Ah the summer, remember that? Seems like a long time ago though I am still enjoying the warm October sunshine. Summer 2016 was awesome and it ended with a wonderful trip to one of my favourite places in the whole world – Dorset. I was given the opportunity to review a Camping and Caravanning Club site and I decided to choose the Corfe Castle site as this is an area I come to a lot, and I’ve stayed in various campsites in the area but despite being a fully signed up C&C Club member, it’s not one I’ve ever stayed at before.
Having stayed at a few different C&C Club sites there is a standard I expect to see – that’s not being overly fussy or picky, but generally the sites I have stayed on have been tidy and well-kept with extremely helpful staff so I was keen to see if Corfe Castle would match up. Especially to my favourite of all their sites, Hereford. I have stayed there several times and always had the best time.
First impressions – the site is relatively easy to find, could be a bit tricky if you don’t know the area but there is a brown camping sign on the main road. The campsite itself is up a narrow, very bumpy track – luckily we never met anyone coming the other way because I imagine with a caravan in tow it could be a bit hairy. At the start of the track is a private property with a bit of a ramshackle garden which seems to serve a graveyard for unloved vehicles. Not exactly welcoming but neither is this (I presume) anything to do with the campsite. Saying that, some well placed screening would make it look a little more salubrious.
We went to check-in when we arrived. I had to take a picture of the entrance sign because the ‘Non Members Welcome’ made me laugh, I’m not sure if this is ironic but as soon as we were arrived we were told under no circumstance could we camp if they didn’t see our membership card. I thought this was odd for two reasons – firstly, are non-members welcome or not? and secondly, I was there under a press booking so wouldn’t the presumption be that I wouldn’t be a member? Nevertheless I did have my member card with me so all was fine – other than the fact they had no record of my booking despite me having a printed confirmation with booking number on the top.
After this hiccup, we were shown to our pitch which was very large, had electric hook-up as promised and was relatively flat. I had read online that pitches could be quite sloping so that was a relief. A bit more grass would have been nice, the pitches were very worn but I guess end of the season, it could be expected. We were set up in no time and enjoyed the last of the evening sunshine. We had decided to have a BBQ and having read the info pack we were given, we duly went to reception to ask for the bricks that they requested we use. Possibly asking for a piece of moon rock would have gone down better as they seemed confused that we asked for these, and they had none.
My only other niggle about the site (might as well get all the niggles out at once) was that we had asked for a late check-out but we were told that we couldn’t have one, despite the fact it was Bank Holiday Monday and absolutely nobody was arriving on a Bank Holiday Monday. They did however agree to let us leave our packed up trailer near the entrance.
I know I sound rather negative and I don’t mean to be – we had a really lovely time and we’d definitely go back to this site. Compared to some campsites I’ve stayed at over the years, this is like the Rolls Royce of campsites – these are just some small niggles that I think could quite easily be rectified.
The site was beautifully kept, very tidy and very clean. It feels safe enough to let my children have a little wander and is totally locked up after hours. It’s peaceful after 10.30pm which is an absolute essential for me – apart from the wildlife and the noisy fox cubs that brazenly ransacked our neighbours rubbish – and it was quiet in the morning, I was able to sleep in until about 7.30am which is unheard of for most campsites!
The toilet blocks were kept clean and tidy, with nice hot showers that I never had to wait to use. They closed for a period of the day for cleaning but you were given fair warning and notice about the times for this.
A pizza van came to site one night which I thought was a nice touch as there’s not much in the local area unless you want to get in the car and the shop stocked my very favourite Purbeck ice-cream which was enjoyed on more than one occasion.
What can you do in the local area?
There are some really lovely places to explore in this part of Dorset. While we were at Corfe Castle we visited the castle itself, spent a day on the beach at Studland Bay, visited the very atmospheric abandoned village of Tyneham and Worbarrow Bay and did the obligatory visit to Lulworth Cove. (Advice, don’t do this on a Bank Holiday weekend…).
Also in the area, just down the road you can hop on the steam train to Swanage, go to Kimmeridge Bay, Durdle Door, go to Monkey World or the Tank Museum, walk the South West Coastal Path, take the chain ferry over to Sandbanks…the possibilities are endless, there is so much to do. I don’t think there are many stones I’ve left unturned in Dorset!
Again, I may have made this sound more negative than it should, overall it was a great weekend, but just a few tweaks to the customer experience and it could be fantastic! Certainly, the last thing you want when you check in after a long drive is hassle, but the quiet, rural setting with clean and tidy pitches and peaceful respectful neighbours definitely made up for it!