Cornwall’s Family-Friendly Beaches 2017 Part 1

Blue Flag beaches are awarded not only for water quality, the award criteria also is concerned with the beaches facilities such as disabled access, life guards on duty and toilets etc. It doesn’t mean that there are no other beaches worth visiting in Cornwall with the family,(far from it, there are lots of tiny coves and sandy escapes)  this is just the tip of the iceberg and we will be featuring some hidden gems in our next Family-Friendly Beaches in Cornwall series.

Here is a snapshot of a small collection of beaches that have been awarded Blue Flag status in Cornwall, and overview on what they can offer for families looking for little bit of seaside fun…

Polzeath Beach

Image: Jamsta @ Wikipedia under Creative commons licence

Polzeath is in an area of outstanding natural beauty. The beach here is sandy and safe, gently shelving into the sea. At high tide Polzeath beach is very small but at low tide it turns into a fantastic sandy haven for all the family, extending about half a mile in all directions. Not only does Polzeath beach boast fine golden sand but it is also fringed with rock pools and if you are lucky you could well spot the odd dolphin or puffin.

Polzeath itself is a small village located on the headland opposite Padstow. There are lots of shops lining the beach front here for family holiday-makers. Within the village itself you will find a number of restaurants, cafés and pubs.

Polzeath beach is very popular and can get busy during the summer months. It is great for rock pooling, sand castle building and is also a fun beach for learning to surf or body board. It is located in a nature reserve and so home to many interesting wildlife species.

Trevone Bay

Image: Evans1551 @ Wikipedia under Creative commons licence

Trevone Bay is a rural secluded un-spoilt beach located in north Cornwall close to Padstow. This beach has golden sand and little coves and is home to good marine wildlife. Dogs are welcome here except between Easter Sunday and 30th September when the seasonal ban comes into force. The sea is quite strong here making it popular with surfers. Trevone Bay is a popular little beach with families, it has rocky ledges either side of it, home to lots of rock pools. Apparently if it’s rock pools you are after though, you should visit the Rocky Beach (Newtrain Bay) next door as it has both fab rock pools and a big tidal pool too for splashing around in.

Porthtowan

Porthtowan is a large west-facing beach fringed with granite cliffs. The beach is sandy, perfect for sand castle building and children will also love exploreing the rockpools for life.

Being a Blue Flag beach means that the amenities here are good. There are also a range of cafes and shops within close proximity including the Blue Boar a fashionable beachside café bar. Blue Boar Facebook Page

Porthtowan (Cornish Porth Tewyn, meaning cove of sand dunes) lies on Cornwall’s Atlantic costa just over a mile west of St Agnes, it is a family-friendly beach and is popular with surfers too.

There is a thriving local community here visit the Porthtowan website need more inspiration? visit the Porthtowan online video

Carbis Bay

Carbis Bay is located just one mile east of St Ives. It is privately owned by the Carbis Bay hotel but open to the public. The hotel provides beach facilities including washrooms, and food and drink outlets.

This wonderful golden sandy beach in Cornwall is about a mile long and the water is generally quite calm, not great for surfers but perfect for families with toddlers! There is a host of wildlife here, with occasional sightings of dolphins and other sea animals like seals and spider crabs.

Dogs are welcome here (except between the first Sunday before Easter and 30th September when the seasonal ban is in place, however dog walks are allowed between 5 and 8 am).

Image by Lantographer under the creative commons license

Gyllynvase Beach (Falmouth)

One of the most popular beaches in Cornwall is Gyllyngvase Beach (AKA Gylly) with its  wide golden arc and beautiful blue sea it is easy to see why.

Gyllynvase Beach is a south-acing family resort beach with something for everyone, from water based activities to sand castle building. The award-winning, Gylly Beach Café is built over the beach with lovely views, and prides itself with using local produce wherever possible and offers a fresh contemporary menu (shellfish, fish, tapas, salads etc). There are lots of amenities here, along with a beach café selling ice cream and beach goodies next to Gylly Beach Café throughout the summer months. Gylly beach is located to the south of Falmouth town centre which is a 15 minute walk away. There are also Green Flag Award winning gardens making the area well recognised for its environmental quality.

Image: Tony Atkin under the creative commons license

Coming next: Hidden Family -Friendly Coves in Cornwall

Spring to West Sussex for a short family break

West Sussex is perfect for a short spring break with the family as it is located less than two hours’ drive from London and an easy train ride , just. 1 hr 10 from Victoria  to Shoreham-in-Sea.

Boasting beautiful countryside and coastal scenery, West Sussex is also officially the sunniest country in the United Kingdom according to the Met Office records.

There are plenty of child-friendly beaches here, perfect for a brisk walk in wellies wrapped up with scarf and hat on a fresh spring morning. As the weather warms the layers of clothing can disappear and the kids can rummage in the rock pools looking for interesting sea creatures and build sand castles too!

 

West Wittering beach

West Wittering beach has been a family favourite of ours for years. Boasting Blue Flag status, West Wittering offers high quality water, shallow lagoons when the tide is out, and plenty of sand for castle building, all making it perfect for toddlers and young children as well as older members of the family. There is ample parking, especially during the spring, and a dog-friendly section too. During the winter the beach café is generally open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays ( do check before you head off if this important to you).

littlehampton beach

Littlehampton beaches in West Sussex offer an alternative family vibe to West Wittering. Littlehampton itself is a bustling seaside town with award-winning architecture, stage by the sea, award-winning beaches and a seasonal miniature railway. If you are looking for family-friendly events they seem to kick off in April. The Littlehampton beach is a mixture of sand and shingle and there are plenty of amusements for all ages.

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West Sussex is also home to some beautiful and historical market towns, villages and stately homes. Steyning village stands out as possibly one of the prettiest towns in West Sussex with lots of charm and full of independent retailers. The children will love browsing through the interesting shops looking for a gift for a friend or family member back home.

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Arundel Castle is a popular  family-friendly day out, the castle and gardens open on 1st April

Late summer evening shadows on the Downs near Goodwood

The South Downs National Park is perfect for a family adventure. It offers 1,600km2 of amazing views, rolling hills, ancient woodland, market towns and villages, lowland heaths, country pubs, rivers and attractions for everyone.

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Springtime in the South Downs National Park is such a beautiful time to visit with plenty of bluebells to be found!

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Why not get the kids involved in the John Muir awards. Children and adults of all ages are encouraged to explore and create their very own National Park. There are lots of missions your family can take part in. For details visit the John Muir Mission Explorer page of the South Downs National Park website.

Child-friendly holiday cottages in West Sussex

If you are looking for a child-friendly holiday cottage for a short spring family break to West Sussex look no further. These two child-friendly cottages are located within walking distance to this area of the South Downs National park and the River Adur with its woodland trails and miles of beautiful countryside and only 10 minutes’ drive from Shoreham-on-Sea.

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There are two cottages both of which are ideal for families of up to four. They can also be rented together to offer accommodation for up to eight as the interlocking door can be unlocked to create a four bedroom holiday cottage. Within the gardens there are toys, swing, animals to feed and there is also a tea barn and artisan bake house open at various times throughout the year (and swimming pool open May to September)

https://www.holidaytots.co.uk/view-property/211-cottage-shared-facilities-in-nr-steyning/

Steyning is located just 5 minutes from here and the owners also have a lovely cottage in the heart of Steyning itself. It has two bedrooms and is ideal for a family of six guests who are welcome to use the facilities at the main house.

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The owners can offer babysitting and beauty treatments in any of their cottages. All the cottages are baby and toddler friendly with stairgates, cots, highchairs, baby bath, monitors, toys etc.

Child-friendly holiday cottage in Steyning, West Sussex

More family days out in West Sussex…

Here are some more ideas for a fab family day out during Spring (or any time of year) in West Sussex, all are close to the holiday cottages above:

 

Lambing at Coombes farm

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Stans Bike shack is fun for a pit stop before a lovely walk or cycle along the downs link.

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The wetlands centre in Arundel is a great day out, with family friendly events throughout the year including Puddle Jumping Championships – spring half term 2017!

Petworth Park has wild deer and the house is national trust and always runs great fun events in school holidays and also nearby Knepp Castle has wildlife safaris which are great fun, they do dawn/dusk/bees and other animals. The owners of the cottages went on a deer rut safari there in Oct and say it was great fun!

West Sussex is beautiful any time of year. Springtime here is just as stunning as other seasons, you can just feel everything waking after its long winter sleep, buds on the trees, bluebells in the woods and spring lambs popping up in the fields and maybe some puddles to splash in too!

What are you waiting for!

 

 

‘What’s on’ in West Sussex – ideal for a family short break this autumn

West Sussex is located just south of London within a couple of hours drive or train and is ideal for a short family break or if you are near London why not visit for a day out?  It has something to offer every family member with beautiful scenery, amazing food and drink, festivals, beaches, and stunning quaint villages and castles to explore.

There are three child-friendly holiday properties in West Sussex on Holiday Tots close enough to enjoy all the activities below and with availability from 14th September. Prices start at £475 for a short stay Mon – Fri or £525 for a weekend, a week is from £845. The family-friendly activities below are either on the doorstep or less than half an hour drive. Owners Les and Louise also run a Bakehouse with freshly produced cakes, bread and home cooked meals workshops too!

 

So if you fancy taking the family on a little holiday or just a family day out, there are a few ideas on what to do this autumn in West Sussex.

Walk and explore the South Downs National Park.

Now this is vast and I have lots of headings below that are technically within the South Downs National Park but I felt it necessary to add this as a simple excursion too. The South Downs National Park covers 1,600km2 of landscapes, visitor attractions, beautiful villages, country pubs and much more. It is worth taking a look at their website and seeing what is on when you want to visit or just get a map and compass and explore away…

Family-friendly events in West Sussex September/October 2015:

The Ploughing Match

19th September – join the fun and watch the annual ploughing match as horse and tractor-drawn ploughs battle it out, plus a livestock show, farrier display, sheep shearing, tractor/trailer rides food and drink. Fun starts at 9.30 http://www.westgrinsteadploughing.co.uk/index.php/this-years-events

Daylands Farm walk & cream tea plus hedgerow workshop

27th September – Led by Mother Nature join in the walk and cook what you pick. “Pick It Cook it” run special events for all ages at Daylands Farm in West Sussex from 10am – 4pm. They involve a short walk to forage for ingredients and include refreshments and a homemade lunch. You also get to take home what you cook. For more details visit http://www.pickitcookit.com/

Lewes October Feast

September 18th – October 10th

Now in its sixth year the Lewes October feast runs for three weeks in the Autumn and is run by a small charity. With food markets, pop up stalls, apple pressing, beer tasting and more, it might be a lovely introduction to some culinary delights for the kids and adults alike. To see what’s on where, visit their website for more details. http://lewesoctoberfeast.com/

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Arundel Castle – Life in a Medieval Cattle

20th September

Arundel Castle is a fab place to take the family for a fun day out, the castle and gardens are great to explore. There are lots of family-friendly events throughout the year too. Life in a Medieval Castle is set in The Keep and Barbican at Arundel Castle. Characters will be portrayed by members of the Raven Tor Living History Group: with stories and tales and craft displays, there will be lots of opportunity to learn about the Castle’s history. Arundel Castle is open until 1st November 2015 with the last admission at 16.00hrs. For more details visit their website http://www.arundelcastle.org/

Chiddingly Festival

24th September – 4th October 2015

This lovely parish of just 1000 residents stages this amazing festival of the arts every year. This year is no exception with Jo Brand and many other fab artists from jazz bands to bell ringers. Music comedy, drama and workshops all in one place for all ages. Specifically for children there is The Amazing Adventures of Librarian Lil, Circus Skills with Jimmy the Juggler and a Cartoon workshop with Matt Baxter. Intrigued and want to know more? Just visit their website: http://chiddinglyfestival.co.uk/category/children/

Bentley Woodfair

18th ,19th and 20th September

In its 20th year the Bentley Woodfair is a celebration of woodlands, forestry, trees, woodcrafts and more. With exhibits and displays of amazing skills and activities,  it is a fun and different day out for the whole family. There are demonstrations of machinery, tree climbing, children’s activities, local food, beer tent and a great family atmosphere. http://www.bentley.org.uk/woodfair/4575405571

Parham Harvest Fair

26th and 27th September

The house and gardens will be open for this family-friendly fair of the celebration of the abundance of produce that autumn brings. With homemade food, deer walks and cookery demonstrations plus an outdoor arena with a variety of events such as displays from the gun dogs and heavy horses. To bring it all together there will be live jazz playing in the grounds. http://www.parhaminsussex.co.uk/event/parham-harvest-fair/

Apple Day Brighton

27th September

Brighton is located just outside West Sussex in East Sussex. It is a fun place to visit any time of year with lots of attractions and activities for all the family. Apple Day Brighton is one of many events, it is a free event and is located in Stanmer Park, Brighton from 11am to 5pm. There will be lots of children’s activities with traditional fun fair rides and storytelling in the Orchard. Music and Dance is also on offer as well as apple themed workshops and produce. https://brightonpermaculture.org.uk/index.php/courses/appleday

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Beaches galore…

Finally don’t forget there are lots of wonderful child-friendly beaches too!

West Wittering beach

So what are you waiting for?!

Owners interview: Family life in the Languedoc…

The Buisson family

The Buisson family

The Languedoc-Roussillon is a region in Southern France and has five departments. Owners Louise and Franck set up home in the ‘department’ Pyrenees-Orientales and transformed an old derelict house into four child-friendly holiday apartments. Here is their story…

Myself, Louise, English came to France for university and never went back to the UK. Married Franck, French from the Ardèche region, and we have 2 boys aged 8 & 6.

Why did you decide to start your own holiday accommodation business?building pool2

We wanted to live in a nice environment for us and our family. found a very large property and it was a good way of being able to afford to have a bit more space around us than the norm !!

What was the toughest part about setting it up?

The tremendous amount of work we had to do to the very un-looked after property. then the week after we bought the house there was a huge snow storm, which like never happens here, and there was so much snow we could’nt access the house, Fallen trees everywhere etc. !! We couldn’t really afford all of the work so were using our customers holiday deposits to pay for the builders – the work had to be finished on time as we couldn’t even reimburse the paid holidays, and was a very stressful experience !!

Rural child-friendly holidays

Rural child-friendly holidays

And what was the most memorable/enjoyable?

Our children have the best play ground ever, and when we organise birthday parties the kids just have so much fun its brilliant !

The woodland play area

The woodland play area

The gardens are fabulous for play

The gardens are fabulous for play

What couldn’t you live without and why?

The tranquillity and the beautiful setting, I could now never go back and live in a city, you get used to the countryside very quickly.

Resident donkeys

Resident donkeys

What does your average working day involve?

Organising the children, making breakfasts for the b&b clients, cleaning rooms & gîtes, taking réservations.

What advice would you give to families wanting to holiday with you and why is your place so special?

Bring a couple of good books, plenty of suntan lotion and be prepared to unwind. Its the perfect setting for a family Holiday, the children will love it and when its easy to entertain the children, your own Holiday becomes so much more relaxing!

The ponies are always popular!

The ponies are always popular!

If you could pick just two attractions/places to visit in your area what would they be?

Collioure for its beautiful architecture and little quaint Streets full of artists studios. The lake at ST Jean Pla des Corts where there is so much to do for everyone, in a beautiful setting  – tree climbing, bouncy castles in the water, swimming in the lake, feeding the ducks, a great little restaurant ….

Collioure

Collioure

Is there anything you would like to highlight that might be interesting to families with babies/toddlers/young children who are thinking of staying with you?

We obviously have all the baby equipment you will need so less luggage needed. The pool is heated at 30° from mid-march until mid-novembre so even for tinies its perfect, and lots of children have learnt to swim in our pool.

Pool view and distant sea view from the three bedroom holiday apartments

Pool view and distant sea view from one of the apartments

In one sentence can you explain what life is like where you live?

Perfect !

Louise and Franck also have two holiday homes in the centre of Argeles sur Mer they own so if you are looking for a rural child-friendly holiday or want to be in the centre of it all they have both!

You can see all of their holiday homes here and they are all suitable for families looking for a holiday with babies, toddlers and young children. All Holiday Tots families get free linen, cots, high chairs and end of stay clean!

Basse Normandie – Lower Normandy

Lower Normandy

Lower Normandy

It might only be a hop across the channel but Lower Normandy offers a wonderful destination for families seeking an authentic French escape: rolling fields, picture-postcard views, gorgeous traditional child-friendly cottages and miles and miles of empty golden sands makes it the perfect location for a break all year-round.

If you think a French holiday is just too much travelling for a young family to cope with think again. Long gone are the ferries of your youth and the school French exchange – today’s boats are like cruise ships and your holiday starts the moment you step aboard. There are lots of cruise companies now giving you ample choice. I know lots of people use Brittany Ferries and love travelling by boat, apparently you can choose from soft play areas to on-board magicians, cinemas and silver-service restaurants to keep the whole family entertained. And once you land you can be unpacking your suitcase within a half-hour of disembarking – no time for the kids to get bored in the back or need to stop for a loo break.  It’s easy to stick to sleep and feeding routines and everyone arrives feeling relaxed and ready to go. Or why not explore on a train – Euro Star, or even fly (London City Fly to Deauville is one option but there are others – visit Normandy Tourism – how to get there page

Lower Normandy is a wonderful combination of coast and countryside. From chic resorts like Deauville to traditional small coastal towns you can experience glity Parisian glamour or low-key authenticly French escapes. Feast in Michelin-starred restaurants or munch on moules-frites at a beach-side bistro, Lower Normandy is renowned for its gastronomic delights and artisanal cooking.

The weather in Lower Normandy is similar to that of the UK although often a few degrees warmer and somewhat drier. Summers are pleasant and you can avoid the searing heat of the south or mid regions where being outside in the afternoon is often impossible. The road network is also fantastically efficient and you can escape the huge traffic jams that build up all around the southern half of the country throughout the summer.

Arrmanches Beaches

Arrmanches Beaches

So once you are there what to do? Hitting one of the many beaches is obviously a must and this can be done year round. Bundle up in the autumn and enjoy a bracing stroll or sandcastle-building competition without having to chase the kids around with sunblock. Or relax in the un-crowded sunshine even at the height of the summer season. The beaches are safe, clean and well-managed and you can nearly always park very nearby for free. In summer there are several lidos and inflatables are often installed on the beach along with pony rides and go-karting.

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Rhino at Cerza Zoo

All kids will particularly love Festyland a theme park that has plenty of rides for little ones as well as a few for adventurous parents. Cerza Zoo is a world class safari park where you can admire the animals from the safety of a little train and feed the animals in the petting park.

Other ideas of things to do are:

Lots of farmer’s markets

Cider route – through the orchards and you can pick up cider made on the premises and Calvados – the local apple brandy.

Bayeux – beautiful city and home to the Bayeux Tapestry.

Chateau de Vendeuvre  with its Magic Water Garden – beautiful gardens with secret water jets that are activated as you pass by.

Chateau de Falaise – a wonderful castle for all budding knights and princesses to explore.

Brittany… why is it a good place for a family holiday?

Brittany map © Gwendal Le Mouel

Brittany map © Gwendal Le Mouel

Wonder what there is to do in Brittany and why so many young families visit year after year? Maybe it is its close proximity to the UK making it accessible with limited travel time, by car, boat, plane or train, or its history, culture and beaches. Here is an overview of what Brittany has to offer…

Sitting on the Northwest peninsular of mainland Europe, is the picturesque French province of Brittany. With a complex and jagged coast, Brittany is not only attractive to tourists; forty per cent of Brittany’s population live on the coast. And what a coast. With an astounding 1700 miles of coastline and countless beaches, Brittany is a haven for holiday makers.

But it’s so much more than that. It is rich with history; once upon a time, Brittany was a Celtic Duchy, The inhabitants still use its Celtic language, Breton and it was also known as ‘Petite Bretagne’ – Little Britain (and that’s nothing at all to do with the sketch show). It had close ties to the isles across the channel and is a place drenched in tradition. 

With a mild climate, Brittany is the perfect destination for families with young children – it’s family friendly beaches are in abundance it tends not to get too hot in summer and hardly ever snows. The province only shuts down for a few of months a year (December to Mid-February) so the season gets put on hold rather than ending.  While the beaches are alluring, there is a sheer abundance of things to do and see in Brittany, that you could go when the weather is cooler and still never have a dull moment.

Brittany’s diverse landscape means that if you venture west you will find forests to explore rather than sand grains. 

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Ocean Opolis

Brittany homes many parks and gardens to explore at your leisure, art galleries to lose yourself in and for any animal lovers, travel west to find Brest’s educational aquarium, Ocean Opolis along with many zoos.

For the more adventurous holiday goers, there is a wide range of activities, from water parks and theme parks to sailing trips and canoeing along Brittany’s canals. Or perhaps you may like to visit Cite de la Voile in southerly Lorient – an interactive sailing museum.

Museede Bretagne

Museede Bretagne

On top of that there are plenty of outlets to educate you and broaden your knowledge. Want to learn all about Brittany itself? Why not visit Museede Bretagne in the east where they have lots going on for young children from stories with characters who live in the walls to puzzles and exploring. Or explore Brittany’s castles, which are dotted all over, still standing from its time as a Duchy, and let the childern let of steam and play at brave Knights and Princesses. Or if science is more your toddlers cup of tea, journey north and visit the Planetarium de Bretagne one of the largest in Europe – and dally among the stars. There really is an incredible amount to see and do.


Whatever you decide to do on your trip, ensure you make time to sample a pancake or two. Savoury pancakes, known as Galettes de Sarrasin (buckwheat pancakes), or sweet pancakes, Crêpes de Froment (wheat flour pancakes) are a Brittany speciality and must be tasted. There are pancake houses you can visit and try a galette for your main; with anything from a simple ham and cheese filling to something more special, followed by a sweet crepe for your desert. Wash them down with a Breton cider for a true Petite Bretagne experience.