Luxury is par for the course at this mobile home park
And sons get into the swing of caravan life at an award-winning holiday site in north Lancashire
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.