Words cannot adequately describe my love for the River Dart Country Park in Devon as a fantastic family holiday destination. It is the most expensive camp site we have ever visited and it was worth every penny. We stayed here in August 2016.
River Dart Country Park is a couple of miles north of Ashburton in Devon, and is signposted from the Peartree junction on the A38, and is within the Dartmoor National Park.
We would have loved to have stayed longer here but by the time we found out about it, we could only get booked in for three nights. We are planning to return next year as it was so awesome, and well worth the five-hour plus journey from Yorkshire.
The River Dart Country Park is open to the public during the day with an entrance fee, so it’s not overrun but still lively. There is a brilliant pirate adventure lake with rope swings and a barriered beach area for little ones. There are adventure playgrounds, nature trails, and also paid activities such as canoeing and kayaking, water zorbing, and high ropes.
The campsite was lovely – roomy pitches, nice ground, clean and plentiful toilet blocks with family bathrooms and washing up areas, and a choice of EHU or non-EHU pitches. There are a few different areas you can be placed – we were on the Village Green, equidistant between two amenity blocks, a short walk from a tots playground, and with some lovely views over the surrounding Devon countryside.
Considering how many other families were on the site – I’d say there were over 200 pitches and it was full the week we went – it was very quiet on a night, and no trouble anywhere during our stay. It was fantastically well looked after too.
There is a pub on site with food throughout the day, and a pool table. The shop next door is well stocked but we couldn’t find everything we wanted here – Newton Abbot and Totnes would be your best bet for a supermarket. We popped by the Morrisons at Plymouth whilst out for the day.
Staff were really helpful and friendly, and we honestly could find no fault with our camping break. The WiFi wasn’t the best, but then it never is at these places. That was about it.
Things you should bring to River Dart Country Park
- Wetsuits and boat shoes. – the pirate lake is fab but it’s stony underfoot and shoes are recommended.
- An inflatable – lots more fun to be had with one of these
- Bucket and spade – the little beach is great for making sandcastles
- Fishing nets – the fish aren’t very big but the girls had lots of fun fishing for tiddlers. There are lots of streams at River Dart Country Park for paddling in and exploring.
- Tennis rackets and balls – the courts are free to hire, but you have to pay to borrow the equipment – if you like tennis, then bring your things!
- Plasters and antiseptic cream – the opportunities for fun are endless, but we ended up having to buy a pack of plasters and some cream whilst there. Should know better by now really.
What to do at the River Dart Country Park
There’s loads to do at River Dart Country Park. Here are some photos from our trip of what we did and what you can do too
Pirate lake had a boat to climb on, planks to walk, a beach, and an obstacle course across the water. We spent a huge chunk of one day here, and even though it rained, the girls had loads of fun – they were already wet, right? We just sat under a tree to keep an eye out.
The girls have always wanted to go fishing, and to be honest, we don’t know the first thing about proper fishing, so we used River Dart Country Park as an opportunity to start with the basics – nets and searching for tiddlers. We can’t really describe what we caught as fish but they had a lot of fun. We did chuck them back in again once we’d had a closer look – there’s no danger of them being used for dinner!
River Dart Country Park has a high ropes course and zip wires. These cost extra but are not extortionate. We have done Go Ape! fairly recently though so we gave this a miss this time around.
We took the opportunity to have a go at kayaking and canoeing. This also cost extra but as we don’t get chance to do it very often, then we were more than happy to pay. Unfortunately, the rain decided to kick in just as we got into our boats, so we ended up wet through without even having to fall in the river. Great fun though!
While we were busy getting wet on the canoes, the five year olds were having their first try at water zorbing (additional charges apply).
The play areas
River Dart has two main play areas – one with an amazing play fort and lots of swings, and a very good zip wire. There is also a fenced off part for tots. We spent a lot of time over this side trying to master the obstacle courses.
Over the other side of the park up a bit of a hill there is a low ropes course, and a very fast anaconda slide.
The nightlife comprised the onsite pub-restaurant with a TV and a pool table. We were so worn out each day that we just stayed in the tent, had some drinks, and paid homage to the peaceful location by getting lots of well-needed sleep.
We would highly recommend River Dart Country Park for a family camping holiday and we are currently trying to get booked in for a whole week next year before it sells out again.
For more information about River Dart Country Park please visit http://riverdart.co.uk/