Is it time to book a summer holiday yet? Can we, please?
Because a cursory glance in the fridge reveals that, once again, it’s salad for dinner.
Most of us are struggling to even stand up straight thanks to a new-fangled fitness regime (in my case just one class a week).
And dry January was a terrible, terrible idea.
BUT. The days are getting longer. Summer is a mere 143 days away. Surely it’s time to think about the next sun-filled mini-break? Yay!
Having spent the last 9 years exploring the southern hemisphere, we are now testing the lovely waters around the UK (I understand – they are not always sun-filled but it’s the start of a new year and my glass is resolutely half full).
So, where are the best places to take a campervan? Which campsites would you recommend?
We love North Devon in England’s south west and once we’d arrived back in the UK last year, one of the first places we headed to was Croyde Bay.
Croyde is LOVELY. It’s got a fabulous sandy beach. Coastal walks. Great surf.
But let’s face it. The main reason any of us go to North Devon is the cream teas. Warm, fluffy scones smothered in homemade jam and clotted cream. And with every café, pub and beach shack serving their own special version, it would be rude not to try at least one every day you’re there.
That’s surely enough to get us through three months of lettuce.
Campsite review – Ruda Holiday Park
On our most recent visit to Croyde, we stayed at Ruda Holiday Park, which we’d watched being built before moving to Australia. Nestled in a perfect spot behind the sand dunes, Ruda offers a large campsite, touring pitches and a number of lodges.
Still campervan-less, we tried out one of the lodges. Aside from the price, which – despite being outside school holidays – would easily rival the cost of an all-inclusive trip to the Caribbean, our Clovelly Lodge was fantastic. It was light, bright and spacious and had literally everything we needed for a week’s stay, including high-spec fittings and appliances. Granted, it did officially sleep 6 and there were only 2.5 of us (6 would have been mightily cosy) but compared with my vision of a glorified static caravan, it was impressive.
There’s a well-stocked grocery shop onsite, a large swimming complex which our toddler loved and regular evening entertainment if that’s your thing. On the downside, there’s no 3G coverage and the wi-fi is only available in the bar area, where it was very temperamental.
Also, the eating areas were not overly inspiring – maybe a bit too child-friendly to allow for a civilised evening meal if you’re a group of adults. (Of course if you do have children in tow then the sight of a few chips on the floor might just make you relax about the prospect of your own carefully chosen kids’ meals being flung around. Nope? Just me then.)
Reading the reviews on TripAdvisor, the actual camping facilities at Ruda aren’t always rated very highly. But if you’re using your own campervan facilities (or are staying in one of the lodges) you can’t beat the location.
The beautiful beach could not be any closer. The cliff-top walk to Baggy Point is just around the corner and the pretty village of Croyde is a few minutes’ walk away. (And those few minutes would definitely justify another cream tea while you’re there.)
In the evening, try the lovely local pub, The Thatch, for dinner, or drive the short distance to Braunton for some amazing fish and chips at Squires.
So Croyde is definitely on our travel list for 2016. We could almost buy a new campervan for the cost of a week in a lodge though, so we might need to focus our efforts in that regard.
Okay, over to you. Where are your favourite spots to get us reacquainted with the English coastline?
Nice to hear from you again here in what you will remember as
the brutal Brisbane summer.
Inspired by your blog, I performed a more rudimentary (and
light) fit out to a Hi Ace SWB which we bought in 2013. We
tended to do our travelling in March or April and in 2014 we
went down to Bowral and Mittagong in the New South Wales
Southern Highlands including Berry and Kiama where were lucky
to catch the blues festival. Then in 2015 we managed to go as
far as Canberra then on to Tumut (gorgeous riverside camping)
and explored a little bit of the Snowy Montains highway.Good
memeories of camping in Parkes and Tamworth always a good
stopover. Oh yes and Bellingen where the showgrounds becomes a
“pop up” camping ground under those shady trees. Devon looks
lovely, a bit more like NZ which is where we come from and
another good campervanning destination. Keep blogging!
Great to hear from you Steve – it sounds like you’ve had some really good trips. You’re making me miss Australia even more!
Hello there Rach , ive just been reading your blog from your DIY campervan conversion , inspiring to say the least and its looks amazing, can you possibly off the top of your head give ,me a guesstimate of your total cost , excluding van for such a transformation and how long did it take roughly , so wanting to do this my self, thank you, Christian
Hi Christian, thanks very much for your comment and sorry it’s taken me so long to reply. The conversion cost around AUD15,000 – we had a few bits left over at the end so could have saved on that figure. (Also we didn’t spend hours researching the cheapest option for each element, we just went to Bunnings so you could probably do it cheaper!). It took us around a year of working a few hours most weekends on the interior. Best of luck with your conversion!
Thank you Rach , well i think all would agree the end result was beautiful , such a cool cool camper , for what im looking for im certainly not looking to spend that much but it gives me a ball park figure of a do DIY range , thanks so much for your reply , hope all is well
I wanted to thank you for your blog. I am now in the very (very) initial stages of attempting a modest conversion of a van. I did love the idea of using flatpacks for the cabinet fit out. I was thinking of doing the lot out of ply… with just a little research and some minor modifications to ‘the plan’ you have saved me a stack of time and frustration there. Thanks for the inspiration.
Oh, brilliant – I’m so glad it helped!
Hi, thank you for your blog. I’ve been studying your instructions on making cushions as I’m currently making replacement covers for conservatory furniture, and even though my corners aren’t quite as pointy as yours I’m very pleased, so thank you. We also live near Bristol and have a motorhome so spend a lot of time in north Devon and also Cornwall for longer summer holidays. In Cornwall we love perranporth, a nice mix of surf, ice cream and butchers for bbqs. Another great site is Harford bridge near Dartmoor. Also Lyme Regis is great, though gets busy during holiday season, And Woolacombe for a great beach.
Brilliant – I’m so glad your cushions are working out okay. We probably don’t live far from you! We haven’t made it to Cornwall yet, but hopefully will this summer and will definitely check out those sites. We love Lyme Regis too. Thanks for your comment 🙂
Loving reading your blog – I’m about to embark on a conversion for windsurf kit and sleeping in New Zealand.
Originally I’m from South Devon – try Mount Folly in Bigbury as a cracking spot or Porth Joke near (but not in) Newquay.
Thanks Amy – we love NZ, that sounds great fun. Thanks for the recommendations too, I’ll look them up 🙂
Superb job on the campervan conversion! How the van performed with the weight of the cabinets and accessories? Have you noted if the engine worked a bit harder?
Thank you! Yes, I’d say it certainly had to work harder with all the additional weight, but luckily it didn’t really affect the performance.
Thank you for your reply. Perhaps I do it with thin marine plywood to save weight.
Good plan – any bit of weight saving would help. Good luck!