THERE ARE plenty of family sites keen to take your pitch fees over the summer months, but if you head inland from the coast a little you’ve a much better chance of securing a spot. Cofton Holidays is just half an hour’s drive from Exeter, but an ideal base to go on and explore the south Devon coastline. Or, you can just stay on site and enjoy a wide range of facilities.
Starcross (2 miles), Dawlish (2 miles), Teignmouth (6 miles), Torquay (13 miles), Exeter (11 miles)
Why do outdoor swimming pools always give me the shivers? I suspect it’s because the huge majority of my campsite visits take place outside of the peak season, where there’s only half a chance the weather will be warm enough for such activities.
There are no complaints about being forgotten about and miles away from the toilet blocks here. The Orchard is the tents-only field at Cofton and is pretty much bang in the middle of the action. And quite a lot of action there is, too. Indeed, the B-road to Cockwood Harbour all but bisects the site – with main reception, large shop, pub and statics and tourers stretching uphill into the distance on one side; and more touring pitches, the main tents area, and a pretty extensive amenities block on the other.
By pretty extensive, I mean not just some top quality showers and toilets, but also a launderette, kids’ games room and a pretty good little fish and chip shop. It all makes for a cosy kind of atmosphere that can get a bit lost on larger sites of this ilk (although I did stay here in June, so it wasn’t quite packed to the peak season gunnels).
In truth, the tent zone is a little undulating, but otherwise I can’t fault it. It’s sheltered from the wind but at the same time makes the most of any sun throughout the day and into the evening.
And there’s more to come. As Cofton’s Mellony Kirby tells me: “We have a project next year for a new indoor pool, leisure and extended bar complex. We have outgrown our current bar and if you could imagine when we are packed in the summer it can be a tight squeeze.”
If nothing else, there’s a huge choice of beach around here, whether you head further west or back east. Roads can get a bit twisty, but that’s part of the Devon charm. There’s also a bus stop right by the turn-off to Cofton, or take a short walk/bike ride into Starcross for the nearest train station or the ferry across to Exmouth.
• Grab some of the seaside action at Dawlish, just a couple of miles along the road from Cofton.
• Exeter is a short-ish drive away. There’s the cathedral, of course, and the city is a big shopping Mecca.
• The “English Riviera” of Torbay has quite a bit going on, including attractions such as Babbacombe Model Village, Bygones retail outlet, and a certain amount of rejuvenation along the front at Torquay itself.
• Powderham Castle, Pennywel Farm and Creally Adventure Park are among the key family attractions closer to Cofton itself.
Starcross, Nr Dawlish, South Devon EX6 8RP
Tel 0800 0858649
£14.50 per pitch (two adults, children £2.75-£5, infants under two years free)
DID YOU KNOW...
Dawlish has recently achieved Neighbourhood Planning in Action status, making it one of 17 areas around the country. This means local folk can have a say in setting out a future role for the town, including its attraction as a tourism resort. Find out about the developments at teignbridge.gov.uk/places.
The Ship or the Anchor just along the back road from site to Cockwood Harbour just couldn’t be more pleasant. I only managed the highly commendable West Country Cheese Bake plus Otter Ale at the AnchorInn. But, don’t forget there’s also The Sawn and the fish and chips back at site.
This review was published in the September 2011 issue of Camping magazine. Order our latest issue.
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