Every thing you need at Riverside Park
At the same time, there are towns within easy reach, like Berwick and Alnwick, as well as others just over the border in Scotland. Holy Island is a fascinating day out, as is Bamburgh, with its castle overlooking the dunes, and a string of other interesting coastal towns and villages.
Being just a short hop from the A1 means that, though there is a sense of remoteness once you are in the area, it’s an easy ride to Newcastle or Edinburgh. And as Northumberland is considered by some to be the last wilderness in England, there is never a shortage of countryside for walkers and cyclists.
And so to saunter
I arrived at Riverside knowing I’d been allocated the last available caravan to stay in. Would it be the also-ran? What a relief, as it turned out to be a smart and very clean, nearly new two-bedroomed Atlas Everglade Super. Two sofas to choose from and a comfortable bedroom, fine! A large shower in a room with panel heater. All well equipped. Having the accommodation settled to my satisfaction, I turned my attention to the park.
It’s very pleasant site to saunter round. Some units are on lovely riverside pitches, some by the fishing lake and others arranged in cul de sacs. There are some very attractive plots, with plenty of space at the front or beside the unit. Room for verandahs and such, which are usually a timber addition to the home. There are 450 static units as well as some space for tourers, so the park is not small, but the zoning means you are not consciously aware of more than those in your immediate vicinity.
The river is wide and stony, but not deep at the time of my visit, though it is something parents of young children should be aware of. A couple of boys were messing about with a boat – they had a guilty expression. Whether it was not their boat or they hadn’t permission to be there, I don’t know, but it did look fun! It would be lovely to have a verandah overlooking that river.
The park is surrounded by the gentle slopes of Northumberland hills, and trees both on and off site. It’s a park that is not over-commercialised. It is attached to the small town of Wooler, which has places to eat and do general shopping, as well as one or two interesting gift shops.
It is clear that many owners spend a lot of time there. You can tell that by the standard of planting which many have achieved in the area immediately around their plot, and on verandahs.
There were myriad pots in a lot of places, and well-maintained to boot. With chimeneas and barbecue areas, and the wafting aroma of barbecued sausage! Clearly, the owner-occupiers feel at home in their own unit.
As I wandered around, it became clear that Riverside has a whole range of holiday homes, from modern Vogues and Aspens to older and cheaper models. I saw a year 2000 Cosalt Resort for sale at £13,000, and at the other end of the scale was a top-notch Atlas Concept for £45,000.
Apparently, prices start generally at £10,995. At the time of writing, three new 2007 models were available, including an Atlas Nevada, 35ft by 12ft, for around £29,000. Another Atlas, the 36ft by 12ft version of the Amethyst, is available for just over £30,000. A Willerby Winchester, 38ft by 12ft, would set you back around £35,000.
There were 60 vacant plots ready developed for new units. Any make of holiday home can be accommodated. The Willerby Granada is popular, and a lot of Atlas units are sold.
Peace or fun?
It’s quite a traditional park. Lots of families come to Riverside, because of the entertainment and clubhouse, and no doubt the safe atmosphere. There is family entertainment suitable for children of 4+. Quizzes, karaoke, etc, take place in the summer and out of season weekends.
Cleverly, the leisure complex is not quite on site, preserving the peaceful nature of the park, but just over a minor road, and all the facilities are shared with the residential park nearby. These include an indoor swimming pool, spa bath, family clubroom, adult lounge bar, bar meals and takeaway, pool and darts, shop and launderette.
‘Over the bridge’ in the park is a quieter area called ‘Wakefield’, where more middle aged people without children tend to buy, though that has just developed of its own accord and there are actually no restrictions. Lodges are a possible development for the future, but currently all the units I saw were singles.
The park will also attract Northumberland lovers, of course. I know people who holiday in that rural county each year, by coast or in the country, and if you are one such you might find it worth your while to buy your own accommodation. Though a pain when busy, like any major route, the A1 is an artery leading from the north or south in a relatively short time.
A park for all
If you don’t like large parks, don’t be put off having a look at Riverside, because it doesn’t feel big. You are only aware of the group of holiday homes in your cul de sac, row, or area.
Don’t be put off, either, if you don’t generally like heaps of entertainment – this is not so much an all-singing, all-dancing park, as one where these things are available if you would like to take advantage of them. They don’t intrude on your peace and quiet, being set at a small distance from the entrance.
Play areas, too, are thoughtfully set a bit away from the nearest holiday homes, so if you don’t like the sound of kids enjoying themselves, you can choose one of the quieter areas, even further from the play equipment.
So I’d say this is a park which genuinely caters for various needs, those who like peace and quiet and those families who want enough activities to keep active children happy, and even teenagers should find something to their taste!
Remember, though, that you can’t live at Riverside. If it’s a residential park home you are looking for, the management will refer you to their sister park across the way, Bridgend (featured in our January issue).
One Riverside owner told me, “Having a home here has changed our quality of life, being able to get away so often. It’s such a relaxing place to be and we still have all the amenities close by. We have everything we need here, and the local people are so friendly.”
I think that about sums it up! JL
UNDER NEW OWNERSHIP
Just this year Riverside and Bridgend were bought by Northdales, which own several other parks and are looking to develop this one and improve it even more. It continues to be a member of the British Holiday and Home Parks Association (BH&HPA).
AROUND AND ABOUT
• Alnwick, less than 20 miles away, has a picturesque castle and an imaginative garden, laid out in recent years under the supervision of the Duchess of Northumberland, with water features, rose garden, poison garden, visitor centre and much more.
• Bamburgh, about 15 miles away, has a superb beach and a famous castle.
• Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, about 15 miles away, accessed by a causeway which is under water at high tide, also has a castle, plus the priory ruins, heritage centre, walks and beaches.
• There’s yet another castle only about 5 miles away at Chillingham, and nearby a park with a herd of wild cattle, the last survivors of those that used to roam the country’s forests.
• The Northumberland National Park visitor centre is about seven miles away at Ingham, open from March-October.
HOW TO BUY
Riverside has a clear and simple process for buying a holiday home.
Step 1 Come and get the feel of Riverside and the surrounding area.
Step 2 Arrange a meeting with sales staff.
Step 3 At the meeting, tell them about your budget and they will show you available pitches, and the new or pre-owned holiday homes within your budget.
Step 4 Full information is given to you, and the terms and conditions of owning a holiday home at Riverside explained.
Step 5 Take time to discuss your options, and negotiate.
Step 6 Documentation and finance arrangements are put in place.
Step 7 (the most interesting one) Move in, and start to experience your ‘get away from it all’ holiday home!
South Road, Wooler,
Northumberland NE71 6NJ
Tel: 01668 281447
• The park is open from March 11 to January 6.
• Ground rent for 2008 is £1829, and rates a little over £200.
• Electricity is metered and gas sold in 47kg bottles.
• An alarm system costs £46 for annual servicing.
•A standard drain-down service is offered at the end of the season at £60, with anti-freeze and re-commissioning, which takes place at the start of the season.
• You may not let out your holiday home, though it can be used by family and friends.
• Dogs are allowed, except a list of dangerous breeds.
• 15 years is the length of time you are allowed to keep your home on the park.
• If you decide to sell earlier, it can be sold on site, through the park, if it is up to ten years old. On re-sale, a commission of 15% is due to the park.
This feature was published in the March 2008 issue of Park & Holiday Homes magazine.