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The Famous Two go Caravanning in Dorset !
Weymouth Bay Holiday Park (Herts)
Member Name: tallpete33
Weymouth Bay Holiday Park (Herts)
Date: 31/08/10, updated on 02/09/10 (123 review reads)
Advantages: Well run site with plenty to do
Disadvantages: Expensive ( peak time ), service can be slow
Anyway, that sorted, let me begin. I'm a long distance dad, my 14 year old daughter (Katie) living in Tenby, Wales whilst I live in Kent a long 271 miles away. I visit a lot despite the miles between us and we often have holidays together which we both love. We had previously visited Quay West, another Haven park in Wales and really enjoyed it so were happy to book Weymouth Bay as I had good memories of the town from holidays back in the day. The holiday (a week in mid-August) cost a whopping £764 for a "Superior" (mid-range) caravan though the blow was softened by approx £46 quidco which tracked soon after.
Arriving in the rain at about 5.15pm after 11 hours on packed roads (had to go to Wales first) I was a bit frazzled to say the least but parking was easy enough. We queued for about 15 mins at the busy but friendly reception (which shuts at 6pm) to get our keys and paperwork. My mood was lifted by a 'van upgrade to a Prestige (second only to the Platinum) due to double booking and we were located less than 100 yards from the main complex in a quiet and spacious cul-de-sac. They did say however that the carpets needed cleaning which they did 3 days later.
After quickly unloading and being a bit tired and hungry, we soon made our way to the bar for some much needed nourishment, and lager. The main bar was bright and spacious enough though quite busy due to the footie on Sky. We perched on stools and ordered a (Pukka) pie and chips for me and egg, bacon and chips for the lay-dee. Bar service was very slow but the food arrived after about 10 mins and was hot and filling, just what the Doctor ordered (actually, he had the lasagne but you know what I mean). The menu looked quite good with curry nights etc. Satisfied, we headed back to our prestigious mobile abode for an early-ish night.
Really liked our 'van, mostly because I had a spacious and nicely fitted out room with en-suite (toilet and sink). Poor old Katie had the usual shoebox room with narrow beds and chose to sleep on the sofa after a couple of days but she was quite happy with that. The other bathroom was spacious enough and the fairly good shower gave plenty of hot water.
The kitchen was well spec'd too with integrated fridge, separate freezer, gas oven and microwave though due to the plethora of pots and pans there was little room for food. The lounge was nice and wide though the TV was the old-school portable type (with built in DVD). I would have been disappointed with that had I paid the big bucks for a Prestige 'van to be honest. Picture was fine though with a Freeview box and there was also an Aiwa stereo system. The dining table was very wonky but a quiet word at reception got it fixed the same day (great service) although it still wobbled a bit which was a tad annoying. The carpets were very dirty as we had been warned, as if the previous occupants had gone out of their way to walk mud into them. Some people really do have no respect. The man and his machine cleaned them on the Tuesday but they won't be the same again.
Parking was fine with our own block-paved drive but there was no outdoor table and chairs or decking, just an old codgers bench and a motley selection of plant pots. Again, had I actually paid for a Prestige caravan I would have been a bit disappointed with this. As it was behind the hills, no sea view sadly.
( For the caravan spotters amongst you, it was a Bluebird Caprice, 2 bed, 12 foot wide )
Very clean and well organised, though the less "prestigious" 'vans were quite close together. The bin areas were clean and tidy and the grass nicely cut everywhere. As seems to be the standard for Haven sites, there was an arcade, family bar/café, an entertainment bar and in this case two pools.
FAMILY BAR - As mentioned, light and spacious with a pool table and TVs that showed music or the footie but without dominating. Food was fine (though we only had one meal there) and the prices were ok (£2.90 Carlsberg, £3.25 San Miguel). We popped in there quite often and generally enjoyed it though the bar service could be pretty slow. Plenty of outdoor seating with views over the camp but only the smoking area was lit after dark.
ENTERTAINMENT BAR - We didn't venture into this often as it was pretty hot when busy and the rather lame entertainment was aimed at younger children. The Hokey Cokey at 10.15pm seemed a bit much if you asked me. Some of the adults in there seemed to have lost the will to live as their Coked-up (the drink) kids tore around, bedecked in neon flashing adornments.
OUTDOOR POOL - Pretty small and icy, subdivided into different depths but the lifeguards were on the ball, ensuring adults went in with the younger kids. A dozen or so sun beds along one side but not out of splashing range, unfortunately. It shut at 5pm and was then used for those water walking ball thingies (£5 a pop, asthma attack free of charge).
INDOOR POOL - A bit bigger and warmer but the water had a murky texture all of it's own and it was standing room only on all of our visits. Lifeguards a bit less observant and let kids get away with some serious bombing which was pretty dangerous in a busy pool IMO. Showers blew hot and cold, literally. Changing area was clean and tidy with decent sized cubicles. Lockers 20p, non refundable. Shut at 6pm for the Aqua Jets and other fun and games.
ARCADE - You couldn't miss this as you had to go through it to get to the other places including the pools, which isn't a great idea as the noise and lights can be a bit disorientating at first but you get used to it. We enjoyed the Air Hockey (£1), mini bowling (£2 pp) and Guitar Hero (£1). Plenty of the coin tumbling games and the ticket winning machines to relieve you of your hard-earned cash seemed popular too.
LOCAL BEACH - Advertised as a short walk away but it's a bit of a mission with some muddy paths and uphill work so take that with a pinch of salt. Called Bowleaze Cove, the beach is a bit scruffy but it has a café/bar area and small funfair. All a bit dated to be honest, however the fish and chips we enjoyed out of the paper overlooking the sea one evening was the best meal of the holiday. You can drive there also and park for free up the hill.
MISC - the security people who (mostly) checked our pases were polite and friendly. Crazy golf had definitely seen better days so we didn't go "clubbing" (groan!) on there. Decent sized kids playground but this was unlit after dark. This did not seemed to prevent it's use though. You can walk through to the sister site (Sea View) next door should you fancy it but we found they were pretty similar so it's not really worth the effort. If anything, Weymouth bay seemed to attract a better class of chav.
PLACES WE VISITED
Great holiday town with a beautiful sandy beach and scenic harbour. Obviously proud of it's regal heritage (George III used to visit to take the waters apparently), it has a somewhat faded charm but plenty to do. We were there for the carnival and enjoyed the Red Arrows and coffin-dodging crooner Alvin Stardust belting out a few oldies onstage before the parade itself. A few funfair rides on the front kept us amused when we weren't catching crabs in the harbour or partaking of a pint in the many hostelries. Good to see the sand sculptures are still going, done by a descendant of the man who did them when I was last there in the 70's.
The Tourist Information centre is very good and is located near the ferry port, a decent resource to get ideas and discounts for the attractions. Plenty of shops including most of your High St faves but the downside was the drive in which is only about 3 miles but took a long time due to the traffic and parking was expensive (a whopping £6 for 4 hours at the harbour). We took the bus in on carnival day which was a fair £2.50/£1.60 for return tickets.
Pubs we visited in town were THE MOBY DICK (popular family pub on the front with decent food and outdoor tables), THE NEW ROOMS INN (nice harbour location but a bit pricey) and THE DOROTHY (good seafront location though truly skanky, I liked it).
THE TIMEWALK - Set in the old Devenish brewery in Weymouth's Brewers Quay, it's an interesting and often entertaining set-up with life-size montages of the town's history from the Black Death throught the Spanish Armada to the present day. A bit of a poor man's Taussauds but I don't mean that in a derogatory way. Be warned though, lots of stairs to go up and down and it might be a bit scary for younger kids. We were the only two there on our visit which seemed a real pity especially as it is good value when bought with a combined ticket (£10.50 total for both of us) for the nearby DISCOVERY science centre. This has the usual hands on sciency stuff to amuse the bin-lids for another hour or so.
NOTHE FORT - Just above Weymouth harbour and well worth a visit to see how it was built and utilised over the last two centuries. Plenty of big guns for little kids. Good views over Weymouth and Portland so bring your camera though avoid it in bad weather as it's quite exposed up there as we found!
DORCHESTER - Dorset's County Town and Only 9 miles from Weymouth but it took a while due to the traffic. This should be helped by a new road they appear to be building en route at the moment. Nice place for a rainy day with a few attractions such as the Tutankhamen exhibition, Dinosaur exhibition and Teddy Bear museum. We went to the small but informative Tutankhamen exhibition and tickets for each attraction give you a discount for the others (can't say Pharaoh than that).
LULWORTH COVE - About 20 mins from Weymouth, a very pretty place to visit though as ever don't forget your pound coins for parking (I think we paid about £4 for 6 hours). We did a nice 5 mile walk from there using the Jarrold's Pathfinder book. Hillier than I thought (sorry Katie) but with excellent views over the fabulous Durdle Door as seen on Coast many times. The beach at Lulworth Cove is narrow and stony and beware of flying stones as fossil-hunting kids chips away at the rocks with their dad's best hammers. Plenty of café's and a pub will keep you filled up with ice-cream and Dorset Cream Teas (about (£4 -£4.50)
SEA LIFE CENTRE - Minutes from the town centre, just behind the seafront, this is a good half-day out but very pricey IMO (£17.50 adults, £14.50 kids, £12 crumblies) particularly as you have to pay to park there also. You can buy cheaper tickets in advance from the Tourist Information centre to soften the fiscal blow and we later (grrrrrr!) found the local Tesco Metro had BOGOF tickets as well. Quite a few aquariums with the obligatory shark tunnel in one and outdoor stuff included kiddie rides, seals, penguins and a paddling pool. Café was not much cop though. We went to the (stony) beach over the road afterwards or you can part with more of your dosh at the go-karts and Pirate Golf (Aaaaaaaaarrrr!) next door.
A great time was had by all (I mean both) and we would definitely return as there are places like Portland that I'd like to visit, though preferably not in mid-August. The site was fine and well run and Weymouth and Dorset have a lot to offer for everyone :o)
Summary: A week in Weymouth