Holidaying with Baby – Review of our first family holiday

 

My holiday post will be quite lengthy, so will be splitting it into a general overview with highlights, plus more in-depth reviews of some of the activities we did and
attractions we visited.

For our first family holiday with J, we decided to head for the Cornish coast. I’d heard lots of good things about this part of England but had never been. In particular, I was longing to walk along the coast by the sea, be surrounded by beautiful countryside and have lots of family friendly activities to do. I can safely say that we weren’t disappointed.

Our party consisted of Mr N, J and myself, and J’s Grandma and Aunty Nik. After pouring over a map, it was decided that somewhere between Newquay and Tintagel would be the perfect location. J’s Grandma had been to Padstow and highly recommended it.

Being on maternity leave always means that budgeting is essential, so we aimed to hire a self catering house with the view of eating out only a couple of lunch times and evenings and to eat in or have picnics the rest of the time.  We scoured Cottages4you online and found a lovely cottage in the hamlet of Tregatta, ¾ of a mile from Tintagel, that was well located, looked homely and wasn’t too expensive. Even better was the 10% discount we got via Mr N’s work which has a reward gateway scheme.

This was all planned and booked back in January, and seemed a long way off, but time does go quickly and before I knew it, there were only a few days to go and I still hadn’t packed! It never seems possible to travel lightly with a baby in tow. With 4 adults and 1 baby, it seemed sensible to take two cars (both of which are quite small) and divide our luggage – or rather, pack lots of our overflow baby stuff into the second car… Also, I’d
misread the cottage description, having read so many, and found on calling the cottage owner that no travel cot or high chair was available, so in they went too. Two cars proved quite handy.

We set off fairly early (8.30am) to get as much driving done as possible before any problems on the motorway and were making good time until we hit the M5 near Bristol and stationery traffic. An accident a few hours earlier had all but turned the motorway into a car park. Needless to say, it was quite frustrating trying to make any headway and at the next services we took a long lunch to allow the traffic to clear, it was also good to get J out of his car seat and refueled with a jar ob baby food.

With this delay, (and a stop in Launceston for food supplies) we didn’t make it to Tregatta until nearly 5pm. The roads from the A39 to Tregatta also left something to be desired –this was my first taste of driving in rural Cornwall and I have to say it was
not particularly enjoyable.

By the time we arrived and unloaded our baggage, we were in much need of a hot drink and a sit down. There was a tea and biscuit tray waiting for us, which I thought was a lovely touch.

The cottage was very quaint, with large coal fireplace, comfy sofas, beams and slate floor in the kitchen and downstairs loo. Our bedroom also had a 4-poster bed and a gorgeous wood-burner in the corner – would have been very romantic if we hadn’t been sharing our bedroom with J!

Master Bedroom at Atlantic Cottage

The cottage (Atlantic Cottage, Tregatta), had a very picturesque garden in front of it, with views of the sea a short distance away.

View from the cottage

We had planned lots of activities including site seeing, walks, cycling and surfing, plus plenty of cream teas and pasties to balance out all that exercise!

Our week consisted of the following:

  • Walk round Tintagel and down to the castle
  • A coastal walk from the cottage towards Tintagel
  • Visit to Newquay Zoo, aquarium and beach
  • Surfing lesson on Harlyn Bay
  • An afternoon trip to Padstow via the Rock ferry
  • Cycling the Camel Trail, from Padstow to
    Wadebridge, then beyond to the Camel Tea Rooms
  • A visit to Boscastle, and the Witchcraft museum
  • Trip to Bude, and the nearby Widemouth Bay

The weather was quite mixed and was better at the start of the week before becoming quite overcast and rainy later on. We were lucky to have a partly sunny day for the cycling and the surfing. It was also quite windy, being on the coast, and our pushchair rain cover came in quite handy as wind protection for J – also handy on the beach when the wind whipped up a mini sand storm!

Highlights definitely included a surfing lesson, travelling to Padstow via the passenger ferry from Rock and cycling on the Camel Trail.

On the OK list but things I wasn’t particular enamoured with were Newquay Zoo, and Bude.  Why? See here!

Much more successful was our short stop at Widemouth Bay, on the way back to the cottage. A glorious expanse of sandy beach set within a cove of sorts to keep it fairly sheltered. A walk here did me the world of good after the disappointment that was Bude. I even naughtily collected a few rocks and shells to bring home (I know good tourism is to only take photos, but I couldn’t resist a reminder of the sea, especially as I live in a land locked area).

Overall, our accommodation was lovely – friendly owners, comfortable (if a little cold at times but what do you expect of a 17th century stone cottage?), and a great base from which to explore Cornwall. Most things we wanted to do were within a 30 minute drive.

Pro’s of our holiday:

  • Great accommodation in a good location for exploring
  • Excellent attractions and things to do within 30 minutes drive
  • Plenty of family and budget friendly things to do
    Cream teas and Cornish Pasties – marvellous!
  • Exceptional scenery and coast line views
  • Padstow is very family friendly and the Camel Trail great for all ages walking or cycling
  • Good selection of beaches within driving distance

Cons (always a few!)

  • The weather, typically British, a mix of cold, rainy, overcast days and warm sunshine – take waterproofs, suncream and sunglasses!
  • Cornish rural roads – tiny and very steep!
  • Getting there via the M5
  • Some attractions better for slightly older children rather than babies
  • Some good coastal walks but few suitable for pushchairs
  • Having to drive rather than walk to beaches
Greetings from Cornwall!
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