I couldn’t believe it when I got back to work after our recent camping trip to Woolacombe. While we were there for other groups or people they knew on the beach, then one of my blogging friends said she’d been there at the same time that we had. Then getting back to work I heard one colleague was in Woolacombe and another had been in Croyde. And I didn’t bump into any of the people I knew. It certainly proves how popular Woolacombe is, helped by the beach winning another beach award in 2018.
We try and visit different places for our annual camping trips but this year we just could not find a campsite but had nice toilets, electric hook-up, and would either take groups or would allocate pitches. We are a big group but it is nice to know that you’re all going to be in the same place in the campsite. So this year we decided to go back to Warcombe Farm campsite because we knew it had everything we needed.
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This year Woolacombe was everything we wanted and we certainly spent more time on the beach then we would usually do. We did head in to Croyde to the beach one day to try somewhere new and that was the lovely place to hang out as well.
Enjoying Woolacombe beach
Thankfully this year N decided that he was loving bodyboarding again. It helps that one of the other 7 year olds loves it too so it was hard to get the two of them out of the water. Obviously the older kids loved it and Woolacombe does generally have good waves, lifeguards, and good beach facilities. Plus we had the bonus that at the beginning of the week we could park at the village car park right by the beach until fairly late in the day because not everyone has broken up from school yet. When it got to Thursday it was rammed by 10:30 so all changed by then. But because the beach is long enough it means there’s still plenty of room on the beach to go round.
We’ve got our beach essentials. I tend to decant everything into 2 jute shopping bags because they’re easy to carry on shoulders but a massive blue IKEA bag usually does the job if you when you want to take one bag with you. It can get really heavy though. We didn’t bother with a wind break this time as it’s just extra stuff to carry. But camping chairs are essential because at our age it’s really not graceful getting up off picnic blankets and get less and everywhere.
We made a picnic lunch everyday because it saved trudging all over the place to the burger van or up to the sandwich bar. What we did notice this year is how many more seagulls there are. Two years ago we were amazed that there were very few and the ones that there were, weren’t dive bombers and scavengers for food like the ones in Weymouth were. In just 2 years the seagulls have multiplied in number and we noticed them stealing food from people’s hands mouths and picnic blankets with no worries. So having a beach shelter is handy to shelter children who are eating.
The weather was beautiful when we were there on the beach. Blue skies and bright sunshine. I remembered my hat this time so my parting didn’t get burnt. Even though I slapped on the sun lotion and sat under thin towel most of the day to avoid getting sunburnt my hands still what caught as did my leg and both feet when I was in the water. My feet are still super brown now which looks very funny with my white legs.
The water was lovely. It was interesting how cool it was at the beginning of the day but by lunchtime it had warmed up and then cooled down again later. The kids all have wetsuits so it doesn’t bother them if the air is warm enough. Some of them stayed in for hours body boarding, and even the younger ones were happy stay in for an hour at a time.
N really got the hang of bodyboarding this year and they got some great waves. Some of the older kids did a morning of surf school so took out rented surfboards one day. N has already decided that next year he wants to do surf school. It seems like the minimum age is 8 so next year he might be trying surfing himself.
The good thing about Woolacombe beach, is it there’s plenty for children to do even if they don’t like the sea. There’s rock pooling, and the stream down the middle of beach. Even the older ones get involved with building channels and moats, and on the last day decided to build various channels and paddling pools which they enjoyed playing in. With us looking on worrying that when the sea came in, we might get flooded out from their creation.
If you’re not all set up with beach gear, Woolacombe village has plenty to buy. We’d forgotten N’s wetsuit and got a really good service from the surf shop at the side of the beach. First of all we were offered some £7 wetsuits but these didn’t fit properly. The alternative was the still cheap £17 versions which fitted perfectly. One happy and warm child and one happy purse.
Woolacombe village fun
If you don’t want to be at the beach all day, the pirate adventure place in the middle of Woolacombe is good fun for younger children. They also have crazy pirate golf and if you want the less crazy version there’s miniature golf across the road.
For the adventure rides and activities you buy tokens with each ride costing one token. With some of the rides taking two children it doesn’t cost too much if you set a limit for how many rides the children can go on.
We also had a go at crazy golf costing about £9 for both of us. Although the 18 holes didn’t take long once we’d overtaken a group of about 12 teenagers. I thought it had been closer in score, but I ended up winning by quite a margin thanks to my hole in one and N missing one hole time after time.
One thing to remember about Woolacombe beach and most of the others around North Devon, is that you need change for parking. Some do have parking attendant booths where they will change notes, but the shops in the village won’t give change out for car parks. Tying to root around and find £8 in coins every day is a pain. If you want to get cheaper parking there is the field to park in at Woolacombe which is a bit more of a walk and that’s usually around a fiver a day. Or head to the beach after 4:30 when the price for parking goes down to £4.
A day at Croyde Beach
I’ve not been to Croyde for about 20 years and I went with a couple of friends for all of about 30 minutes. But if you’re keen on water sports then you get some great waves at Croyde beach, and they’re set up for surfing and bodyboarding. The only confusion comes with where you can body board. We headed for a gap inbetween the surf schools groups and the edge of the swimming area. But once the surfers started encroaching on the gap, one of the instructors told the kids to move up further towards the swimming area where there were virtually no waves. Disappointing given another instructor had totally ignored us being there. and they were out of the way of the surfers (one of the children I had an eye on was on a surf board so should have been ok to stay there – she was also doing better than many of the surf schools people).
When you’re in the middle of the swimming area, bodyboarding is too hard because there’s too many people. Obviously Croyde is too serious about its surfing to encourage children and give any space inbetween the 2 areas, compared with Woolacombe which is more relaxed.
The boys enjoyed their bodyboarding though. There were fewer seagulls than at Woolacombe helped by the fact that there were no chip vans on the beach.
The great thing about Devon beaches is that generally you don’t have a really steep climb down cliffs or up again afterwards to get to the beach. In Croyde we parked in the field car park because we missed the beach car park that looked like it belonged to the park resort. But it still took less than 5 minutes to walk to the beach all the pretty much on the flat. The one downside to Croyde was the state of the toilets. From the sound of the things we were lucky we didn’t try them out.
I couldn’t believe that we had 2 full beach days, and another couple of afternoons on the beach. That’s unheard of for me because I like to get out and see everywhere nearby. But with it taking too long to drive anywhere for just a short visit the beach it was. Apart from having to cope with the heat and a bit of sunburn, it was great to see the children all getting stuck in and enjoying themselves on the sand and sea.
As us mums always say, these are the holidays that the children will remember from their childhood when they get to our age.
Do you have any favourite beaches in Devon? How is your holiday going so for?
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