“ Location: Upwood Holiday Park, Blackmoor Road, Oxenhope Keighley, West Yorkshire BD22 9SS. „
Upwood Holiday Park is in West Yorkshire and overlooks the villages of Haworth and Oxenhope. There are mainly caravans on site; static, tourers and motor homes, as well as a residential area and chalets. There is also room for tents and camping pods. I stayed here for three nights in early September in a camping pod.
It doesn't seem to be possible to book online. There are booking forms available to print out and post - if you have word installed on your computer you can do this. Alternatively there's a phone number. I chose to ring up and book. The prices vary depending on the time of year, but the guy I spoke to on the phone said he had no idea when high season ended and there was a misunderstanding about the price per night. He was very jovial about it though and it was cheap enough anyway, so I booked a mid-week three night stay in a five person family pod at a cost of £27.50 per night.
Driving up the holiday park there are some very steep hills to negotiate, but this does make for a fantastic view once you get up there. Driving in, it all looked well maintained and seemed quite quiet. We drove up to reception which was attached to the Upwood Inn - the onsite pub. I'd been told it would be best to arrive around lunchtime and we arrived at about 1pm to find the office empty. After asking in the pub the manager was located by phone and he let us in the office and explained a few bits and bobs about the site. As well as our key, we were given a fob; an electronic device for gaining entry to the toilets and laundry room. For this we were asked for a £10 returnable deposit. The manager then accompanied us over to the pods and pointed a few things out. I was struck by the pride he seemed to take in the site and he seemed very pleasant and personable.
Camping pods are quite a recent addition to holiday accommodation. A pod is basically a wooden tent - an ergonomically designed, (dome shaped), hut. I'd never been in a camping pod before although I had heard good things about them from a couple of people. We'd decided to book a pod as we like camping, but haven't yet tried it with our young daughter and thought the nights might be a touch nippy for her.
The main advantage of a pod over a tent is probably the temperature. The next is possibly the fact that you don't have to assemble it when you get there. It's also more secure than a tent. The pods at Upwood have mini balconies outside with a small cooking area provided. There are lockable french windows at the front, (with a pull down blind), and another small high window at the back.
Haworth's biggest claim to fame is as a literary mecca for fans of the Bronte Sisters and the pods were thematically named. Ours was called Charlotte. Inside there were a couple of spotlights, a double electric socket and a heater on a low shelf. There was also a single camping mattress provided, which we hadn't expected but made good use of. There were a couple of hooks on the wall near the door - a couple more would have been well used. It seemed clean and new, and managed to have a cosy atmosphere. 'Charlotte' was a five person family pod - a nice enough size for two adults and one small child, but I couldn't imagine keeping my sanity with three children in there.
Just like camping, there's no loo so if you're caught short in the night you need to go outside to get to the toilet block. It's only a short distance away, but if there should be really heavy rain, like there was one night we were there, you might find yourself, as I did, indulging in camel-like behaviour.
We should have thought this out before we booked, but sharing sleeping space with a three year old who usually goes to bed at 7.30 wasn't really feasible. I had thought we might sit on the balcony until our child dropped off, (to sleep, not off the balcony), but that wasn't really practical either; one night there seemed to be swarms of midges, another the weather was too miserable. At least some tents have seperate compartments to give the illusion of your own room. As it was, our daughter ended up having a few late nights. Parents of very young ones will know that this doesn't necessarily lead to lie-ins, in fact usually the opposite, so we had a bit of an over-tired child, (and parents). I think pods are probably ideal for couples who like camping, but families might be aware that everyone should be happy to go to bed at the same time as each other.
My daughter loved the pod, even giving it the affectionate nickname of 'Podly Pod'. I'm afraid I grew oddly fond of the phrase, 'let's head back to the Pod,' and used it more than strictly necessary.
I notice on the Upwood Park website that they are planning to introduce 'Mega Pods' for 2011, which will have a mini kitchen, fixed bedding and toilet. These sound more like a mini cabin than a wooden tent and the prices are yet to be announced.
~The Upwood Inn~
I can't say a lot about the on site entertainment because high season was over by the time we arrived. In low season the pub is open on Wednesday nights and at the weekend. We popped in on the Wednesday night for a quick drink. It had quite an old fashioned feel to it. There is a games room, but it was closed, so there was just the lounge open, this was quite big and about a quarter to a third full of quite quiet suppers. Prices were about average. There was a tv on the wall but with the volume down, some sort of middle of the road music was playing. They serve meals at the weekend, including Sunday Dinner. We didn't eat there, but a glance at the menu shows it to be quite reasonably priced with a decent choice for children, although not much for vegetarians. There's entertainment on at weekends. It seemed that a singer on a Saturday night was the norm judging from the info I saw around, and Bingo on a Sunday.
Toilet Block - The toilet block was probably the best I have had the pleasure to use on holiday. Large, impeccably clean, decoratively tiled, well heated and with radio 2 piped in 24 hours a day. One of the toilets and one of the shower cubicles were locked and marked out of order during my stay, but this didn't have any effect on us as not many people seemed to use them. I didn't see any tents while I was there and people in caravans have their own toilets, so it seemed to be mainly the pod occupants who were using them.
The showers cost 50p and there was also a hairdryer available for 50p. The only problem with the showers was that they were the overhead type without a controllable shower head, you just stood under them.
There's an information board in here too with rules, forthcoming entertainment, meal times etc
The fob - I mentioned the fob which was used for entry to the toilets and laundry/dish washing room. On a few occasions I got halfway to the toilets, realised I'd forgetten the fob and had to go back. I also had to use it to let my husband into the men's toilets while I was in the laundry room; we could have done with one each, which I suppose we could have asked for, but we didn't. If we'd stayed any longer I think we might have done that as it did cause some, albeit minor, inconveniences.
I did find it a bit odd that such security was thought necessary for use of the toilets. I can't imagine many people wandering into the site just to use the toilets, it's not like it was in a busy area. Still, they obviously have their reasons, and I suppose it did make it feel a bit more exclusive in some way, as well as quite safe.
Laundry Room - This was next door to the toilets and had a couple of sinks, one for dishes, one for clothes. There was also a washing machine in here and an iron and ironing board. I don't recall whether there was a dryer. I kept myself entertained whilst doing the dishes in here by reading a list of rules that had been posted up. I particularly liked the one that said unruly children would be sent back to their caravans.
Outdoor play area - This is for under 14's. It was next to the pods, so was very handy for us. It was mainly climbing equipment, as well as a small slide and a couple of baby swings. The climbing area was good and kept my daughter happy.
Wifi Access - This is available for free in the bar and reception area. I think that's really good as I've noticed quite a few places think it's fine to charge excessively for this.
Shop - There's a small shop in the reception area with a few shelves of basic items, sweets and drinks.
Other points - There's a bus stop near to the Park entrance. There are recycling facilities, the site holds a David Bellamy Gold Conservation award. There were a few 'please do not' types of signs around; not an excessive amount, but enough that it might rankle with some, (grumpy), people.
A lot of the area around the park is out of bounds, but there is a public footpath leading to open moorland and it looks like there are riding stables nearby. It's close to the Yorkshire Dales National Park which means there are beautiful views to be had up there. Haworth is about a mile away, as is the Worth Valley Steam Railway. There are several villages not too far that are nice to visit; we went to Ilkley and also spent a pleasant morning in Hebden Bridge which is about eight or nine miles away. The nearest city is Bradford, which is a similar distance.
Our stay at Upwood Holiday park was a pleasant one. The site is well run and beautifully situated. It may be a bit quiet or have too many rules for some people, but for many that will be a plus point. If I wanted to revisit the area I would happily stay here again.
For further information visit the website at www.upwoodpark.co.uk
Overlooking the Bronte villages of Haworth and Oxenhope just over a mile away.