Camping in South West England is, as you’d expect, as family friendly as it gets.
There are plenty of fantastic sites that welcome children with open arms, from big touring sites to glamping sites and certificated sites. The experience can be as varied as you want to be, with a chance to get up close and personal with farm animals and beasties at sites on working farms or to meet other youngsters at popular holiday parks.
Beyond the boundaries of the sites themselves there are…well…no boundaries.
The south west has a time honoured tourist industry and there are scores of family friendly attractions to keep the kids occupied, whatever the weather!
Here’s our best of the best family friendly attractions in South West England.
1. North Devon Wakepark
There is something very special about seeing your kids take to the water. They will be better at it than you, that’s for sure. And that’s down, in part, to the fact that kids can pick up this sort of thing a lot more easily than the rest of us. But that doesn’t mean everyone can’t have a go. The North Devon Wakepark has two cable tows that make it really easy for little ones (6 and over) to have their first taste of this thrilling adrenaline sport. In between sets (15 minutes on the cable with an instructor) there is a slack line, SUPs to paddle and a volleyball court. The BBQ is always on too!
2. Dingles old fashioned fun
Kids love the bright lights while mum and dad will love the nostalgia at Dingles. It’s a working museum holding the National Fairground Collection, a collection of restored and rare, vintage fairground rides. Much of the collection is working, so the kids will be giddy with excitement – literally - at the prospect of riding the UK’s largest Dodgems, a traditional carousel, the Ghost Train and, of course, the Waltzer. There’s also a collection of vintage fairground vehicles, a childrens’ outdoor play area and a collection of fairground art. Good old fashioned fun!!!
3. The Big Sheep
The South West does quirky very well. And the Big Sheep is the best of the best. Originally a working farm, this attraction has not forgotten its origins and has made a virtue of it. What’s on offer? Sheep racing in the Grand National with knitted jockeys riding.. er… sheep, an indoor play area, sheep duck trials (yes!) and all sorts of other sheepy shenanigans. Kids absolutely adore the petting zoo and a chance to bottle feed a new born lamb (as well as ride the swan pedaloes, play in the adventure playground and ride the ponies). Older kids can also have a go at mountain boarding high ropes and climbing at the Ultimate Adventure Centre next door.
4. At-Bristol Science Centre
Science is fun, especially when it comes in the form of interactive, hands on exhibits, the UK’s first 3D planetarium and the chance to perform experiments and learn about the world around us in an engaging and exciting way. At-Bristol is a fantastic attraction with lots to keep the little ones involved, whatever time of the year you visit. In winter you’ll find a real-ice ice rink on the harbour side adjacent to At-Bristol while in summer there are exhibitions, workshops and events. As it’s in the heart of Bristol it’s a great focus for a day out in this vibrant city.
5. RAMM Museum, Exeter
The Royal Albert Memorial Museum is one of the UK’s finest regional museums. It’s like a miniature version of the V and A, the British Museum and the Natural History Museum all rolled into one, with animals, art, artefacts and ‘a million thoughts’ from human and natural history. Curious kids will love meeting the African Bull Elephant, the life sized giraffe and the whale skeleton, as well as the ever so slightly scary insect gallery. This is a good, old fashioned museum day out – the kind that’s been enthralling kids for over 200 years.
6. Underground Passages Exeter
While in Exeter visiting the RAMM you’d do well to take a short detour to Exeter’s Underground Passages. Dating back from the 14th century they are the remaining sections of passages that once carried the city’s water system. There is nowhere like them in the UK that you can explore (crawl). It won’t take long to see them as they are only about 400 metres long but the kids will love it! Hard hats essential.
7. Crealy Great Adventure Park & Resort
Family theme park fun at it’s finest, that’s Crealy Great Adventure Park & Resort. With rides and slides and fun forts and waterslides – as well as small animals, stables and a petting zoo - it’s got everything for all shapes and sizes of kids in the way that theme parks do. The park is in Exeter, and not to be missed!
8. Cycling in Haldon Forest
Haldon Forest is a Forestry Commission site on the A38 near Dartmoor. It’s high up on a hill overlooking the Exe Valley so every bike trail offers the occasional glimpses of sensational views. But the views aren’t what you come here for. There are 5 trails of varying difficulty, including a Kids’ trail and a skill area where anyone can practice their off roading skills. Even tots can have a ride around the pathways through the forest. Bike hire is available and if you are feeling really lazy you can also take a segway tour around the forest. Outdoor fun at its best.
9. Imagining the past at Corfe Castle
There is nowhere else in the UK that kids can trace, see and experience English history – from prehistory until its destruction in the Civil War - like at Corfe. So for kids into Horrible Histories or studying history at school, it is an historical wonderland. The castle keep is huge and stands guard over the Purbeck Hills on Dorset’s south coast. It offers great walks and opportunities to explore pathways leading to ruined doorways and secret lookouts. As a ruin it’s impressive enough. As a place to let their imagination run wild it’s incredible.
10. Take to the water at Siblyback Lake
The South West Lakes Trust looks after a number of lakes around the Westcountry. A few of them have been updated in recent times with watersports and ‘Outdoor and Active’ centres where kids can learn how to sail, kayak or climb. At Siblyback Lake near Bodmin, kids can take taster sessions, hire equipment, get tuition and generally get mucky having a whale of a time out on the water. The lake also offers cycling and walking, fishing, archery, segway rental and even high ropes. For parents wanting their kids to get out and get active, it’s one of the Westcounty’s best kept secrets. And there is camping nearby.
So what will the kids decide on? Whatever it is, don’t forget that our selection of camp sites in Wiltshire, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset will take you right there. Book your site, pitch the tent and have a great holiday in the South West of England.
You can find out more about the South West from our recent blog