We were recently invited by the Caravan and Motorhome Club to come and stay at one of their 2,700 member sites, the lovely Alderstead Heath down in Merstham Redhill, Surrey. Set close to the always busy M25, near to the large town of Redhill, and in easy travel distance to London, I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t what we got! Ad – Review stay, expenses, accommodation and tickets covered.
When we arrived in Redhill, we turned off the main road and travelled into the most beautiful countryside, it was so quiet and peaceful that I couldn’t believe that we had only minutes before come off the M25. The site is nestled in the Surrey Hills, surrounded by fields with plenty of dog walks and the pitches are all incredibly well set out with a lot of privacy and plenty of trees and shrubs. It was so lovely to arrive to the sight of lots of baby bunnies out and about around the pitches. The journey down had been a long one, and the children had a lot of energy to burn off. Luckily the site has a huge amount of open space and a lovely large play area and so they could race around to their heart’s content. It is also very safe and I felt more than happy to let them take their bikes and play around, there is a reception and small shop with milk and various bits and bobs at the entrance, (cash only fyi!), and the staff were very visible, going around and checking on things. Only vehicles that were staying on site could get in and so we felt very secure.
We actually stayed in a pod, the idea was that we would stay in Wilma the camper and my lovely Aunties would have one of the Experience Freedom glamping pods and we would go for days out together, (something I would do with my parents too), but the weeks before our stay were filled with rain and coldness and so they decided they would stay at home and meet us every day for breakfast and days out and we could have the pod as I am quite a fair weather vanner if I’m honest and Dave couldn’t come due to work and he is the one who sets up the awning! It’s such a great way to do multi-generational holidays though, I know of lots of people whose parents have the van and they go and join them and stay in the pods, sometimes sending their kids to sleep in the van with Granny and Grandad! 😀
Setting up the beds in the pod was very exciting, they are ingeniously designed with the sofa turning into one of the kids’ beds and my bed pulling out of the wall, turning back into a sofa when you pushed it back up! There is a sink, a convection oven/ microwave, fridge, kettle and mugs/plates/cutlery and a generous sized bathroom with a big shower. There was also a tv and some books for all of us which I thought was a lovely touch. It was late when we arrived and so after a play in the playground, we did teeth and bed. As we were all in the same room, I couldn’t watch tv and the wifi and signal were both very patchy and so I went and sat on the balcony outside with a book. Thank goodness the weather had changed from all the rain! It was so quiet that the only things we heard was birdsong and the breeze in the trees.
My son was in the top bunk and as I was getting ready to go to sleep, I decided to move him down into my bed with me as he was wriggling around a lot and kept throwing his arm over the side and because of the way they are designed, the top bunk sticks out further then the bed below and I suddenly felt quite concerned that if he were to fall out, it’s quite a big drop so something to be mindful of if you also have wriggly sleepers. (He is 6.) All was fine once I’d moved him down though, and we all got just enough sleep to face the day ahead! My aunts picked us up early and we headed to Chessington World of Adventures. As members of the Caravan and Motorhome Club, you not only get up to 50% off site pitch prices, you also get discounted entry to a myriad of popular attractions across the UK, 900 in fact, and the discounts vary but for Chessington it was a whopping 45% off a ticket making them just £25 each.
We stopped at the garden centre next door for breakfast, (it’s absolutely huge and does a good coffee!) and then had a fun day persuading my aunties to go on rides that they weren’t sure about….but then loved! One thing I did think was that there was far too many extra money spending opportunities at Chessington. Lots and lots of (surprisingly difficult, or maybe not so surprising!) games to win stuffed toys, photos and shops and food everywhere, resulting in a lot of ‘nos’ from me! It was also very sunny so the queues were pretty long, but all in all, we enjoyed the rides we did get on. It’s no different to the other big theme parks but I can’t help but compare things to the Efteling in Holland now, where the pricing inside was so reasonable for food and drink. We finished up the day back at the pod enjoying ready meals and chilling out in front of the tv.
The next day was Sunday and we were checking out and meeting my aunts at their house and going together for breakfast and then on to the British Wildlife Centre for the day. Check out was easy and once we’d used our card to get through the barrier, I popped it back through the letterbox at the reception block, (check opening times when planning your arrival as you can only get access with a special key card), and we off we went. Simple! We had breakfast at the Redhill Aerodrome, a favourite of my aunts and somewhere we have been several times before, basically an amazing restaurant on the airfield so you can eat and watch the old planes flying about. It was very very busy though, and I can see why my aunts never go at weekends! Breakfast was nice when it did arrive and the kids enjoyed seeing the planes and helicoptors but we were all more excited about the British Wildlife Centre.
On arrival, there was a huge class case full of wheat, looking closer, we realised it was full of harvest mice, which are possibly the cutest creatures ever. You get buy one ticket get one free with the caravan and motorhome club membership and they had arranged tickets for all five of us, and also a years’ adoption of a hedgehog which was very exciting! Being British wildlife, a lot of the creatures are asleep during the day but we did see adders, something I’ve not seen in years, British wild cats, otters, pole cats, hedgehogs and lots of varieties of birds. The centre itself is fairly small and doesn’t take very long to walk around but there are very informative keeper talks on throughout the day and a nice cafe to get refreshments at. My favourite bit of the entire centre was the red squirrel walk through, we just loved seeing these elusive creatures.
There are Caravan and Motorhome Club sites across the UK and Europe and membership is just £52 a year which includes a partner and any children under the age of 18. Some of the sites are exclusive and others have discounts or certain areas for members. I was so impressed with Alderstead Heath, it really was a lovely, peaceful, lush green site with very well thought out pitches with an abundance of wildlife in the area. We didn’t go to the shower and toilet block but I imagine it would be as well maintained as the rest of the site, as we saw the staff going around checking many times in our short stay.