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Driving to Cornwall via M4 with 2yo - suggestions for stopping-off?

(13 Posts)
Norfolkinhope Sun 22-Apr-07 21:50:31

With no small amount of trepidation, we are taking 2yo DD to Cornwall (M3, A303, A30, A39) - a 9-hour car-journey with overnight break in Exeter.

Need three lots of help:
1. Anyone got any suggestions where we could stop en route and let DD let off some steam?
2. Where to stay in Exeter - we're thinking of the Travelodge near junction 30 of M5. Anyone know if it's any good for kids?
3. How to keep DD from going mad for 2-hours in between stops?

Cheers

whomovedmychocolate Sun 22-Apr-07 21:54:15

Hiya

We've just driven back from cornwall with a six month old. First of all, the A30 has major roadworks, not too bad unless it's rush hour but are down to one carriageway for about 30 sodding miles. We got stuck behind a tractor!

There are also nothing but little bloody chefs and for parts of the A303 there is nothing for 22 miles (that'll be the part of the journey where your DD gets hungry). Take lots of snacks!

I put DH in the back and made him sing at DD. We tried MiL in back but she's just too scary .

My best advice - avoid travel before 10 and after 2pm (I don't know why but their rush hour seems to start then). There is a brilliant hotel in Newquay called the Quies which we stayed at if you are going that far - very child friendly. But we didn't stop at Exeter so I can't tell you anymore about that.

kiskidee Sun 22-Apr-07 21:58:20

travel at night as much as you can. we travel to s. devon in the height of the summer and always do the last leg from Nottingham onward starting just before dd's normal bedtime so she sleeps.

funnypeculiar Sun 22-Apr-07 22:02:59

lots of rather grim service stations on the A303 - but useable. Stonehenge just off the A303 off course, if you want somewhere nicer/more interesting to stop.

never stop at Exeter myself - sorry

We go down to devon a lot, and tend to travel at night - get kids ready for bed, then go - story tapes for me & dh to keep us awake (but only 4 1/2 hours from here

littleducks Sun 22-Apr-07 22:12:51

We went to devon (with daytrip to cornwall recently with 10 month old dd) along A303, stopped at stonehenge, normally services at podimore have clean toilets, there is a lovely bakery for cakes on the main road after podimore, when you see the houses with red circular roofs.
I would highly recommend darts farm just outside exeter, lovely cafe restaurants (tad pricey) but we had lovely breakfasts there, and there are animals outside for los to look at (pig/goats etc) and large shop of organic veg, yummy cakes etc.

On the way back we stopped at a travelodge in bournemouth, and i think travelodge family rooms are great for with kids, dont know aout the exeter one specifically.

frogs Sun 22-Apr-07 22:20:17

Any reason why you don't want to do the M4/M5 route? I do London-Devon pretty regularly throughout the year, and IME this route is signficantly faster than going via A303 (3.5-4 hours from London to North Devon approx, though my speed-demon BIL can do it in less).

Don't do it on a Saturday. Just don't. It's changeover day for most of the holiday cottages and traffic is always worse on Saturdays, particularly in summer. If I really had to drive down on a Saturday any time from now to October half term, I'd do the bulk of the journey on Friday night, stp off somewhere nice and then get a head start on Saturday morning for the last leg.

Any reason why you can't do the journey overnight? Personally if we were going all the way to Cornwall, I'd give the children supper, get them into their pyjamas and leave London once the evening rush hour has calmed down. Then you can just concentrate on getting where you're going without the whole kiddy-entertainment circus thing. Particularly if you have two drivers you can take turns driving to ease the pain.

wheresthehamster Sun 22-Apr-07 22:22:09

If it's only an overnight stop any travelodge type place would be ok, you're only breaking your journey after all.

Have you got one of those DVD players that attach to the back of the headrest? Didn't get a peep out of our dds en route to the Isle of Wight at Easter!

Going on long journeys I always make up a bag for them that they can break into as soon as we reach the main road. In it are snacks/packed lunch, gummy sweets, drink, pencils, drawing pad, comic and maybe a lucky bag. That way I don't expect to hear I'm hungry/thirsty/bored for at least half an hour!

Agree with others though about timing - evening/night best time as they should sleep through most of it.

Also prefer M4/M5 as well.

funnypeculiar Sun 22-Apr-07 22:22:29

frogs - do you think - interesting... We reckon A3/A303 is slightly quicker - also do the Devon run regularly (but then we do live 5 mins from A3... )
Totally agree with your Fri/Sat suggestion...

pooka Sun 22-Apr-07 22:25:23

I also have found the A303/A30 trip quicker than the motorway. Though a warning to North Cornwall visitors - watch out for the A30 by Bodmin which was a bit of a nightmare. Better to go via Wadebridge, we found.

frogs Sun 22-Apr-07 22:27:50

We're nowhere near the A3, I guess! We're North London, so I go straight out on the A40/M40 then down to Reading and via M4/M5. I only do A303 under deep duress.

If we can't do overnight, I tend to insist on leaving London early (6am kind of early). The main bottleneck on M4/M5 is the elevated section around Gordano services (which has a coffee shop with decent coffee and leather sofas btw!). As long as you can get past that bit by about 9am it's usually pretty fast all the way.

Norfolkinhope Wed 25-Apr-07 08:40:14

Cool, thanks SO much for all that. Just one more req. - anywhere nice to stop off for a toddler to run about about half-way between Exeter and Falmouth?

Norfolkinhope Thu 26-Apr-07 09:28:23

Ahem...anywhere nice to stop off for a toddler to run about about half-way between Exeter and Falmouth please?

Norfolkinhope Thu 26-Apr-07 16:00:32

Pretty please?

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