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Watch Out for Watchet!
Attractions in Somerset in general
Member Name: shikiraclare
Attractions in Somerset in general
Advantages: Coastal Somerset with superb views, tranquility and relaxation - unnecessary spending not required
Disadvantages: No Pets allowed - At least in Blue Anchor.
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.
Summary: Don't run from Cow's, they are likely to chase you!
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