Wednesday, 2 May 2018

A Traditional British Sea Side Holiday At Ladram Bay

Last week we headed off, buckets and spades in hand, on a good old fashioned British seaside caravan holiday.

Living where we do in Devon, we're pretty spoiled for beautiful beaches and sea air but you know how it is - life tends to get in the way of enjoying these things as often as we'd like to. There's always work to be done, always somewhere to be and so unfortunately we probably don't make the most of where we live as much as we should.

So when we were given the chance to experience a stay at Ladram Bay - one of Devon's largest and best loved holiday parks in an enviable position on the Jurassic Coast - we decided that, despite the fact that it's only located around a 45 minute drive from our house,  it was just what the Doctor ordered. A chance to step back from the stresses of every day life and experience what the thousands of tourists who flock to Devon each year enjoy.

Caravan holidays within the UK bring back a lot of great childhood memories for me - we never went abroad at all when I was a child, instead my parents owned a caravan in North Wales and so most of our holidays would be spend there. And I loved every single one of them. I'm a firm believer in keeping traditions alive, and so although our own family caravan is long gone - I want my boys to experience the same childhood memories that I hold so dear.

When we pulled up at Ladram Bay, the first thing that struck me was how breathtakingly beautiful it's position was. It's based in a little town called Budleigh Salterton and you access it by driving through a picturesque village called Otterton - a postcard image in itself with its thatched roof cottages and babbling stream.

As you drive through the park, the view across the sea is really something to behold. We were fortunate enough to be allocated a caravan that gave us the most spectacular view from the living room window - even the boys thought it was something really special! Particularly on the days we were treated to a rainbow appearing over the water.

A few steps away from our caravan was a gorgeous pebble beach which was reached via a private access ramp from the caravan site - it was so peaceful down there, like a little private cove where you can retreat from the world and just take in all of natures beauty. I could have happily spent hours down there just breathing it all in.

I half expected the boys to declare it "rubbish" as 5 and 3 year olds often do because it wasn't your usual sandy beach that they're more familiar with, but they loved it. They went hunting for unusual shaped stones, tried their hand at using them to "write" on the sandstone cliffs and of course had lots of fun perfecting the art of throwing pebbles into the water. They declared it their Pirate Cove and it became a morning ritual during our stay to visit and do some pebble throwing before carrying on to Ladram Bay's well stocked shop to pick up a delicious Pain Au Chocolat for breakfast.

The shop on site was far from the usual run of the mill convenience store you might expect, instead it was stocked full of all sorts of local delights and treats as well as a huge range of everything you might need on your holiday - foods, fresh veg, baked goods, magazines, beach essentials and much more.

The site is only a 15 minute drive from the town of Exmouth which we visit quite often in the summer and is well worth a day trip during your stay, but we found ourselves with so much to do on site that we didn't have any desire to leave it!

Ladram Bay offers all of the usual things you might expect from a holiday park - an arcade full of video games and 2 penny machines that the boys loved trying their hand at in the evenings, a club which played host to entertainment each evening (I'll talk more about that in a moment!), and a restaurant and takeaway offering some delicious meal options. But it also goes above and beyond, offering things I wouldn't have expected to find at a caravan site.

These include a Dinosaur themed Crazy Golf course that the boys absolutely loved, a rock climbing wall for children aged 4 and over (unfortunately Tyne wasn't feeling brave enough to give this a go but it looked fantastic!), a modern and well equipped gym, and a very decent sized soft play area which the boys adored! I was quite a fan of it too as it meant we could sit with a coffee in peace and quiet, and watch on as the boys played to their hearts content - ideal!

The outdoor play areas were fantastic too - there was a huge wooden pirate ship with rope ladders and slides, a play ground for the younger children, swings and even an assault course which Tyne absolutely loved - all overlooking the gorgeous bay. The onsite pub has an outdoor area overlooking the play parks too, so the grown ups can enjoy a drink while the little ones play.

Ladram Bay also has a swimming pool, which we visited twice during the week - both times we somehow managed to time it so that we had the place completely to ourselves for most of our visit! We've visited a lot of swimming pools in holiday parks over the years but I can honestly say that Ladram Bay's pool was by far the cleanest and best equipped that we've ever been to.

The changing rooms were pristine - I usually have issues with using public changing rooms as it triggers my OCD quite badly but I had no problems here at all, it was immaculate! The pool areas themselves were well looked after too, infact there were staff continually cleaning it out both times we visited and always a lifeguard on duty.

The main pool was a really good size, and there was a lovely hot tub area too (and steam room but we didn't get to use that) but the main appeal was the children's area - this was a really generous size compared to most pools and had plenty to keep the boys interested including a sprinkler feature, a snake which squirted water streams out, a water play feature in the centre of the pool, a baby slide and a really fun two laned water slide which was big enough to be exciting for the boys but not so big that it was too much for them. They absolutely loved their time at the pool, and we were such big fans of it that we've decided it's worth the 45 minute drive to make it our regular swimming destination - it was that good!

Each evening during our holiday, we headed over to the club on site to enjoy the evening entertainment. The boys absolutely LOVED the childrens entertainment which took place from 7pm - there was a character show featuring the sites 3 mascots Ozzie, Scratch and Pickles, and this was usually followed by some games and dancing. All 3 of the boys absolutely loved it all, and they were delighted to get to meet and cuddle the characters after Wednesday evenings show.

My only suggestion would be that it would be great to make Meet & Greets with the characters an option after every show, as the boys got a bit upset the following night when the characters went away straight after their performance. I can understand why Ladram Bay might think one character meeting during each week is enough and think that maybe the children wouldn't want to do it again, but in my experience the boys ALWAYS want to say hello to characters after a show even if they've met them before and I noticed a lot of children in the audience that night who hadn't been at the previous nights show - for the sake of an extra 10 minutes on stage for the characters I think it'd be worth doing the photo ops each night that the characters appear.

After the childrens entertainment finishes, the boys would head off to the kids club where the entertainment team would do something different with them each night - this would be anything from games of Hoy Bingo to little movie sessions with popcorn. The entertainment staff were all really good with the children, and they loved visiting the kids club. It ran each night to cover the Bingo sessions in the club, I played one night and managed to win which is always nice!

The evening entertainment after Bingo would usually be a picture quiz followed by a show performed by the entertainment team - we watched every show for the week we were there and the boys absolutely loved them! The entertainment team were really good at what they do and put so much effort and energy in to each performance, we thought James in particular had a fantastic voice.

As for the food onsite, we ate one evening in the restaurant and had a really enjoyable meal. The kids menu offered great choices for the boys, they all chose Ham with egg and chips and thoroughly enjoyed it. Jon had a Bay Burger and I chose the lasagne, everything was really tasty and the service was quick and friendly too. The restaurant, like everything on the site, was really clean and modern with gorgeous views over the bay - very good value for money too!

Another couple of evenings we got dinner in the on site takeaway, and again everything was really nice - the boys loved the Pizzas!

As for our caravan, it was absolutely ideal for our needs and was so fresh & clean that I had to wonder if it had ever been used before! I'm sure it must have been but it was like a new pin, and the decor was modern and understated. It was a lovely comfortable base for the week and there was so much space for the boys to play - despite their being 5 of us, it never felt crowded at all.

We had such a lovely week together at Ladram Bay - the area was beautiful, there was so much to do every day, and the staff were all so friendly - it was one of those holidays that surprises you. We had expected it to be just "another caravan park" but honestly it wasn't - there was something really special about it.

As we pulled away to make our way home, our 5 year old son sobbed in his car seat, asking "Can we come back here again soon?" Something he's never done before at any holiday we've been on...not even at Disneyland!

And really...that says it all doesn't it?

There's a lot to be said for a good old fashioned British caravan holiday, and few places can do those better than Ladram Bay in my experience.

To take a look at their current offers and enjoy a visit there yourself, head to

*We were given our accomodation, meal vouchers and swimming passes for the week free of charge in return for our honest review. This is not a paid advertorial, and all words and opinions are my own.

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