Finally, I’m catching up with blogging about some of our exploits over the summer. It seems a bit mad that it’s almost 2 months since we were in Devon, enjoying blue skies, the beach and the sun on our faces – now I’m in an extra fleece, with my slippers on and the first layer of the winter duvet’s on the bed. We stayed at the Watermouth Lodges in Devon (very nice, if you were wondering) which happens to be next to (and I mean right next to) but not linked to Watermouth Castle. This attraction bills itself as a castle and family theme park – now, living where I do, I associate ‘theme park’ with places like Thorpe Park and Chessington – big, thrill seeking days out requiring nerves of steel and the ability to queue. Watermouth Castle is definitely not on the same scale and I think it’s rather more suited to younger families – certainly there was little to do for teenagers.
The Castle and Park are on a hill so there is a lot of walking, much of which is pretty steep. The Cheetah Keeper managed well (better than I expected) and I spent a lot of the time being very grateful I had finally beaten the lingering chest infection. As I’ve written so many times before, the Cheetah Keeper is very wary of new situations and this was quite a challenge for him. The bonus with Watermouth is that once you’ve paid your entrance fee (just under £50 for a family of 4) you can revisit as many times that season as you like for £2 per person. Once you’ve paid for a photo to go on your revisit card (negative points for that one Watermouth – is it really necessary???). So we went twice – once for an afternoon where we sussed things out and got soaked when the forecast rain arrived a little earlier than the BBC had said it would, and then again for a long morning – mainly to play mini-golf!
So, what is there to do…
Although both the Sealion Keeper and Cheetah Keeper fell into the right age bracket, they did have a to squeeze into some of the rides because they are so tall.
Both times we went it was very quiet and we didn’t have to queue for anything. I asked whether it did get busy and was assured it did, especially on Sundays. The Castle and Park is shut on Saturdays as that is the main change-over day in the area for tourists and people don’t visit.
What else to do?
You can visit the various ‘Lands’ with gnomes and other rides. You can also enjoy the beautiful, well tended flowers and gardens and enjoy ice-creams and freshly prepared food. There’s fudge made on site which you can purchase in the shop. As you go into the Castle you are taken round an eclectic mix of attractions, a train layout and old fashioned entertainment machines that you may have seen on a pier or at another old property. We opted out of the trip around the Dungeons as neither the Cheetah Keeper or the Sealion Keeper fancied going somewhere to be scared on purpose (I can see their logic).
The Cheetah Keeper absolutely loved the mini-golf and would have played all day if we’d given him the chance. The golf area is on a slope (comedy moment when the ball bounced off the green, down the slope and just kept rolling…) with some nice water features and a lovely view. We loved the Crazy Snooker (it’s strange how competitive the parents can get!) although the Sealion Keeper found it very hard to coordinate her body to actually hit the ball and got quite frustrated – that’s what Ehlers Danlos Syndrome can throw at you when you don’t expect it. The Cheetah Keeper was very taken with it all
The Sealion Keeper loved the extra long tunnel slide and we also investigated the maze. We weren’t sure whether we were supposed to find our way to the middle or out the other side and as the sun was beating down we headed out the way we came in.
Our absolute favourite attraction at Watermouth was in Gnome Land – the Indoor Soft Ball Cannon Shooting area. Hardcore, serious fun.
Would we recommend it and would we go again?
I reckon we’ve probably got one more year until the Sealion Keeper grows out of Watermouth. For those with younger children who are good on their feet and enjoy some gentle fun, this is a great place. Also there are very few steps, pushing a buggy (especially a double) or a wheelchair around would be very, very hard work. Being so close to the coast the weather does change very quickly so go prepared (*ahem* note to self) and be prepared to immerse yourself in what is clearly a labour of love for someone with quite a unique sense of humour.
If you’re staying at the Watermouth Lodges and have younger children, go. Personally I wouldn’t suggest making a great long trip to visit but if this is your sort of thing, well, have a great time.