27 Sept 2022

Kids back at school? There’s still a chance to stretch out the summer in Devon

Kids back at school? There’s still a chance to stretch out the summer in Devon

Following a summer of airport chaos, last-minute cancelled flights and excruciating waiting times at ferry ports, I’d been pondering how to enjoy a family holiday without any dramas.

With warmer weather looking set to continue well into September, there are plenty of good reasons to enjoy short staycation trips – even after the kids have gone back to school. So we ditched plans for a trip abroad, packed up the car and drove to a luxury holiday retreat for a stress-free late summer escape instead.

With Cornwall being the most in-demand 2022 staycation destination in the UK, we decided to head to its quieter neighbour, Devon. According to a survey of seaside towns by consumer advice organisation Which?, the region scored highly, with Dartmouth taking top place. Rated five stars for its seafront and scenery and four stars for food and drink and tourist attractions, it’s  a staple favourite.

A family lodge that ticks all the boxes

Set in a beautiful valley, Devon Hills Holiday Park in south Devon is spread across 60 acres and sits right on the doorstep of what’s known as the “English Riviera”. Many of the holiday homes here are sub-lets and the park’s owners, Haulfryn, offer a full letting service.

The luxury lodges are fully furnished, with picturesque views of the rolling Devonshire countryside. There’s also an on-site gym, new fitness studio and all-weather tennis court if you are feeling active.

Even on rainy days, it’s possible to enjoy the 18-metre heated indoor swimming pool with a separate sauna and steam room, or relaxing treatments in the health and beauty salon.

The holiday park is pet-friendly too, with a children’s play area and a shop onsite for those forgotten essentials.

Our new twin lodge is perfect for a family of four, with an open-plan kitchen, living and dining room. The lodge has a private sun deck for alfresco dining and drinks and its own hot tub – which our two children certainly make the most of! Single lodges are also available in the latest development on the park.

Just a stone’s throw from our lodge are 22 miles of beaches with golden sands, rockpools and crystal clear waters.

Ready to get out and explore, we visit the busy seaside town of Paignton, with its red tinged sand, which is only 2.5 miles away. The mile-long seafront is packed full of cafes and attractions – including a cinema – along with its traditional award-winning pier.

The larger town of Torquay is within five miles, while Broadsands Beach is a 15-minute drive. Along the coast from Paignton is the popular Dartmouth Steam Railway, and there are plenty of coffee shops and restaurants to enjoy a traditional Devon cream tea.

Beyond the beaches

In addition to some of the best beaches in the country is the popular Paignton Zoo, home to over 2,000 animals – including gorillas, rhinos, red pandas and cheetahs – and open all year round.

The magnificent Dartmoor National Park with its rugged landscape is practically on our doorstep as well, with horse riding, climbing, kayaking and cycling to keep even the most active family busy.

Dartmoor is one of the two National Parks in the county with the other being Exmoor, which lies in both Devon and Somerset.

Dine in or out

Of course, most meals can be prepared in the lodge’s fully-equipped kitchen. But in need of a break from the stove, we head to The Blagdon Inn, a short stroll across the holiday park.

The historic 15th century thatched country pub and restaurant serves a selection of baguettes and sharing plates, with a dedicated children’s menu including all the classics – chicken strips, scampi, beef burger, gammon and chicken curry. A decent take-away menu also gives us an excuse to skip cooking a few more meals.


Our relaxing break brought the best of the coast and countryside together. We certainly found our happy place here.

How to plan your trip

Holidays ( offer a seven night stay at the Devon Hills Holiday Park from £650 for a two bed Classic Lodge.

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