Our annual holidays saw us once again visit Devon and Cornwall. Just as last year, we started off at Hillhead Caravan Club site in Brixham. Once again, Adrian joined us in his motorhome – this year towing Sammy the Smart ForTwo – We still haven’t got around to having an A-frame fitted to the Smart Roadster so Jim followed down in it, which is quite a long way in such a small car but it behaved perfectly and Jim even commented that it was comfortable enough at speed for long distances.
Although the site was busy, we managed to find two pitches together for a change. Once set up we had a relaxing evening and a well-earned early night.
The next morning we made our way around the coast through Dawlish to Powderham Castle, where there was the annual car show arranged by the Crash Box and Classic Car Club. This two day event is in its 41st year and is well supported by local classic car clubs and individuals alike. Along with the club stands were a wealth of commercial and steam powered vehicles. There was a decent sized autojumble and a mix of trade and charity stalls. I managed to pick up an excellent little Home-Tec Hunter vacuum cleaner for £4 for the motorhome, a 1980s Toshiba Boombox and a book about Firebirds, both for £3 each.
At the show we met up with our friend Tony, who lives locally, and was invited back to his stunning architect designed home, where we enjoyed good food and even better company.
The following day, Sunday, we had a trip out with the local GCCG area, arranged by Tony. We met up at the Dandelion Cafe at Haytor, where we had reserved parking the front. We felt quite out of place with the Smart Roadster in a line up that included a Mercedes, an MGA, a Rover 100 and Tony’s stunning Lancia Flavia Spider to name but a few. We worked off the delicious meal at the Dandelion Cafe by taking a hike up the Tor, which was deceptively steep! It certainly sorted the men from the boys!
From there we drove in convoy to a wonderful little motor museum at Moretonhampstead. This privately owned museum is a little gem. Although it hasn’t been established long, there is a fantastic selection of cars and motorcycles. The museum has a working garage area, where one can see work being carried out on some of the exhibits. Most of the cars on show were in very original unrestored condition, which to me is more interesting than seeing gleaming restored examples. While we were there the curator and owner was working on a recently acquired 1950s Bedford Dormobile camper, which had been owned from new by the last owner, and dry stored for many many years. Some of the accessories hadn’t even been removed from their packaging. The whole vehicle was a wonderful time capsule, which brought back childhood holiday memories for me.
The next morning we set off to Treamble Valley Caravan Club site, which is situated between Newquay and Perranporth on the North Cornwall coast. Note to self: When a caravan site states not to follow Sat Navs pay attention! We found out the hard way that there are some very narrow lanes in Cornwall and these lanes and a 26 foot motorhome is not a good combination – if you don’t believe me, ask Adrian!
When we finally found the site we were informed that they were very full and we were directed to a hardstanding area, where we could pitch close together. We were soon to discover this area resembled a gravelled pub car park and that the electric and TV points were so far away that if we had parked a foot further along the 25 metre cables would not have reached. Because of the size of our outfit we were advised to park side on – which restricted access to the side lockers somewhat and if one dared to venture down that side of the van you would come back with wounds from the various brambles, thistles and all other manner of prickly and scratchy plants! Still we’d make the best of it. We rolled out the awning only to discover the hardstanding really was hard and not even rock pegs would penetrate it. This was all topped off with our new neighbours having a rather obvious domestic – at least we had ringside seats.
On Tuesday we took a ride out to Newquay, which is famed for its three excellent beaches and amazing surf. Newquay has to be the most commercialised of Cornwall’s resorts yet is full of independent shops and eateries. I have never seen so many surf shops in my life! The sun shone down and we decided to cool off with the most amazing ice creams and milkshakes.
I had always wanted to go to Land’s End and so the following day we made that our destination. We were advised to park at Sennen Cove and take the path over to Land’s End, which we did. The harbour car park had very reasonable rates at £1 for two hours but the mile long coast walk is not for the faint hearted. Land’s End has become something akin to a theme park and an expensive one at that. We returned to Sennen Cove for a spot of lunch. The beach at the cove is very picturesque but like most of Cornwall’s beaches, is not dog friendly. We decided to take a detour to St Ives on our way back but I have to admit to being somewhat disappointed by it. I had expected a quaint little fishing village full of bohemian artists and tiny galleries. St Ives is far bigger than I expected. Traffic was routed towards a large car park by a leisure centre on the outskirts of the town where for a pound a bus will take you to the vehicle restricted town centre. Although restricted, there were plenty of vehicles wending their way around the narrow streets. As expected there were many galleries, if fact apart from the galleries there wasn’t much other than gourmet eateries. Some of the little back streets were quaint, but as I said, it was not how I expected and I won’t rush to return.
Thursday was our last full day in Cornwall before we moved on to North Devon. We decided to have a relaxing day and visit Perranporth, which turned out to be a delightful little town with a stunning beach and a good mix of shops. Although the good weather had brought visitors out in their droves and the sand was a sea of beach tents, it did not feel crowded. From there we drove to St Agnes, a small traditional Cornish town with an amazing (dog friendly) cove. So Thursday was a success!
That night we were treated to an incredible thunderstorm with the most amazing lightening show. The rain pelted down all night but for once it didn’t disturb our sleep.
There had been some miscommunication about our booking dates with Adrian leaving on the Saturday and us on the Friday. We tried to get an extra day but come Friday morning the site was still fully booked so we set off for North Devon. Once we had a mobile signal we called Brightlycott Barton to see if we could book in – Horror! They were fully booked! Once I got a 3G signal (not easy in Cornwall) I logged onto the Caravan Club web site to check for any late availability in the Barnstaple area and to my surprise there was plenty of space at the site at Woolacombe – so we booked online and set the Sat Nav for the site. Do you remember what I said about Sat Navs? Well there are narrow country lanes in North Devon too! The contraption dumped us outside of a golf club, however, a quick call to a lovely warden at the site saw us on the right track. The site at Woolacombe is lovely and extremely well maintained. We were soon pitched up and took a ride into Barnstaple to see our friends Wendy and Sean. After a good catch up and a cup of tea (thanks Sam) we made our way back. We called for some fish and chips at Squires in Braunton – a stylish, modern fish restaurant and take away, where they weigh the fish to ascertain the price! But what delicious fish and chips they were. The news on TV warned of further storms and so we battened down the hatches for a storm that never came – not even a slight breeze.
On Saturday we met up with Wendy and Sean and took a walk around Barnstaple, taking advantage of some of the shops and stocking up with supplies. From there we drove to Woolacombe. On the way it started to rain, by the time we had parked the cars and found somewhere to eat, we were drenched. We had a lovely meal at The Captain’s Table (marvellous food) by which time the rain had stopped and the sun was out in force once again. Woolacombe is mainly unspoilt and has a beautiful beach with superb surf (sadly again not dog friendly), but we found a perch and had a natter – Oh and thank you Wendy for one of the best laughs I’ve had in years. You had to be there!
Our last day in North Devon was a lazy Sunday, where we took a ride out to Croyde, another chocolate box village, and onto the beach, where there was a small open air market. The beach itself was heaving and the temperature was soaring, so before long we headed back to the motorhome for a “Nana Nap” before going to spend some time with our friends again.
Willingcott Caravan Club site at Woolacombe is the type of site that makes it well worthwhile joining the club. There are several visiting eateries including shellfish, fish and chips and stone baked pizza, meaning no need to cater for yourself most evenings. There were plenty of social activities taking place around the boules pitch and the shower block is state-of-the-art and by far the best we have seen. This, along with cheerful and helpful wardens, means we will certainly be back.