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.