If you’ve visited Devon and the surrounding areas with your family you have probably seen the leaflets and signs for Crealy; you may have even visited. However, being relatively new to holidaying in Devon and Cornwall with the family (we have tended to head off to the Lake District!) we were delighted to be invited to visit Crealy Meadows with our family and excited to try out one of their new Safari Tents to experience our first ‘glamping’ trip.
Crealy Meadows is a camping site literally a ‘stone’s throw’ from the amusement park itself. The site takes both tents and touring caravans and also offers the opportunity to stay in either a Safari or Medieval tent to experience some ‘glamping’.
We arrived and were greeted by friendly reception staff who provided us with our wrist bands (access to the park is included in your stay) and an information pack for our stay. We were then directed to our tent, excited to see what a Safari tent had to offer…
The Safari tents are basically a very sturdy tent with both electricity (a microwave and halogen hob were provided and one light serves the whole tent!) and running water (just the sink – no toilet!) this providing a ‘glamorous camping’ or ‘glamping’ experience. There were two ‘rooms’ partitioned with heavy hanging canvas, one with a double bed and another with bunk beds…there was also a cosy den which was a double bed with doors to close it in as well as a sofa bed in the lounge area allowing each tent to sleep 8. We were quite comfortable as a family of 4 but providing you all know each other well, 8 people would happily find their space in the tent and there were plenty of full tents on site.
After quickly settling in and feeding the children (the small shop on site has been carefully stocked with food that is suitable to cook using the facilities in the tent!) we headed up to the main site to the evening entertainment.
Each evening, the main site offers a variety of activities and events aimed at all the family. It also has several options for food (if you don’t fancy cooking!) although these were very much burger and chips based. The centre also offers the biggest soft play I have ever seen with spectacular drop slides as well as a smaller soft play so both children (aged 2 and 7) were happy while we took advantage of Happy Hour and a quick drink!
It was a short walk home and after a quick visit to the toilet block (these were incredibly clean and we saw them being cleaned frequently during our stay!) all had a good night’s sleep ready for a day of adventure.
The next day we were up early, ready for our day at Crealy. We made our way through the ‘secret’ door and into the park having first had a quick look at what was on offer throughout the day so we didn’t miss anything! We made our way through the park and started off with some rides we could all join in with. The height restrictions are clearly stated on the park map and there were a good number of rides for our 2-year-old to access, provided that he had an adult with him. We experienced the carousel and the Safari Express and persuaded our little one to leave one of the play areas (there are lots of little play parks and slides dotted around the site for those who are a little less keen on rides) and made our way to the resident Diving Show. This was really well done with pre-show entertainment to keep the children amused before it started and a snappy commentary throughout as we watched the ‘penguins’ during their competitive events at the ‘Penguin Olympics!’ At this point the weather had really become quite dreadful so we ducked into the nearest soft play (there are several on site and these were brilliant, providing something for the younger ones as well as more of a challenge for the older ones!) and waited for the rain to stop…
Our next ride was the Dino Jeeps which our little one loved despite the scary Tyrannosaurus Rex who made an appearance at the end! At this stage, it was time for lunch and we were pleased to see that the café in the Adventure Zone offered baked potatoes and salad which were reasonably priced and freshly prepared. The little one napped in his push chair while we planned the rest of the day, taking in both the Insect Encounter and Reptile Encounter as well as taking time to explore the other animals on site. We also went on the more ‘challenging’ rides with our oldest and enjoyed the ‘Time Machine’ and rides in the Lost World of Atlantis (which sells freshly made Lavazza coffee!).
Once the little one woke we decided to split up, with Daddy taking the toddler to see the animals he had missed during his nap, while I introduced our daughter to her first experience of the Log Flume! It was raining heavily by now so we decided to embrace the wetness and take advantage of the fact that the park was now quieter (it was late afternoon and raining!) and were able to not only ride the Log Flume several times but also go on the three waterslides offered by The Vortex which we happily rode till closing time before heading back for showers to warm up, dry off and have dinner.
This evening we had a quickly cooked pasta dinner before again, heading off for a quick softplay before bed. The rain continued into the evening and it was really quite cosy and warm in our tent listening to the rain whilst remaining warm and dry!
The next morning, we treated ourselves to a Character Breakfast in the restaurant on site. This was the only time during our stay where things didn’t quite go according to plan…the order was muddled with things missing, the vegetarian offering wasn’t great and the children had to wait for their food while the adults were served first, a good 10 minutes in advance. However, keeping in the theme of the visit, the staff worked hard to remedy the situation and were both apologetic and helpful. I have to say, I don’t think I have ever been anywhere where the staff were so consistently friendly throughout. Everyone we encountered was smiling, friendly and happy to help and came across as genuine and caring throughout…
After breakfast, we took the little one back on the Dino Jeeps and Safari Train as well as experiencing the Driving School (which he absolutely loved!), while the more adventurous older one went on the Pirate Ships. We were just in time to take our seats for Party in the Park, a series of tribute acts which take place every Sunday and were thoroughly entertained by ‘Justin Bieber’, ‘Jessie J’ and ‘Robbie Williams’ before we reluctantly left the park to make the long journey back home.
Crealy is most certainly family friendly with something to offer everyone no matter what the age and sense of adventure. We tagged this onto the end of our family holiday in Lyme Regis but we could certainly see ourselves spending much longer than just a weekend there. We are already thinking about when we could return in our tent or touring caravan for another visit! Highly recommended!
NB: Rachel and her family were guests of Crealy but all views and opinions are, as always, their own.