What’s your claim to fame?
Have you been on local TV news? Maybe you’re related to a pop singer or played youth football with a premier league star?
Mine? It’s not that great…
When I was six years’ old, I was featured in a campsite holiday brochure. I was sat with my family on a bench outside the cafe with a tray of chips in front of me, crying my little eyes out. (Think what the photos they didn’t use must have been like.)
The campsite – Trevella Holiday Park in Crantock, just outside Newquay in Cornwall – used that picture for years and years. Naturally, we proudly kept a copy of the original brochure in a drawer at home for posterity. It’s probably still there.
Fast-forward almost 20 years to September 2015 and I’m back at Trevella again, eating some chips from the same cafe and admiring the views of the wind turbines dotted on the hills in the distance. I’m not crying this time though. Instead, I’m happy – as the rest of the country complains about torrential rain, we’ve enjoyed a mild and bright day in Padstow, 20 or so miles up the coast from Crantock.
I hired a static caravan and stayed for a week at Trevella with my wife Tiff, my grandad and our Border Terrier, Tilly. Here’s my thoughts on the park, two decades on from my first visit.
Refreshingly, it’s really easy to research and book a holiday at Trevella on its website. There’s in-depth information about all the different options available (static caravans, lodges, ready tents and “glamping”, touring pitches and camping). And, unlike rival sites in the area, you can check availability and book your holiday online – perfect for lunch hour holiday research.
We weren’t after anything fancy but we did want a solid roof over our heads. So we booked a dog-friendly “Original” two-bed static caravan, which was the lowest-spec caravan available. The total cost was £384.20 for seven nights, which included a £25 charge for Tilly.
After booking, we got a confirmation email straight away and then follow up emails as our holiday neared. A week or so after I booked, I needed to call the park to check that it would be OK to bring grandad along too, seeing as we had a spare bedroom. It was easy to use the park’s automated telephone system and the person I spoke to was friendly and reassuring when at first she couldn’t find our booking initially. She updated the booking with no fuss.
We chose a Friday-to-Friday holiday. Check-in time was 4pm. But the park offered a 2pm check in for £25. We thought we’d be arriving quite early on the day. In the end though, it was gone 5pm by the time we’d met my grandad on the way down and negotiated some roadworks on the Bodmin Moor section of the A30.
The park is easy to find on the road out to Crantock from the A3075. A drive lined with colourful rhododendrons greeted us on the way in. There are also lots of well-kept flowerbeds dotted around the park. I received an efficient and friendly service at the reception when I picked up the keys.
The caravan was clean and tidy when we arrived. It had a plastic dog bed for Tilly, as well as a bowl of water and some treats to make her feel welcome. The rules for dogs were addressed to “Fido” rather than the dog owners themselves, which was a nice touch. Once we’d found the mugs, located our teabags and milk and put the kettle on, we settled in straight away.
The park is between the village of Crantock and the A3075 main road, about 3.5 miles from the centre of Newquay by car. Depending on how far you want to travel, the park is ideal for day trips to most destinations in Cornwall such as St Michael’s Mount (30 miles), Truro (12 miles), The Eden Project (16 miles), Port Isaac (25 miles) and Padstow (19 miles).
During our visit we took trips to Truro and its Old Ale House, St Michael’s Mount (which was unfortunately closed due to high winds when we arrived), Padstow and Port Isaac. Port Isaac and Padstow were particularly busy, even in mid-September. (Be prepared for a long wait for a parking space at Port Isaac if you don’t arrive early in the day.)
There are also tens of villages and coves that you can visit nearby including the picturesque Port Quinn, which is a nice alternative to Port Isaac when it’s busy.
Closer to the site, you have the secluded Polly Joke beach and the Bowgie pub with its jaw-dropping beer garden views (both just under 2 miles), Fistral Beach (4 miles) and Holywell Bay (4 miles). On the Saturday morning, I had a nice run along the coast from Crantock to Holywell Bay.
The village of Crantock – complete with mile-wide beach, two pubs, tea rooms and small shops – is only a mile or so away. But it’s quite difficult to get to on foot. The most direct route is along the road, but there’s no footpath and it can get quite busy traffic-wise. So it’s not really ideal for walking with kids.
An alternative route to the village is via the footpath that runs from the site and across fields down Penpol Creek on the Gannel Estuary. From there you can cut inland across some fields to get to the village centre or take the coast path down to the beach, which is a 30-40 minute walk.
When the tide’s out, you can also walk down to the beach on the bed of the estuary, which is mostly sandy. If you do this, be prepared to have to take your shoes off because you’ll need to cross the shallow river several times. And, be mindful of the tides – it’s best to avoid the estuary at high tide or when the tide is on its way in in case you get cut off.
Having the Gannel only a 15-minute stroll from the campsite is really handy if you have a dog – when the tide is out there’s a wide expanse of sand with puddles and shallow streams (and a little mud) for them to play on. That said, the lack of footpaths and common land near the site lets it down compared to the campsites nearer the coast where there are a few more options for dog walking.
The Gannel is obviously great for kids too – there are loads of rock pools to explore.
Trevella has a well-stocked shop, a cafe that does breakfast and evening meals (including a takeaway service and, importantly, chips!) and an outdoor swimming pool (with kids’ pool). There’s no bar or on-site pub, which suited us. The cafe does sell bottled beers and ciders though.
We used the pool one morning, which was a comfortable temperature for the time of year. However, it’s not ideal for serious swimming because one end is very shallow. The cafe does an amazing cream tea with warm, fluffy scones, fruity jam and perfect clotted cream – much better than the cream tea we had at the nearby Fern Pit Cafe.
The site also has a games room with pool table, arcade games and fruit machines, laundrette, pets corner (with rabbits, chinchillas and even an owl!) and crazy golf course. Plus, if you’re into your fishing, there are two lakes that are free to use for guests who have an Environment Agency rod licence (which are cheap to buy).
For the kids, there are two playgrounds and lots of open spaces in addition to the nearby beach and Gannel. Everyone’s free to stroll around the lakes, but dogs understandably aren’t allowed.
The site has free wi-fi for guests, but it’s quite slow and not very reliable for extended web browsing. This was much to grandad’s disappointment as he was dying to use his new iPad to keep in touch with everyone back home. OK, we were disappointed too – like it or not, many of us take having a good wi-fi connection for granted at home and at work. I’d rather have all or nothing to be honest.
Although the “Original” caravan was basic compared to the other options available, it had everything we needed for a comfortable holiday.
There were two bedrooms – bedroom one had a small-size “double” bed, while bedroom two had two single beds. Both rooms had modest storage space including wardrobes and overhead cupboards and shelves. The frame of the bed in bedroom one lifted up to reveal spare blankets and pillows and yet more storage space.
Our bed in bedroom one was comfortable enough, but a little noisy when moving around on it (ooh, er). Both bedrooms were carpeted; the rest of the caravan had laminate flooring so it was easy to keep it clean throughout the week.
The bathroom had a toilet, sink and shower. There were also some spacious shelves in the corner and an electric towel heater. The bathroom also had an extractor fan – handy for disguising any “sounds” that become more obvious when you’re living in such close confines with others.
The shower wasn’t particularly powerful, but it worked fine and was always hot. The roof of the shower was lower than the rest of the bathroom. I found that there was enough space for me in there. But taller people (I’m 5’7″) might find it poky.
Towels aren’t provided at Trevella unless you opt for the “Superior” or “Superior Plus” caravan.
The combined kitchen, dining and living room space was in an L-shape with the kitchen down one side of the caravan. The kitchen had a gas oven and grill, four gas hobs, a toaster, microwave and fridge with an ice compartment. There was also an all-important teapot and enough cutlery and crockery for six people.
The caravan wasn’t found wanting when it came to utensils either – basics such as a tin opener, knives, a colander, corkscrew and cheese grater were present in the cupboards and drawers. The only thing missing was a cafetiere for filtering ground coffee – I’d brought my own anyway. I’d also recommend bringing a non-stick frying pan – we had a bit of a nightmare involving eggs with the frying pan that was supplied.
It’s probably best not to rely on the oven and grill for cooking large meals – both struggled to get to a high temperature (the grill was particularly poor). Oddly, the gas on one of the rings on the hob would go out when we turned on a hot water tap. We soon learnt to avoid using the hot water tap when cooking!
Living and dining area
The living room and dining area was at the far end of the caravan. There was a seating area in an L-shape in one corner facing a unit that included a gas fire and a long shelf for the small flat-screen TV and DVD player. Part of the L-shaped seat converted into an additional double bed. In the corner was the dining area with a another smaller L-shaped seat plus two stools around the table – room for 5-6 at a squeeze.
Don’t expect to do a lot of reading after dusk – the energy saving lightbulbs in the living area aren’t very powerful at all. There is however definitely enough light for a game of cards or a board game – essential for keeping entertained when the inevitable happens with the weather.
Despite the incident with chips that upset me so much, I really enjoyed my holiday to Trevella in 1986. I can safely say the same about my visit in 2015 – we had a great time relaxing in our caravan, taking trips out and walking down to the river and beach.
The only downside for me was the lack of dog walking routes direct from the site. However, it was only a short ride in the car to some of the country’s most scenic beaches and cliff-top walks. So I can’t moan too much.I also have no qualms about the minor issues we had with the accommodation – we were on a budget after all.
If you go on holiday expecting to be entertained all the way, Trevella isn’t for you. But if you have no problem making your own fun, with a little help from the campsite’s facilities, you’ll have a great time.