Don’t know about you, but I do love a good holiday park, one of those lovely places where you can turn up and camp, or book a static caravan for a few days and chillax to the max.
They’re the perfect spot for a summer or spring break. Got everything you could possibly need for fun and frolics. Friendly to families, kids and pets alike, usually with sun, sea and sand close to hand, they tick every box for this simple soul.
But. Here’s the question. A mighty big one, too. What are they like in Winter? When the days are short, the temperatures low and sunshine is in short supply. Hmm. Are they still such lovely places then? To find out, my wife and I, along with our two small and fluffy canine companions, decided to go to the award winning Cofton Holidays, Holiday Park in the depths of a winter cold snap.
Since they’ve won 15 awards in the last year alone, thought it would be a good place to do some research.
To get there, you head for Devon, just beyond the bottom of the M5. Cofton Holidays is just a hop and a skip away along some windy roads, close to Dawlish.
Nestled down in a pretty little valley, edged with wooded ridges, the whole place just oozes gentle contentment and peace.
You can camp at Cofton Holidays, if that’s your thing. Using your own tent, camper or caravan. If that’s not your thing, you can hire a static caravan instead.
And if that’s not your thing, you can go the whole hog and get a lodge. Spoil yourself rotten. Which is exactly what we did, we went for a dog friendly lodge, plus it’s very own hot tub, waiting patiently to entertain us on the front decking.
As we parked outside our lodge and strolled towards the front door, the first impression was as if someone had stuck two rather luscious caravans side by side. Giving you twice the room, twice the pleasure and much more to smile about.
But once inside, we realised it was much, MUCH better than that. For a start, it was warm, toasty warm. Which is always a vote winner in winter.
Also, it felt very luxurious and lovely, spacious throughout. Bit like an enormous, upmarket ski lodge. We had gone for a two bedroom model with two bathrooms, along with an open plan living area and kitchen complete with central island just right for a relaxed breakfast time.
The level of comfort and quality throughout was top notch. If we really wanted to, we could just have stayed in the lodge all week long, it would have been a fantastic holiday staycation.
If that wasn’t excitement enough, you could easily find things to do onsite which would keep you entertained and happy. But I’ll come to that later, for now, we need to talk hot tubs.
They’re a game changer. No two ways about it. What they bring to the party is pleasure beyond measure and, best of all, no hassle.
Discreet blokes popped by twice a day to check on ours, to make sure everything was as it should be. Apart from that, it was our very own private bathing paradise.
We used it in the morning, when frost was sparkling on the ground. We used it in the afternoon, as the watery, wintery sun slid down below the horizon.
We used it in the evening, as the moon and stars shone bright, like diamonds twinkling in the night. Whatever time of day, the hot tub was always ready and waiting, with soft, seductive bubbles and body blasting, blissful heat.
We used it every single day. Sliding into its warm and tender embrace never got old. Like I say, it’s a game changer. And a mood enhancer.
Pools, gym and Spa
Which brings us neatly to the next jewel in the crown of this place. They’ve got some great facilities. Stuff to keep you smiling. And fit. A little bit of something for everyone.
Obviously, there are swimming pools. One inside, one out. The outdoor one closes for the winter, but the large indoor pool was buzzing with activity and happy swimmers throughout our stay.
If swimming’s not your thing, there is also a very tasty little gym, with a nice range of equipment for those that like to lift, strain or cycle.
When you’ve finished with exercise, feeling in the mood for a spot of pampering and calm, there’s a spa area next door. Complete with sauna and steam room. Like I said, a bit of something for everyone.
Same is true when it comes to getting grub. There are several options for food onsite, including a fish’n’chips that was closed during our stay.
Luckily, they were still doing fish, chips and lots besides at Amelia’s, the dog friendly cafe bar next to the indoor swimming pool.
We went there for a very enjoyable roast dinner and were so impressed we went back again a couple of days later for the full english breakfast. Very nice.
Meanwhile, downstairs at Warrens restaurant, we treated ourselves to a sumptuous Sunday, carvery dinner. If all of that wasn’t enough, there was also a pub next door, the Swan.
Deciding we didn’t want to eat out every evening, we popped into the camp shop, which turned out to be the best stocked campsite shop I’ve ever been to.
With DIY bits for campers, pocket money toys for kids and useful groceries for the grownups. We ended up doing most of our food shopping there.
It’s not just the lodges that are dog friendly, there is also a field for them to wander around next to the woods. Which meant the pooches enjoyed themselves as much as we did.
Things to do onsite
The list is long. There are woodland walks, one of which takes you past a series of ropes and platforms high in the trees. The High Ropes course. You can try them out for a small fee should you wish to sample life in the treetops. Looks like the sort of thing small kids and adventurous adults would love.
There are also a few play parks sprinkled through the park, one of which includes a basketball court and what looks, to my untrained eyes, like a small BMX circuit. Lots of fun for smaller cyclists, I’ll be bound.
For calmer members of the party, those who might enjoy a spot of coarse fishing, there are also a handful of lakes at hand.
Out and About
It would be very easy to spend the entire holiday in and around the site, there’s so much fun stuff to do. However, we decided to get out and explore.
Dawlish & Dawlish Warren are just a couple of minutes away by car. Dawlish Warren is a fabulous sandy spit, a long curving beach, home to an enormous nature reserve filled with birds.
Dawlish, of course, is famous for black swans. Which aren’t a genetic oddity, they’re an import from Australia. The other claim to fame for this sweet little seaside town is the seawall, washed away by a storm a few years back and still being repaired when we visited.
Further afield, there is the seaside town of Teignmouth, pronounced, “Tinmuth.” If you head west from Cofton, towards Exmouth, there are several lovely little spots to explore.
Lympstone, with its cobbled back alleys. Topsham, a cute and cosy estuary side, spot, very picturesque. Ebford, with the Cuppa Cabin. A fab cafe, spread over a quirky collection of garden sheds.
All of the above are well worth a visit, if you can drag yourself away from that seductive hot tub.
I started this piece by wondering what this holiday park would be like in the colder, darker months. Would it work as a winter wonderland breakaway?
The answer can be summed up in three little words, “yes, Yes … YES!” It works well, very well. In my humble opinion it knocks spots off most winter sun holidays, with all the hassle and expense involved of flying overseas.
When it comes to bang for your buck this place rocks the Casbah!
Which of course leads to the next obvious question. “What’s it like to visit in Summer and Spring?” I’m guessing it’s even more awesome, I can’t wait to come back someday and find out for myself. Ready to book at Cofton Holiday Park.
How Much is it to stay at Cofton?
2 bedroom dog-friendly lodges available from £500 for a four-night mid week break
How Long Can I stay at Cofton Holiday Park?
Available for three-night weekend breaks and weekly stays
How much is Cofton High Rope Course?
New Cofton Tree Tops Adventure High Ropes Course, £18 per person for a 45-minute session. Must be pre-booked
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