Travel Review: A family weekend away to the Lakes
PUBLISHED: 22:15 29 January 2020 | UPDATED: 08:23 30 January 2020
With more and more people opting to forgo the flight and holiday instead at locations closer to home, reporter DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP decided to do the same and packed the kids up for a family weekend away in the Lake District. Here's what she thought of Silverdale Holiday Park...
Let me be honest, driving across the length of the country with three boys aged six, four and two was never going to make for a stress-free journey.
But with a car full of snacks, a portable DVD player, and a head full of good old fashioned games such as I-spy, me and my partner dared to brave it with the promise of a fun-filled few days away.
Here's a day-by-day account of our (very close to the) Lake District adventure.
We are blessed with stunning views and beautiful countryside in Nelson's county, but there is something rather special about seeing mountainous hills and rocky views.
Driving along windy roads towards Holgate's Silverdale Holiday Park was a joy, despite only having one extended stop en-route.
It didn't matter that we'd been cooped up for hours though, our mouths hung wide open taking in the greenery and sights around us.
The park was relatively easy to find and once there we quickly parked up and headed into reception.
With a swift and friendly greeting from the receptionist, we were handed a map of the site, had the available amenities explained to us, and were given the keys to our caravan.
As we drove around to our home for the next three nights, we were able to get a quick glimpse of what was on offer here; swimming pool, outside play areas, grassed space for running around on. Perfect for our trio, who are constantly full of energy.
By the time we found our caravan, we were all already very excited.
We had been given the Swift Antibes three-bedroom model, which looked clean and modern from the outside. Chairs and a table was set up outside, alongside a spacious veranda. But the real wow-factor was inside.
I'm sure I'm not alone when I say I've had my fair share of substandard caravanning experiences, all varying in many weird and wonderful ways, but this had to be the best caravan we had ever stayed in. Roomy, comfortable, exceptionally clean and filled with delicious samples of local produce, all available at the site's shop.
We quickly unloaded and after exploring the bedrooms (two twin rooms and a sizable double with en suite) we made our way to the main building which housed the pool, restaurant, soft play area, ice cream shop, bar, bowling alley and games room.
We managed to find ourselves a poolside seat to eat dinner and watch other holiday revellers enjoying themselves.
The bar, cafe and restaurant is open every day and serves homemade food from 9am to 9.15pm, while the bar is open until late. Here people can enjoy a quick coffee, light bite lunch, or a dining experience from a main menu.
The meal was pleasant (the boys enjoyed fish and chips) and not overly priced for a holiday park.
On our way back to the caravan we explored one of the play areas.
The large wooden pirate ship was ready to be taken captive for a session of swashbuckling fun and although it wasn't suitable for the youngest of the clan, our other two thoroughly enjoyed themselves burning off some pent up energy.
While they busied themselves, us adults took in the stunning views across Morecambe Bay, famed for its cockles and mudflats which stretch for miles.
We all went to bed that night with high expectations for the rest of the weekend.
After a comfortable night's sleep (broken somewhat by an excited toddler) and five bellies full of bacon sandwiches, we headed out to explore more of what the region had to offer.
Our first stop was Lake Windermere, based in Cumbria's Lake District National Park.
Surrounded by mountain peaks and villages, we headed to Bowness-on-Windermere which is home to The World of Beatrix Potter attraction based around the author behind famous characters such as Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddleduck.
A quaint little place, it was a reasonable £23 for a family ticket (two adults plus two children aged 3-16, the toddler was free).
The boys had lots of fun exploring the exhibitions while completing an activity booklet, and they particularly enjoyed the outside garden area and photo booth at the end.
Bowness-on-Windermere is a popular place to visit, as evident by the packed pavements, and after catching a glimpse of the lake we decided to head further up north to Castle Wray.
A National Trust owned building, the Victorian neo-gothic castle is based at Claife. The house and grounds have belonged to the Trust since 1929, but the house has only recently opened to the public on a regular basis.
This was the perfect place for a family with little ones to visit.
We all enjoyed a cream tea before running around the outside of the building, exploring the Peter Rabbit themed play area, and jumping around in a room designated only for soft cushions.
This was most certainly a highlight of the trip.
We finished the day off by driving around the rest of the lake and catching a quick glimpse of Hill Top, the home Beatrix Potter bought with the royalties from her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
By this point in the day, I think I'd just about Potter-ed everyone out, but as fan of literature I was in my element.
There is so much to do and see around the lake, including a whole host of things on offer for lovers of watersports. Quite honestly, we only just hit the tip of the iceberg.
With so much on offer at the site, we decided to stay close to Silverdale to really make the most of our experience.
The day began with a walk around the site and along a country track close to Arnside Knott to see Arnside Tower.
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It is said to be the oldest building in the parish and is a unique example of a Cumbrian pele tower. However, if you do decide to venture here, take note. It is not pushchair friendly and the masses of sheep here make it impossible to enjoy a picnic.
We decided to venture back to the site to picnic beside another outdoor play area more suited to all ages.
The boys really enjoyed the play spaces here and it would have been nice to see these expanded to incorporate more equipment.
After lunch we headed to Morecambe Bay itself via a short but slightly hairy walk along a busy road.
We all had fun walking on the black muddy beach, hunting for shells and all sorts of interests and oddities.
With our final day approaching its end we decided to treat the boys to a late night and ourselves to a cheeky beverage at the bar.
In the main complex we all enjoyed some quality family fun in the games room playing on a few arcade machines, followed by a go on the six lane tenpin bowling alley, finishing up with a wind down in the small, but fun, indoor softplay area.
Incredibly, there really was enough to do on the park alone to fill a whole day without getting under each other's feet.
Wails of "we don't want to go home" greeted us in the morning, so we treated the boys to a dip in the pool before heading home.
And while there aren't any extra fun bits (such as a waterslide) there is enough on offer to tempt anyone to take the plunge.
The 17m heated swimming pool has a bubble pool, turbo seat, spa pool and a toddlers pool, as well as a sauna and steam rooms. There are also lifeguards on duty and classes such as aquafit on offer.
It was the perfect way to finish off the perfect weekend.
I would 100pc recommend both the site and the area for a special break away with a young family.
It was such an easy holiday to enjoy and we left there with lots of memories to treasure - especially the puncture the car suffered a few miles down the road on the way home. But that's a story for another day.
All about Silverdale Holiday Park
Holiday home ownership: Brand new holiday homes available to purchase from £39,950, with a 12-month ownership season.
Holiday home hire: Three-bed caravan holiday homes sleeping up to six people available from £305 to £910 a week and short breaks available from £200 to £545. Timber camping pods from £45 to £59 per night, based on two people - there is a supplement for extra people. Touring and seasonal touring pitches also available.
A hundred acres of grounds, leisure complex including indoor heated pool, sauna, steam room, gymnasium, bowling alley, restaurant and bar, ice cream parlour, indoor soft play area, indoor games area, outdoor playground, and on-site shop.
Where: Silverdale Holiday Park, Middlebarrow Plain, Cove Road, Silverdale, Cumbria, LA5 0SH
Telephone: 01524 701508
Silverdale Holiday Park in numbers
- Silverdale opened in 1956
- It had just 35 "caravans" including a single-decker bus, a tram, a horse drawn carriage, and an ex-military radar vehicle.
- 100 acre-site
- 350 holiday home owners
- 13 holiday homes for hire
- 8 camping pods
- 90 touring pitches
- 6 tents
- 63 years as a holiday park
- Open 12 months of the year
- 12-year holiday home licence
- 5 star facilities