We know that booking holidays can often feel like a stressful event, with so many options and things to consider. We’ve put together our top tips for perfectly planning your 2024 holiday.
Plan around 2024 bank holidays
Not only are long weekends at Ladram Bay the perfect escape from reality but booking a whole week off around a bank holiday means you get to save a day or two of your all-important holiday allowance and have a nice long (and well needed) break, too.
Book for annual events
Outside of the summer holidays, we host plenty of entertainment around the Easter holidays and Halloween to name but a couple. There’s fun for the whole family – from Easter egg hunts for the little ones to fancy dress parties for young and old. It’s always worth a visit to see what we’ve got going on! Check out or visiting acts, too. With a full entertainment programme all season long, there’ll be something you love.
Save on stress and plan your 2024 holiday well in advance. You’ll thank yourself next year! We offer a deposit scheme that allows you to pay the balance eight weeks in advance of your holiday, which gives you plenty of room to breathe.
Look at off-peak dates
We know the buzz of the summer holidays isn’t for everyone. For maximum R&R, look at dates outside of peak season when the weather is still warm but the little ones are back at school. Our season runs from March to November, so there’s plenty of time to explore the Jurassic Coast in a laid-back fashion.
Check for last-minute staycations
Not a forward planner and fancy a spontaneous getaway? Why not. It’s always worth checking availability online or giving us a call on 01395 568398 – you never know what will be available last-minute in your budget.
Explore different accommodation types
We’ve got lots of different accommodation types here at Ladram Bay depending on what kind of holiday you fancy. If you love being in the great outdoors, bring your tent or tourer and enjoy views out across the bay, or glamp in one of our Otterpods and experience the best of both worlds.
If a little luxury is your idea of a holiday, our sea-view holiday homes and lodges can’t be beaten for the ultimate family getaway. Give it a try and have a holiday you won’t forget.
Booking your 2024 holiday – our 6 top tips
We know that as the summer season draws to a close, the task of clearing out your caravan can feel like the last thing you want to do. Follow these simple steps for a pitch perfect portable home when the weather warms up again.
Clearing out your caravan
Remove anything that might not be so savoury a few months later and make sure that all valuable items are removed and stowed away somewhere safe.
Cleaning your caravan
Clean the kitchen, bathroom and fridge with bicarbonate of soda or an anti-bacterial cleaner which will help stop a build-up of mould while your caravan’s out of use.
Cleaning the kitchen thoroughly should prevent any mould, although for the fridge it is also essential to leave the door ajar.
If your caravan has a cassette toilet, this should be thoroughly drained and cleaned before storing over winter.
Avoiding a damp caravan
Moisture can cause real problems for your caravan if it builds up over the winter: damp can damage your soft furnishings and interior walls. There are a number of precautions you can take.
Drain the water system by opening taps and removing the drain plug on the outside of the van. Don’t forget to replace the plug, but you can leave the taps open, (for mixer taps ensure the lever is in the central position to allow both hot and cold to drain).
Drain the toilet’s water tank and remove the shower head, ensuring any excess water has been shaken free.
Store any removable cushions / mattresses in your own home if possible. If not, leave them in the centre of the caravan rather than around the edges where they are more susceptible to the damp.
Leave bowls of salt in a few places around the van – they can help absorb excess moisture from the air.
If you can, open doors and windows from time to time to allow air to circulate.
One of the more effective ways of achieving full drain down is to empty the system on your last stay on site and leaving any drainage points open before towing home. The final journey allows the last drops of water to leave the system.
Think about a service, now could be a good time to get your caravan serviced, while the garages are not too busy. It means your vehicle will be ready to roll as soon as you fancy heading off.
Oil any moving parts, such as the handbrake, before putting the van into storage. And ensure the handbrake is left off (if possible) to stop the drums sticking.
Taking the weight off the wheels for a few weeks by removing them and using axle stands can help extend the life of your vehicle’s suspension and tyres.
If you want to cover your caravan, use a breathable cover that allows the air to circulate.
Always use proprietary caravan cleaning agents that are designed to be kind to the various materials used in caravan construction. A pressure washer, while powerful, can direct spray under trim and damage bodywork and seals.
Charge the battery before storing for a long period and avoid storing the battery in a location where freezing can occur. Freezing will cause irreversible damage to the battery plates and container as the acid inside expands.
it is essential that the gas valves on top of the cylinders are closed or the regulators (if a clip-on type) are disconnected from the cylinders and caps or cloths are fitted over the ends of any open pipework.
To help preserve the exterior of your unit and ease the chore of cleaning before the first spring outing you may wish to consider either a breathable cover or the use of a protective coating, such as Fenwicks Overwintering fluid.
When choosing a cover it is important for it to be breathable, soft enough not to damage the caravan surface and tough enough for longevity. The alternative of a waxy protective coating has the advantage of low cost and if left on all winter it is relatively easy to wash off in spring because of the natural degradation of the coating. All caravan covers have a limited life, but some inferior products can last little more than one season. The main problem is ultra-violet light degradation. Consider the cover as sacrificial – it’s better the cover degrades rather than your GRP panels discolouring.
Storing your caravan – House-It
You will also have to decide where to store your caravan while it’s not in use: for example the choice could be between your own property and a dedicated storage site, where you will have to pay a small weekly fee.
A Guide to Caravan Winter Maintenance
With preparations for the touring season underway we thought we would put together a checklist for caravan care, enabling your touring caravan or holiday home to shine on its pitch during your first trip of the year.
It goes without question that a caravan or holiday home should be kept clean, but this guide aims to give you that little bit extra so no part of your home from home is overlooked or under cared for.
Checking your caravans gas
As you would with any gas system in your home an annual service is advisable to ensure that your holiday home remains efficient and most importantly safe. Before your first trip of the year check your carbon monoxide / smoke alarms and then check your fire extinguishers are still in date.
Checking your caravans electrics
Check all your caravans internal lights and replace bulbs where required. If you let a fluorescent flicker for long periods of time it can lead to the light fitting being damaged.
Efficiency tip: have you considered switching your caravan or holiday home’s lights to LED where possible? Adopting energy efficient lighting will reduce you energy consumption thus increasing your batteries usage or reducing your electricity bill.
All caravan road lights must be in working order before heading out on holiday, but don’t overlook your bulb lenses and clean / repair where necessary. Always carry spare fuses and bulbs in your caravan supplies and ensure that all leads that connect into your caravan are sprayed with WD40 (excludes pin sockets).
Checking your caravans tyres
Caravan tyres often remain stationary for long periods of time and generally don’t get many miles put on them during the winter months, this can lead to cracks in a tyres wall and treads. Ensure your caravan’s wheels are turned frequently and even consider lifting them off the ground when stationary for longer periods to prolong your tyres’ life.
Servicing your caravan
You service your car annually, so why not your caravan? Remember its always best to pickup any faults early on so they can be rectified before they come serious and potentially expensive.
Servicing Tip: Try to get your caravan booked in for its service in the winter, it will be quieter and it gives you more time to repair any problems that may come to light before you holidays.
Checking your caravans hitching & brakes
Check the condition of your caravan’s brake cable, handbrake and jokey wheel. If necessary grease your caravans jokey wheel to allow for smoother hitching and unhitching as demonstrated in the picture below.
Checking your caravans window blinds & furnishings
Over the winter months you are unlikely to be using your caravan, during this period you should not leave your blinds down, this will put 4-5 months of unnecessary strain on the recoiling mechanism.
Remember that blinds are reflective and if left down can lead to heat building up that can damage plastic windows – a potentially expensive repair.
Those owning caravans with removable upholstery should do so and place out of direct sunlight, this will help air flow and prevent the material from fading. If you cannot remove your seats try covering them and purchasing a moisture trap to prevent air bound moisture from causing damage.
Cleaning your caravan
Every caravan owner will have some experience of cleaning, but taking some preventative measures will make the job far easier in the long run.
First up a caravan cover, this will stop tree sap, bird droppings and the British weather from damaging your caravan’s exterior.
When returning from any trip always remove any food from the fridge and wash down. Don’t keep any food in the caravan for long periods of time as it will only encourage vermin – packet & tins included.
It might seem like a great time saving idea but avoid using a pressure washer when cleaning, they are too powerful.
Here are a few essentials for the exterior to help you along the way…
Long handled brush
Clean cloth (for the windows)
Soft bristle brush (for cleaning the awning)
Step ladder (for the roof)
And a few essentials for the interior…
Battery – use a voltmeter to check the charge
Gas bottle – weighing the bottle lets you know how much gas is left
Water system – flush the system and clean with steriliser such as Milton 2
Fridge – to clean, use a solution of bicarbonate of soda then leave the door ajar to dry
Cooker – the flame should be a consistent blue
Interior lights – check for blown bulbs
Smoke alarm and security alarm – check batteries and replace if necessary
Toilet – use a weak soap solution
Furnishings and floor – vacuum and clean
Damp – check for signs of damp using a damp meter (and your sense of smell!)
Appliances – make sure all are operational
Remember if you spot any problems make a note of it and bring it up when you next get your caravan serviced.
Caring for your caravan this spring
Caravanning is one of the quintessential British pastimes and whether your a seasoned tourer or just getting started we hope you’ll find something useful & most importantly travel safely in the season ahead.
Can I tow a caravan on my licence?
Before you plan your next touring holiday (at Ladram Bay obviously!), there are certain legal requirements for towing a caravan. This comes down to weight or MAM (maximum authorised mass) of the load you plan to tow and the date you passed your driving test.
If you passed your driving test prior to 1st January 1997 you can drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8.25 tonnes MAM, but it is also worth checking your license for the specifics.
Drivers who passed their driving test after 1 January 1997 and have an ordinary category B licence (car), you can tow:
Small trailers weighing up to 750kg
A trailer over 750kg as long as the combined weight of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500kg MAM.
If you want to tow a trailer above 750kg, when the combined weight of the towing vehicle and trailer is greater than 3,500kg, you will require an B+E entitlement on your licence.
A little perspective..
Vehicles can vary depending on extras and specification but a Toyota RAV4 can weigh up to 1,445kg, a A VW Passat can weigh up to 1,735kg, while larger 4×4’s such as the Discovery can reach 2,311kg. The average caravan is likely to weight anywhere between 1,000kg and 1,400kg.
In theory there will be car / caravan combinations that come in under 3,500kg, however you will also need to factor in your total weight, including passengers, luggage & crucially your caravans payload restrictions.
Can my car tow my caravan?
Working out your towing capacity is simply. The maximum weight your vehicle can tow (fully loaded car + fully loaded caravan) will be listed in the handbook. Alternatively this information is easily found on the internet, here is a comprehensive tow limit checker from TowCar.info to get you started.
Width and length towing laws…
The maximum trailer width for any towing vehicle is 2.55 metres. To put this in perspective the widest towing vehicle you will commonly see in the U.K will be something along the lines of an Audi Q7, BMW X6 or Range Rover Discovery’s measuring in at around 2 metres wide. The maximum length is 7 metres for a trailer towed by a vehicle weighing up to 3,500 kilograms.
Safety tips for towing a caravan
Tow bars have to be ‘type approved’, meaning they meet EU regulations and are designed for your car. This doesn’t apply to cars registered before 1 August 1998.
Caravans (& any trailer) weighing over 750kg (including its load), are required to have a working brake system.
Trailers without brakes may tow a maximum of 750kg or half the kerbside weight of the towing vehicle – whichever is the lower.
Allow more time and space for everything, particularly taking corners and braking.
Check your vehicle’s and caravans tyres before setting out on a trip.
Never exceed 50mph on single carriageways or 60mph on dual carriageways.
Do not carry passengers in the caravan whilst in transit.
Ensure your car’s number plate is attached to the rear of your caravan, that the number plate can be illuminated at night and that it conforms to relevant British Standards.
Rear light panels must always be working. Check before setting off and check during your journey.
When packing try to keep the caravan as light as possible. Place heavier objects low down and close to the axles. This will limit snaking.
To prevent snaking and pitching make sure you have a well-matched car and caravan and try using stabilisers.
For a more in depth guide to caravan care please read our blog posts on ‘caring for your caravan this spring‘ or ‘a guide to caravan winter maintenance‘
Caravan packing checklist:
We cannot stop your other half from packing dodgy swimwear, but we can provide you with a list of essentials that any caravan or touring vehicle should carry. So before you think about entering our postcode (EX9 7BX) in the satnav, work through this list and tick off the items you think you might need.
Please remember you will need an allowance for payload (the difference between the caravan’s empty weight and its quoted maximum permissible weight), this prevents overloading. If you are travelling abroad (most commonly France) drivers are obliged to carry certain items by law, visit this link for a driving in France Checklist.
What to pack in your car…
Spare bulbs / fuses
Tyre pressure gauge
High vis top
Thermals (in winter)
First aid kit
What to pack in your caravan…
Spare wheel & tyre
Spare bulbs / fuses
Corner steady tool
Nose weight gauge
230v mains lead
Gas cylinders + spanner
Windbreak + pegs / mallet / hooks
Water contains (waste & drinking)
The seasoned tourers among you will have built up impressive caravaning inventories over the years. Read our must-have caravan gadgets list, full of everyday items that will make your next adventure; more comfortable, safer, easier, dryer and tastier.
At Ladram we’re rock pooling aficionados and love to indulge our inner child along the shore of Ladram Bay.
Our latest guide is intended to aid those both young and old to discover some fascinating creatures.
When to go rock pooling?
You can go rock pooling at any time of the year however we would generally advise those with younger children to stick to March – September, this way you’ll avoid those cold fingers. Remember the sea is generally warmest towards the end of the summer.
Ladram Bay (pictured) provides a great family environment to go rock pooling however it is best experienced when the weather is calm and dry as the rock pools will be still and therefore easier to spot creatures.
Where to look in a rock pool?
In most rock pools you’re likely to find green seaweed (called gut weed) and this is not good for rock pooling. The ideal time to go rock pooling is when the tide is out as the pools closest to the sea edge offer the best locations.
Try not to cast a shadow over the area you wish to rock pool in, your shadow will scare the creatures away.
Who lives in rock pools?
Eagle eyed and lucky rock pooler’s could be lucky enough to spot any of the following creatures at Ladram Bay or wider southwest;
Prawns & shrimp
Sea hares (slug)
In the bottom of rock pools you can see star fish, sea slugs and possibly a crab. Remember you’ll need to look carefully as hermit crabs might use a periwinkle for a shell.
The most adventurous rock pooler’s will be no stranger to getting their hands wet, be it turning over rocks or looking under seaweed. Doing so could uncover keel worms, sea squirts or sponges – all prize finds for rock pooler’s. Remember to return all creatures back to the area you found them.
Tools of the trade
Any self respecting rock pooler requires a bucket (clear buckets are best), this way you’ll be able to get a good look at the creatures you retrieve.
Traditionalists might bring along a net however please be aware that many creatures are very delicate and can get tangled/ hurt in nets. Avoid jabbing nets into pools.
It is also a good idea to wear shoes with grippy soles as rock pools can be slippy places. Wetsuit boots, old trainers and welly boots will do.
Always keep an eye on the tides and when they are due to turn, set an alarm if necessary. You are generally going to spend most of your time looking into rock pools and might be unaware of the tidal movements around you.
For 7 day tide times for Ladram Bay visit the beach guide website.
Over the years Ladram Bay has been home to or visited by everything from dolphins, blue lobsters and Red Arrows. This post guides you through techniques you can use for capturing those special holiday moments (when they arise) on anything from an SLR to smart phone.
To get an expert opinion we asked professional photographer Tony Cobley for 3 pointers would-be photographers can use to improve their technique.
Tony is a professional photographer based in South Devon and specialises in commercial marketing photography and photography tuition workshops – he also knows Ladram Bay well having photographed here for the latest photoshoot earlier this summer.
Photos have much more impact if you fill the whole frame with your subject whether it’s the kids, the dog or anything else!
Higher or lower
Try taking pics from super high or super low and you’ll be surprised how much “funkier” things look!
Try tilting the camera left or right when shooting close up portraits. It makes things look more dynamic!
So you’ve got your technique on point, now its time to find the right surrounds, light, timing and equipment, these tips will point you in the right direction.
1. Your surroundings
You’ve found a focal point to your picture but a great background adds context. Be sure to consider the background in which your subject is set.
2. The right light
You will typically find your best pictures will occur when the sun is low in the sky (post-dawn / pre-dusk), this is because the suns light is softer. You can still take great photos in full sunlight but the chances of strong shadows make capturing photos slightly harder. This image also incorporates Tony’s tip of taking the photo from a low down position.
Photographing sunrises, sunsets and low-tides is easy (ish), you just need to know what time they occur and with a helping hand from the weather you’ve got a great photo in the making. When it comes to wildlife a little more patience / luck is required and be prepared to capture nothing – the trick is not to give up.
You really don’t need an expensive SLR camera to take photos, in fact many of the best photographs are taken on smart phones because we’re always carrying them.
Countryside, cliffs & coast
Ladram Bay is set in 63 acres of coastal countryside meaning there is never a shortage of animals flying, swimming or being spotted in and around the park at various times of the year. This section of our photography guide teaches you a valuable lesson when visiting Ladram Bay – keep a camera on you at all times; you never know what you might spot!
In the sea:
If you’re at sea you might catch a glimpse of a dolphin- however not all are this sociable. Also look out for seals – they like to sunbath on the sandbanks in Exmouth.
In the skies
The Red Arrows typically fly over Ladram Bay en route to airshows along the south coast (Sidmouth, Dawlish and Torbay) every summer during August, this makes for some pretty colourful skylines.
Not everything in the skies are as obvious and loud. In May 2016 James Clews captured this incredible photo of a Peregrine Falcon flying above Ladram Bay. Falcons are not overly common at Ladram but if you do spot one you will need a steady hand to photograph it – they can fly at speeds of 200mph!
The regulars at Ladram Bay can make for equally interesting photographs, this Instagram image of 2 gulls looking out to sea proves that. Just remember to keep one eye on your ice cream.
Yay it’s Friday and later we are off to Ladram Bay to hang out with these guys. Loving the modernist table sculpture this seagull has obviously been making with stick and stones 😉 ~ #ladrambay
A photo posted by Molly and the Princess (@mollyandtheprincess) on Apr 8, 2016 at 12:54am PDT
Perfect walking adventures over the #jurassiccoast from #Ladrambay
A photo posted by Ladram Bay (@ladrambay) on Dec 15, 2015 at 6:02am PST
Staying at Ladram Bay?
We want to see your favorite holiday photographs, please share your adventures via the Ladram Bay Facebook or Instagram accounts. Happy Snapping!
Now is the ideal time for tent loving households to bolster their camping inventory ahead of spring. With this in mind we’ve put together a list of potential stocking fillers for all levels of camper, from fair weather folk to come rain or shine campsite enthusiasts.
Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter
Yes it is probably easier to buy matches or a lighter, but for those seeking a back to basics approach this fire starter from Gerber will provide sparks on demand for years to come – more importantly your BBQ lighting credentials will sky rocket. The Gerber also comes complete with a compartment to store tinder (wood) removing the need to look for dry lighting materials.
Available at: Gerber.com
North Face – Nuptse Tent Mule III Slippers
Are you the one who seems to end up doing the morning washing up trip through the campsites cold dew covered grass? Arm (excuse the pun) yourself with these slippers for water resistance, incredible warmth & comfort.
Available at: Gaynors.co.uk
Aquaforno – Outdoor Stove
Think forward to Spring 2018, your neighbouring campers are chargrilling burgers & sausages on their BBQs, meanwhile you are (slightly smugly) preparing oven fired pizzas or slow roasting lamb – before utilising the oven as a campsite heater.
This all year round outdoor stove is portable (sets up in 3 minutes) & is extremely versatile (think bbqs, pizza oven, smoker, patio heater & integral kettle for hot water on tap). To put it simply, you can cook anything, anywhere.
Price from: £295.00
Available at: Aquaforno.com
UNIFUN Waterproof Portable Charger
For the outdoor tech enthusiast, this mobile charger is waterproof, dust-proof, anti-shock & skid resistance meaning it should survive most family camping trips. The pack can charge your average smart phone three times, plus the LED light will certainly come in handy.
Available from: Amazon.co.uk
I Heart Camping Travel Mug
Warm yourself whilst enhancing your campsite credentials with this I (heart) camping flask, featuring a rubber-lined lid for a tight, spill-resistant brew.
Available from: Zazzle.co.uk
Scrubba ‘Wash Bag’
Ladram Bay provides washing facilities for all guests, but if you do find yourself at a site without washing facilities the Scrubba wash bag will allow you to pack lighter, smell better & ultimately camp for longer.
The wash bag combines a dry sack with an internal flexible washboard. To operate simply fill it with water & travel detergent then use the nobules inside to gently scrub your clothes. It weighs only 145g & packs down to a compact 16 x 10 x 3cm in size, so you can easily store it in your rucksack for backpacking & outdoor adventures.
Available from: thescrubba.com
Prices correct at time of publishing (7th December 2017). Ladram Bay did not receive any financial incentives or free products in exchange for the reviews provided in this article.
7 Christmas Gift Ideas for Campers
As we prepare for the start of our 75th anniversary season at Ladram Bay Holiday Park it’s time to start planning your next caravanning getaways. With that in mind, we’ve put together a ‘must-have caravan gadgets’ list, full of everyday items that can make your next adventure; more comfortable, safer, easier, dryer and tastier.
1. HUBi Solar Hub
Power hookup isn’t an issue at Ladram, but we appreciate the more rugged explorers will visit more secluded sites too. The HUBi is ideally-suited to anyone using a tent, awning or caravan with limited power outlets and provides free, safe power for lights, charging phones, satnav and other gadgets. Alternatively if you’re camping abroad power is very useful for running a cooling fan. The HUBi is lightweight and easily-portable solar with no installation required.
Available from Solar Technology – £120
2. Purpleline Nemesis Ultra
When on holiday nobody wants to plan for worst case scenarios, but the Nemesis Ultra can provide some caravanning peace of mind. This high security caravan wheel clamp is super easy to use and incorporates a British Made anti-pick 9-pin lock from premier lock manufacturers Lowe & Fletcher. The lock mechanism is also Thatcham Category 3 Quality Assured – in short your insurance firm will approve, its very bright & extremely tough.
Available from Amazon – £138
3. Four Arm Rotary Airer & Stand
Laundry will not be top of anyone’s to-do list while on holiday, but in reality kids get muddy and food gets split.
This premium stand alone rotary airer from Quest has 4 adjustable arms giving it more strength and stability than standard 3 arm airers. With more usable drying space and the potential to hold more clothes you’re onto a winner.
For the weight conscious camper, the airers aluminium frame is very lightweight, making it extremely easy to pick up and carry. It also folds away easily and comes complete with a carry bag.
Available from Amazon – £28.65
4. Rear In-Vehicle Video Journey Recorder
Your caravan might be your second / third most valuable asset and while 99.9% of us drive sensibly, it only takes one person to cause an accident.
The Streetwise Journey Recorder can be mounted to your rear view mirror and allows you to record your journeys from behind. This provides quality video evidence in case of an accident or incident disputes.
We like it’s ‘G-Shock’ feature that activates upon significant impact to automatically lock and save the recorded evidence. A 32GB Micro SD card (not provided) can record around 16 hours video, while the 4.3’ TFT screen provides time screen information – although we wouldn’t suggest using it as a reversing camera.
Available from Machine Mart – £47.99
32GB SD card available from Amazon – £13.79
Possibly the most decadent item on our list. The Handpresso is ideal for those who crave high quality coffee but understandably aren’t willing to bring the kitchen coffee machine on holiday.
It will surely get mistaken for a bicycle pump and actually uses a pump action to generate power, so no batteries or external power is involved – perfect for when electrical hookup is not an option.
Simply pour in hot water, add an espresso pod or ground coffee and then press the release button – espresso is served.
Available at Handpresso – £88
6. Tefal Toast N’Egg
Are you always the one left on ‘washing up duty’? If so, look no further that the Tefal Toast N’Egg which combines a 2 slice toaster (muffins also fit) with a pod for a single poached egg or up to four boiled eggs.
Available from Amazon or – £32.96
Prices correct at time of publishing (5th October 2017). Ladram Bay did not receive any financial incentives or free products in exchange for the reviews provided in this article.
Must-have Caravan Gadgets
Our latest guide looks at birds to look out for in Devon throughout the year and the ideal locations to find them.
Many of these can be seen at Ladram Bay and the surrounding areas, you can even lend a hand by keeping little bundles of twigs and dry moss around your holiday homes for them to use as nesting material.
The RSPB have put together this really useful bird identifier to help you confirm your sightings.
During spring, Sparrows (pictured below), Blackbirds, Robins and other garden birds will be gathering and carrying twigs, moss and feathers in their beaks as they start to build their nests.
You may hear (or spot) tiny warblers such as Chiffchaffs as they return to the UK after a warm winter in Africa. In mid-spring, Finches and other farmland birds often visit gardens seeking extra food. Towards the end of the season you may spot Bullfinches (pictured) lured into gardens by buds on fruit trees.
Between May and September, those living near woodlands are often treated to a display of spotted flycatchers, which perch in trees and then surge upwards to catch insects in flight.
Devon’s diverse landscape includes marshlands, moors, commons, forest and fields, making it a haven for our winged little friends. For those twitchers itching to find the best bird watching spots in Devon, we’ve put together a list of prime bird watching locations near to Ladram Bay.
Part of the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths, the wider area also includes Bicton Common, Dalditch Common, East Budleigh Common, Colaton Raleigh Common, Mutters Moor, Hawkerland, Harpford Common and Aylesbeare Common.
The sites have been designated a Special Area of Conservation, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Protection Area. In short the area is considered one of the most important conservation sites in Europe and is also a great place to go dog walking in East Devon.
The Pebblebed heaths offer a safe haven for wildlife and a great location to view many rarer species. To date a total of 140 bird species have been spotted on the heaths, of which 66 are known to breed regularly.
Of these regular breeders, 28 birds are of conservation concern, these include the Dartford warble (pictured below), the Hobby and the Nightjar, the latter of whom migrate to the common all the way from Africa each year.
Look out for:
Dartford warbler (pictured)
See Google Maps for coordinates
Bowling Green Marsh – Topsham
Bowling Green Marsh is located on the East Devon side of the Exe Estuary just outside the picturesque town of Topsham (walking distance). The site is an important site for wintering birds and considered by the twitching community as one of the top places to watch birds in south-west.
Would be twitchers can see a wide range of waterbirds at very close range in winter, including hundreds of black-tailed godwits and wigeons as they feed close to the hide. Throughout the year, the open water attracts many different species of wetland birds; little grebes, mute swans and a variety of ducks breed here.
As there isn’t a car park onsite (except for Blue badge holders), please follow our directions which will take you to the Holman Way car park (click link for Google Maps).
Look out for:
Listen for rare Cetti’s warblers
See Google Maps for coordinates
Dawlish Warren Natural Reserve
The Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve is located on the west side of the Exe Estuary (adjacent to Bowling Green Marsh in Topsham in East Devon) in an area of grassland, mudflats and sand dunes. The reserve centres on a 1.5 mile long beach at the mouth of the Exe Estuary.
Being part of the the Exe Estuary, Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve is an extremely important place for wildfowl and wading birds in the UK with thousands of birds visiting to feed, migrate, or spend the winter.
Each autumn up to 23,000 wildfowl and other wading birds travel to the Exe Estuary from the north to escape the cold, they typically start arriving in August and stay until late March / early April.
Dawlish Warren is also vital for roosting (and resting) for birds on high tides. During high tides (about 3 hours before and after), thousands of birds gather on the Warren’s shores. These usually include flocks of Dunlin, Grey Plover (pictured above), Bar Tailed Godwit and Oystercatcher. Brent Geese and Wigeon, while Teal also shelter further inshore.
See Google Maps for coordinates
Seaton Marshes LNR
Colyford Common and Black Hole Marsh Local Nature Reserves, collectively know as the Seaton Marshes attract considerable wildlife including Wading and Wildfowl birds in the winter. The paths that run through the reserve are very accessible, making it perfect for a younger and older twitchers alike. The 360-degree viewing hide provides fantastic views of the nature reserve and the Axe Estuary.
The marshes teem with bird life in the winter, with some rare visitors using the area as a stop over as well as large feeding flocks of Teal, Shelduck and Wigeon. On colder days visitors may even be lucky enough to spot the elusive Snipe, while Black tailed Godwit can be seen feeding amongst larger numbers of Shoveler and Curlew (pictured below). The flocks of Curlew are often seen feeding on the mud flats as they use their long specially adapted downward curving beaks to scour the ground, used for pulling up food (like lugworms) that hide deep down in the mud.
The summer sees many breeding birds return to the marshes, notably Kingfishers, which are often seen fishing from a perch directly in front of the hide. The reserves bird hide and feeding table allows twitchers to get close-up views of birds that wouldn’t normally visit your garden, such as Reed Buntings and even Water Rail.
Look out for:
Harbour Road, Seaton, Devon, EX12 2LX, this can be reached with a short walk from the Harbour Road car park.
Ever keen to lend a helping paw, our very own in house swimming expert Ozzie the Otter chipped in to give us some of his swimming tips.
Whilst he is not actually allowed in the Ladram Bay swimming pool his years of experience on the River Otter make his advice partially credible.
How to swim in a straight line
Who wants to zig-zag their way through a swimming pool? Positioning your head is key to swimming straight, if you move your head from side to side you will throw yourself off balance – and disorientate yourself in the process.
Ensure that your hands enter the water evenly. Imagine each side of your body mirroring the other, this will ensure that your strokes (breast stoke or front crawl) are even and consistent.
Avoiding misty goggles
When swimming with Goggles squint slightly, this will let allow little bit of water to seep in and will keep your vision fog-free.
Avoiding foot cramp when swimming
Cramp generally occurs when muscles are tired or overused. Drink plenty of water (with electrolytes) and remember to warm up and warm down before and after swimming.
Swimming Tips: Improving your front crawl
Try and keep your body position flat, this will streamline your body creating less drag. If you’re still learning, try putting a float between your thighs – this will allow you to maintain a flat position with minimal effort. Keep your head and back relaxed; your shoulders (and to a lesser extent hips) should be generating the momentum that pushes you forward.
Keep your elbow slightly bent as your hand reaches in front of your body.
Your hand should be entering the water in line with the palm facing down and the thumb should be the first part of your hand that enters the water.
Once your hand is in the water do not instantly pull, give yourself extra room to reach forward and then bring your hand back towards your hips.
Only bring your arm out of the water once it reaches your leg. (repeat)
Swimming Tips for Beginners
There are plenty of seasoned fishermen in the Ladram Bay team so we thought that we would share their local knowledge. Here we’ve put together a guide that any budding angler might need to know before they cast their lines off our famous pebbled beach.
What you can catch:
For anyone wondering what they can expect to land at Ladram Bay here are a few of the potential catches: bass, mackerel, conger eels, plaice, pout whiting, wrasse, dogfish and pollock.
Obviously attaching the tag ‘prized fish’ to any catch carries a certain degree of subjectivity but landing a bass will earn instant admiration amongst your angling peers. Any anglers we asked also put mackerel and conger eel on their list of preferable catches.
The weather effects the way fish behave and subsequently what you can expect to catch. Bass are generally easier to catch in stormy seas, while mackerel are better on a clear day during a high tide.
Fish can be caught around the clock making it a great activity for any nocturnal types, if you’re a beginner its probably best to start off in the daytime for obvious reasons.
In 2014 one lucky angler landed an 8¼ pound bass – we have the photo to prove it too.
Mythical Sea Creatures
Shortly after this record-breaking bass was landed, an unnamed local source claims to have landed a mermaid at Ladram Bay however due to their catch and release ethos there is no evidence to back this story up!
Even if you don’t have a day of tight lines your experience can still be special. In the autumn of 2014 a pod of dolphins paid a visit to Ladram Bay, apparently they weren’t shy at all as they swam alongside the fishing boat – they obviously didn’t try and catch them!
Ladram provides a very picturesque fishing location but in East Devon we are fortunate to have numerous locations that are great for fishing, these include; the mouth of the River Otter, the beach of Budleigh Salterton and Littleham Cove in Exmouth. We’ve put together an interactive map so you can spend less time sussing out locations and more time casting lines.
When it comes to equipment anglers generally have their own particular setup. For those new to fishing its best to ask our helpful team at the Seaview Shack. Now you have the knowledge, all that remains is to go and catch something, but just before you head out bear in mind the local saying ‘fish don’t bite so well in the east wind’.
For those that come back with a successful catch you might want to read some of our holiday cooking guides for fish:
• Holiday Cooking Guide for Mackerel
The Ladram Bay Fishing Guide
With 80 years experience in all things camping, caravanning and holiday home related, Ladram Bay know a thing or two about what makes our holiday park accommodation special. However, we thought we’d take a step back and ask a higher authority about what goes into making a holiday home and where better to start than the source – a holiday home manufacturer.
We’ve found interviewing people at Ladram that over the years holiday lodges provide the backdrop to some of their most cherished memories. They become part of the family, a meeting point for families that are scattered around the county for much of the year.
The folks over at Victory Leisure Homes put roofs over the heads of plenty of our loyal residents so we asked Victories managing director Peter Nevitt for some insights into the process of building holiday lodges.
The floor plan drawing you sent us (above) looks great, is this a classic design that is tweaked each year or do you start with a blank canvas each time?
When introducing a new model we start from a blank canvas but once a model has been successfully launched it will just receive a few model tweaks each season
How long does a lodge take from design, manufacture & delivery?
This varies from model to model but on average about 16 weeks for the development model, thereafter it takes about 4 weeks.
How many people does this involve?
Currently we employ just over 100 people across two production lines, one for lodges and one for static caravans.
How many countries do you sell in?
We currently deliver units to Spain, France, Belgium & Germany.
Where’s the furthest afield you’ve sold to?
The South of Spain
If shipping abroad is done, are the homes delivered flat packed and constructed upon arrival?
All lodges are delivered as completed units, lodges are delivered in two parts and then put together on the park
Do people specify their own floor plans? (if yes) what is the wackiest idea that someone has requested from you or do they simply choose around a size & then the number of rooms?
We produce standard models with set floor plans so changes are very limited and generally very expensive.
What is the hardest part in the leisure home manufacture process?
With well over 100 years production experience within the team we have removed the difficult production areas.
Are any markets more demanding than others?
Some countries have their own specification such as gas pipes and electrics but we take these changes in our stride.
What is the most striking or unusual location a Victory leisure home as been placed in.
The views from the new development at Ladram Bay have to be some of the best that I have seen during my travels around the country
What is the biggest difference from designs that might have been around in the 80’s & 90’s?
Over recent years units have increased in size which has enabled us to introduce utility rooms, separate shower rooms and bigger bedrooms offering more comfort.
Are there any materials that have changed the way lodges are designed?
The traditional static caravan is still made from aluminium but we are receiving more and more requests for soft vinyl or canexel
Do you have any industry facts about UK leisure home ownership, numbers, facts or trivia?
Some model trivia that will surprise is that in one lodge caravan we use about 480 metres of electrical cable, 8542 component parts, and 1500 metres of timber.
Is technology changing the way you design and manufacture lodges?
No, by the very nature of the product it is for holidays and customers seem to like having comfort without the technology, such as USB ports or phone chargers.
Are the Victory team big leisure home fans themselves outside of work?
Quite a lot of our staff do book holidays with the family on parks around the country
Where was your first leisure home holiday & when?
My first leisure home holiday was in the South of France back in the late 70’s
What is the nicest complement a Victory customer as ever told you about one of your homes?
This purchase has given us so much family enjoyment and freedom.
Your Definitive Guide to Leisure Lodges