Lux­ury is par for the course at this mo­bile home park PETER SPENCER

And sons get into the swing of car­a­van life at an award-win­ning hol­i­day site in north Lan­cashire

Macclesfield Express - - TRAVEL -

FOR­GET pitch and putt, the nine-hole course was The Open as far as we were con­cerned.

Two clubs, a ‘proper’ marked ball to­gether with an al­ter­nat­ing breeze from the Ir­ish Sea – and the daily dad ver­sus lad chal­lenge at Hol­gates Sil­verdale Car­a­van Park.

Mean­while, mum and tod­dler Jack traded golf clubs for walk­ing boots, trudg­ing the well-marked routes from the door of this award-win­ning car­a­van park on the Cum­bria/Lan­cashire bor­der, at Sil­verdale.

They were re­warded with spec­tac­u­lar views from Arn­side Knott of the Lan­cashire coast and the Lake Dis­trict.

Yet for fa­ther and fiveyear-old son, Jamie, golf was the or­der of the days – £2.50 for as many rounds as re­quired.

We ap­plied our own rules; no mo­bile phones, no snacks, drinks or den­ims and rab­bit hole dodg­ing tac­tics.

We saw rab­bits, squir­rels and seag­ulls as we at­tempted to make par 27 – try ex­plain­ing that to a bois­ter­ous boy who just wants to whack it like Rory McIlroy.

The tenth hole was well-po­si­tioned at the restau­rant where we tucked into Chi­nese-style spare ribs and re­galed any­one who would lis­ten with tales of our golf­ing prow­ess.

Less than two hours’ drive from Manch­ester, Sil­verdale, Hol­gates’ flag­ship park is an ex­tremely well-run ship and the car­a­van crowd here have an or­derly way about them too as they pot­ter about the man­i­cured com­plex which boasts swimming pool, spa, steam room, gym, chil­dren’s play ar­eas, games room and shop.

What a dif­fer­ence 50 years has made to the car­a­van park ex­pe­ri­ence.

My boy­hood mem­o­ries of car­a­van­ning in Wales are dom­i­nated by rec­ol­lec­tions of ba­sic ac­com­mo­da­tion; sep­a­rate loo and shower blocks and the height of en­ter­tain­ment was be­ing left with a packet of cheese and onion crisps and a Vimto while mum and dad went to the park so­cial club.

It’s no won­der th­ese days that the Sil­verdale crowd don’t feel the need to budge from the park, given all the fa­cil­i­ties avail­able and the swanky in­te­ri­ors of the car­a­vans.

But it would be a shame not to ex­plore this cor­ner of Cum­bria bor­der­lands that of­ten gets for­got­ten in the mad dash for Lake­land.

Just un­der two miles away is Arn­side, over­looked by heav­ily wooded head­land of­fer­ing clear­ings with stun­ning views that Jack en­joyed view­ing from the van­tage point of dad’s shoul­ders.

Down in the town, where the sands are a beau­ti­ful sight to be­hold, par­tic­u­larly at sun­set, you get the mes­sage loud and clear about the dan­ger lurk­ing within.

Sig­nage ev­ery­where alerts you to the dan­ger of quick­sand but there are still reg­u­lar ‘in­ci­dents’ with tourists get­ting stuck.

And a siren warns of the po­ten­tial for eight feet high tides – those of a jit­tery dis­po­si­tion can take refuge in one of the many tra­di­tional tea shops that line the front.

Fur­ther along the coast road is Mil­nthorpe and No17 café & restau­rant – a popular eaterie for tourists and lo­cals alike – proved by the fact that we were lucky to nab a park­ing place on a week­day evening.

We did so just as an el­derly cou­ple drove in and they didn’t look best pleased that we had taken the last place – not least be­cause they’d or­dered their food in ad­vance.

We looked on en­vi­ously at the spec­tac­u­lar sight of plates groan­ing with de­li­ciously golden fish ‘n’ chips be­ing placed be­fore them as soon as they took their seats.

Our food took longer to ar­rive as we hadn’t pre-or­dered and the place was pretty busy, but with kids in tow you just want to get them fed and wa­tered as quickly as pos­si­ble… be­fore spoons and forks start fly­ing.

Yet it was worth the wait as the meal was su­perb – es­pe­cially the quirky mini chip shop bat­tered chipo­lata sausages with cur­ried may­on­naise. It Might not sound too ap­petis­ing but de­cid­edly mor­eish. Kate, Graeme and the team here do a grand job of serv­ing up tasty food in a smart but re­laxed set­ting.

The next day, a visit to Lakeside and Haver­th­waite Rail­way was a must.

We’ve been there about a dozen times but the lads never tire of the short steam train jour­ney to Lakeside to visit the Aquar­ium and/or the Mo­tor Mu­seum or hop on a boat.

We stopped off in bustling Bow­ness, ar­guably Lake­land’s busiest ‘port’ and had a light lunch at the fam­i­lyfriendly An­gel Inn which sits on the hill on Helm Road.

No need to worry here if your kids start play­ing up – the staff are smi­ley and re­laxed. For Jack the high­light of the mini break was a visit to Old Hall Farm, at Bouth, near Ulver­ston, which we strug­gled to find thanks to oddly-po­si­tioned sig­nage. It was worth the ef­fort (and the ar­gu­ment!) as two-year-old Jack re­ally en­joyed watch­ing his dad feed­ing a lamb – although he nearly lost his bot­tle in more ways than one as she was an ag­gres­sive lit­tle lamb. Watch­ing the pro­fes­sion­als milk­ing a cow was prob­a­bly more ed­u­ca­tional for Jack – if not as amus­ing. This is an his­toric work­ing farm with shire horses, vin­tage and steam ma­chin­ery, chil­dren’s play barn – as well as the ubiq­ui­tous tea room. And it’s free for un­der fives so well worth a visit for those with lit­tle’uns.

Our Hol­gates Sil­verdale stay came to an end far too soon as we re­ally felt at home at this park – no sur­prise to us that it won Hol­i­day Park of the Year at the Cum­brian Tourism Awards last year. So to all you Lake Dis­trict fans out there, try turn­ing off at junc­tion 35 of the M6 and head­ing to Sil­verdale: you won’t be dis­ap­pointed.

●● Left, the car­a­van site’s swimming pool com­plex. Above, Peter Spencer on a walk, and be­low, feed­ing a lamb at Old Hall Farm

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