I remember my time in family caravan parks as a child with Peter Kay-esque fondness. All Rola Cola, crisps, arcade games, sliding on the dance floor and wandering back to our caravan in the dark, looking up at the stars alongside tipsy parents.
But I’m sure many of you hung up your hats on the idea of Haven campsites years ago, assuming their day has passed, choosing something maybe a little more refined for your own offspring, believing the thick cloud of smoke that once shrouded the evening entertainment clubhouse now just reveals how grubby that carpet really is.
Maybe I even harboured such – dare I say – snobbish opinions of my own, thinking that my own children would never get to experience the freedom, fun and friendly environment of the humble British caravan park.
I’m delighted to say seaside holiday park experts at Haven have brought me back from the brink, thanks to their dedication to revamping one of Yorkshire coast’s tired caravan parks. A £10million renovation programme has gone into my very own beloved childhood haunt of Thornwick Bay in Flamborough, not far from the seaside town of Bridlington.
I spent many a happy holiday on this beautiful peninsula, where the cliffs are a nature reserve to tens of thousands of seabird colonies, wildlife is plentiful, you can dream up pirates in the extensive network of caves, collect rocks and shells and there’s the lighthouse at the pinpoint of the headland. Just another reason that Yorkshire’s coast was named recently as the place most Brits visit outside of London in the UK. It really is beautiful.
Caravan’s have come a long way over the years, and now provide a luxury escape once you’ve tired yourselves and your little ones out with all the on-site entertainment. Myself, my husband and our four-year-old boy stayed in a Prestige caravan, which was brand new and offered perks such as central heating, patio doors, a family bathroom and an en-site bathroom. Our boy was so excited at the novelty of it all. A full-size oven and fridge-freezer also meant we could be as self-catering as we liked, which is ideal for families on a budget or simply for ease when those kiddies bundle through the door starving after a morning swimming. Linen is provided in the more expensive caravans, but there is the option to take your own and save money if you’d prefer.
Things to do
I was very impressed with how much there was to do without even having to leave the park. Had it been a beautiful summer’s week we’d definitely have ventured towards the beach more, but as it was cloudy and we were only there for four nights, we decided to make the most of Thornwick Bay itself.
Our mornings were spent enjoying a leisurely breakfast after a night in the super comfortable beds, then we got ready and took our boy to his biking lessons. All of the staff at Thornwick were friendly and couldn’t do enough to make our stay enjoyable, and Dan the biking instructor was particularly great with getting Rory off on two wheels. He went from balance bike to big boy pedal bike within five minutes and the pride on his face said it all… he won’t be forgetting this holiday in a hurry!
The swimming pool was another selling point of the site. Clean, new and plenty of places to keep kids entertained for hours until they’re shrivelled to prunes. Slides, jets and separate pools were a winner for us, and even younger kids are catered for with a baby pool and slide.
We went to see what was on stage at the showbar every evening, which even our shy boy loved (albeit from the sidelines instead of the middle of the dancefloor – the precise place I probably spent my own childhood). The entertainment team catered for little ones from 6pm and shows from 8pm that were ideal for all the family.
There was also a selection of swing parks around the site and specific areas such as the activity centre, where extras such as archery and games are held, the creative zone for little artists, a fishing lake, a nature teepee, a games arcade and mini soft play gym.
We planned for self-catering breakfast and lunches in the caravan or takeout picnics (if the weather had been kinder), and chose to eat in The Lighthouse in the central facility in the evening. This pub-style restaurant served fantastic pizzas from the pizza oven and family favourite dishes on the menu. The prices were reasonable, the kids menu was impressive and the service was always very good. When the weather is good, the restaurant’s patio looks onto the park, allowing the adults to relax with a sea view while the kids go off and play just metres away.
Would we go back?
We would definitely return to Thornwick Bay again, and not just because it’s got happy memories for me and my own family. My husband, who is not what you’d describe as a seasoned camper or caravanner by any stretch, absolutely loved the experience and could see why, with a child of four and one on the way, such a low-key, no-stress staycation in a seaside beauty spot not too far from home is such a winner.
There’s so much to do for the whole family and camp sites offer children a freedom that they relish away from home. Biking, swimming, jumping, running, swinging, playing, dancing… what more could they ask for? It’s great to see Haven bringing such a site back to its former glory, and hopefully bringing any caravan park sceptics through the doors once more to make friends, have fun and let loose for a little while at the same time.
Activity fun passes are issued to Haven customers which include access to the showbar, the pool and some activities, however some additional extra costs vary. (Our son’s biking lessons were £4).
There are loads of places to visit close to Thornwick Bay – too many to mention here – but follow this link to find out more.
Owning your own caravan at Thornwick Bay
Prices go from £14,995, including exclusive benefits such as free owners’ parties, clubs and events, a privilege card which entitles you to 15% discount off purchases across the park. Visit www.havenholidayhomes.com for more info or call 0333 202 1460 for Holiday Home Ownership.
Haven are offering a four night self catering holiday staying at Thornwick Bay Holiday Village in Flamborough – prices start from £551 (saving 15%) per family. Price is based on a family of six sharing Deluxe accommodation on July 25 and includes kids clubs and family entertainment. To find out more about this holiday or to book visit www.haven.com or call 0333 202 5305.
Thank you to Haven for the fantastic hospitality!