3 November 2017

An Autumn break at Bluestone National Park Wales

Over half term we spent a mid week break at Bluestone Wales. Bluestone National Park resort is set in the beautiful area of Pembrokeshire not far from the Welsh coast and with the tag line 'Free Range Fun' we could not wait to get out of school on Monday and drive up there for a mid-week break of half term family fun.

It was a four hour drive from home and as we had set off as soon as school had ended on the Monday we arrived around half seven and it was pitch black and drizzling. Due to planning guidelines Bluestone has low levels of lighting around the park, the roads around the park were lit with bollards but the signs themselves were not illuminated and we had to rely on our car headlights to read the signs to find our accommodation, just a few dim downlights on the signs would have really helped us here Bluestone! Once we found the right section we found the numbers on the lodges are not near a light so I would have had to get out and walk up to each one had Nanny and Uncle M who were staying with us and arrived earlier not turned on all the lights and been waving madly at us from the window of our lodge. 

We stayed in a Grassholm lodge, it was huge, bigger than our house! with 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms it was certainly big enough for the seven of us so much so it was worthy of its own post A Grassholm lodge review.

Bluestone is a car free area apart from Mondays and Fridays for loading and unloading so once we were unpacked, Daddy took the car to the car park where it remained for the duration of our break. To get around the resort you have a few options, you can walk or cycle or in our case, we took the scooters and scooted around but if you don't fancy that much exercise you can hire a golf buggy for your stay. It was a good 10 minute walk from our lodge uphill to the Adventure centre and Blue lagoon pool so a few times we also took advantage of the complimentary shuttle bus to bring us back from the pool. 

While we were there it was the the bwbach Autumn festival at Bluestone and there were a number of scarecrow scenes around the resort, the Little Ones enjoyed looking out for them as we explored the site. Some of them were rather realistic and they made us giggle.

There is so much to do at Bluestone to keep the Little Ones busy, their favourite place to be by far was the Blue Lagoon swimming pool. As a mum to a water loving toddler I was really impressed, there were lots of family changing rooms and big lockers for all our stuff as well as poolside deckchairs. On one side of the main pool was a gated toddler pool around a foot deep with beach balls and activity things where Little 3 could jump and submerge himself to his hearts content and I knew he couldn't go out the area or out his depth, even Little 2 was in there a lot playing basketball with the beach balls and climbing around in the fake rock pools. On the other side was another shallow pool (around knee height) like a sunken ship with fountains and things, plenty of splashing fun was had in here too. In the middle was the main pool, the girls loved practicing swimming underwater and floating around the lazy river which actually goes outside, the water was really warm so you didn't feel the Autumn chill at all. Daddy and Little 1 had a go on some of the water slides and we all enjoyed the wave machine. The pool is for guests only until noon so each morning we went after a lazy breakfast and spent a couple of hours there before heading back to our lodge for lunch.

As well as the Blue Lagoon there are plenty of other things to do at Bluestone, we didn't even manage to leave the site during our short stay! In the centre of the resort is The village, with a brand new play area and a wooden one too, there are fun activities in the village hall and a general store (which was reasonably priced) and a gift/clothing shop as well (who just happened to have one of our fav kids clothing brands, Frugi on sale). If you are in need of a break away from the children and the stresses of life then The Well Spa and Retreat had a few great offers for guests, I was eyeing it up as a pre-birthday treat but just didn't get round to it. 

There are plenty of eateries in the village too, Ty Coffi the tea shop where Nanny and Uncle M enjoyed a tasty cream tea, The Oak tree serving pizza and pasta, The Farmhouse Grill for something a little fancier and the Knight's Tavern for good old pub grub. We ate at the Knight's Tavern on several evenings, it was reasonably priced and service was quick even on a busy night with entertainment. 

Outside the Village there was plenty more to do, down in the Steep Ravine you could try your hand at Clay pigeon shooting, high ropes, or tree climbing among other things (Little 1 wanted to do archery but chickened out at the last minute!) and if the weather took a turn for the worse as it did during our stay there was always the Adventure Centre. 

The Adventure Centre contains crazy golf, the Sky trail and the wall, a wooden play area, soft play, a circus zone and bouncy castle, there were also a few arcade games and a lego wall too. While the little Ones played, there were comfy sofas to sit on and a cafe upstairs for a coffee or snack. We spent a whole afternoon in there and several shorter trips too as it was so wet.

If you think that was enough to be getting on with then you are forgetting about Camp Smokey, nestled down in the ravine is a place, all timber and wood where the fire burns and there is outdoor dining to be had, whether it be a pulled pork burger or marshmallows over the fire, the atmosphere is great there. Nanny and Uncle M booked themselves into an evening shindig at Camp Smokey and had a whale of a time, foot stomping, standing on benches and beating the red team earning their dinner first, they said they had a really great time and that we would have loved it but it proved too popular and by the time we had looked into it there was no room for all of us so I definitely recommend booking in advance for this.

There are so many activities to choose from At Bluestone to keep everyone busy, we decided to take the girls to the 'Into the wild' session. After finding our way to the meeting point at Camp Smokey 'Smokey Joe' turned up and we set about getting camouflaged before heading to camp.

Once at camp we set about starting a camp fire and building a den, the girls had a lot of fun and got stuck right in with the other children shifting giant sticks and logs then covering the den with foliage which they then tested for water tightness!

A quick refuel around the camp fire with a welcome welsh cake and it was onto part two of the session, raft building. Little 2 found a large piece of bark and declared her raft finished while Daddy and Little 1 got stuck in making their creation with sticks, string and bits of undergrowth. Everyone raced their rafts down the stream and Little 1 was pleased when hers won her race.

Then it was time for a visit from Frodo the owl, we were told lots of interesting facts about him and how he hunts and the children got a chance to hold and feed him, neither of the girls would hold him though but Daddy was willing to have a go.

Then it was time to head to Camp Smokey for toasted marshmallows, we all enjoyed that bit. The girls loved their 'Into the wild' adventure and couldn't wait to get back to the lodge to tell Nanny and Uncle M about their afternoon.

While we had been busy Nanny and Uncle M had gone on the free historical walk around the site, they had been gone 2 hours and had done plenty of exploring. They found out all about the history of the site and several monuments nearby, that had the weather been drier we would have gone to see. They both said it was really interesting and that their guide was very friendly and well informed answering everyones questions. Did you know there is rumored to be a Bluestone ghost?!!

Bluestone has it's own lake nestled in between the lodges. One afternoon when the rain had let up we popped out to explore for an hour before tea, we walked around the lake spotting scarecrows and collecting sticks! 

Bluestone is part of a natural area of beauty, as well as all the activities and things to do onsite there are several lovely walks around the area, little paths and wooden gates hidden between the lodges lead out onto tracks around the site, perfect for some puddle jumping, walking or cycling. We went prepared and armed with wellies and waterproofs the Little Ones did what they love to do best... getting muddy.

We were there for a rather soggy Autumn mid-week break and we had a great time, swimming, playing, walking, cosying up in the lodge and eating out but we feel that we really do need to go back again to see more of what Bluestone has to offer, we didn't have time to explore properly.

We have holidayed in Pembrokeshire near to Bluestone before, it is such a lovely area, we didn't make it off the site this time but if you do we thoroughly recommend a visit to Stackpole, Folly Farm, Saundersfoot and the nearby beaches, Carew castle and Oakwood theme park, they are all only a few minutes away.

N.B We received a complimentary stay at Bluestone in return for sharing it with you.

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