Words by Rebecca Hawkey
Explore the rolling green hills and wild woodlands that make up this remarkable holiday destination.
When I was younger, holidays with my family consisted of four to five days all squished into a rather small caravan, perched on a cliff-top holiday park in Cornwall overlooking, in my opinion, some of the best views in the world. I would make friends with the other kids and we’d play swingball, hide and seek, or throw and catch with those velcro pads that are now unheard of. Our parents would encourage this, a chance to taste a little freedom, knowing we were running wild in a safe environment, enjoying everything that Cornish holidays are about.
Over time, elements of the humble camping trip have remained unchanged, with those looking to vacate normality for a little dash of escapism seeking out places that offer a balance of relaxation and rejuvenation, with a heady dose of much-needed family time. I recently caught up with Charlotte, where we explored all things Wooda Farm Holiday Park.
Wooda Farm has been in the Colwill family for nearly 100 years, that’s four generations of longevity for this serene slice of Cornwall. Wooda is family run, for families, and it’s this pride in their heritage that makes staying here all the more special. When guests arrive at Wooda Farm, they aren’t pitching up on some nondescript piece of land, but rather a farmland that has been lived and worked on for many years prior to that moment. Once a working farm, brought into the family by Samuel (known as Jim) and Bessie Colwill, this land has seen sheep, cows, a bed and breakfast, caravans, tents, restaurants, a cocktail and wine bar, a wonderfully converted terrace, luxury lodges, holiday cottages, outdoor activities, an art studio, and thousands of happy families come and go. From the very beginning, Wooda Farm has invited guests to be a part of its home, of its land and of its family, which translates to returning customers year on year, where friendships are made and traditions cemented, all ready to be passed on to the next generation.
Jim and Bessie had a son, Ken, and a daughter, Honor. When Ken took over the farm from his parents, along with his wife Elizabeth and their three children, Susan, Graeme and Helen, they ignited an idea that would see Wooda evolve into the haven that it is today. Back in 1975, Ken recognised the potential that tourism brought the local area, and with this in mind he converted an area of farmland into a small site able to house five touring caravans. Without this little spark of ingenuity, Wooda Farm may not be what it is today – a wonderfully unique, heartwarming, top-quality holiday park in this corner of the British Isles.
Each of Ken’s children have also made their mark here; Sue is a successful artist, with her studio located on site; Helen runs Wooda’s Courtyard Restaurant, The Lodge Takeaway and The Loft Coffee Lounge and Cocktail Bar with the support of her family and team, whilst Graeme continues to steer the Wooda ship today, running the park alongside his eldest daughter, Charlotte. Graeme’s wife Kerry also runs the beautiful Elsie and Rose gift shop on site and Charlotte’s husband Simon built the incredible Gwelva Hills Lodges. It’s very much a family effort at Wooda.
Wooda Farm is just one of a few independently owned and operated holiday parks in Cornwall, a rare find when even the quietest of corners here in the Duchy is being run by larger corporations. This is the definition of a family run business, and with the addition of Charlotte and Simon’s daughters, Rosie and Elsie, and a third on the way, this generational lineage doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon! Speaking with Charlotte, we briefly touch on the caravan holiday industry here in Cornwall, which has boomed in recent years, with families opting to pack the car and head south for a staycation. I was intrigued to hear her thoughts on how Wooda Farm continues to stand out amongst the ever-growing crowd of campsites popping up here, there and everywhere.
“We don’t compromise on quality, instead focusing on the standard with which we operate, rather than the quantity,” she explains. “All of our accommodation is of high-quality, and this year we have even installed super-fast broadband to each individual holiday caravan, ensuring all of our guests can make the most of their downtime. Steaming services won’t be compromised, nor will those having to work whilst away, as we know this has been the case with the rise in remote workers. We have also just completed a multi-million pound toilet and shower block renovation, and are continuously reinvesting so customers have something to see in the future.”
When someone mentions a caravan holiday, I’m instantly transported back to childhood vacations in the late nineties, where caravans were somewhat bog standard; there was no such thing as Wi-Fi, and facilities were basic at best. Wooda Farm is proud to offer quite the upgrade from this image, with guests enjoying a site full to the brim with exciting things to do and see, if not on site then in the surrounding area of Bude.
The team here goes out of their way to cater for any and all, for nothing is too much trouble. They are working hard in the background to make sure your holiday runs smoothly, helping with day trips, evenings out, local adventures for the whole family, and doing so without a fuss and with all the knowledge you’d expect from a family born of this land and this area. From the moment you arrive at Wooda Farm Holiday Park you are welcomed by those that enjoy what they do, they are excited to welcome you to their home and are always on hand to have a friendly chat. Charlotte and the team are dedicated to supporting the community, one that has supported them from the very beginning. They are passionate about supporting local charities and local businesses, because for them it’s all about family; relation or no, everyone is a part of this community, even if you are just visiting!
When the park opened in 1975, the intention was never to ruin the land, but to work with it, sustainably. This ethos rings true today, as the team do all they can to ensure a sustainable, renewable future for the business and for the land that has provided this family, and the families of others, with so much joy over the years. There has and always will be an emphasis on the benefits of spending time outdoors with loved ones, exploring the local woodlands, caves and coves we have to offer here in Cornwall, not to mention the incredible vistas that you’ll be privy to when staying here. So, if you usually dismiss the idea of a holiday park as your go-to vacation, with a concern for noise, ruckus and garish evening entertainment, then remember that Wooda Farm is leading the charge in reinventing this perception. It is clear that Wooda Farm Holiday Park is steeped in tradition and heritage, and boy are the team proud of it. The family has opened their home to others for near-on 100 years, they have created holidays filled with laughter, love and quality time, which is not to be underestimated in this day and age. So, why not explore this little patch of paradise the next time you and your family are looking for that perfect getaway?