Tag Archives: Cornwall

Frugal Family Holiday – camping in Cornwall

11 Aug

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With the cost of holidays soaring through the roof, we decided to keep things cheap this year and go camping in Cornwall. Petrol costs were minimal for us as it was only an hour away. We already had our fantastic tent which was a gift from a special lady  (thank you Auntie Tina!)

The joy of Cornwall is that there is just SO much to do there, come rain or shine. As it happened, we had a mixed bag of weather. Most of the rain was over-night and the heavens really opened so we were more grateful than ever for our great tent which was fully water-tight, even in the heaviest of downpours.

One of the main things we did to try to be thrifty was to cook all our own meals rather than eat out. We did have the odd meal out of course, it is impossible to resist all the lovely cafes and the local cornish pasties and cream teas!

If you are holidaying on a budget then you can’t go wrong with a day at the beach.  Pack a picnic and you’ve got a whole day of  fun ahead of you for free.  You could try surfing, climb some sand dunes, build sand castles, explore some caves, collect some pebbles and shells, explore the rock pools. All will provide hours of fun and if you park a little further back from the beach you can also save money on car parking.

There are lots of other ways to have fun on a budget:

  • Walk the coast path. Take some snacks and drinks to keep you going and some binoculars for bird watching. Have a look at the South West Coast Path website for some inspiration.
  • Make the most of any free activities. Check out museums and libraries before you go to see what they have on offer
  • Design your own nature trail and set off to try to spot everything on your list.
  • Discover local heritage. In Cornwall this should definitely include mining. There are lots of old mine relics that you can visit for free. Wheal Coates Mine near St Agnes is in a breathtaking location and well worth a visit.
  • Explore the Camel Trail on your bike. This is a fantastic day out and you can hire trailers if your little ones are not up to the 18 mile ride. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do the whole trail, it is broken down into sections.
  • Explore endless fishing villages and seaside towns. Even if you are just window shopping you can always make a note of something you would really like and put it on your Christmas list!
  • If you can stretch to National Trust Membership this is so worthwhile for a holiday in Cornwall. There are numerous NT properties in Cornwall and Devon. With their membership you get free entry to all of these properties (both gardens and houses) and also get to park in any National Trust Car Park for free.  Their properties are family friendly and during the holidays there are nearly always special events like trails or crafting activities.

The Trevella Holiday Park website has a great section on their website called  ’50 Great Adventures’ which will give you LOADS of ideas for things to do in Cornwall, most of which are free.

Finally, here are some pictures of our camping holiday this year. We stayed at Higher Trevaskis Camping Park. We loved this site because it is very quiet and child friendly. The owners will go out of their way to make sure you have a great holiday. Whether that’s ordering you a paper for Sunday morning or supplying you with the latest surf forecast! The washing up and bathroom facilities are the cleanest I have seen and it has a lovely, relaxed atmosphere. There are no bars or clubhouses, just good old-fashioned family time. As you can see, we had loads of fun.

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Our review of Trevella Camping and Caravan Park, Cornwall

9 Jul

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We were so excited when asked to visit and review Trevella Park in Cornwall. When we checked out their website it sounded just perfect for us.  It is a Five Star Caravan and Camping Park and also has newly erected Safari Tents if you are a fashionable ‘glamper’.  There is no noisy clubhouse (been there, done that, never again!), loads of space for children to run around and they actively encourage children to enjoy all the space on the site and in the local area.

Trevella has been awarded the David Bellamy Conservation Gold Award for the last 15 years and when we arrived on site we could see why. The park is immaculately kept, whilst still allowing areas of wild grass to encourage wildlife. There are two man-made fishing lakes which have been planted as a nature reserve and look like they have been there forever! We walked around both lakes and were amazed by all the wildlife we saw.  The staff actively encourage ‘green’ travel around the area. A bus will pick you up right outside the gate and there is also a local taxi service which is very easy to book. You can recycle your waste at Trevella although I did think specific instructions for doing  this could have been given to us on arrival. We are very pro-active in doing this but I think a little more encouragement would not go amiss, for those families that may not think of doing so.

During the summer season (July 26th to August 30th) they also offer Ranger Activities and Campfire Storytelling which sounds just perfect for children with a love of the outdoors. The Ranger Activities includes:

  • Spooky night-time walks to spot moths and bats
  • building animal homes and feeding stations
  • discovering underwater insects
  • exploring underground mammal burrows with tiny cameras
  • catching bugs with pit-fall traps
  • survival skills including shelter building and map reading
  • freshwater fishing for beginners

As we visited out of the summer holidays we were not able to try out the ranger activities but I know my children would have just loved to try out everything on this list! We were at Trevella for 3 nights and we tried to cram in as much as we could but there is SO much to do in this part of Cornwall.  The first thing we wanted to do was to check out the outdoor heated pool. We’ve tried a fair few supposedly heated outdoor pools only to find that they are more like jumping into a freezing cold bath. Thankfully, the pool at Trevella really is heated to a good temperature and despite it being a very cloudy day we still managed to enjoy having a good swim. Well, when I say ‘we’ I mean Daddy and the children as I had an important job of  reading the paper by the pool taking photographs.

trevella-parkNext up on our list of ‘must do’ activities was to try out the walk from Trevella down to Crantock Beach. I am from Cornwall and have visited so many beaches and coves up and down the coast and Crantock has always been one of my  favourites. At low tide the tidal river leaves a multitude of warm pools which are perfect for small children. Be warned though you should definitely not venture into the river at high tide as it is very dangerous. The walk down to Crantock takes about half an hour with small children (or a lot longer if like us, you stop to play on the robe swings that can be found along the way). It is a beautiful walk, just head to the bottom of the park and find the ‘kissing gate’ and start your walk here. Initially the walk is through farmland and then it follows the beautiful Gannal Estuary. As a lover of Enid Blyton adventures, this walk has it all. Hidden coves, secret dens, bunnies and butterflies galore.  The children absolutely loved it!

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If visiting Trevella with young children I would highly recommend a trip to The Lappa Valley Steam Railway. We LOVE it here and it is perfect for pre-teenage children. In addition to the lovely rides on the miniature steam trains, Lappa Valley is full of good, old-fashioned fun. There is a (very safe) boating lake and 3 lovely playgrounds, a brick maize and a great little cafe which sells good, healthy foods and some not so healthy but very yummy cakes! The gift shop on site is filled with gift ideas which are all surprisingly good value for money and we came away with quite a few purchases for our ‘Christmas drawer’.

There are too many other fantastic local attractions to mention in this post but if I had to suggest more then I would have to say Dairyland, Newquay and of course The Eden Project. If you want other ideas of what to do when visiting Cornwall then take a look at Trevella’s own 50 Great Adventures in Cornwall which is full of ideas that will keep you busy year after year. There are some great suggestions on here, many of which you can do for free.

So would I recommend Trevella to other people? Yes, most definitely! In fact I have been ever since we got back. It is a perfect setting for Cornwall family holidays and also great for couples or those with a passion for fishing. We saw a massive carp being landed from one of those lakes! If you do visit the park, please pop back here and share your holiday tips too!

A few more miscellaneous snaps from our Cornwall Adventure!

A few more miscellaneous snaps from our Cornwall Adventure!

Disclaimer: Trevella  provided me with a free 3-night break in a luxury caravan in return for an honest review of their Camping and Caravan Park. All comments and opinions are my own.

Camping holidays with children

26 Sep

Our first camping trip with two small children was when my son was 6 months and my daughter was 3 and I think I just dived into it without really thinking about the consequences!  It was actually a really fun trip, we went with our neighbours and they helped out with Lily whilst we set up the tent and got organised.  Our second trip was when my son was 2 and my  daughter was 5.  I’ve now come to realise that camping with children is totally different from when we used to go on our own with our little two-man tent.  Here are a few tips that we’ve found helpful:

Check out the weather forecast

With 5 day forecasts being pretty reliable these days, you can plan your trip according to the weather.  If it’s forecast to rain for 4 days non-stop then it may not be the best time to go camping.

Layers, layers and more layers!

It is COLD if you are sleeping under canvas in the UK. Never underestimate how cold your little ones will get and make sure they go to bed with loads of layers on.  It’s also worth investing in winter thickness sleeping bags so that you don’t need to worry about the blankets falling off.

Take a potty!

Whether you have a child that is just potty training or one that has been dry for sometime, a potty is a definite bonus if you don’t want to hike off to the toilet block with your little one in the middle of the night.

Toys

Hopefully the weather will be great and the children will be outside most of the time but if you do have bad weather and you end up spending an amount of time in the tent you will need amusements for the children.  Games, Toys, cards and drawing stuff are all a good idea.  Don’t forget the toys for outside too.

Choose your site carefully

We started off by thinking that we needed a site with lots going on for the children, so an indoor pool, playground, maybe a games room.  After a few hectic camping trips chasing the children around from activity to activity we decided to try a very basic site without all of these amenities.  After searching the web for hours we came across Treveague Farm.  It still had a play area (a lovely handmade wooden fort playground) and it had a fantastic cafe that served food produced on the farm.  Other than that it was basically just a few fields and a shower/toilet block.  It was very small and just a short walk from the coast path.  This was by far the best camping trip we have had.  The children didn’t notice the lack of swimming pool or games room and made their own amusement.  The result was some real, quality, family time and some very happy children (and parents).  Treveague arranged a story-teller for two hours on one of our evenings there and the children sat mesmerised to the lady for two hours as she captured their imaginations with tales of dragons, princesses and magical creatures.

Tents

Our little two-man tent is now gathering dust and cobwebs in the back of the garage and we’ve invested in a decent family tent.  We’ve realised after many rainy stays in Cornwall that a bigger tent is definitely better.  If you have a large central area you at least have somewhere to play/eat when it’s pouring with rain outside. It’s also nice to be able to stand up straight and not leave the camp site with a stoop at the end of your stay. Check out ebay for some second-hand tents, you often see tents on Freecycle so there’s always a possibility of getting one for free!

Cooking

Make sure your gas bottle is full (ours ran out during our trip and there was no-where to fill it nearby).

Plan your meals beforehand and pack accordingly.  You can cook really nice meals using just a camping stove.  What we tend to do is make meals beforehand that can be reheated. We’ve pre-cooked things like stews, casseroles, chillis and curries.  If you want convenience then you can take tinned or packet foods. Chilled foods can be kept in your cool box or the campsite may provide a fridge – check beforehand.  You can get coolboxes that are re-chilled via the cigarette lighter in your car. You can usually manage with a bulk standard coolbox for a few days though.  Freeze your milk and anything else that you can before you go so that it will stay chilled for longer.

Accept that your children will be dirty from the moment you arrive!

Whatever your routine is at home, try to forget about baths before bedtime or changing their clothes on a daily basis.  Children will get dirty when you camp, the dirtier they get the more fun they are having so just go with it.  We always take a washing line and pegs with us. If you do get any major disasters you can at least rinse the worst off their clothes and hang on the line to dry.

Go with friends

If you can, arrange to go camping with friends or family.  We recently went on a trip with good friends of ours.  The children all played together and amused each other and we had other ‘grown ups’  to stay up drinking with when the children were asleep.  You can’t beat sitting under a star filled sky with a nice bottle of wine whilst the children sleep a happy, fresh air induced sleep inside the tent.

Can you recommend any family friendly campsites or camping tips?