“ Please suggest your favourite attractions, which you’d like to review of course! Anything goes: e.g. a sight, a museum, a theme park, a castle, or any other places of interest to you. „
Court Farm Country Park, Banwell, W-S-M, Somerset.
If you want to see dilapidated buildings, emaciated animals, dried up ponds and abandoned farm machinery, this is definitely the place for you.
The leaflet we picked up about this 'Country Park' (and the website alike) made this place look and sound amazing; the perfect day out for us and our baby daughter.
Poorly signposted, poorly laid out car park, shoddy signage and entrance, rude staff and cheap 'souveniers' awaited us on arrival, and after paying £6.50 per adult and entering the park, things took a turn for the worse.
*Filthy horses with matted fur and tails are standing in filthy, run-down stables.
*Cows, sheep and pigs are standing on top of dung/straw that has got to be at least a foot deep.
*Piles of rubble/wood/wire fencing are lurking around every corner.
*There is no zoo licence (needed in order to display owls), and there are several sad-looking owls on display.
*Calor Gas bottles are left all over the place.
*The 2 'lakes' are nothing more than mud pits full of rubbish.
*Animals are shut in tiny pens, nowhere near big enough to move around comfortably in.
*The indoor play area/bar has unsafe flooring and broken toys.
*Most of the hand sanitizer dispensers are empty.
*The farm dogs are allowed to wander round and beg food from/annoy the picnickers.
*The animal pens are not secured properly and are easily opened.
*Broken down tractors are left abandoned for children to play on, despite the fact that they have wires exposed and parts hanging loose.
*The ride on tractors, diggers and maize maze are NOT included in the entrance fee.
*There is no signs telling you where you are/aren't allowed to go, and areas that really should be locked are not.
*Birds are nesting in all of the rafters, covering everything inside with droppings which are hazardous to health.
Need I say more????
This place really is a Health and Safety nightmare.
I'm just glad my daughter cant walk yet and could be kept safe in her buggy.
Very upsetting experience all round. Stay away. This place claims to be Award Winning...??? I REALLY don't think so.
I find it hard to believe that this business is still operational.
I've practically lived all over the UK at some point during my twenties as I was an adventurous spirit, but Watchet in Somerset was one of those mystifying places of solace by the sea, I went back last month to visit some friends in Minehead, all of them regularly go camping at the Watchet holidaying site that is just a 16 mile journey from their own location.
Watchet is not the prettiest country harbour town you will ever see in your life, but it certainly sounds that way if you read part 2 and 3 of The Rhyme of the ancient mariner poem by Samuel Coleridge, 'blessing the Western Wave and The Bloody Sun at Noon' - Anyone would think that you are sightseeing in Japan, watching the full solar eclipse with a massive tidal wave ballet dancing in the Katahara! - Watchet is nothing as spectacular as this, even though Coleridge did base his poem on this town that sits on the Washford-river mouth (a very different) place back in the late nineteenth century, the time the verse was written.
Today it is just as deserted as it was when I lived on the Watchet farm a decade ago, but the landowners are new and a lot less welcoming than the elderly couple who used to run the shop on the site every morning and deliver to your caravan or tent on Sunday's. They had livestock, further on at the very top of the fields, but I didn't visit there again as I remember the very steep gradient, you can only go by foot, but gives you an impressive view of the shore line if you manage the energy to get up there. I was chased by a Cow when I went in 1997 - It must have sensed my fear of it and bolted pretty quickly over a rubbled stone wall (there are a few of these as you get to the hilltop) but it disappeared after it realised I wasn't coming out until it had gone.
On a more positive note, there is an easy walk to the beach from the Farm entrance, just a five minute walk to the bottom field, where you come to some winding steps that are a bit narrow, so going at a steady pace is best advice.
Something that has changed, are the communal showers and toilets that have been re-modernised to better standards at the top and bottom of both fields, I used to dread the idea of peeping-tom's with the lack of privacy, the bathrooms were not fitted with shower curtains or secure doors and used to hurry getting myself washed in case I would fall victim to unwanted attention. There was two occasions when I found men lurking outside the shower rooms as if they were waiting for an opportunity to hit on a young woman, they were polite enough as I passed them, but something didn't feel right and so from then on, made sure my boyfriend did some bouncer activity by waiting for me outside. No men were found loitering after this!
Another important thing is that, being in a field full of strangers has its disadvantages when not everyone is friendly, especially if you are a new face - a lot of the holiday makers actually own their caravans so automatically assume that you are trespassing on their land even though it is supposedly welcome to fresh and old visitors respectively. It takes them time to get familiar with you so being pleasant even if you don't feel like it, is the best way forward.
Hoburne Holiday Park is directly situated in Blue Anchor, that is smack bang in the center between Minehead and watchet, so is approximately 8 miles from either of the two locations. What is stunningly beautiful about Blue Anchor is that although it is a very bustling holiday resort with something like 350 static caravans on it's 10 acre site, the rural pastures, really gives you a quality break if you are not enamored by packaged holidays that organize a routine schedule for you to follow - This is the kind of ultimate freedom, even people in their youth and children will benefit from the serenity, the family can enjoy time together without there being the hype of super-imposed attractions such as blasting games arcades, the sound of firearms piercing the tranquility of your peaceful hibernation from the world.
The quietest time is late winter in February and early spring and understandably freezing cold right next to the foggy-spray of icy sea. June/July are their busiest peak times as with all holiday resorts, but the summer sunshine gives you the spectacular privilege of seeing the full scope of stunning views, a wetter, darker climate would steal the cliffs of Wales and Minehead that can only be seen at Blue Anchor harbour in clear day light.
~~~Plenty of family orientated activities~~~~~
Unlike Watchet, Blue Anchor is not for dead people, but for families and sociable couples who want a quiet break, but one that isn't a retirement retreat. People are very friendly and will go out of their way for you even if you are as alien to them as they are to you.
The facilities include a playground for young children, indoor leisure pool and crazy golf course, the whole family can engage in a bit of silly fun. Worthy of mentioning here is that there isn't a bar, something I didn't actually notice myself as don't drink, but my friend does and wanted to get a one only to be stunned silent by the absence of Somerset Cider! - However, this can only be a good thing when a lot of holiday resorts of this outdoor variety, can often be spoilt by overly tipsy adults who forget that they can make a bad impression of themselves and potentially ruin their reputation by belting out national anthems in slurred english. Not something the Hoburne Holiday Park keepers are keen to encourage the consequences of alcohol as it potentially can cause unnecessary frictions and frighten away respectful members.
They do have an on site cafeteria that does healthy foods, but also stretches to chips and burgers if you are not wanting anything that nutritious. The only thing they don't do are Cornish Pasties - but then you are more likely to get one of these in Cornwall as people often associate Somerset with these delicious bakes including me.
There is a local convenience store so you can buy essentials but these are more expensive than if bought at your own local shops. The Park makes it highest revenue from the custom it receives but provides quality holiday breaks in return, so gives back what is put into the pot which makes them a very good, ethical commercial enterprise.
There is also a woodland inside the caravan park so you can enjoy the cool shades from the heat if the temperatures reach considerably high levels.
The greatest disadvantage is that they don't allow pets, so is a pretty awful rule! - I can understand about the no alcohol rules perhaps, but pets are something entirely different altogether and are often part of a family unit, but I believe this is because they are banned from certain beaches ever since coastal authorities deemed it unhygienic for pets to visit them! - Maybe so, but this seems an extreme response and can cause unnecessary upsets and conflicts within families, especially those with children who develop strong attachment to their dog.
Watchet is different in that they do allow pets, as I did see owners with them during my short stay, unless they were breaking the rules and taking a risk?
There are laundry facilities as well as bathrooms you can shower but there are small fee charges that apply.
Ideally you should book with them before arriving at their site and asking for accommodation as they cannot guarantee available spaces in their caravans that have usually been pre-booked by other visitors. It is their own policy that you do this as they don't cater their services for on-the-spot guests unless you have a tent, then they are more than happy to let you pitch it, but only if there is room and their fees for this are reasonably good - I paid £17 for one night camping, but the prices vary accordingly depending upon how large the tent is, how many people does it fit.
Caravans are an entirely different matter and because the experience is like being at a fast food restaurant and being asked if you want regular, super-regular, medium express or medium rare! - There is a complicated tier system that the holiday homes are classified into quality and size. A Premier is the largest berth that sleeps up to six people (35 foot long caravan), or you get the Premier 2 and 3 bedrooms (25 foot long). Other options include populars and standards that cater for 2 to 3 people, though haven't made inquiries about these as it wasn't relevant to my short stay.
Prices vary and can range from anything between £100 to £1000, but this depends upon duration of stay, self-catering, berth sizes, seasons and all other considerations.
Out of preference, I would much rather stay at Blue Anchor than Watchet or even Minehead that is a very tourist inspired town. Individual assessment is far more important than my own evaluation of it, but these parts of Somerset are invariably separated by their own introversions and ideas of what sort of visitors they want on their land. Great breaks however if you just want seclusion or a more relaxing break from city life as long as you don't bring any pets.
The most advantageous part of being in rural coastal Somerset, is that you don't need a lot of spending money when there isn't really anything you can splash out on, except for treats, coach trips to other locations, Ferry crossings that are often really inexpensive, but there aren't any nightclubs or shopping center's, not even in Minehead that often usually have yearly beer festivals and games arcades for entertainment. Bridgewater is the nearest largest city to Minehead, but is 25 or so miles, yet has lots of hotels, restaurants and even a nightclub.
Well as it is Christmas, I thought a trip to visit Father Christmas was necessary for my darling daughter who is 6 years old. I thought is would be nice to go somewhere to see Santa as a group with some friends. I mentioned it to a few friends at work and they suggested going to Cramore (near Shepton Mallet) and going on Santa's train.
We looked into the train at Cramore and decided to give it ago. We booked for 10.30 am on Christmas Eve to get in the mood for Christmas. A work colleague booked the tickets online and a few days later, they arrived in the post the tickets had all the details we needed such as the price date etc. The seats on the train cost us £10.95 each which I originally though was a bit expensive but the train ride, Santa's grotto takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes, and it was very relaxed.
I hopped onboard the beautiful black steam train at 10.30 am on Christmas Eve and joined my friend who was already seated. The train was a hustle of activity and everyone was very excited. I really liked the relaxing and exciting atmosphere onboard the train. The train was very comfortable and spacious. The seats were very comfortable and the train was very warm and clean. Onboard the train there were activity sheet and colouring pencils to keep the children amused while they waited for the train to set off.
As the train set off the ticket conductor appeared in a very smart uniform as requested tickets. I handed him our tickets and he punched them with a butterfly punch, which the kids though were great. It all felt a little bit like being on the polar express!
A few minutes after the train had started moving a clown came round and did a few tricks to amuse the children (and adults) then he blow every child a balloon model to keep with what every coloured balloons they choose. This was followed by shortcake tree biscuits for the children's, followed by minced pies for the adult with teas or coffees. I found the hot drinks very scary as there were young lads caring them up and down the train on tray above children's head, which was a huge health and safety aspect. There was also orange or blackcurrant for the children.
This kept use amused from the first stop through to the third stop where we could get off the train stretch our legs and take photos. The children were made very welcome to look around the stream train and have photos taken with the driver and conductors. It was all very special. I really loved the photo opportunities and them way the children were treated so well the whole time. All the staff was very polite and helpful. After a 10-minute stop, we boarded the train again and returned to the second stop where we were invited to see Santa in his grotto.
Different compartments of the train went to see Santa at different times. we were the last to see Santa as we walked up thought the train we could see all the other passengers who had been to see Santa. Most of them had opened there presents and they were of a very high standard. It looked like the young children 1-2 year had received lovely Rupert bear books. These books looked very high quality and have an audio cd with it. The boys aged 2-3 had a lovely set of toy cars. The box contained about eight cars off all sort of colours. The girls of this age had a fairy type set with tiara wings etc. Children 3-4 had a fishing game, which looked quite good.
We went into a first class booth to wait for a family who were in with Santa to come out. The young lad who showed us into the booth was very polite and apologetic about us having to wait. We were waiting a few minutes before we were called through. The grotto looked nice there were fairy light all over the roof and a small area with fake snow and a Christmas scene inside. Santa was sat on the back of his sledge he was a very happy chap and his suit and kit all looked very realistic. He had a very kind soft tone and asked the children what there names were, how old they were then remember there names and asked them individually what they would like him to bring later. He also asked if they had been good and were trying there best etc. We spend quite a long time in with Santa and were told we could take as many photo as we liked and not to rush as there was no hurry. The children took there gifts from Santa and we returned to our seat. My daughter opens her present, which was a nail art kit.
The train then returned to the station and we all got off the train. Santa walked through the train and waved and spoke to the children he got off the train first and remained on the platform with the children. I really liked this as some of the children really liked him and asked him questions about the reindeers etc.
At the platform, there was a fake snow machine so the children ran through the snow and tried to catch the snow etc. This was a lovely end to the trip.
I would highly recommend a ride on the Santa express mainly for young boys, as they seemed to enjoy it the most. I think my daughter was getting a little to old for this but I am still glad we did it. The Santa train is a lovely realistic way to see a happy friendly Santa. The whole trip took an hour and a half and was very relaxing.
East Somerset railway station run train rides all year round but I have never been on one of those so this is based on the Santa special.
Information from the website http://www.eastsomersetrailway.com/page.php?pid=51
Santa specials will run at 10:30, 12:15, 14:00 and 15:45 on the following dates -
Sat 6th and Sun 7th December - £8.95
Sat 13th and Sun 14th December - £9.95
Fri 19th December - £9.95
Sat 20th and Sun 21st December - £10.95
Tue 23rd and Wed 24th December - £10.95
Address - East Somerset Railway
Cranmore Railway Station
Telephone - 01749 880417
I have recently been to Court Farm twice in the last couple of weeks. As both times were quite different experiences, I thought I would write an opinion describing them, in case anyone fancied visiting it whilst in Somerset. I first went with my friend Emily, as we both love animals. After that visit, I went again last Sunday. This time, it was a big family outing – my husband and I and our four kids (aged almost 13, 11, 10 and 7 years old), my in-laws, my Dad and my little sister (almost 3). Court Farm Country Park is situated in Banwell, which is near Weston-Super-Mare. It is down a long winding country road, but is well signposted and easy to find. There is plenty of space for parking, as they have set aside a field for this. It costs £4.95 per adult and £3.75 per child, with under-threes free. There is a reduced rate for OAPs and family tickets available too. You pay the admission as you get through the entrance and go into the shop. This means there is no way of avoiding the gift shop, but to be fair, most of the souvenirs and toys here are reasonably priced. The refreshment area is joined on to the shop and you can buy hot and cold drinks here, ice creams, cakes and sandwiches. Again, these are more expensive than they would be in a normal café, but not too bad. The service here was fairly slow, with all the staff in these areas appearing to be elderly. There are also lots of flies around, which made me doubt the cleanliness of the food area. (There is also a van selling burgers and the like near the Animal Barn.) The toilets are just outside, to the right of the refreshments and although there are only a couple, they seemed clean enough. It is obvious you are on a farm though, so expect things to be rather basic, with cobwebs and a lack of soap to contend with. Parents of young children would be advised to bring baby wipes. The main attractions to us were the animals. When I went with Emily, we spen
t about an hour there, which made it rather an expensive trip. We spent a long time looking at the animals and stroking as many as we could, but as an adult without children, there is only so long you can spend here. The animals are lovely and seemed happy, healthy and well cared for. On both occasions I visited, there were young girls cleaning out the living quarters and feeding the animals. They seemed to be only around fourteen or so, but very enthusiastic and happy to answer any queries. There are various enclosures around the farm, with horses roaming in a large field and some in stables. Other barns house rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, goats, pigs, cows, owls, chipmunks and sheep. There are also many birds running free, including chickens. The farm has a very relaxed attitude. No one hurries you on or seems to mind if you touch the animals and the farmer was very chatty and friendly. You are allowed to browse at leisure and wander between enclosures and fields, with very few areas marked as private. Besides the animals themselves, there are many little park areas dotted around. This means there is plenty for children to do, often while the adults can eat or look at the animals while keeping one eye on the kids. The areas all have soft wood chips on the floor, so as to prevent injury. Some play areas are specifically for the under-threes with big chunky slides and cars to sit on. There is also a large sand area with shutes and a climbing frame. There is a small outside play area with a playhouse, swings and so on, but most of the attractions are under cover, which is a bonus in bad weather. The most impressive playground is one in the saloon, which is a large fort with slides, rope walks, houses to hide in and various levels to run around in. All the children enjoyed this, from my three-year-old sister up to my eldest almost teenage daughter. There is a new maze, which only opened this summer
8211; the Sea Monster Maze. I declined attempting this, but some of my family tried it. You are given flags to carry in case of any problem and it is well supervised. There are questions to answer as you go round it too, but it wasn’t very successful with our party, as my sister kept running off! The farm is large and the space is used well, but with plenty of empty grass, so it seems spacious and not at all cramped. There are picnic tables on the field, so you can take your own food and drink as we did and enjoy eating outside. Expect to be joined by a few chickens! There are various attractions at certain times of the day, including ferret handling sessions, rides on the Big Cat (a big vehicle used for going over rough ground) and tractor rides. There is a minimal fee for the Big Cat, but everything else is free. We went to one of the sheep feeding sessions, where the farmer introduced all the sheep individually, then let the children stroke and bottle-feed them. This was very well done, with just enough of an educational aspect to interest – but not bore – the little ones. It is obvious how much the farmer cares for his animals, which is lovely to see. There are pony rides on too, at various times of the day, which cost £1 each. There were three horses participating when we went, all of different sizes. My seven year old was put on the middle-sized one and my ten year old went on the biggest and they both enjoyed it, although apparently the big horse was dauntingly high up! All the children are required to wear helmets and are led around by the teenage helpers, with parents assisting if necessary. My children also enjoyed the large outdoor adventure playground, which has two large trampolines, a climbing frame and various equipment. Apart from the trampolines, this area is really geared towards the older children. It was ideal for my 10, 11 and 12 year olds, but not so good for the younger ones. Every
age loved the huge pile of bales of hay nearby though, which can be climbed on and jumped off! Our family trip to Court Farm took us about four or five hours, so you can easily spend the best part of a day there, especially if the weather is good and if you make full use of all the facilities and attractions on offer. It isn’t too expensive either, particularly if you bring a picnic. INFORMATION Opening Hours: 10am – 5.30pm daily. Last admission 4.30pm Disabled access. Admission Prices Adults: £4.95 Children: £3.75 and under threes free OAP: £4.50 Court Farm Country Park, Wolvershill Rd, Banwell, Weston-super-Mare Telephone: 01934 822383 Email: email@example.com Website: www.courtfarmcountrypark.co.uk Directions Two miles from M5 Junction 21. Follow the brown tourist signs.