For me, bank holidays are made for camping. An extra night means all the effort of pitching the tent can be enjoyed that little bit longer, justifying it all the more (in case you needed any more of an excuse to get under canvas). This year, after venturing to Hogsdown Farm for the last couple of years, it was time to try somewhere new and so after a quick Google to see which campsites within about an hour’s radius had decent playgrounds, we settled on Golden Valley Caravan and Campsite in Derbyshire.
I’m not over exaggerating when I say it was the playgrounds that sold it to me – I knew I wanted somewhere that Pickle would just love and with so many picnic benches situated nearby, the optimist in me was excited about the prospect of maybe sitting down and savouring a cup of tea or a gin and tonic in the sunshine whilst he enjoyed the slides.
Where is Golden Valley Caravan & Campsite?
Near Ripley in Derbyshire, Golden Valley Caravan and Campsite is situated in the middle of a triangle that has Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield at its three points. It’s close proximity to the Peak District means it’s perfect for a spot of exploring and hiking, with some major cities nearby if that’s more your thing.
Sadly, on this particular trip, we didn’t get chance to explore the local area as much as I’d have liked – thanks to finding a dead frog squished in our tent which had been festering for many months! Most of the weekend revolved around finding the nearest camping supplies store and trying to clean and aerate the tent as best as possible!
The Facilities at Golden Valley
The site itself is fairly large – its only the second site we’ve stayed at where we’ve been escorted to our pitch by someone on a quad bike/vehicle (the other was Trevornick, in case you’re wondering). Having said that, it doesn’t feel like a big site because rather than one huge field with lots of pitches crammed in, the site covers several fields, all with different features to suit different types of holiday-makers (e.g. grass pitches, with or without Electric Hook Up, hard-standing pitches, static caravans, and a few glamping pods too).
My main concern facilities wise whenever I go camping is always the toilet and shower block. I don’t need them to be particularly fancy, but I do like them to be adequate in terms of relative numbers and cleanliness. When we turned up at our pitch, and I spied a Portaloo just a few metres away from us, I felt a knot of anxiety. I hadn’t paid £35/night to use a Portaloo… but thankfully, these weren’t the main provision of toileting facilities, and more an additional option for anyone who didn’t want to walk to either of the main blocks – a good option for during the night, for example.
The main toilet and shower blocks (of which I saw two, although there may have been more in other areas of the site that I didn’t explore) were really lovely: big, clean, plenty of toilets and showers – I never had to queue for either – and for me, the biggest bonus was that the toilet and shower doors were full ceiling to floor doors with a seal. Why does that matter? Well, it means you don’t get a draft from outside when you’re showering or well, you know, toileting. Let me tell you, it made a real difference.
Great for Families
So, they were the whole reason we visited, and were the playgrounds as expected? A million times yes.
We had three parks to choose from:
- the main park by reception, which was the largest and had most to offer the widest range of ages,
- a playground close to our pitch which was perfect for Pickle and had a large, covered sandpit running alongside it,
- and a little park by the mini golf that was great for toddlers.
It’s fair to say, these were some of the best maintained playgrounds Pickle has ever had the privilege of playing in. It is obvious the staff at Golden Valley take great pride in their site, and I often saw staff picking up bits of litter as they walked past, or removing stones from the playground to make it safer for the children. Attention to detail like that does not go unnoticed, and I really appreciated the care and effort.
Extra Activities at Golden Valley Campsite
Over the course of the weekend, there were lots of activities on site to please families. A handy timetable by reception let all the guests know the itinerary for the day ahead, with no obligation to take part or free reign to make the most of it all. We were particularly excited by the land train rides that operated twice a day, offering guests a quirky tour of the site (much to the delighted amusement of the children, many of whom were either riding the train, or running behind it) and the family friendly disco each evening.
A real highlight for us during the stay was the family disco. I loved that Pickle was able to copy the dance moves from the older children, and seeing him run around the room chasing and dodging the moving lights was lovely. It’s a reminder of how much he’s growing into a proper little boy, and between us, Jim and I even got the chance to sit down and enjoy a drink from the bar.
Each night, we let him have his face painted too – it was only 50p if I remember rightly, and the staff just do a few dots of neon face paint, a proper festival vibe. Pickle LOVED it, picking which colours he wanted and feeling so proud of his spotty face.
Some of the other activities on offer including a zip line, fishing, log cart rides, and lots more. The other thing we let Pickle try was an inflatable climbing wall – he’s ALWAYS climbing and I was really impressed with how he managed to scale the inflatable.
Would we return to Golden Valley Campsite?
100% yes. It was worth spending a little extra than we normally would for the extra experiences on offer, and I’m still super impressed with a campsite that offers a bath! We’ll definitely be back, and I’d really recommend it to families with children of all ages. There’s so much more I could write about and fit into this review (but won’t, for fear of it becoming far too long), but if you have any questions about the site, and our experience of it, I’m all yours.
We’ll see you again soon, Golden Valley Camping and Caravan site – and next time, we hope to explore a little more!
Disclaimer: this trip was paid for by ourselves, and I was under no obligation to write this review. All content, views and opinions are my own.