GETAWAY CAMPING WITH THE FAMILY GOT COOL AGAIN I
T’S hard to recall the exact moment, but there comes a point in life when camping loses its appeal.
It’s usually when kids come along and the bargain-bin tent and mouldy rucksack you faithfully dragged to Glastonbury every year are replaced with the entire stock of the nearest outward-bound warehouse.
In the past camping meant bog-standard tents, rickety gas stoves, chilly nights and the everpresent fear that your canvas – brought out of the attic once or twice a year – would not withstand the next storm on the horizon.
Little wonder then that glamping, combining the back-to-nature thrill of camping with the little luxuries that make life so much easier, has soared in popularity.
So it was that I, my partner and our two boys – aged two and five months – packed up the car, and headed to north Devon for a three-night break.
Our destination was the Ruda holiday camp, a stone’s throw from the picturesque village of Croyde on one side and a magnificent sandy beach on the other.
The beach is rated as one of the best surfing beaches in the world, which would explain the number of VWs on the roads and enthusiasts of all ages donning their wetsuits and stampeding towards the water.
There’s a surf school on the beach, and RNLI lifeguards on duty from May to September.
For those who haven’t yet caught the surfing bug, the tide waxes and wanes expansively, leaving a lunar landscape of rock pools (complete with alien creatures to a two-yearold) as the sea recedes. On our visit, hundreds of jellyfish (thankfully, harmless) were washed up on the sands.
A five-minute walk up from the beach lay our base for the weekend.
Ruda, a Parkdean resort, is an institution in Croyde with accommodation catering for all tastes from caravans and lodges to camping and, most recently, glamping.
Our accomodation was, indeed, a tent, but not as we know it. Cabinlike and taking in a breathtaking view of Croyde Bay, it contained a double bed in one half of the tent and two singles in the other.
A sofa bed takes the potential These luxury tents have all the amenities and a verandah so you can enjoy the spactacular views... and all within a stone’s throw of the stunning Croyde Bay, below While the campsite has its own amusements, it’s handy for the beach and some excellent days out for all the family number of inhabitants up to six, while a cot was helpfully provided for the baby.
There’s also a sink, with hot/boiling and cold water, fridge, and cooker.
Cutlery, glasses etc are provided and, for those chilly British summer nights, a heater. Outside there’s a verandah, complete with table and chairs – a perfect spot to sip a glass of wine and take in the view over the bay.
Spotless toilet and shower facilities lay next door to the glamping area, so no long treks in the dead of night were required.
On site, there’s a café, a shop for the basics, a bar/restaurant serving good pub grub and – in classic holiday camp style – family entertainment every night should you want it.
For the children, there’s a kids’ club, ice-cream parlour, several play areas, and Cascades Tropical Adventure pool, the latter with a spaghetti-like array of tubes for racing. It should be noted that visits to the pool incur a small fee. But the real star of the show is Croyde Bay itself. Whether sunbathing, playing in the sand or taking to the waves, it’s a reminder that you don’t have to look abroad to find idyllic spots – they’re often right on our doorstep. A short walk through the immaculate grounds of the park and beyond is the little village of Croyde itself. It’s a great place to while away a few hours, with a couple of pub restaurants, ice-cream parlours and the ubiquitous surf shops. On our last day, we drove to a nearby attraction, The Big Sheep. It’s a great day out for kids, with a sizeable chunk under cover – which was handy as the heavens opened while we were there. A busy family-run sheep farmturned winning combination of animal petting farm and amusement park, it has rides to suit all ages, including Devon’s largest rollercoaster. While our two-year-old was reluctant to help milk the goats, getting him off the tractor rides proved nigh impossible. Back at Ruda Holiday Park, we had that winning combination – two exhausted boys, a perfect sunset over Croyde Bay and a glass, or perhaps two, of wine.