We took the A39, a less direct route but one that follows the coast to North Devon. The road cuts across the top of wild and open Exmoor. A blue/green sea sparkling in the sunshine appeared every now and again, under a clear blue sky.
We stopped in Lynmouth for pasties and ice creams. Walked along the bay, collected shells and admired the water powered Victoria cliff railway. Then got back in the car for the final part of the drive to Woolacombe Bay. The gradients of the hills become steeper and the lanes more shaded for the last stretch of the drive. We were bound for a short break in a.
Tucked down a lane we easily found our destination, Twitchen House one of four Woolacombe Bay Holiday Parks. I’ve never stayed in a caravan and to be honest I was unsure what to expect. Our caravan was less caravan more small home. Much more spacious than I’d anticipated, functional and practical. A good sized shower and loads of storage.
After opening every cupboard in the caravan and trying out the kitchen via a caravan cup of tea we headed for the outside pool. Attended by a Life Guard, it was a good depth for both children and adults to enjoy splashing around.
Woolacombe is some where I visited as a small child, I wanted to see how much I remembered. Beach dinner was organised, disposable BBQ and sausages. Woolacombe bay is 3 miles of golden sand and a 20 minute walk through National Trust land from our caravan. It’s a busy beach populated by nana’s in deck chairs, surfer dudes, gangs of preening teenage girls and loads of families which equals playmates. It has facilities which make it perfect for a long day out; loos, cafes, shops full of spades and buckets, swirly ice creams. There is good organised parking too. We had a gorgeous Sunday, doing the stuff I did as a child, playing in the sand and the sea.
Woolacomble Bay Holiday Parks are situated for lots of good days out; Exmoor Zoo, Watermouth Castle, Milky Way theme park, The Big Sheep (it’s sheep shows and ducks).
We choose to explore some of the beautiful places nearby. Illfracombe is somewhere we want to return to and take a boat trip. The town is packed with seaside shops; nick nacks you never knew you needed. People meander and browse. We stumbled across the Saturday Farmers market. Every type of cafe to choose from, the Quay cafe seemed very popular. We had a delicious brunch at Adele’s on Broad Street and walked it off by climbing the hill above Capstone parade, wonderful views across the coast to Lundy Island. Oh, and there is a 66ft bronze statue of a pregnant woman on the harbour, called Verity. Ask Damien Hirst to explain the details. I liked her a lot.
From Illfracombe a short drive up the coast to Coombe Martin, a much sleepier place. Rock pooling mega centre. Who doesn’t love poking about in rock pools? We were briefly in charge of two crabs, some shrimps and a small cat fish (all safely returned). I can recommend Lovingtons ice cream available just by the beach.
On the evening before, we’d spied the Barricane Beach Cafe and that was our evening destination. It’s walkable from the holiday park and lies between Mortehoe and Woolacombe.
The cafe sells lovely salads and fresh baps but on Thursday through Saturday evenings it serves Sri Lankan Curry. The people of the beach queued and cafe dished out the food. The small beach became the dinning room, it seemed that everyone was getting dinner. The atmosphere was a festival vibe. Behind us a group of retired types brought chairs, nice chilled wine and table. The Boden family next to us all had curry, children and adult portions. The stag group to our right, with a box of beers and a guitar, went entirely for meat curry all round. I had the vegetarian version. It is one of the loveliest places I have ever eaten and the food is simple and delicious.
Our other holiday highlight was Croyde Bay, it’s broad and wild, the sea is far out. Loved by surfers and fringed with sand dunes. There’s National Trust have a tea room for cakes and refreshment. The beach has an idyllic faraway feel. It is beautiful and my new fave place. The village is ‘proper’ Devon, quaint and tiny, with surf shops and an ice cream parlour. Apparently, at weekends parking is difficult, in the week it wasn’t a problem, although the surf was flat so maybe that helped.
Mortehoe, down the lane from Woolacombe Bay Holiday Park, is a picturesque village. A deli-cafe, store, post-office. It has busy pubs all serving food, a fish and chip shop. What looked like a great homemade takeaway food and cafe; curries, stroganoff and pasta. Worth a visit.
We found all the staff at Woolacombe Bay Holiday Park friendly and helpful, Twitchen House park is clean and professionally run. The facilities include an inside and outside pool, perfect for children. There is a shop which has everything you may have forgotten and a cafe, should you not want to cook. My son loved the evening entertainment and children’s disco. The Park Stars were genuinely lovely an inclusive to all the children. There is enough to do on the park and locally to make it a perfect holiday. We would thoroughly recommend.
Woolacombe Bay proved to be the perfect destination for a family holiday and we made some fantastic memories.
Disclosure: I received accommodation at Woolacombe Bay Holiday Park in exchange for this review. All words and opinions are my own.