Travelling to Cornwall
24th March 2021
Are we nearly there yet?
West Cornwall: it’s not as far as you think. Honestly! If you haven’t been down here for a while, you may have childhood memories of long, hot traffic jams. However, the roads are being improved all the time, and the dualled stretch across Bodmin Moor has solved one of the A30’s biggest bottlenecks.
Yes, it does still get busy, and you may have to clock up a few hundred miles to get here. However, our guests are mines of information, and they’ve given us these gems of journeying hints and tips.
Switch on that SatNav, and head off into the sunset. We’ll see you soon.
Entertaining the Kids
We’ll start with the trickiest bit: young children on a long journey. Journeys follow the same pattern: excitement; over-excitement; hunger; boredom; fighting with sibling; more boredom. Now’s not the time to worry about screen hours, as tablets and portable DVD players are your new best friends. Also try story and favourite music CDs. Regular stops are essential. Plan your route to take in interesting places to stop.
Take in the Sights
Combine comfort stops with a couple of hours in an interesting place. National Trust gardens make great places for the kids and dogs to run off some en-route energy. Hanbury Hall is just four miles from Junction 4 of the M5. Killerton in Devon is seven miles from the motorway, and has over 6,000 acres of parkland. In 2021, both parks are operating a pre-paid ticket entry scheme, so you’ll need to plan ahead and book a visit
Slimbridge Wetlands Centre is close to Junction 13 of the M5. Take a break while strolling around this lovely nature reserve. You need to book your trip to Slimbridge the day before your visit. They re-open on 12 April.
If you’re mainly on the motorway, you’ll probably take in a service station or two. Back in the day when we were kids, service stations weren’t child-friendly. Now, the refurbished ones have outdoor playgrounds for letting off steam, a choice of places to eat, and a good stock of CBeebies magazines for the next leg of the journey. The advantage of service stations is you can usually find place to park a caravan, and you and your motor can refuel on coffee and petrol, respectively.
Some of our guests have advised taking a break towards the end of the journey so you’ll arrive feeling ready to hitch up and unload. Cornwall Services near Bodmin is a really handy new place for that late-in-the-journey stop. Their services are currently restricted, so please check their website for up-to-date information. If it’s open, don’t miss The Cornish Pizza Kitchen with its wood-fired pizzas.
A Gourmet Pitstop
Gloucester Services has raised the bar for pitstops en route to Cornwall. Now open on both carriageways at Junction 38 of the M5, this large farm shop sells fabulous West Country food, and is a brilliant place for a meal. Stock up on delicious goodies – you can even phone or email ahead and order your food. The homemade pies are especially lovely, and are building up quite a reputation. Like more conventional service stations, you can also fill up the tank and use the loo. Their hours may vary this summer – check their website or Facebook page before setting out.
Travelling with Dogs
See: travelling with kids (just with less bickering). Most service stations will have a dog exercise area, and the National Trust parks we mentioned are great for a good run. Your route will probably take you close to Dartmoor and near Bodmin Moor, where you can all get plenty of fresh air and exercise before tackling the last stretch of the journey.
Try the helpful Driving With Dogs website for suggestions for good walks near major roads.
This is still a popular option, and provided your circadian rhythms can cope, it’s a good way of beating the traffic. You’ll encounter quite a few other caravans with the same idea, but it’s still far quieter.
Whatever time you’re driving, if you’re towing, we’d advise sticking to main roads wherever possible. West Country back roads have a nasty tendency to get narrower and narrower; and the last thing you need towards the end of a long drive is having to reverse your caravan down a winding lane for an advancing tractor…
If you arrive at Polmanter in the early hours of the morning, we have an early arrivals area (the first field to the left as you arrive) where you can pull in and rest while you wait for Reception to open.
There – that wasn’t too bad, was it? Welcome to Polmanter. Take a breath of sea air, and admire the view from your pitch. Just remember to take the same relaxed approach on the way home.