Child friendly stops between London & Far Cornwall(21 Posts)
We have a 300 mile drive ahead of us between London & Cornwall.We are heading down to a cottage for a weeks holiday. Does anyone do this regularly & can they suggest a good stopping off point (or 2) for 2 children under 5.
I am keen to do the trip in a single day but if there was a good fun park we could stop at for lunch & a run around that would be wonderful.
what roads are you taking? Dorset is about half way but you may not go through it depending on how you are getting there.
we either stop off in Exeter or (if on a budget) the Travelodge that is right at the end of the motorway (before you hit the A roads) - I'll look it up.
IME the M4/M5 route is easier than the A303. If you're doing it on a Saturday in the summer it will be busy, so would recommend an early start (eg. 6am).
This year we have to go down on a Saturday in August, which I would normally avoid at all costs so we're going to ease the pain by leaving London early on Fri , going via A303 with a stopoff at Stonehenge, and overnight in Wells before carrying on early following morning.
There are loads of good stops en route, but none particularly close to motorway, and most require a biggish detour. We used to go to Wookey Hole as children, or Cleeve Abbey is fun too, though probably for older kids. If you just want to stop for lunch, quite a few of the service stations have reasonable-ish play areas, though can't remember which off the top of my head.
the travelodge is called Travelodge exeter (surprise surprise!)
we go down to Penzance and go M4/M5 in the holidays. The A303 gets horrendously clogged with caravans and the like especially if you go down on a weekend.
Another possible stop off point for us this year is the Clarks Village in Street in Somerset. It says it has a playground (can't remember seeing it last time we went!) but it is packed full of factory outlet shops and a massive Clarks warehouse where you can get shoes at a real discount. We got some great bargains last time we went.
we live in Exeter and there are lots of pubs with playgrounds near the end of the motorway which might be more fun that a service station.
for example the Double Locks pub, on the River Exe, about where the motorway ends, has a lovely playground and you can watch boats go past. i can post directions if you're interested.
we also prefer the M4/M5 rather than the awful A303 though that road does have quite a few pubs with gardens along it.
I can recommend a lovely village just near junction 28 of the M5. We often leave London at about 8:30-9 in the morning and get there for lunch. There is a gorgeous pub (the Drewe Arms) with a lovely garden so you can eat outside with the children and they can run around. At the other end of the village (it is tiny) across the little bridge (you can paddle in the stream under the bridge) and to the right is a good kids playground that they can let off steam in. If you find you're not this far advanced by lunch time, there's a good pub called the Dog Inn off junction 18 of the M4 at Old Sodbury. Very big garden for kids. Neither of these pubs is more than a ten minute diversion and its worthwhile getting away from the motorway and into the country. OR if you're better advanced and have reached the A38, there's a great pub called the Crooked Inn - with a tree house and trampoline and slides and pigs and ducks- at Trematon, just west of Plymouth. Hope this helps!
We usually break our trip at Taunton Deane service station, as it is not too horrible, has a playground and is a satisfying more-than-halfway. But jan's suggestions sound like there are going to be some impromptu MN meetups this summer!!
(frogs, you going to Cornwall? Thought you did not go so far? We'll be there 2nd/3rd weeks of Aug.)
oh those sound good jan - I'll have to remember this thread for August
fennel, I'd love to know where that pub is
(sorry jigger for hijacking!)
No, Bink, we go to north Devon, leaving at junction 27 of M5. But different weeks from you, alas -- last week in July and third/fourth weeks of August.
Thanks for all the lovely ideas - not sure which one I iwll go for just yet but I will let you know on the way back!
foxinsocks i don't know if this link will work to the pub. but it's only 5 mins from the motorway junction, where the M5 turns into the A30
map from M5 to Double locks pub
Even closer to the A30 road to Cornwall is the Twisted Oak Pub with a rather good playground including an indoor bit for wet weather.
we are trying to buy a house near that one. have been busy sampling all the local pubs with playgrounds lately.
We did the journey to COrnwall last summer (not from London but similar distance). Barmy as it may sound we left at 4am! Best decision we made. Packed the car the night before so all we had to do was get up and go, early night. Lifted DS into car from bed and he was asleep again within 15 mins. Flew down the motorway, far far quicker than if we had left at 7am, aimed to stop half way, but kept getting to services, seeing DS was asleep/ happya nd saying "lets go one stop further" Ended up stopping for breakfast in Cornwall! We then headed to the EDen project for a day out before
dh comes from exeter and i love the double locks! on the way there we usually take the a303 (more to look at) and stop for a picnic near stonehenge or go to pizza hut/brewer's fair (not usually a mad, children running about kind of one!) at the new solstice services.
Melrose has the best advise I reckon! We do early starts for flights, why not avoid the heaving masses on the roads too. Our next door neighbours do this every summer with their kids. Just done Tunbridge Wells to St Ives 630mile round trip. A21, M25, M3, A303, M5 @ Taunton A30. It took 7.5hrs to get down on Saturday leaving at 12noon, stopping for 20mins in Yeovil (my parents) and 1hr in Plymouth with the in-laws. dh refused to listen to the Satnav so went A38 instead of A30 (big mistake). Dont know why we bother with modern technology when dh clearly knows best!!
Our return was just 4hrs20mins with 1 petrol stop, set off at 4pm on Sunday as England kicked off, so everyone else must have been in front of the tele. The roads were empty.
I prefer the A303. Dh prefers the M4/M5 route. depends if you are a speed king or a potterer iyswim....
Okehampton has a nice park called Simmons Park which has a nice cafe -opens onto park- in the swimming pool... Only does snacks though. Also has a castle to visit. For meals, tasty and good value - go to the Plume of Feathers pub in town centre. No garden but nice grub ...
I have to say that I agree about driving in the wee small hours! We did that from Somerset to Oban when DS#1 was 2 and DD was a baby. We actually set off at 9pm and had a totally clear drive through. Only lorry drivers on the road. You can always kip when you get there. We are lucky in that Plymouth is about 90 mins from us...but we are travelling right down to the bottom this summer so might have to try the very early start ourselves
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