Skipworth Arms

Skipworth Arms
Market Rasen

01472 851770

Open all year

Current fees - contact site for details

This basic but peaceful little site is literally a hidden gem. About half a mile from the village of Moortown and almost in the middle of nowhere it's tucked away behind a pub, and you wouldn't know it was there unless someone told you about it as there's no sign at the entrance and it can't be seen from the lane; there's no reception so you go into the pub to book in. The level open field is well-draining and separated from the pub by a small car park and a grass bank, and the end nearest the car park is divided by rows of tall conifers, making a separate section for a handful of seasonal caravans. There's also a large fishing lake on one side of the site with access all the way round, making it ideal for those early morning dog walks.

There are several 16amp hook-up posts along the side of the site nearest the lake and plenty of space to pitch elsewhere if you don't need ehu. There are no lights on the site other than one near the car park so you will need a torch or lantern for any night time visits to the loo. The toilet/shower block is situated just off the car park; the doors have keypads so you will need to get the code number when you book in. I can't comment on the mens' side but the ladies side was very clean and heated by a convector heater, and even on a bitterly cold December weekend was certainly warm enough to get washed and changed in comfort. The pub itself serves good-sized portions of home-cooked food at very reasonable prices; the staff are all very friendly and there's often entertainment on at weekends.

There's nothing in Moortown itself, in fact the place is so small you can't even call it a village - hamlet would be a better word - so if you want a shop the nearest place is a couple of miles away at Nettleton where there's a small village store, or Caistor another mile or two further on. If you need to stock up at a supermarket then Market Rasen is just over seven miles south. The North East Lincolnshire coast is about twenty miles away and the resorts of Cleethorpes and Mablethorpe are easy enough to get to. For anyone camping or caravanning in winter a 'must see' is the large grey seal colony at Donna Nook, about halfway between Cleethorpes and Mablethorpe - the seals are there from mid October to the end of December and the babies are absoloutely adorable.

I think the only possible downside to Skipworth Arms for some campers would be the railway line which runs right past the site. Trains are roughly every half hour during the day with one or two goods trains running at night, and though the passenger trains are fairly quiet the goods trains do make quite a rumble, though personally I wasn't disturbed by any of them. Other than that the site is really peaceful and you'll go to sleep to the sound of an owl hooting and wake to birdsong coming from the trees.

So whether you're into trainspotting, star gazing or fishing, or you just want to get away from the rat race for a couple of days, this hidden gem is a great place to do it, and the pub only a few yards away is a great bonus for those who like a pint in the evenings. Would I go back? - most definitely!


Riverside Caravan Site

Riverside Caravan Site
Moorfoot Lane
North Yorks
BD20 8LX

07980 260727

Open all year

Current fees - Log pod £30 per night   Caravans/motorhomes/tents - contact site for details

This Camping & Caravanning Club Certificated Site is situated on the outskirts of the quiet village of Cononley, just off the A629 three miles south of Skipton, and has gorgeous views over the surrounding countryside and hills. There are hard standing pitches for caravans and motorhomes and 30 tent pitches, many with ehu; some of the pitches are separated by low hedges which give the site quite an attractive look. The toilets, showers and washing up sinks are all in a large covered barn, and although basic are always very clean; there's also a freezer for ice blocks and plenty of information leaflets about places and attractions in the surrounding area. Near the main hard standing area is a play area with a sand surface and lots of small scooters and bikes, though it's more suited to the under-8s rather than older children.

There is no site reception but the owner lives nearby; there's a notice outside the barn which includes her phone number so to book in you ring her and she'll come across within a few minutes, or she'll tell you where to pitch then come round for payment later on. The log pod is situated in a quiet corner at the far side of the barn and there are several picnic tables dotted around the site. For those who like fishing there are footpaths from the far end of the site leading to the River Aire.

Cononley village itself is only a couple of minutes walk from the site and is a very pleasant little place with a stream which runs alongside the road. There's a couple of pubs - the Railway and the New Inn which does good meals - a shop-cum-post office and a Chinese takeaway, and for kids of all ages a great play park which includes a zip wire and skateboard ramps. There's also a station with trains into Skipton every fifteen minutes - the journey only takes five minutes and is less than £2 return so far cheaper and easier than driving there and paying to park. As well as the castle Skipton itself has a good outdoor market, plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants, and boat trips along the canal. Bolton Abbey is a 15 to 20 minute drive away from there along the A59 and is well worth a visit - £6 to park but that's for all day and you can use all three car parks, which are in different areas of the estate, as many times as you want.

Riverside is fast becoming one of my favourite sites but there are a few points to mention. Although most of the site is on level ground the large field where the non-ehu tent pitches are is slightly undulating, with ridges and dips along it's length which could make pitching a large tent a bit awkward, though the outer edges of the field are okay. Also the ground doesn't seem to drain easily and the ehu tent pitches, which are all level, get quite waterlogged and boggy in very wet weather; the owner does provide pallet-type boards to put down outside your tent if necessary, but be prepared to get a very wet groundsheet and also to wear wellies. The third point is the railway line - it runs right past the top end of the site and though the daytime passenger trains are fairly quiet the night time goods trains can be quite noisy so may disturb those who are light sleepers. There is also some road noise from the A629 but it's across the fields so is very much in the background so probably won't be noticed after a while.

Niggles aside, Riverside is a nice little site with great views in a lovely area, and as long as you don't expect five star facilities it makes a great place to use as a base for exploring further afield or just for a chill-out weekend.


Honeysuckle Cottage

Honeysuckle Cottage Caravan Park
Old Felton Lane
NE61 5DR

01670 761286

Open January to November

Current fees - Contact site for details

If you're looking for peace and quiet away from the rat race then this little site has it in bucketloads. Situated about a mile off the A1068 it's practically in the middle of nowhere - there's a couple of houses next door and that's it, nothing else except fields for quite a distance. There's no reception but the very friendly and helpful owners, Les and Susan, live in the adjacent bungalow so you just knock on the door - if there's no-one in when you arrive you'll find a note directing you to your pitch and Les or Susan will come across to see you later on. The main part of the site has ehu pitches for caravans and motorhomes round three sides, accessed by a gravel track, and a pleasant grassy area in the centre where you can pitch a tent if you want ehu and/or the site isn't too busy. The caravan pitches over the far side are sheltered by tall trees and beyond the trees is the main tent field - much of this is sloping but you can find some flat areas if you're not too fussy about which way your tent faces.

Just by the site entrance is a small play area with a timber climbing frame, slide and a couple of swings, which will keep younger kids happy for a while. At the top end of the site is a pleasant little enclave of a dozen static caravans and the toilet/shower block is situated in this area. There are currently three single occupancy toilet/shower units which, although fairly basic, are always spotlessly clean - there's always plenty of hand soap and loo roll provided, and the showers are roomy and free. Access is by Yale key - given out when you first book in -  so to avoid the potentially embarrassing situation of another camper walking in on you don't forget to bolt the door while you're in there. Unfortunately there are no pot washing facilities so you will need to do any washing up in your own unit, but the owners have plans for some improvements to the site and this issue is one which will probably be sorted out.

There are a few hens, a cockerel and three turkeys which all roam freely round the site, and though they aren't exactly tame they will come close if you throw some bits of bread out for them. For anyone who likes star gazing this is an ideal place to do it as there is no light pollution at all; there are no lights on the lane and just one by the site entrance, other than that once it goes dark it's really dark. Just across the lane is a large pond which you can walk part way round and it makes a good dog walk, but it's unfenced and deep so any kids need to be supervised. Across the fields is a section of the East Coast main rail line so you do hear some train noise occasionally, but they go past in seconds so it's not enough to be disturbing.

Set back off the A1068 across the road from the lane leading to the site is the Widdrington Inn - it was recommended to me as a great place to eat but to be honest I found it dreadful. The meal I had there must have been the worst one I've ever had anywhere and the service was abysmal. About five miles south of the site is the town of Ashington, which has most of the usual shops and a large Asda for any food, fuel and provisions you might need. A couple of miles up the A1068 going north is Druridge Bay country park which leads onto the beach and is great for dog walking. The car park there is a pay-and-display, but if you go past the signposted lane and take the next lane on the right this leads down to two free parking areas right next to the beach. The little harbour town of Amble is about five miles north of the site and just beyond Amble is Warkworth Castle which is well worth a look round - it costs £3 to park and £4.95 to get in, but your parking fee is refunded when you buy a ticket for the castle. For eating out the Mason's Arms in Warkworth itself gives friendly service and provides very good meals, and if you fancy some city centre shopping then Newcastle is only a forty minute drive south.

l can only think of one minor downside to Honeysuckle Cottage and that's the current lack of dishwashing facilities, other than that it's a nice little site in a very quiet rural area, and it makes a great base for exploring the many towns and villages on or near the Northumberland coast. Would I return? - most definitely!


Manorafon Farm

Manorafon Farm Touring & Camping
Gwrych Park
Llanddulas Road
LL22 8ET

01745 833237

Website : http://www.manorafon.co.uk/
Email : iola@manorafon.co.uk

Open - March 1st - September 30th

Current fees (2014) 

Caravan, motorhome or tent and car, plus two people (two adults or one adult and one child) - Hard standing pitch (including ehu) £17.50 per night low season, £19.50 high season. 

Grass pitch with ehu - £16.00 low season, £18.00 high season. Tents larger than 17sq.m - £20.00 low season, £22.00 high season

Grass pitch with no ehu, £13.00 low season, £15.00 high season. Tents larger than 17sq.m - £18.00 low season, £20.00 high season 

Additional adults £4.00 each per night, additional children £2.50 each per night, awning or pup tent £1.00 per night, gazebo £3.00 per night, additional car on a pitch £1.50 per night.

Discounts - Single occupancy £1.00 per night reduction, hikers and cyclists £1.50 per night reduction, small tent (less than 4.5sq m) £1.50 per night reduction.

This lovely little site, situated in the grounds of Gwrych Castle estate, lies between the countryside and coastline of North Wales just a few minutes walk from the small town of Abergele. There are two single track lanes leading from the main road to the site - the first one goes through the entrance archway to the castle estate, and though there's no problem driving a car through anyone towing a caravan will need to use the other lane about 100yds further along. There's no actual site reception but the owner lives at the house so booking in is done by ringing the front door bell - when I last stayed there (August 2013) none of the pitches were numbered but if you're not sure where to go then the owner or one of her family will come out and show you.

There are 15 hard standing pitches with ehu for caravans/motorhomes, 19 grass pitches with ehu and 26 grass pitches which are non-ehu. Most of the pitches are level and the grass ehu pitches are terraced and very spacious, though many of the non-ehu pitches are on a slope towards the back of the site. The showers and toilets are cleaned regularly and are always spotless and there is a hairdryer provided in the Ladies; there's also a separate disabled toilet and shower at one end of the amenities block and a covered pot washing area at the other end. Other facilities include a coin operated laundry area and a freezer for ice packs, and gas is available from reception.

Next door to the site is a large golf course with the old castle beyond it, and the lane which runs past the site makes an excellent traffic-free dog walk. Although the castle itself is a derelict and dangerous ruin and has been made inaccesible to the public the lane goes right past it and leads to several paths through the woods; if you go straight ahead and far enough there are some caves in the rocky hillside and great views along the coast. The path eventually drops down onto the road which takes you back to the site, which makes for a really good circular walk with or without a dog.

Abergele town centre is less than ten minutes walk from the site; there's a large Tesco which is open till very late and most of the shops, cafes and take-aways you would normally get in a small town, though don't expect to see any of the usual high street fashion shops as there aren't any. There are four pubs, all of which do food, and the A548 to Llanrwst leads off from the main street, about halfway along. A short drive along the main road through the town takes you to Junction 24 of the A55 coast road where there's a Macdonalds and a large farm and pet store which has a good range of pet food and accessories, and you can even take your dogs in with you.

The nearest railway station is right on the coast at Pensarn and the beach there is a very pleasant fifteen minute walk or five minute drive from the site. There are three car parks situated along the promenade, which are all free, an amusement place, kiddies rides, a couple of cafes, takeaway, beach shop and a couple of kiosks, one of which sells fishing bait. That's about it, but it's a pleasant enough little place and when the tide goes out it leaves several wide pools on the beach which are great for paddling in. If you want to explore further afield then Manorafon is ideally situated for the Welsh Mountain Zoo, Colwyn Bay and Llandudno to the south and Rhyl to the north - if you want to leave the car on site then the No. 12 bus, which goes in either direction, stops on the main road just by the lane to the site.

The best bit about Manorafon just has to be the animals; there are pigs, chickens which often roam about freely, ducks, rabbits, adorable pygmy goats and even a couple of wallabies, and there's a path which runs beween the enclosures so you can see them close up - kids will love that part of the site. I can only think of one real niggle and that's the showers - they are on a push button and although they are hot they don't stay on for long so you have to keep pushing the button, which can make hair washing etc a bit of a trial. Other than that Manorafon is a great little site with reasonable prices, and well situated for visiting other places in North Wales.


Major Bridge Park

Major Bridge Park Certificated Site
Selby Road
Holme-on-Spalding Moor
East Yorkshire
YO43 4HB

01430 860992

Open - March to October

Current fees - Contact site for details

This quiet and quirky site is situated just off the A163 about two miles from the village of Holme-on-Spalding Moor. When you turn into the entrance you would be forgiven for thinking you'd got the wrong place, as with the two very large corrugated workshops and various vehicles dotted about it looks more like an old bus depot, but drive down by the side of the workshops and you'll find the site behind. And what a gem of a place it is!

The main part of the site consists of a large level field surrounded on three sides by tall trees; on the left is a group of large greenhouses and a couple of polytunnels, and anyone wanting an ehu pitch will be sited somewhere in that vicinity as that's where all the power is supplied from, though if you have a very long hook-up cable you'll be able to pitch a bit further out into the field. If you don't want power then you can pitch where you want - most campers seem to settle round the edge of the field leaving plenty of room for kids to run about. At the very end of the site there's a path leading to a bridge over a brook with another field on the other side - if you want to be really secluded you can pitch there if you wish but you can't get a car over there so you'll have a long walk back to the toilet block.

The toilet block itself is a little dated, but though the facilities are basic they are very clean, with three cubicles in the ladies and two in the men's, plus disabled facilities and one large shower room which is free but has an honesty bowl for a £1 donation. There are two drinking water taps on the wall outside the shower room and the cdp is round near the men's toilet; there's a second drinking water tap down at the far end of the field. The owners/wardens are very friendly and helpful and are always on hand if there's a problem; they do allow camp fires in fire pits but they have a restriction on which part of the site you can use them, so if you want a fire it's best to check with them when you arrive as it may affect your choice of where you want to pitch.

This is a great site for dog owners and cyclists as the Howdenshire Rail Trail footpath runs behind the site and goes for miles both east and west, so it's ideal for dog walking or a gentle cycle ride. Anyone with a liking for vintage vehicles would probably be interested in the old cars and tractors stored in the various barns and outbuildings on the site, and which are in various stages of restoration ranging from completely unrestored to fully restored and running.

The nearby village has a general store, post office, bakery, butcher's, take-aways and pubs, and four miles away the larger village of Market Weighton has some nice little shops and a Tesco supermarket. About twenty minutes drive away is the village of Melbourne where on Sundays you can have a short trip on a narrowboat on the Pocklington canal. These are run by members of the Pocklington Canal Society, and while the trips are technically free they do appreciate a donation towards the upkeep and running of the boat.

There are just a couple of minor niggles which stop Major Bridge Park from being totally perfect; firstly there are no washing up facilities so you will need to do your pots in your unit, which could be a challenge for a large family, and secondly there are no waste bins so you will need bags to take your rubbish with you when you leave - another challenge if you stay for more than a couple of days.

One thing to note which could be a problem for some people - the site is adjacent to fields of high value crops and during the early growing season there's a bird scarer in operation. This starts soon after first light and lets out an almighty bang every hour for several hours, so if you don't like being wakened early or you have children who are easily scared then this site may not be for you, although if you pitch on the side where the greenhouses are it may not trouble you too much. I heard it once on my first morning then went straight back to sleep again!

If you want to chill out in peace and quiet (apart from the bird scarer!) then this site has it in shed loads, and at only £8 per night or £9 with ehu (May 2011) it's certainly value-for-money, though if you have kids who need entertaining then it may just be a little too quiet!


Centenary Way

Centenary Way Camping & Caravan Park
Muston Grange
Muston Road
North Yorkshire
YO14 0HU 

01723 516415

Open - March to October

Current fees - Contact site for details

This delightfully peaceful family owned site is set on the outskirts of Filey just a 15-minute walk from the town and the beach, and caters for caravans, motorhomes and tents. Access is off the A1039 down a private un-named lane which takes you right into the site, and the reception/shop is just by the entrance. The site itself is level, very well kept and well set out, with decent-sized pitches separated into different areas by 'islands' of bushes, shrubs and small trees. Most of the pitches are gravel hardstanding (even for tents, so take a footprint groundsheet) and the majority have hookups, though down at the bottom end of the site is a separate small non-electric camping field. This is surrounded by trees and looks out over open fields, so should certainly be very quiet.

The small shop within reception really only sells the basics, but for anything more there's a Tesco just a few minutes drive away in town. The toilet block is in the centre of the site, and although the toilets and showers couldn’t be described as 'luxurious' they are spotlessly clean and well maintained. The addition of piped music and a small plant on the shelf above the wash basins just gives a little added extra. Handsoap is provided in dispensers above the wash basins, and showers are coin-operated, 50p for about 10 minutes, though you need to be aware that the water can get quite hot and there is no way of regulating the temperature. Also in the toilet block is the laundry room with a washing machine, dryer, and a free-to-use freezer for ice blocks. Round one end of the block are the waste water, chemical disposal point and waste bins, and round the other end is a covered washing up area, with 5 sinks complete with washing up bowls and dish drainers.

There's a children's play area on the far side of the site which has swings, a slide, climbing frame and a roundabout, enough to keep younger kids happy for a while; at the bottom end of the play area, and adjacent to the camping field, is a good-sized playing field with plenty of room for more than one game of football. Between the play area and the main body of the site is the dog walk - it’s not a very long dog walk, but there are three different paths winding between the bushes so it should keep most dogs happy. And if you want to take your dog for a longer walk, then just by the site entrance is a path which leads past the golf course in the direction of the beach. A very pleasant 10 minute walk will take you to Glen Gardens, and following the path down the wooded ravine will take you down to the beach. 

Filey itself is a nice little town - the beach is lovely, and there’s a nice promenade with gift shops, cafes, a paddling pool, crazy golf, amusements, and a slipway called Coble Landing where all the brightly coloured fishing boats are kept. A walk through Glen Gardens and Crescent Gardens will bring you to the town which, although not a big place, provides all the shops, pubs and eateries you need. On the cliff top at the far side of the town is a country park where you can park your car and walk right out along the top of the headland. This area is very popular with dog walkers and bird watchers, and at the end of the headland is The Brigg, a rocky outcrop which is a very popular place for fishing. You do have to watch the tide if you go out there though, or you could find yourself stranded - the local lifeboat goes out on average twice a week to rescue people who have got stuck when the tide comes in. At the bottom end of the country park, near to the entrance, is a small cafe which does light meals and snacks, and a good mug of milky coffee.

For days out away from the site then Scarborough, with its castle, Peasholm Park, great beaches and many cafes and amusements, is just 7 miles to the north while Bridlington, with its harbour and large promenade funfair, is 10 miles to the south. About eight miles north of Scarborough is the lovely town of Whitby with its abbey overlooking the harbour, and between Scarborough and Whitby is the picturesque little fishing village of Robin Hood's Bay. A half-hour drive inland from Centenary Way will take you to Heartbeat country and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

It would be very hard to make any criticisms about Centenary Way as it’s such a lovely place in a lovely area, but there is one point - there is no lighting on the site and once it goes dark it is really dark, so you will need a torch for any night time trips to the toilet block. Apart from that this is a great site - I've stayed there twice so far and would have no hesitation in returning again and again.


Eskdale C & CC Site

Eskdale Camping & Caravanning Club Site
CA19 1TH

01946 723253

Website - www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk

Open - March to January

Current fees - See website for details

There's really only one word to describe this site and its location - fantastic! Well, probably several words, but all in the same vein. Situated on a narrow country lane just outside the tiny village of Boot in a fairly remote part of the western Lake District it's surrounded by gorgeous scenery, and the area is a walker's paradise. There are two ways to get to it - if you're a confident and competant driver then you can take the route from Ambleside at the top of Lake Windermere, which takes you over Wrynose Pass and Hardknott Pass but certainly isn't for the faint-hearted. Only suitable for light vehicles it's a single track road with many hairpin bends and sharp drops - better than a roller coaster ride! - and with a gradient of 1 in 3 is one of the steepest roads in England. Or you can go 'the long way round' via the A roads, which is actually quite a pleasant drive, though it seems to take an age to get there. A word of advice here - don't rely on your satnav as it will direct you over the pass; if you don't want to risk it then use a map book instead.

The site itself is ideally placed for getting to Wasdale and Scafell Pike, and is owned and run by Martyn and his wife Sarah, a very friendly and helpful couple to which nothing seems too much trouble. It's mainly level, with the access road running from the entrance right up to reception and the facilities block. The grass pitches on either side of the road have hook-up points and are backed by tall trees; behind the trees on the right a small stream runs through the site and tent campers not needing electric can camp on the far side of it. Unfortunately, in times of very wet weather some of the pitches can become a bit waterlogged, though Martyn and his staff will do their best to find you an alternative. The site also has ten camping pods and just past the facilities block is a large fully equipped camping barn and a nice warm drying room for wet outdoor clothes and boots; there's also another camping area, a hard standing area for motorhomes and a children's play area. Within the facilities block there's indoor and outdoor washing up sinks, a laundry room, chemical disposal point and the showers and toilets, which are kept spotlessly clean all the time. Reception is within the licensed shop, which has a fairly good selection of basic provisions and leaflets and maps of the surrounding area, and there are several good walks right from the site.

Boot village is just a few minutes walk from the site down a footpath near the entrance, and consists of a couple of dozen cottages, a couple of pubs and a working water mill with a 'step back in time' shop which is well worth a visit. The Boot Inn has a very friendly landlord and serves real ales and great food at reasonable prices. It also has a beer garden with a very good children's play area, and dogs are welcome both inside and outside the pub. About five minutes walk along the lane from the site entrance is another pub which also does meals, and a quarter of a mile away is Dalegarth Station and the Ravenglass & Eskdale miniature steam railway. There's a lovely cafe and gift shop on the station platform and the seven mile ride from there to Ravenglass is very scenic. There's nothing much at Ravenglass itself, it's just a small coastal village on the main West Coast rail line, but there's a good pub/restaurant near the station - the Ratty Arms - and on a sunny day the return train ride is well worth doing.

Because of the very narrow and winding country lanes the site doesn't take caravans or larger motorhomes, and with the area being so remote there's no tv signal, no WiFi internet and no mobile phone signal. Perfect if you really want to get away from it all but not for anyone who can't live without various gadgets. There's a payphone near reception though if you really do need to keep in touch with someone. Also it's advisable to take as much food with you as you can or stock up on the way there, as there's no shop in the village and it's a very long drive to get to a decent one. Leaving aside those few minor niggles this is a fabulous site in a fabulous area with scenery to die for - if you've never been to that area of the Lake District before then try it, I don't think you'll be disappointed.


Station Camp Site

Station Camp Site
LL21 9BD

01490 430347

Website - http://www.stationcampsite.com/index.html
Email - enquiries@stationcampsite.com

Open all year

Current fees (2014)  
Caravans, motorhomes & trailer tents - £12.00 per unit per night   2-person tent - £10.00 (£12.00 bank holidays)  4-person tent - £12.00  Larger tents - £16.00  Awnings, gazebos & annexes - £2.00  Large free-standing awnings - £12.00  Electric hook-up - £3.00  Dogs - 1st dog free, extra dogs £1.00 each  Extra cars - £1.00 each  Winter storage - £1.00 per day

This quiet rural site with lovely views is part of a working sheep farm and is set close to the River Dee just off the A5 seven miles west of Llangollen. When I first camped there in 2002 it was little more than a small well-mown field with just half a dozen hook-up points for caravans and an 'overspill' field across the lane for when it got busy; tent campers could pitch where they wanted and if you didn't get there early enough you'd find that all the best spots were taken. There was no need to book, you just turned up, picked your spot and pitched your tent and the owner would eventually come round and collect your money.

Now though it's totally different - over the last few years there have been gradual changes and there's a proper booking system in place with the site being open all year round. The main part of the site now has a small office/reception where you can get milk and canned drinks and there are 20 hard standing pitches and well over 20 hook-ups. A gravel road runs all the way round which makes access to the perimeter pitches really easy and there's a large grassy area in the centre for campers not wanting a hook-up. Beyond the main area is a smaller field with eight hook-up points on two posts, and tent campers can also pitch in the large field across the lane, which has Portacabin toilets and is often used for events and rallies.The toilets and disabled facilites on the main part of the site are basic but very clean and are located in the barn, and new from Easter 2014 are four wet room-type showers which are free. Also in the barn is a washing up sink with hot water, and just outside is another washing up sink and the fresh water tap.

This site is ideally placed for anyone with a liking for steam locomotives as it's right at the end of the Llangollen Steam Railway line - the station is directly across the lane from the site, with trains running several times a day, and the engines turn round right at the back of the main camping field. On the station platform there's a nice little cafe, and a couple of old railway carriages serve as book/gift shops selling all sorts of stuff which is railway-related. Several times a year, usually during school holidays, there are Thomas the Tank Engine events which both small and not-so-small kids will really enjoy.

Down the lane from the site entrance is the River Dee and across the nearby stone bridge you'll find The Grouse Inn, a nice little pub which does good meals. The inside eating area isn't very big and gets packed at weekends, such is the popularity of the place, but there's a large outdoor dining terrace built up above the lane and with great views over the nearby hills. A couple of miles west of the site the A5 runs through Corwen, a nice little village with shops, pubs and take-aways, and about a mile beyond the village, set back off the road, is the Rhug organic farm shop, with a deli, burger bar, restaurant and childrens play area. A large steam and vintage show is held in the fields there on the middle weekend in September and is well worth a visit. A drive further along the A5 will take you in the direction of Bala, with its lovely lake, and Betws-y-Coed with its shops, cafes, and well-known Swallow Falls.

Llangollen to the east of the camp site has a good selection of shops, cafes and pubs, and just beyond the town centre is the canal where you can have a ride on a horse-drawn narrowboat. The ruins of Castell Dinas Bran (Crow Castle) stand on top of a hill above the town - it's a steep walk up the hill to get there but on a clear day the views from the top are worth the climb. About three miles east of the town is the Pontcysyllte aquaduct which takes the canal over the Dee valley - well worth walking across as the views are great, but not for the faint-hearted as it's 126ft high.

With fantastic views, the dawn chorus coming from the trees, and the sound of sheep bleating in the nearby fields, Station Camp Site is a lovely little place in a lovely location, so whether you want to spend a few days exploring the area or a weekend relaxing this is definitely a great place to do it.

Footnote - As I have no photos of my own for this site (it was raining when I was last there) I've borrowed these from the camp site website until such time as I can go back there and take some of my own. So thanks and credit must go to David and Judith Blair, owners of Station Camp Site.


Turnover Hall Farm

Turnover Hall Farm Certificated Location
Rawcliffe Road
St. Michaels-on-Wyre

01995 679275

Open all year

Current fees - Contact site for details

I used this quiet little Caravan Club CL as a base while attending a towing course at a nearby agricultural college in September 2010; it was my first experience of staying on a CL and apart from a couple of minor niggles it's a nice little site. I arrived at 10am on a Friday morning to find that reception was closed and there was no-one around - after spending several minutes wandering round the nearby farm buildings I finally found a farm worker who said he had no idea who was booked in but he would come across and show me where to pitch and I could pay my site fees the following day. It took several minutes for him to find me a hook-up post though as they are situated underneath the surrounding trees and the conifers were so thick the posts were totally obscured. My second niggle was the reception opening hours - Saturday only from 10am to 4pm, which under normal circumstances would have been no problem but was no use to me then, as I had to leave the site by 8.30am and wouldn't return until after 5pm. Luckily someone I knew was also staying on the site and he offered to take my site fees to reception for me, but had that not been the case I could have found myself in a slightly awkward situation.

Niggles aside, the site itself is in a lovely countryside location near the River Wyre on the outskirts of St. Michaels village, and is actually part of a much larger site which seemed to be mainly seasonal pitches and storage, and was undergoing further development. Accessed down a short private lane the CL is spacious and level, and being mainly surrounded by trees it felt very secluded. There's a large wooden farm gate at the entrance which must be kept closed at all times. The water tap and waste bins are just off the site at the end nearest to the main site - unfortunately a bit of a walk if you're pitched at the opposite end - and the spotlessly clean showers and toilets are in a newly built block on the main site itself, again a bit of a walk for some. Across the lane from the site is the high river bank which makes an ideal dog walk - walking along the lane itself isn't to be recommended as it's only wide enough for two cars to pass and there's no pavement.

With Blackpool and Fleetwood on the doorstep and Lancaster, the Lake District and the Trough of Bowland all within easy reach this little site makes a good base for exploring the surrounding areas. Maybe by now the main site has been fully developed and reception has better opening hours, and hopefully the conifers have been trimmed back to allow better access to the hook-up posts - I certainly wouldn't let the couple of minor niggles put me off, and I'll probably return for another weekend in the not-too-distant future.


Wyton Lakes

Wyton Lakes Holiday Park
Banks End
PE28 2AA

01480 412715

Website - www.wytonlakes.com
Email - loupeter@supanet.com

Open - April 1st to October 19th (2014)

Current fees - Caravans & motorhomes including 2 occupants - £19.00 per night
Tent and 2 people - £16.00  Awnings/gazebos/pup tents - £2.00 each per night  Dogs - £1.00 each  Extra car - £2.00  Extra person (over 18 only) - £2.00  Visitors car with occupants - £5.00 per day

You don't have to be a fisherman (or woman) to enjoy the calm and tranquil surroundings of this lovely adults-only fishing site near Huntingdon - if you're looking for peace and quiet then Wyton Lakes has it in bucket loads. Situated three miles from Huntingdon on the A1123 the site is set in over 12 acres of private land, with three fishing lakes, a good dog walk right round the perimeter, and a 200 metre frontage along the Great Ouse river where you can fish or just sit and watch the world go by at a very slow pace. The owners, Louise and Peter, are extremely friendly and helpful and you'll very often see one or the other riding round the site on a bike.

Reception is about 20yds from the entrance and next door to it is the toilet and shower block - this incorporates disabled facilities, has free hot showers and hairdryers, and is spotlessly clean at all times. At the end of the block is a chemical disposal point and an indoor dishwashing area where there's a library of books and magazines to borrow, a good selection of tourist information leaflets and a free-to-use freezer for your ice blocks. Calor gas is also stocked and can be purchased during reception opening hours, and Sunday papers can be pre-ordered when you book in. Well behaved dogs are welcomed, though as with all sites they must be kept on a lead; unfortunately though, certain breeds of dog aren't accepted. And for those who can't bear to be parted from a computer the site has WiFi internet supplied by Caravan Connect.

The caravan and motorhome pitches are set in four very pleasant areas - Bankside, Lakeside, Waterside and Woodside - are mainly hard standing and all have fresh water taps and hook-up points. The Bankside, Lakeside and Waterside pitches are, as their names suggest, right beside the lakes so you can fish next to your own unit - just don't have too many beers at night or you'll roll out of bed and straight into the water the following morning! There's also a good-sized grass camping area for tents with one section being close to one of the lakes. For those who like wildlife there are ducks and waterhens on the lakes and families of rabbits can often be seen scampering about in the grass.

The fishing lakes are well stocked with carp, bream, tench, perch, roach and rudd, and there is no closed season when the site is open. Fishing is from 7.30am until dusk and costs £5.00 per day for residents, on either the lakes or the river bank, or you can get a 7-day ticket for £30.00; residents' visitors can fish by arrangement from 8.30am at a cost of £8.00 per day. Now as I've no interest at all in sitting for hours on end dangling maggots on the end of a line I couldn't say whether the fishing is good or bad, but the many photos on the wall in reception suggest that there's some big fish to be had.

Directly across the road from the site is a large garden centre which sells everything from fresh bread to wellies; it's well worth a look round but if you go in the coffee shop be warned - it's expensive! Next door to the site on one side is Hartford Marina where there's a nice pub/restaurant which does good food at reasonable prices, but if you don't fancy staying in one place for your meal you can book a trip on The Captain's Table, a narrowboat which cruises up and down the river while you dine. Almost next door to the site on the other side, and down a long farm track, is Daylock Marine, a small private boatyard with a lovely little riverside cafe which does a very good all-day breakfast and a decent Sunday lunch.

The National Trust property of Houghton Mill is only about a mile away from the site and on certain days you can watch milling demonstrations there. On the far side of the mill is a lovely riverside area where you can sit and watch the boats going through the adjacent locks. The lovely riverside town of St. Ives is three miles away and is well worth a visit, especially on bank holidays when there's a huge open market on. About a mile up the road from the site, going towards Huntingdon, there's a big Tesco supermarket and petrol station, and on the outskirts of the town centre you'll find a big riverside car park and Purvis Marine, where you can hire a boat by the hour or the day for a leisurely cruise along the river. Crossing the nearby bridge will take you into Godmanchester where there's a lovely riverside park, and a couple of miles from there is Wood Green Animal Shelter. It's a lovely place and for animal lovers it's definitely well worth a visit - just try not fall in love with everything you see!

I think there may only be one minor downside to the Wyton Lakes site for some people and that's the traffic noise from the main road running past the entrance. Anyone on a pitch nearest the gates would no doubt notice it but when you get further into the site the noise fades to a distant hum and it isn't enough to be disturbing - in fact after a while the tranquility of the site takes over and you cease to hear it. All in all this peaceful and relaxing site is an absolute gem, and if you don't have kids it's a great place to unwind and recharge your batteries.


Golden Sunset Camping Fields

Golden Sunset Caravan Park
North Wales
LL74 8SW

08445 040 430

Website - http://www.goldensunsetholidays.com/

Open - March to September

Current fees per unit per night -

Caravans & motorhomes + 2 adults & 2 children - £24.00 
Awnings - £2.00  Extra persons - £5.00 each
Tents - Adults £8.00  Children aged 6-14 - £5.00 (under 6 free)
Extra cars - £2.00  Boats/jet skis - £4.00 

Situated just off the A5025 main road through Benllech village this is an extensive site with fields split into large open camping areas and smaller more sheltered enclosures. Access to and from the site is through electronically controlled barriers - reception is just by the entrance and when you book in you'll be given a swipe card which will last until noon on the day you leave. If reception is closed when you arrive then you'll find the warden in the static caravan next door. Certain areas of the site are set aside for caravans and others are for tents only, and certain areas have pre-payment hook-up points though if you don't need this facility you can pitch where you want, so it's ideal if you have a large tent. There's a designated family field and also separate rally fields with their own facilities, and many of the areas have stunning coastal views. The main toilet and shower block, which also has laundry facilites and chemical disposal point, is in the family field and there's a recently refurbished block also with cdp on the main part of the site; portaloo-type chemical toilets are situated in the fields furthest away and there are water taps dotted about the site. 

Benllech village is only a few minutes walk from the site and has shops, take-aways, cafes/restaurants, three small supermarkets and three pubs which all do meals. Just along the road from the site is an enclosed childrens play area and a very pleasant bowling green. The lovely beach is only a couple of minutes drive away or a very pleasant 10-15 minute walk, either through the static caravan site next door (which is actually the 'sister' site to this one) or along the path from the bottom end of the site and round the cliff. There's a small grassy picnic area set back off the promenade, a large pay-and display car park, a fast food diner and gift shop, and a couple of small licensed restaurants, one with a very pleasant seating area built out over the rocks. Dogs are banned from the main beach area from the the beginning of May to the end of September but once you get away from there your best friend will have a great walk along the sand. Watch out for the beach warden though - you have to walk across the top end of the main beach area with your dog on the lead to get to where you can let him/her run free and if you stray from the 'designated route' the warden will pull you up if he's seen you! Go there early in the morning though or after 6pm and he isn't around - if the tide's out it's a lovely walk along the water's edge. 

Now to the good and not-so-good bits about the site, starting with the not-so-good. Much of the site is sloping to varying degrees and angles with the main part being the steepest so if you have a caravan or motorhome you'll need to use levellers - there are some flat parts on the site though, but  you'll need to drive/walk round to find them. Because there are no designated pitches you can't book in advance, you just turn up and book in when you get there, but the site is so extensive that unless it's August bank holiday you would be very unlucky not to find a space. To be honest, August bank holiday is busy to the point of being manic, the site does get crowded and some parts can be noisy - the headland field to the right of the entrance tends to attract groups of party-goers and late night noise-makers so it's best avoided if that's not your thing. Other parts of the site can be much quieter though - I stayed over the August 2011 bank holiday and was pleasantly surprised to find that the small field where I pitched was fairly quiet. 

Back on the subject of hook-ups, these can't be booked in advance; there are a limited number and it's a case of first-come-first-served and pitch where there's one available, so if you want one it's advisable to arrive early if you can. There's a £10 refundable deposit for the pre-payment card which must be returned to the warden before noon on departure day, otherwise you won't get your deposit back. 

On the plus side this site is in a good location with the village being only a few minutes walk away and the lovely beach not much further, and it makes a great base for exploring round the rest of the island. Because there are no designated pitches it means that if you have an odd-shaped tent or something the size of a ballroom you can use as much space as you need without fear of encroaching on someone else's pitch. Personally though I think the best thing just has to be the fantastic views - you can see past Benllech beach to Red Wharf Bay, Pentraeth beach and beyond, with Puffin Island, Great Orme at Llandudno, and Snowdonia in the distance. Admittedly this site is nowhere near 'posh', in fact it's only just about two steps up from basic, but if you can avoid the long school holidays and don't expect five star facilities then it's certainly worth a visit - I camp there several times a year so it can't be that bad!


Drewery Caravan Park

Drewery Caravan Park
California Road
Great Yarmouth
NR29 3QW

01943 730845

Open - March to October

Current fees - contact site for details

I've been camping at this site at least once a year since 1998, and although it's not exactly 5-star I think it's a great site in a great location, and personally I wouldn't stay anywhere else. It has three sections - static caravans, a touring field for caravans and motorhomes and a large tent field where motorhomes and campervans are also allowed to pitch. The statics are all privately owned and can be booked direct with the owners (a list of owners is available from reception) and these are nearest to the site entrance; the touring field is beyond the statics, sheltered on one side by tall trees and all the pitches have hook-up points. The camping field is on the cliff top with a limited number of designated pitches having a hook-up point - if you don't want or need a hook-up then you can basically just pitch wherever you want. It can get very windy though so take plenty of tent pegs! Steps at one end of the field take you to the path leading down onto the beach which is spitting distance away, and at the other end of the field is a long area of heath ideal for dog walking - one of my favourite early morning walks is through the heath to the end and back up the beach.

At the site entrance is a small amusement arcade and a shop which sells swimwear and beach stuff, gifts, and most things in the way of food and household stuff. Directly across from the entrance is the California Tavern, a very nice pub/restaurant which does lovely meals at reasonable prices, and almost next door to it there's a take-away with indoor seating. On the site itself is the Beachcomber Bar, a small licensed clubhouse which now serves breakfasts and has evening entertainment on at the weekends. Children and dogs are allowed in but only up to 9pm. The main toilet and shower block, which includes disabled facilities, is just across from reception, and although it's a bit dated the facilities are always very clean. The showers are hot (and free) and there are hairdryer and shaver points. Also in the same block is the laundry room with a coin-operated washing machine and dryer, iron and ironing board, a couple of deep sinks for clothes and another for pot washing - and the hot water really is hot. There's a smaller toilet block with a chemical disposal point adjacent to the tent field and another toilet/shower block and cdp in the touring area.

Site reception is open during Easter and May bank holidays then daily from the end of May to the end of September - if you have a problem and reception is closed then you only need to knock at the nearby bungalow as that's where the owner lives. He's always very pleasant and helpful and will go out of his way to deal with any problems. Calor Gas and Camping Gaz are available from reception, also various items of camping equipment, postage stamps and mobile phone top-ups. There's also a large range of information leaflets available and you can buy tickets for various Norfolk attractions for a price a bit lower than the normal admission charges.

A short walk down the lane is a chalet site with a swimming pool open to residents of other sites in the area and with a nice cafe adjacent to it. A couple of minutes drive takes you to Scratby post office and general store, the mini-market part is open until midnight so ideal if you find you've run out of milk for your bedtime brew. There's also a good garden centre there and an antique clock place housed in a separate cottage. Just over a mile to the north is Hemsby with its many gift shops, cafes and amusement arcades and a market held each Sunday and Tuesday, and if you fancy leaving your car on site it's a lovely walk along the beach to Hemsby Gap. Great Yarmouth with all its shops and promenade attractions is about five miles south, and seven miles inland is the village of Potter Heigham, one of the boating centres of the Broads. The big Latham's store there is one of those places which seems to sell everything and if you don't want anything when you go in you'll more than likely come out with something - there's also a nice in-store cafe which does the most divine cream-filled Belgian buns.

To me there's only one slight niggle about the camp site itself and that's the tv reception - it's very poor on the touring area and you'll need a reasonably tall aerial to get a picture. That could be because of the tall trees along one side, as I've previously found that reception on the camping field has been ok. Other than that, as long as you don't expect all the bells and whistles it's a good site in a lovely area, and very well placed for getting to the Broads and other Norfolk attractions.


Wyreside Farm Park

Wyreside Farm Park
Allotment Lane
St. Michaels-on-Wyre

01995 679797

Website - http://www.riverparks.co.uk/

Open - March to October

Current fees - Contact site for details

For anyone looking for peace and quiet this site is a little gem. At the end of a private lane off the main road through the village it's hard to believe that you're so close to civilisation, it really is so quiet. Open from March to October it's owned and run by Penny, a very friendly and helpful lady who tends to the fields, the animals and the site on her own. Go early in the season and you'll see delightful lambs in the fields by the entrance gate, and several free range hens roam about the site most of the time - you can buy fresh eggs from the farmhouse, I got some and they were much nicer than supermarket ones. There's also plenty of rabbits hopping about, and you'll wake each morning to the dawn chorus from the surrounding trees.

Access to the site is through an electronic gate with a walk-through gateway at the side - you have to park up just outside first and book in at the farmhouse where Penny will give you the code number for the gate. The first part of the site is a very pleasant area of a dozen static mobile homes and the large flat touring field is beyond - there are ten hook-up points round the perimiter of the field but no marked out pitches, you basically pitch near a convenient hook-up point. Ball games aren't allowed on the field itself but there's another enclosed field at the end of the site with plenty of space for kids to play. There are water taps, waste bins and recycling bins on the field and the chemical disposal point uses collected rainwater for flushing. Unfortunately there's no washing up area so you'll need to have your own washing up bowl and boil some water to do your pots, throwing the 'grey waste' into the hedge. The toilet and shower block is near the entrance gate, is always kept spotlessly clean and has loads of information leaflets about the surrounding areas. The only downside is that there's only one toilet for women and one for men, with the shower being in the same room, so if someone is having a shower you'll have to wait to use the loo - it may well be advisable to take your own portable loo if you have one.

Near the entrance gate is a footpath leading to a tarmac path through a wooded area on the banks of the River Wyre - turning right takes you down to the main road, left takes you over a stile and into open fields with a very pleasant walk along the high river bank, and with no livestock around it's great for dog walking. There's also a fabulous view right across to the hills and lower reaches of the Trough of Bowland. For a drink and a meal The Grapes pub is on the main road just a couple of minutes walk from the end of the lane or there's a path through the field by the site entrance which takes you straight to the back of the pub - not far to stagger back to your unit at the end of the evening but you'll need a torch. There's also a bistro-type place - The Weird Fish - set back off the main road about five minutes walk away.

There's nothing much in the village itself but Garstang is only a 10-minute drive away along the main road and Blackpool about 25 minutes in the other direction. A drive through the country lanes will take you to Knott End - there's nothing there either but there's a nice cafe at the end of the promenade where the ferry comes across the river estuary from Fleetwood. For anyone who likes car boot sales there's a big one held from the beginning of May to the end of September in a field about five minutes drive away - turn left out of the site lane, along the main road to the mini roundabout, turn left again and follow the lane round and it's on the right just after the sharp left hand bend. And if thick black smoke and lots of noise is your thing then Great Eccleston, a few minutes drive along the road, holds a tractor pulling event as part of the annual show in July, with a full programme of tractor pulling over the August bank holiday weekend.

This lovely little site must be one of the quietest I've ever stayed on - ignoring the lack of washing up sinks and the minor niggle of the loos/showers, neither of which affected me as I have my own facilities anyway, it deserves top marks for being the perfect place to relax and unwind. Just two things to note though - firstly the site is very poorly signposted, there's just one small wooden sign at the entrance to the lane and you can only see it when travelling from the Blackpool direction. This isn't the site owner's fault, she wants a proper sign but the local council won't let her have one! Also if you're using a satnav to get you there put in the name of the lane - if you put in the postcode you'll end up in a housing estate!


Bridge House Marina Caravan Park

Bridge House Marina & Caravan Park                        
Nateby Crossing Lane                                                       
01995 603207

Website: http://www.bridgehousemarina.co.uk/

Open - March 1st to January 4th

Current fees per unit per night (2014)

March to November - Caravans, motorhomes & trailer tents + 2 persons - £21.75 (includes electric hook-up)  Awnings - Free  Dogs - Free  Extra adult - £3.00  

November to January 4th 2013 - Caravans, motorhomes & trailer tents + 2 persons - £17.50 (includes ehu)  Awnings, dogs and extra adults as above

Bank holiday tariff - £23.50 all units

Storage per night (unit left on pitch) - £4.00

Seasonal pitch - £1725.14  Subject to availability and excluding ehu

This peaceful well-kept site lies adjacent to the Lancaster Canal in a countryside setting just off the A6 on the outskirts of the small market town of Garstang. It's divided into three sections; touring, static and seasonal, and access to the main part of the site is through a fob-operated barrier - fobs are obtained from reception for a £10 refundable deposit. The touring area is very well laid out and has 50 good-sized hard standing pitches - the ones round the edge of the site are backed by trees and all the pitches have hook-up points. The toilet and shower block is heated and spotlessly clean, with shaving points in the men's side - there's also a pot washing room with two sinks and very hot water, and a laundry room with a sink, iron and ironing board, and a large washing machine and tumble dryer. At the bottom end of the site there's a grassy play area with plenty of space for kids to run around and kick a ball about. For anyone who likes wildlife there are dozens of rabbits which roam around the site day and night - you'll sometimes find them sitting under your caravan - and several families of ducks which also wander about. Although not tame they'll often come to your pitch looking for food and will take bread from your fingers.

The very pleasant static area is accessed through the touring area, though all the holiday homes are privately owned and they aren't hired out. There are several different styles there, most with surrounding decking, and if you're lucky enough to have a substantial lottery win and want to buy your own the site staff can arrange it all, from finance to delivery and siting on an available pitch. The seasonal area is just a short walk from the main site across the far side of the marina, has its own toilet block and backs onto the canal. Caravans are accepted subject to age and condition, but as it's a very popular site there's a long waiting list for pitches.

Site reception is housed within the shop which mainly sells boating equipment and accessories, though it does also stock basic provisions. The site has been owned and run by the same family for many years and they are all very friendly and helpful. Day boats can be hired for a leisurely cruise along the canal and you'll be given advice and instruction before being let loose on the water. For anyone who likes fishing it isn't allowed in the marina itself but it's fine along the canal towpath, though you have to go a hundred yards down the lane and over the bridge to get to it as it's on the far side. If you like leisurely cycling then a ride along the towpath in either direction takes you through some lovely countryside.

Just along the lane from the site entrance there's a small baker's shop which sells very nice home made pies, sandwiches and cakes (no good for the waistline!) and on the corner by the main road is the Bellflower pub/restaurant, so you can go for a meal and a drink without using your car. Garstang itself is less than 5 minutes away by car or a very pleasant 15 minute walk along the canal. There's a variety of shops, take-aways, pubs and restaurants, a public swimming pool and leisure centre and a regular weekly market held on Thursdays, also for anyone with a pet in need of treatment there are two vets, one in the town centre and the other just off the main road near the fire station. There are some good vintage shows and country fairs in the town and surrounding areas during the summer, and Blackpool, Lancaster, Morecambe, the Lake District and the lovely countryside of the Trough of Bowland are all within easy reach.

It's very hard to find anything negative to say about this lovely site but there's just a couple of minor points. It's only one field away from the busy main road so you can hear some traffic noise, though you don't notice it after a while and it certainly doesn't spoil the tranquility of the site. Also there's no dog walk or exercise area, though dogs can run free along the towpath on the far side of the canal.

Whether you want a base for exploring or somewhere just to relax and unwind after a busy week then this site is perfect - well I think so anyway, it's certainly one of my favourites. With the rural setting and laid-back atmosphere you could be miles from anywhere, and to sit in the sunshine at the side of the canal and watch the world go by at a very slow place is absolute bliss!