Stowford Farm Meadows is a carefully defined concept in touring caravanning. It’s a complete service. Stowford sells them, services them, even washes them – and has the largest tourer storage compound we’ve seen to date. And yet all this is completely hidden by the contours of the land.
Stowford Farm Meadows may be a very large business in acreage terms but is still strongly a family concern; the farm has been in the same family for many generations. Until the mid-’70s the site was a farm and, due to a lucky chance of its topography (it is completely concealed so can’t be overlooked) Devon County planning department granted planning permission for a touring park. It opened in 1978, being little more than a field with a shop.
It’s a little different now… For starters, the campsite offers caravan storage and this is integral to the campsite’s function. Up to 1400 families store their tourers here, in a massive field that is completely hidden from view by the hills. Part of the Stowford service is to have your caravan moved from storage to pitch for you before your arrival – and then back again into the storage field after your holiday or weekend break.
The owners tell us that some caravans here never leave the campsite from the time they are sold. In 2004 they launched Stowford Caravan Centre, encompassing sales of new and used tourers, plus a workshop and service bay. There is also a sizeable accessory shop selling everything from large, expensive barbecues to all manner of small necessities you may require during a holiday here. Awnings and tents are on sale here, too.
The keynote about the rest of the park is family fun – in an unobtrusive sort of way. And, although this is strongly a family park, there are plenty of acres for those who seek get-away-from-it-all tranquillity. Our pitch for our Stowford break, for instance, was on an edge of the park with uninterrupted views of farmland and few sounds other than birdsong.
So how does Stowford entertain its families? Well, there’s a fun-and-games area, housed in one of Stowford’s many ancient farm buildings that give this place much of its natural character. Inside here is that wonderful family-all-ages game called air hockey, plus pool tables and an excellent range of games machines to appeal to teenagers of all ages. The indoor swimming pool is large and appealing and very new – again within the attractive converted farm buildings complex.
Then we found some features that help to make Stowford unique. ‘Petorama’ continues Stowford’s farm theme in the form of a gathering of young animals. Children pay a small fee to come in here to cuddle and help feed the animals – and have a wonderful time.
Just outside Petorama is a crazy golf course. Cross the entrance lane and you see the riding centre which has been established for 25 years. There are 40 acres of tracks designed for the novice rider, with no road work. The campsite has 600 acres plus green lanes up to Exmoor available to it.
Stowford’s generally spacious feel extends to the size of the pitches. There are hardstandings. Many are on gently sloping ground, so a set of chocks and levellers may be useful depending on which area of the campsite you are in. Modern showering and washing buildings complete with laundry and dishwashing rooms, family bathrooms and bathrooms equipped for disabled people are in each of the fields, most designed for year-round use with under-floor central heating. Shower cubicles are large - there are cubicles which contain washbasin and toilet. A takeaway offers fish, chips, burgers, jacket potatoes and more, while the adjacent restaurant – eat in or on the terrace – serves lunches and dinners though is only open weekends outside high season.
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