Towergate's Parks of Summer

The British public nominated and voted for their favourite holiday parks during The Great British Park Off earlier this year. Now it's time to find out about the people behind 2016's top holiday parks.

Stowford Farm Meadows, Devon

Photo of Jo Smith

Jo Smith, Assistant Manager 

How long have you worked at Stowford? 12 years 

Reasons to visit:

  • Woolacombe beach - voted best UK beach (TripAdvisor 2015 and 2016)
  • Exmoor National Park
  • Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park
  • Watermouth Castle
  • Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway 

Opening/closing date: Open all year

Busiest times of year: End of May half term, Stowfest and August

What you love: The friendliness of the staff, the trees and woodland areas and the traditional Devon hedges

History of the park: In the mid 1970s, whilst farming at Stowford, Winston Rice sought planning permission to build a new agricultural shed on the farm, then known as East Stowford Barton. This shed now houses the main site Reception area. At that time the main drive down onto Stowford was single width, with a gate at the end to the main road. The planners insisted on having widening work completed at the junction in order to grant the planning permission and Winston suggested that whilst they were about it, why not do the job in such a way that it would be suitable for caravan use in years to come. That was really the first step towards Stowford becoming a touring caravan and camping site.

It later became apparent that the Devon County Structure Plan had identified a need for a large inland touring caravan and camping park within North Devon. It so happened that Stowford lay just inside the preferred area for potential development within North Devon, just outside the Coastal Preservation Area. So discussions began about a caravan site development began. Winston initially asked for planning permission for 35 caravans and was subsequently given permission for 400! The rest as they say, is history!

Events to stay for:

  • VW Rally, early May bank holiday 2017
  • Dog activity weekend, 10th and 11th June 2017
  • Stowfest Beer and Music Festival, 30th June 2017
  • September open weekend, 16th and 17th September 2017

Favourite park, other than Stowford Farm Meadows? Sandy Balls

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The Old Oaks Touring Park, Somerset

James and Tara White

Tara White, Manager

How long have you worked at The Old Oaks? 6 years 

Reasons to visit:

  • Glastonbury Tor
  • Cheddar Gorge
  • Somerset Nature Reserves
  • Clarks Village Factory Shopping Outlet
  • Wells Cathedral

Opening/closing date: March 1st to 20th November

Busiest times of year: May through to September

What you love: Peace and quiet, beautiful rural location, fishing lake, abundant wildlife

About the park: Set in the tranquil and unspoilt Somerset countryside, with beautiful panoramic views of the Mendip Hills and surrounding area, the adults only Old Oaks Touring Park and Campsite is just three miles by car and 1.5 miles on foot from the vibrant town of Glastonbury.

Events to stay for:

  • Glastonbury Festival (June)
  • Glastonbury Carnival (November)
  • Glastonbury Extravaganza (August at Glastonbury Abbey)

Favourite park, other than The Old Oaks: Dornafield Touring Park, Devon

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Concierge Camping, West Sussex

Guy and Tracey Hodgkin, Directors

Guy and Tracey Hodgkin

How long have you worked at Concierge Camping? We opened the park on the 30th April 2015. Before, it was just a meadow. We created it over the winter months from scratch. The response we have had, opening a five star luxury park, has been amazing. We won five awards in the first eight weeks of opening, and we are in line for the AA Gold award for 2016. Only six other parks in the UK have this status. This year we have added four luxury safari lodges. Again, the response has been amazing. They have underfloor heating throughout, range cookers, ensuite facilities, fridges, freezers, dishwashers, even Nespresso coffee machines. All luxury bedding, towels, toiletries are included during your stay. There is nothing else on the market like Concierge Camping. 

History of the park: Ratham Estate dates back to the 1500s and is mentioned in the Domesday Book. It ceased being a working farm in the early '80s. We purchased the estate in 2011, and are bringing it back to its former glory.

Events to stay for:

  • Goodwood
  • Award winning beaches
  • Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
  • South Downs National Park
  • Walks, shopping, cycling

Opening/closing date: Opens mid-February and closes 3rd January

Busiest times of year: New Year, July, August and September

What you love: Location, and the quality of every aspect of Concierge Camping. It has been created from a vision, with no corners cut. Everything has been done for the convenience and luxury of the traveller.

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Nantcol Waterfalls Campsite, Wales

Aled Morgan Jones, Director/Owner

Aled Morgan Jones

How long have you worked at Nantcol Waterfalls Campsite? We have owned the farm that the campsite is located on since 1899, I am the fourth generation. It became a very small campsite in 1960s but became a recognised commercial site in 2008.

Reasons to visit:

  • Portmeirion Italian village
  • Harlech Castle
  • Ffestiniog Railway
  • Bounce Below and Zip World
  • Coed y Brenin Cycle Centre

Opening/closing date: 1st of March until 30th of October

Busiest times of year: Every school holiday!

What you love: Natural beauty, waterfalls and the river

Events to stay for: Llanbedr Village Beer Festival on the third weekend of September and the Merioneth County Show on the third or fourth Wednesday of August.

Favourite park, other than Nantcol Waterfalls Campsite: Dinas Farm, Llanbedr

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Park Foot Holiday Park, Ullswater

Fiona Bell

Fiona Bell, Managing Director

How long have you worked at Park Foot? 40 years

Reasons to visit:

  • Walking
  • Sailing
  • Ullswater Steamers
  • Aira Force
  • Rheged Discovery Centre

History of the park: The Allen family came to Park Foot over 100 years ago and were tenant famers until grandson Jimmy had the idea to create a caravan park in the 1950s. Campers were already staying and Jimmy's mother took visitors doing B&B. Park Foot developed quickly in the 50s and 60s into a popular tourist destination with its close proximity to Lake Ullswater and the village of Pooley Bridge being just a 15 minute lakeside walk away.

Park Foot is now run by Jimmy’s daughters, Barbara and Fiona, and Fiona’s husband Malcolm. It is their ambition to continue to improve the facilities provided and to give customers a high level of service for an enjoyable family holiday. Park Foot not only provides camping for tents, motorhomes and touring caravans, but also the opportunity to buy your own static caravan or you can hire a lodge or cottage.

The scenery is stunning, providing magnificent view of the lake and Lakeland fells. Also, being situated close to the lake yet only 10 minutes from the A66 and M6, visitors can easily access Park Foot and the rest of the Lake District.

Opening/closing date: 1st March until 10th November

Busiest times of year: School Holidays and Bank Holidays

What you love: Its location close to Ullswater and the lakeside walk to Pooley Bridge

Events to stay for: Park Foot hold Fun days for family entertainment at Easter, May Day bank holiday, spring bank holiday and august bank holiday with bouncy castles, duck races, magic shows etc. We also provide summer holiday entertainment during the week with live music, family quiz nights and kids discos. You can also watch the triathlon events during June and July and the popular car event ‘Hot Rods & Hills’ in mid June.

Favourite park, other than Park Foot: The Quiet Site, Lake District

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Port Bàn Holiday Park, Scotland

The Port Ban staff

Jonathan Sheldrick, Director – General manager

How long have you worked at Port Bàn? The park was started by my parents 49 years ago as an alternative to farming, and has been run by the family since then. I have been here full time since 2012.

Reasons to visit:

  • Beach activities (swimming, boating, kayaking, fishing)
  • Walking (hill, coastal and Crinan canal)
  • Cycling (mountain biking and on Sustrans Route 78)
  • Outdoor games (tennis, football, putting and crazy golf, bowls)
  • Local historical sites (Kilmartin Glen, Inveraray Castle and Jail)

History of the park: Port Bàn Holiday Park was started in 1967 by David and Joan Sheldrick. Their vision was never purely commercial and was to provide affordable holidays in idyllic natural surroundings, giving spiritual, mental and physical refreshment to visitors. To this end the park’s tenants and regular visitors have always supported this vision and made a significant contribution to the park’s activities and development.

The Park is still owned and run by the family and will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2017.

Opening/closing date: 1 March to 31 October

Busiest times of year: The third and fourth weeks of July and the first and second weeks of August

What you love: The spectacular views and sunsets and our wonderful visitors and tenants

Events to stay for: Sailing Fortnight and triathlon (first two weeks of August)

Favourite park, other than Port Bàn: Point Sands, Tayinloan

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