We were recently selected for a mid-week break to Bluestone National Park in Pembrokeshire. Seeing as we live in North Wales we thought this would be a nice holiday close by as we've never been on holiday in the UK before seeing as we always go abroad. I've never been to this area of Wales either so it would be nice to explore. We were put up in a Caldey lodge which is a semi-detached single floor apartment that sleeps 4 with a double and twin bedroom.
The journey took us roughly four hours as we stopped for lunch on the way down but it was a pleasurable drive down country roads including no motorways which is always a bonus. We did however get stuck behind many tractors but that's something we're used to living in the country side.
We arrived at around 3.30pm and seeing as Bluestone is a no-car resort this meant we had to check in through a 'drive-through' system which was actually pretty enjoyable as it meant we didn't have to get out of the car and walk to a reception elsewhere. I was really pleased with how easy it was to check in, simply give your booking number or surname and then you're provided with a Bluestone welcome pack and given information about how to get to your lodge and where to park. As we were earlier than the 4.30pm check we knew that we could park up and use the facilities if we wished which I think is quiet good especially as you can use them from 10am. Inside our welcome pack was a resort map, village map, activity timetable and resort booklet with lots of information of things happening over the week.
We were told that we were allowed to take the car down to the lodge to unload but would then need to return it for the rest of our stay to the long-stay car park. Our lodge was in the Pentre Ifan area which is the closest to the car-park so this wasn't really a problem for us it was a 5-10 minute walk although not the best with children. It would be much easier to have little driveways outside each lodge and we noticed that this was possible to do so. I couldn't imagine being in one of the lodges further away which must be about a 20 minute walk each day back to the car if you wish to leave the resort. This would't be so bad if you were able to hire a buggy which we weren't as they didn't have any left which I will speak more about later on.
Once we had unloaded the car and had a look around the lodge I was very impressed at the quality and cleanliness, it was nice and cosy and really modern with a homely feel to it. The lodge is fully equipped with oven, dishwasher, fridge/freezer, microwave, kettle, toaster and everything you need in a kitchen. The living/dining area was cosy enough with two sofas a TV and dvd player and also a dining table.
I can't fault the lodge as it was clean and in good condition. I did find that it wasn't very child-proof though, seeing as Amelia likes to get into everything all of the cupboard are on ground level so she would be rummaging through them daily taking out plates, bowls, cutlery you name it. It would have been great to have the little safety latches on them so children can't open them. The only other thing we would have liked is a bath as Amelia doesn't like showers but it wasn't a major deal. I've since found out that Caldey Lodges don't have baths as they all have wet rooms with a shower however if you would like a bath other lodges do have them.
The bedrooms are decent enough and the bed was comfortable, each lodge comes with a fold away cot in the twin room which is handy if you have a baby or toddler who needs one. Amelia slept in our bed with us and the rooms are dark enough at night so she went to sleep with no problems. The main bedroom also has a safe in the wardrobe which we found on our last day as we didn't really unpack our suitcases during our stay.
On day two we headed over to the Adventure Centre which we were all very impressed with its facilities. We met up with Helen, Bex and their families who were also staying the same week as us, it was great to see all the kids playing together and it was good for us adults to have some adult conversation whilst they played. The adventure centre brings the great outdoors indoors, there's activities for kids of all ages including a sky trail, climbing wall, crazy gold, soft play, baby sensory, messy play sessions, huge climbing frames and much more! Amelia loved exploring the wooden climbing frames and kept us on our toes, some bits were pretty narrow for us to get through but it was all good fun! There's even a wildwood cafe at the top of a 20ft treehouse which also has a bar, we didn't eat here but did use the bar facilities.
On our last day we decided to hire bikes for the day before we left at 4pm. It cost £25 (£10 each for the bikes and £5 for the trailer) which is slightly more expensive than places we have hired bikes from before but we enjoyed it. Amelia has never been in a trailer before, she usually sits in a seat on the back of Andy's bike so we didn't think she would sit in it. However she proved us wrong and loved it! We went off road, down many bump paths which weren't really meant for a trailer so we ended up getting stuck a few times, it was so muddy too so when we finally got back we were all covered in mud especially Amelia as she got all the mud in her face from the wheel haha!! I wouldn't recommend going on a 4/5 hour bike ride on your last day as you will be knackered!!!
We got lost and ended up de-touring for another hour before finally deciding to go back up the steep hill we originally came down. Let me tell you its no where near as much fun dragging a bike and trailer up hill as it is flying down it! I'd definitely recommend hiring some bikes especially if you have children as they'll love it. There's lots of nature trails and forest routes to cycle down and the resort itself is pretty big too so you don't even need to leave.
In the village there is an outdoor play area which has some great tunnels and walkways to get across, probably designed for older kids as we had to go along most of it with Amelia but she loved it. There's also a nice little playground at the back which is great for younger toddlers and babies. We noticed that there were loads of babies and toddlers staying during the week and we only saw a few families with older kids which was nice as it was slightly quieter than it would have been say during the summer holidays or half term week.
Other activities at Bluestone include Camp Smokey which we didn't get to experience however we did cycle past it and it had a great atmosphere! Also next to Camp Smokey was the Steep Ravine which looks fantastic for older children and even adults too, including a 4 zip wires, a high tree rope obstacle course, tree climbing and even a woodland laser challenge. There is also a spa for those who wish the relax and the Blue Lagon Water Park which we unfortunately didn't get round to going to, if we go back in a few years when Amelia is older we will definitely be doing more of the activities.
Of course you can't not get an ice cream when the sun comes out so we popped into the shop to get some ice lollies as we didn't have much cash left on us to buy any at the bakery which sell lovely homemade ice cream, however the shop had a great selection so we were happy.
Bluestone National Park Resort is a 5 star National Park Resort, located in Pembrokeshire close to the county of Haverfordwest. The resort falls within the boundaries of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Bluestone is set on 500 acres of stunning Pembrokeshire countryside so you definitely are in a spectacular area. No matter what season you are visiting in there will always be plenty to do and see, from summer days to crisp autumn mornings, chilled walks in the countryside or down by the lake and a all year round water park.
We didn't get the opportunity to eat at Bluestone's many restaurant or cafe's as Amelia is at the age where she won't sit still for long so we decided to do a big food shop when we arrived and bought meals for the week. On one of the evenings we did pop out to get a takeaway, the resort does have their own takeaway service which you can have delivered to your lodge but as we wanted chinese food there was only one dish on the menu. We didn't mind eating in and the kitchen is fully equipped and we didn't even have to wash the dishes as there a dishwasher too! Who wants to be washing dishes on holiday hey?
There are a number of places to dine at Bluestone, including the Yard restaurant in the village, The Knights Tafarn serving traditional pub food, the Wild Wood Cafe, Camp Smokey and lastly The Carreg Las for a fine dinning experience. Located in the village is the Millers Bakery which we bought some freshly baked baguettes for sandwiches at lunch. The village shop is also fully stocked however slightly more pricey than your normal supermarket but very handy if you've forgotten something.
✓ Beautiful location and scenery
✓ Lodge was immaculate and very cosy
✓ Great resort for toddlers and younger kids
✓ Fantastic activities for all ages
✓ Free wifi is a bonus
✓ Great location for things to do in the local area e.g Folly Farm which is definitely worth a visit
We had a fantastic stay at Bluestone and would definitely return but ensure that we hire a buggy before hand. I would highly recommend hiring a buggy especially if you're not a keen walker or have mobility issues as you'll be surprised just how big the resort is. When we went to book them on the day we were told that they didn't have any left for people who hadn't pre-booked them which was rather silly as there was many of us who wished to book them. I also heard that you couldn't hire them for just one day at £25 and had to hire them for a 3 day period which would be £75! Although not a problem for us as we would have paid it, just a shame that we couldn't hire them as we really wanted to explore the resort more.
One tip, if you're not hiring a buggy and will be eating in the lodge I'd recommend doing your food shop on the day of arrival once you're settled in, theres a few big supermarkets in Haverfordwest as you can drive the car back down to the log on the day you arrive before having to return the car to the car park at midnight. Especially if you're in a lodge further away, you don't want to be carrying bags of shopping for miles.
* A mid-week break Monday-Friday staying in a Caldey Lodge is roughly priced at £379 (June 2014) however will differ depending on the time of year you wish to stay.
Visit the Bluestone website for more information and prices.
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