Going to the biggest holiday park in the Lake District on Easter Bank Holiday week may not sound like a holiday at all.
In fact five rainy days stuck in a caravan with two small children is my idea of hell. Which is why we ended up at White Cross Bay at Bowness: with its indoor swimming pool, bar, spa and kid’s activities we knew two worn-out parents would still get a break even if the notorious Lake District rain set in.
As it was, we had wall-to-wall sunshine for the entire holiday. This gave us ample opportunity to make the most of the park’s stunning woodland setting on the shores of Lake Windermere. A £1.99 fishing net was all that was required for hours of fun catching tiddlers at the park’s very own marina. There were plenty of places to enjoy the sun on site, a lovely picnic area, two decent playgrounds and a beer garden set in grounds that somebody was clearly very proud of.
There’s a choice of caravans and lodges at White Cross Bay, with bronze, silver, gold and platinum options to suit different budgets. We stayed in a two-bedroom gold, which exceeded our expectations. It was spacious, smartly furnished and had a better equipped kitchen than several holiday cottages we’ve stayed in. It was also spotless – apart from one grubby pillow which was replaced.
Park Resorts has not long added White Cross to its portfolio of 48 locations in the UK. There seem to be mixed views about the new owners, however we found the park clean, well-kept and generally well-run. There were a few teething issues including long waits in the bar and restaurant and the WiFi didn’t work.
We were lucky that we didn’t need to rely on the activity programme, as an oversight in the planning meant that there were mainly sessions for children under five – or over eight. This left ‘jewellery making’ for our seven-year-old son, which for some reason he didn’t fancy.
Alongside a small gym and good-sized pool, White Cross boasts a new health suite which includes a jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. The park is within walking distance of Brockhole, the Lake District Visitor Centre. Entry is free to gorgeous grounds that meander down to the lake, as well as a bi g adventure playground. There’s a wealth of activities including pony trekking, crazy golf, boat and bike hire.
At 10 miles long, Windermere is the largest natural lake in England. If you’ve got little legs in your party, the best way to get round it is by boat. Bowness is a bustling tourist port, it is also the home to the World of Beatrix Potter, which brings to life the famous Lake District tales with an enchanting indoor trail of animated models.
The area is renowned for its spectacular fells, however for the less adventurous there is plenty to explore in the quintessentially English towns of Bowness and Windermere, which are only an eight-minute drive from White Cross Bay.
There are dozens of independent shops, cafes and restaurants selling fantastic artwork, crafts, gifts and local produce.
If you’re looking for a good value base to explore the Lakes with handy facilities on your doorstep, White Cross Bay is a great choice.
Even at Easter we found it quiet and peaceful. The location couldn’t be better, the accommodation was comfortable and there’s plenty to do if it rains.