You know those outdoorsy families who pitch up tents in the outback, roast whole pigs on a spit, paddle up stream in the evening sun, catch a fish or two and settle down under the stars to the sound of their parents playing lullaby’s on a guitar…. wait, you don’t? Maybe the Brady Bunch did it, or someone from an Enid Blyton novel.
Not us, I’d love it to be, ever since our foray into the woods last year, I toy with the idea of becoming a family like that… but then I remember, I like WiFi, I like curling my hair, I like a big comfy bed and I don’t think I’d be able to ever sleep out under the stars without worrying about spiders. Don’t get me wrong, I did so in my youth (now THAT sounds like a phrase from an Enid Blyton novel) we would set up tents and build fires, possibly consume alcohol… husband and I even hired a campervan once and roughed it a bit. But since the kids, as much as camping appeals we aren’t ready to jump full-on into Bear Grylls’ life… we need to work our way there, slowly, but surely, and maybe with a few toilet breaks and fast food outlet visits along the way.
Maybe when the kids are older. I don’t fancy camping with a baby, do you?
Well cue glamping at Andrewshayes holiday Park! The perfect in between for our family. Last weekend, we were invited to stay and review one of their pods. Nestled beautifully on the Dorset/Devon border a stones throw from the beaches of the Jurassic Coast, Andrewshayes successfully provides families like ours with everything needed to guarantee a beautiful holiday together. Of course like all weekends away there’s those initial days of worry beforehand where you think ‘oh dear god please don’t rain’. I imagine I bored away half my Instagram followers by fretting about the weather but when we arrived it soon became apparent that even if it poured down we would remain dry and snug in our little hobbit house. It didn’t rain though and what followed was two days of much needed fun; a chance to escape the humdrum and just focus on family.
The site. Andrewshayes is located just outside the picturesque village of Dalwood, and though only a ten minute drive from the market town of Axminster, it feels very much like part of the leafy Devonshire countryside. The park is beautifully maintained with finishing touches of colour, floral displays and fresh and clean facilities. The pitches are spread up generously over greenery and large pathways giving it an open feel.
Our glamping pod was set back from the path, and it’s green tiled roof and wooden cladding blended in effortlessly with its surroundings. To the front was a small window and the back presented you with double doors leading out into a secluded picnic deck… we had a lovely view over the trees and fields at the back and fencing, and trellices offered privacy; ideal when there’s 6 of you staying. We even had our own private BBQ and picnic bench.
Step in through the doors of the pod and you’ll find yourself in a small seating area. The space is utilised well here, with the benches doubling as storage. We were able to store away our suitcases, crockery, food and footwear in these with room to spare. Ideal for ensuring there were no hazards for little feet to trip on. These benches also have padding and cushions making it a comfortable place if you decide to chill inside but, more importantly, it’s a suitable “waiting for the kids to go to sleep so we can have a glass of wine” space. It also had its own lighting here rather than sharing with the sleeping space, meaning you’re less likely to disturb snoring family members.
The bedroom area itself consisted of a high double bed with two full sized singles beneath it, there’s also room for a travel cot (although this needs to be requested at booking as the park provides a slimline model). For us, as co-sleepers, it was fine. Husband, Gulliver and I took the top and the boys topped and tailed one single while Harriet had the other. Mattress protectors are provided so you can bring your own sleeping bags but we took full bedding sets, duvets and pillows just to ensure comfort. Everyone reported a good nights sleep, although on the first night, some required gentle persuasion, two toilet trips and a bribe of ice cream.
Accommodation aside, the park itself has plenty available for families, including a covered and heated swimming pool, a games room , soft play area, bar, restaurant, outdoor park and shop. Certainly the main thing that has put us off camping before had been Gullivers age. He’s into everything, climbing and shuffling around, so having the soft play area was awesome. It gave us time to recharge between outings, without having to worry about carrying him or getting the pushchair in and out of the car.
All the children (yes even Ernie) enjoyed the swimming pool. If you’ve read this blog before you’ll know he has a fear of water but we were so proud of him at Andrewshayes. Not only is there a big pool with a single depth, there was also a little shallow pool, perfect for building confidence in smaller children. Gully was so relaxed he even fell asleep in our arms while in the water, husband refused to hold me so I could do this too, I dont know why?! The pool was enjoyed so much that we went in twice. Returning to our pod on the first full day wrapped in fluffy towels to hang the costumes out to dry and enjoy a bbq.
We ventured out twice during our stay, bar trips for supplies. Once to visit Charmouth and also to nearby Axminster, other local attractions, beaches and events can be found listed on the website We especially liked that there were so many free options for families on a budget. Charmouth itself offered hours of entertainment, not just for fossil hunting on the beach but also the bright and spacious heritage centre, housing exhibitions and activities for varyious ages. The staff were friendly and welcoming, not taken aback by such a large brood and were more than happy to show us around, talk through exhibits and show us what to look for in the rocks. Nearby Axminster is home to the famous River Cottage cafe and has many independent retailers and places to eat.
Of course, it goes without saying that we would recommend Andrewshayes holiday park to anyone wanting to explore Devon or Dorset. Finding somewhere to stay that caters for four children of various ages is no mean feat. We had a wonderful weekend and are excited to share with you their latest offer of £10 off per night for all glamping pod booking made by the end of July.
EVEN MORE EXCITING…why not enter their fabulous new competition where you can win £400 of your next holiday?!
To find out more about the facilities, other accommodation options or to book your own Andrewshayes experience, you can take a look at the website.
I’ll leave you with a little video we created to capture our memories of Andrewshayes.
A big thank you for inviting us! While we were hosted in return for a honest review of the pod and park, all thoughts, feelings and random acts of wit are my own