“ Address: Telham Lane / Battle TN33 0SL / East Sussex „
With a young child holiday parks seem to be making more of an appearance in our holiday schedule. Hotels and B&Bs rarely cater well for children, often limiting you to just 2 beds in a room and, when you can get a room for 3 (or 4), you find yourself having to go to bed at the same time as the kids - fine if they want to stay up and you can put up with the tiredness that results but not such fun when you've got a child who can only just make it to 7pm before demanding to go to bed! For UK holidays that basically leaves you with a choice between camping, cottages and holiday parks. My husband refuses to do the first, the second can be very expensive when there's only 3 of you and so we're left with the holiday parks.
Having suffered our fair share of lively parks such as Haven and their ilk, I decided that I fancied something a little lower key for a long weekend at the end of July. Having identified East Sussex as our destination I set about looking for parks with availability. There were a number but, one by one, I set them aside having researched and found unfavourable reports on websites such as Trip Advisor. We were left with one final option, the most expensive, Crowhurst Park Holiday Village near Battle. Offered through Hoseasons this park falls into their "Lodges" brochure and, at nearly £400 for a long weekend in July in their cheapest, discounted accommodation it was far from cheap.
*** Accommodation ***
Our accommodation, an Ontario lodge, is one of the smallest on the site, but sleeps 4 comfortably with a layout that betters most static caravans of a similar size. It was dated but spotlessly clean and, once one had got used to the feeling of living in a sauna with wooden walls and ceilings, it made for a very nice resting place. The beds, one double and two full sized singles, whilst not super quality, were comfortable and all linen was provided. The small galley kitchen was more than adequately stocked with all the equipment that you could possibly need whilst on a self-catering break and we were even provided with a basic cleaning pack (dish cloth, scourer and tea-towel).
We were only on a weekend break and so didn't need to make use of much of the equipment provided but it was refreshing to have access to a clothes airer, iron and ironing board and even a small vacuum cleaner. There was plenty of storage available both in the bedrooms and in the kitchen so that you never had to feel like you were tripping over your stuff.
For out of season breaks it is worth noting that there was heating in both bedrooms, a heated rail in the bathroom and an electric fire in the living area. This, compared to most caravans, could make the difference between a cold miserable stay and a comfortable one!
The bathroom was unusual in that it provided a half bath with a shower, ideal for those with kids who are easier to bathe than to shower (or indeed for those who simply prefer baths!).
All of the lodges have large balconies, adding to your private space and all come with patio furniture. The balcony provided the perfect opportunity to dry wet swimming kit and the perfect place to sit and enjoy the views in the evening sun.
And, what a view....
We were extremely lucky in the siting of our unit. We were at the edge of the park overlooking uninterrupted farm land, down the valley to the coast - I'd not expected a sea view from Battle being rather inland, least not of all from our lodge, but I got one! The perfect place to relax with a glass of wine and a book when junior had gone to bed. If I were to return to this park I would certainly look to requesting one of the lodges along the edge (19 through to 28) as many of the lodges within the park, although well spaced, did not benefit from a view.
Some of the larger lodges come with hot tubs but, in my opinion, these were not well sited within the park and I'd question whether it was worth the extra. I'd rather have the view!
*** Facilities ***
Facilities at the Park were good but this is not a park for those looking for non-stop entertainment. The pool has a toddler splash area and then a shallow area with a bubble jet which then opens out into a more traditional shaped pool which was probably around 18 metres in length. To one corner there is a Jacuzzi and there is a steam room and sauna all of which were well maintained. The water in the pool was warm and the condition of the pool and surround very good. The gym was well equipped and offered all that one would expect. A number of classes were on offer in the studio, all at under £5.
The pool and gym had good, long opening hours, and very few restrictions which made a nice change from the likes of Haven parks. Adult only swims were offered at lunchtime and there were designated splash times when floats were put out into the water for children, but these were very much in the minority. The pool and gym are also open to club members as a private gym and whilst I thought that this might cause issues it didn't at all. Lifeguards were in attendance on the poolside at all times but, if complaint could be made, it was that they rarely seemed to be paying much attention to what was going on. For non-swimmers there were chairs to sit and view.
Changing facilities were somewhat dated and private cubicles a little limited but there was plenty of space in the communal area. A single family cum disabled changing cubicle was available replete with toilet and shower. This seemed a little inadequate as often we'd see disabled people waiting to use it. There were plenty of lockers available on a 20p refundable deposit.
Completing the sporting scene there is a tennis court (free), boules pitch, table tennis table and chess set outside. Inside there is pool, snooker and skittles. A spa is also available although as I didn't use it I can't really comment.
For children there was an excellent adventure play area with equipment to suit all ages and abilities. There was also a skate ramp although this appeared to be cordoned off for some reason. All the equipment looked safe and well maintained.
There is a very, very basic shop on site (it might prevent you from starving but not much else) and a laundry.
The site is capable of hosting weddings and conferences.
*** Entertainment ***
Hoseasons market this site as a "Go Active" site which means that there should be any number of activities on offer such as karting, fencing, disc golf, yoga and the like. I expected to be presented with a programme of activities upon arrival but this was not the case. Whilst there were fitness classes available I saw nothing to indicate that there was an active programme in place. This is the first year that the site has run this programme and we were early in the season so maybe there will more on offer as the summer goes on. If you do book this site with the "Go Active" programme in mind it might pay to make specific enquiries before booking to check that the programme is actually running.
Evening entertainment was very limited. There is a good clubhouse situated in the old manor house. There is a bar area which feels like a good pub and prices were reasonable. The room in which the "entertainment" took place doubled as the restaurant. This was a room rather like a hotel function room, carpeted and without a dance floor. On the Saturday night there was a children's magician followed by a disco and karaoke. The kids basically crowded on the floor between the tables which had not been cleared to make any space. The kids seemed to like it but it felt rather like being at an under 8s birthday party with a dodgy entertainer. The disco/karaoke suffered through lack of space. Really tables needed to have been moved to allow space to dance. On the Sunday there was bingo. This again felt like an amateur affair akin to what you would expect in an old people's home. Kids seemed to enjoy it though. This is not somewhere to come if you need to be entertained or want non-stop action.
*** Why Come Here? ***
If you are seeking a very quiet break in an excellent part of the country then you could do worse. For the price we paid I would consider it reasonable but not good value for money. The accommodation was certainly very good and we were exceptionally lucky in terms of location. Whether this justified the price I'm not sure. Personally I'd have liked a little more evening entertainment (or for the entertainment to have been of a better quality). As it was, with a young child, just sitting in a bar wasn't really an option. On the plus side, we got a lot of reading done!
There is quite a lot to do in the nearby area with lots of National Trust properties close by and the historic towns of Battle and Hastings. Whilst this is not a coastal resort you're only about 10 minutes drive from the coast.
As a family we had a really good break and the combination of a good location and the peacefulness of the site meant that we came back relaxed - a pleasant change.