“ Address: Watchet / Somerset / TA23 0TJ / England „
Haven Doniford Bay. I will be reviewing the site, but also about the location and the attractions near the site, as I feel that this influences how good a holiday is as well as where you stay.
*Where is it?*
Doniford Bay and Watchet are in Somerset, and are only a hop, skip and a jump away from Exmoor National Forest. It is situated along the coast, and takes a few winding roads to get to.
Generally there isn't alot of traffic in the area at all, until you get to the larger town's centres.
In Doniford, which consists of a few houses, it is not far from a small town called Watchet, which has it's own harbour and a few shops of crafts, along with a pub or two, and a selection of tea rooms. Along with this, is the classic fish and chip shop!
From our campsite, you could walk along the entire beach and get to Watchet, just a walk up the steps and down a passageway to the Harbour.
Relative to larger towns, it is about 10 miles away from Minehead, and doesn't take long there to drive, whilst Ilfracombe is, lets just say, a bit of a further drive away! (as I found to my peril. Tom Tom took us the scenic route through the national forest)
The beach wasn't quite what you expect at Doniford. There are lots of large pebbles, and what seems to be sheets of thick slate that come up the beach and jut out. As you walk along, you may be likely to spot a fossil or two! I'm not sure if this is fossil beach or not, but during my holiday I saw signs for fossil beach nearby.
Although I wouldn't suggest that sunbathing on it (it wouldn't be very comfortable) I would say it is a really interesting beach, lots of unusual things to look at. It really makes you think at how powerful and vast nature is when you see the slate and the fossils.
As you come over the hill towards the campsite, you see the site roll on down the hill, and towards the beach. From the campsite, you can have direct access to the beach, with a lovely view. On a clear day, you can see the coast of Wales.
It isn't a huge site, so you aren't likely to get lost. Each area has it's own street name, and when you check in, you are given a map with directions drawn on it, which i found helpful.
We couldn't check in unti 4pm, but they said if our room was cleaned and available earlier, they would give us a call so we could dump our stuff.
Staff were really friendly and polite, and instantly made us feel welcome
We were in a standard apartment near the back of the whole campsite. They had all been redecorated at the begining of the year, so I was pleasantly surprised when we walked in. The walls were magnolia, with modern furniture, such as brown leather sofas, and a digital television. It was only small, but was clear to watch, and had freeview. The kitchen which was clean, and fairly modern, with a hob and cooker, ample storage, and all the plates, bowls, cutlery etc. you would need. The apartment had 2 bedrooms, all be it a bit small, the normal, caravan size. One bedroom was a double, with 1 wardrope and two lamps and the other was a twin room, again with a wardrobe.
The bathroom had a shower, which you could control the temperature and the pressure of it was clean, and well maintained and the whole apartment looked modern.
We hadn't paid top dollar for it, I thought it was well above what I was expecting. (We had a sun holiday)
To access the pool (you need to buy passes) you have to go through the arcade. You walk through to the pool area, and instead of there being a changing room for men and one for women before you go through, there are actually cubicles next to the pool which you get changed in. A little bit odd in my experience, but to be honest, I didn't see a problem with it. I think it's quite useful to get the kid out of the pool, dried off and dressed, without the fuss of going through the changing rooms. There were also lockers, which needed a pound coin to work, which you got back after wards.
The floor felt a little bit greasy, but apart from that it was very clean, and a decent size. One major plus I found with this pool area was the depth. There was a section which was 0.4 metres in depth which was walled off from the rest, which made it perfect for new moms to play in the water with their toddlers knowing that they would be safer from the swimmers and the deep water. Aside from that, the rest of the pool was 1.1 metres in depth, meaning it had no deep end. This meant kids could stand up in the pool without fear of sinking. This in my opinion was a really good thought, giving parents a bit of piece of mind that their children wouldn't accidentily drift into the deep end and be in a bit of a muddle. (For me and my boyfriend it was a little weird not having a deep end, but bare in mind, the holiday is for the kids ;D)
On site was an arcade, a stage, with ample seating for evening entertainment, with a bar running up the side of the room, a cafe, which alcohol and good meals could be served in.
On site there is also a large wooden frame for rock climbing, along with another one for activities at heights, but these incur another charge as they are ran separately to Haven. I thought this was a shame, as you pay for a pass, and yet can't use all of the facilities?
Because the site is situated next to a slope, there is a pathway up to the "Cliff top Garden" which provides a vantage point. The walk isn't too strenuous, compared with how it looks! It has benches, and gives a better view of Wales and the rest of the coast. It wasn't finished when we went, but it was a nice walk, and you could see all of the little bats flying in and out of the hedges!
Karaoke- This happens in the Cafe/restaurant. You usually get the kid up, and maybe the odd adult up for a song or two! I like karaoke, so i enjoyed it, but me and my boyfriend just wanted to sit in the cafe quietly, as there was a rock band on in the hall with the stage. This is one of the negatives, as it was difficult to go out for a quiet drink of site, as something noise/loud music related was always going on. I was hoping that we could escape from the noice but it seems not, but I'm sure that there are nights where it is quite.
Tribute Bands- Usually takes place on the main stage and has a good line of singers up. In my opinion they were better than the normal cheesy bands that usually play at holiday camps.
Bingo- Also takes place on the main stage. These nights seemed to be the most popular, as the whole room was full of people, but there was enough seating to accomodate them comfortably.
Well, this is the down fall, not a lot is nearby. To get to any hustling and bustling beach town, you have either Minehead, which is 7-10 miles away, Ilfracombe, or Weston-Super-Mare, which are both 30+ miles away. We had a walk along to Watchet, but even then, there wasn't alot to do there either. If you are looking for some peace away from the rat race of life, this are is fine, and Doniford Bay Holiday park will be a good base. But if you like going and seeing the sights, and want them on your door step, I wouldn't suggest it.
For children, I can't say as I am not a mother, however, based on my experience as a child (not long ago!) as long as there are things to do and events going on when on site, then I think children would be content. I saw many children happily playing around the site, and using the Trikes that were provided.
If you do like the day tripping out for miles, then there are some places that you could Visit, including Cheddar Gorge, The Somerset Railway, and the larger beach towns I mentioned earlier.
A bit out of the way from the main hubs of activity, but a nice relaxing place out of the way, maiking it a nice and quiet place to stay. However for me, it was a little bit too quiet, I would have prefered there to be more things to do closer to the holiday camp.
The camp is right by the coast, which was really nice, as you could go for a nice walk along the beach, but it isn't the friendliest beach to stroll along.
Overall, 3 stars, due to the nice area, and camp maintainence, but it loses a couple because it very quiet, with no immediate attractions.
I stayed at Doniford Holiday Park with my best friend and 2 very young daughters on my £9.50 sun holiday in June 2010.
On arrival it was packed with people bustling and cramming in the central entertainment suite to get their keys, linen and welcome packs so we visited the resturant for a bite to eat. The food was edible but it all seemed a little microwave in a pot type grub. Once we had finished the queue was totally gone so I would recommend this method to anyone visiting and doesnt like queueing because the arrival time is the same for all.
We were given a small but quite luxurious caravan 4 minutes stroll from the central entertainment. I had ample room in a quiet area. It had gas hobs and oven, lovely shower, fridge,sofa bed, two bedrooms, 5 of so hangers in the wardrobe and shelving. No freezer or microwave.
There was ample room for the 4 of us but I would say not fit for more than 2 adults and 2 children. The beds were pretty uncomfortable and by the end of the 4 days took its toll on us adults but you kind of expect that i think. The linen was not great there is no poppers or seal on the bottom of duvet covers so the duvet falls out and my friend had hair appear as she unwrapped it fresh from the poly bag. So if you can manage to bring your own linen I would recommend it instead of paying like we did. Pillows and duvets were already there as we arrived. There is not really a great deal of room for a travel cot so be warned.
The Holiday park itself had a central entertainment unit had Spar shop, resturant, arcade, entertainment suite, swimming pool and toilet facilities. The park is set alongside cliffs and seaviews, There was a park, go karts and a laundry room.
The spar is extremely expensive as you'd expect and it has the basic holiday survival foods but nothing fancy and basics like bread sell out quick. Also the shop seems to close whenever it fancies.The resturant was pretty cheap but the food was fairly poor. The arcade is ample and well kept, The entertainment is not as good as a butlins I would say but good to kill some time. The pool itself was nice not hugely big but semed to be big enough to cater for the visitors. The facilities in the pool area for toddlers were shameful!!the nappy changing facilities were broken the door does not close once the changing bed is down and yet you are not allowed to wear shoes into the area because it has been newly refubished and the nearest toilet to the pool is through the arcade! not well thought out I would say.
The park is too big for toddlers. don't forget to grab tokens from the shop and some powder before you head over to the laundrette. It doesnt take tablets and some of the machines in the laundrette are useless.
The play clubs for children are 4 and 5 years plus so don't bother taking a toddler I would say. The local shopping is great and definately pop into Watchet Harbour,the little museum there is fabulous.
Think I have covered all the bases.