippers was a little hard to cope with.
There seemed to be tonnes of things to do in the area , but without a car and a 2-year-old we were pretty restricted getting to these places. There is a bus service that runs between the camp sites though, it’s worth noting it does not run past 4pm.
Nearby attractions/activities included –
The Woolacombe Bay area is beautiful but it was not the slice of Devon I hoped for , everything is geared up to the beach which is stunning but it means the place feels a little superficial. Most buildings were B&Bs or hotels , what I hoped for was some old fisherman’s pubs, quaint cottages that sort of thing but I didn’t see any on my brief travels. That all said if I had to move there I wouldn’t grumble.
My niggles of the area are just minor in comparison to the lush sands and crystal clear sea waters. Photos I have shown foreign friends surprised them, they didn’t expect this country to have such beautiful beaches and neither did I.
I may well return to Woolacombe Bay , probably not the camp site but that’s not because it was unsatisfactory , I just want a slightly different feel to my holiday. I think it will most definitely suit larger families with older kids and their range of accommodation should cover most budgets.
Definitely returning to Devon that’s for sure.
Woolacombe Bay holiday village is one of the Woolacombe Bay holiday parks