Three weeks ago I was checking the long-range weather forecasts constantly. Not content with just one website, I’d check three or four – at least five times a day – to try and come up with the best outlook. I was desperate for sunshine for the first week of the summer holidays.
As our glamping holiday at Trevella Park in Cornwall approached, the rain thundered down with increasing ferocity, becoming heavier with each passing day. I was resigned to the prospect of our first family holiday being a complete washout.
As luck would have it, it wasn’t. The sun shone down on us for the entire week we stayed in our Safari Tent at Trevella, although it wouldn’t have been such a bad thing if the rain had followed us down to Cornwall, seeing as our accomodation didn’t really count in the realms of camping as I’ve formerly known it.
Having grown up with long summers in various tents in France, I’m used to the finer points of camping. I spent my school holidays trekking across soggy fields for a wee at 3am, or lugging bowls of washing-up to the nearest wash block. I was used to sleeping on flat lilos in a two man tent, waking up with sand in my ears and the hot sun making any form of lie-in unbearable. Tent pegs and guy ropes and awnings are a part of my holiday DNA.
When you glamp (to “glamp” is to “camp” the “glamorous” way) you give up all that stuff. Instead, we slept on proper beds, in a pre-made tent the size of my cottage. Our floor was a wooden one. We had a kitchen complete with microwave, fridge, kettle and TV. We even had our living room area, with the futon sofa coming in handy for my parents’ fleeting two night visit.
There was even a big verandah with a table and six chairs, so we could while away the evenings in the outdoors and watch the sun go down. Or play stacking tubs. Whatever.
The tent came equipped with almost everything we could have needed. There was no need for plastic camping plates or old knives and forks. We did end up buying a cheap chopping board from the Morrison’s situated just down the road, along with a couple of 40p wine glasses, but to be honest we could have done without these frivolities.
We took along foam bed guards for our toddler, but if she hadn’t recently made the transition from cot to bed then we would have simply hired a travel cot from the reception. Ditto with the highchair.
For me, the main advantage of staying in a Safari Tent was to give my daughter the experience of camping, while saving myself or the (self-proclaimed) Northern Love Machine the headache of putting up a tent with a toddler in tow.
The mornings waking under canvas, the evenings watching the sun go down, the eating outside and the freedom to play in a safe, green and open environment…. all of these were huge pluses to staying in a Safari Tent.
We still felt (sort of) like campers, taking our washing-up to the nearest wash block in the evenings and plodding past the hardcore campers in the mornings with our toothbrushes, dressed in last night’s pyjamas. But when it came to making a cup of tea, or warming up Frog’s milk, or switching on CBeebies in emergency tantrum situations, it was glamping all the way.
In terms of the facilities on offer beyond the realms of our wooden verandah and enclosed glamping field, there were two wash blocks to choose from.
For families with kids as young as Frog (so if you have babies or toddlers) it may be an idea to bring your own baby bath. This is because there are only shower facilities available, excepting the one bath in one of the family cubicles in the toilet block at the lower end of the campsite.
If you have shower-phobic children (like mine) this could make washing the sand and mud away at the end of a busy day playing, a bit of an ordeal. On the other hand, if your kids are happy to shower, the family rooms in the newer toilet blocks are more than spacious enough, but be prepared to queue during high season as this is the preferred block for families with kids.
Trevella Park has a lovely relaxed, family atmosphere. It steers away from organised evening entertainment and doesn’t have an on-site bar, although there is a cute little cafe where you can grab your evening meal if you can’t be bothered to muck around with the barbecue or camping stove.
There are two playgrounds. One is for young children (which Frog loved), with your basic swings, slide etc and another is an adventure playground for slightly older kids, with all sorts of wooden play equipment, ropes and bridges.
There’s a heated outdoor swimming pool and two well stocked fishing lakes, which are a great destination for a leisurely evening meander. My dad (the family fishing enthusiast) tells me these lakes made “great fishing”, stuffed with “carp and other fish of the coarse fishing variety” (I have no idea what this means).
If you have older kids and you’re used to the kind of sites that put on evening disco’s and magic shows (I’m looking at you Northern Mum) you don’t need to worry.
With a laid back family atmosphere, play areas and lots of campers, the children all seemed happy to amuse themselves, making friends and enjoying playing outside in a safe environment. This, of course, meant their parents were free to kick back and enjoy a cold glass of wine while tending to the barbecue. Everyone was happy.
When it comes to beaches, you have countless options.
The nearest beach is Crantock Beach, around 5 minutes drive from Trevella (with a carpark free for National Trust members). A beautiful river flows into the sea here, clearly evident at high tide. This is where you’ll find a roped off swimming area that resembles a swimming pool, so clear and calm is the water.
Further along on the main beach you’ll find surfers and bodyboarders, with lifeguards manning the waves and keeping a watchful eye over any over-ambitious swimmers.
We also ventured to Polly Joke Beach, just around the headland (although a steep climb down from the carpark means this probably isn’t the easiest beach for young families to access) and to Towan Beach on the edge of Newquay Town. For the serious surfers amongst you, Fistral Beach in Newquay is the place to be seen.
Whichever beach you plump for, you’ll be sure of clean, wide expanses of sand, perfect for making sandcastles, with various rockpools crying out to be explored.
If you tire of beach living, there’s a whole host of other things you can do. Situated a short drive from the picture perfect resorts of St Ives and Padstow, Trevella Park is a great location to explore the surrounding parts of Cornwall.
Or if it’s child-friendly day trips you’re after, I thoroughly recommend Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay, down by Towan Beach. Frog loved to press her nose against the glass and peer in at the giant lobsters, sharks and octopus.
We also visited Lappa Valley Steam Railway, around 15 minutes from Trevella Park by car. This was our favourite of all the places we explored, as the outside setting made it easier to keep our constantly
nosy inquisitive toddler occupied.
With three railways complete with mini trains to ride, a canoeing pond, pedal karts, adventure play areas, crazy golf, cafe and maze, this place has enough to keep kids occupied for hours. And it’s in a beautiful setting, amidst the old tin mines that this part of Cornwall used to thrive upon.
If you’re really keen on day trips, Newquay Zoo is also worth a visit. But be warned – there are peacocks roaming free, which are like a red rag to a bull for a bossy, over-affectionate toddler…
It’s difficult to sum up how much this holiday meant to us as a family – and how much we needed to spend a week together away from home and work and the stresses of “real life”.
I woke every morning to the sun on my face, with my two year old babbling away in my ear and the knowledge that the day ahead would be a good one. The best in fact.
You can’t want more than that from a holiday.
A Safari Tent at Trevella Park, accomodating up to 6 people, costs £522 per week during the main weeks of the school summer holidays. You can find out more about glamping and mobile home prices here.
Disclosure: We were provided with a 7 night break in a Safari Tent along with a Cornwall Pass by the Cornwall Tourist Board, giving free entry for up to 2 adults at all the attractions featured in this post. All views are my own.