9bee9e28173c0f8f2555f38b5d82e791COMBE MARTIN BEACH HOLIDAY PARK, DEVON

WHAT’S THE SCOOP? If you thought there was no such thing as a quiet, relaxing holiday park, think again – Combe Martin Beach Holiday Park ticks all the boxes. This small, family-run site is ideally located for exploring the delights of North Devon, and pet owners are guaranteed a warm welcome. The park is owned by John Fowler Holidays, which started with a single caravan in a field in 1953. The company now has sites in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset but hasn’t lost that personal touch.

02316228e6ee8a039225162eb3173ebeARE MUDDY PAWS WELCOME? Oh yes, the site is heaven for dogs, if a little hilly. A nature trail running through woodland borders the site and John Fowler Holidays also owns the beach over the road, which is pet-friendly all year round. Dogs are allowed in the Manor House, too, where you can grab a drink, get on the WiFi and enjoy the evening entertainment. This is really quite rare for a holiday park so it is lovely to see – pets can chill out on their own little sofa next to a jar stuffed with treats.

When we visited, Ernie had a lovely little welcome pack waiting for him in the caravan, complete with a dog bowl, fleecy blanket, toy, treats and poo bags. A helpful guide to the park also contained information about the best beaches, days out and places to eat and drink with dogs nearby. Two pets are allowed to stay per unit for an additional cost of £25 for a short break or £40 for a week. They must be booked and paid for in advance and kept on lead while around the park.

Platinum caravan petAND WHEN I’M DOG TIRED? Guests can stay in either chalets or caravans but for more modern accommodation, I’d go for the vans. We upgraded to Silver accommodation (the best you can get when visiting with dogs) and our light and airy two-bedroom caravan – number 48 – was fantastic. We had sea views to the left and rolling hills to the right and backed right on to the woodland trail, which was great for Ernie.

From what we could tell, the van was pretty much brand new and felt like a home-from-home. Not only did it have double glazing and central heating but there was a lovely electric fire to take the chill off in the evenings. The shower was hot and powerful, too – on a par, if not better, than what we have at home!

IMG_20190501_084313A handy welcome pack – with all the essentials such as tea, coffee, a dishcloth, bin bags, tea towel and mini washing up liquid – meant our our stay got off to a great start. The van also had a flatscreen TV with DVD player and well-equipped kitchen complete with all the little thing you might not necessarily think of when packing for a self-catering break, such as a cheese grater and corkscrew.

The park, which claims to be “quiet and relaxing”, really is just that. We awoke to birdsong in the morning and barely heard any other guests, which was perfect for us. We hadn’t booked Combe Martin Beach Holiday Park for the entertainment – but if you want a bit more than bingo and quizzes in the evenings, you can head to Sandaway Beach, its more lively sister park, five minutes up the road. Visit during the summer months and you’ll have an outdoor pool to enjoy, too.

IMG_20190501_191313HOW ARE THE SCOOBY SNACKS? Most guests at Combe Martin Beach Holiday Park will self-cater (the nearest supermarkets are in Ilfracombe, 10 minutes away by car) but if you don’t fancy cooking, head to Chef’s Corner, which is located in the Manor House. Here, from 6-9pm, you can enjoy a range of hearty pub-style grub while soaking up the stunning sea views.

There are plenty of great pubs, cafes and restaurants nearby but make sure you factor in a trip to The Dolphin Inn too, just moments from the main entrance. The pub, which overlooks the harbour, serves everything from curries to cassoulet and has great veggie options, including proper pies (pictured above). It is also very dog-friendly, with pets allowed everywhere aside from the upstairs bistro.

ANY FOUR-LEGGED FRIENDS TO PLAY WITH? No, but there are sure to be other dogs staying onsite – we met several!

IMG_20190430_103853WHERE’S GOOD FOR WALKIES? Start with the woodland trail, where there are plenty of good sniffs to be had. Head through the gate and turn left to follow the shortest path, which will take you to the heart of Combe Martin in less than 15 minutes.

Devon has some fantastic beaches to explore too, and they’re all within easy reach of the holiday park. The award-winning Woolacombe Bay (pictured above) is around 15 minutes away by car and the beach is regularly voted one of Britain’s best. Aside from one small section, dogs have the run of this three-mile stretch of sand all year round.

There are also endless walks to be had in Exmoor National Park. Click here for inspiration and to find out when the next guided walks take place. Most of these last around two hours. Alternatively, make a dent on the 630-mile long South West Coast Path. The 13.7-mile stretch from Combe Martin to Lynton/Lynmouth is particularly scenic and will see you stepping in to Lorna Doone territory. For more inspiration when it comes to things to see and do in the area, check out my dog-friendly Ruff Guide to North Devon.

IMG_20190501_183524WHAT ERNIE LOVED: The woodland trail (pictured above), having a beach he could visit all year round just steps from the caravan, the doggy welcome pack filled with goodies

WHAT I LOVED: The fact the park bills itself as “quiet and relaxing” – and actually is,  having so many great beaches nearby, being able to walk into town within minutes

GET ON THE DOG AND BONE: Three-night breaks at Combe Martin Beach Holiday Park start from £69 while a week’s stay will set you back £109. For more information or to book, call 01271 866766 or visit the John Fowler Holidays website.

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