Wales' Premier Independent Travel Magazine

Pearl Lake Country Park – A Real Gem

We’ve never been a fan of caravans. Until now. 
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If, ten years ago, you’d have asked us if we’d consider staying in or buying a holiday home (static caravan for want of a better phrase), the answer would have been an emphatic no.

Pearl Lake is five star!

We both had reasonable reasons; Jennifer had spent a deeply unpleasant six months in one as a child – so not great memories and I, well we, recall a particularly horrible experience in Cornwall renting one with our baby son. Let’s just say we left within one hour of arriving and we’ve never stayed in one since.

Recently we were chatting to some friends, and they were extolling the virtues of caravan, or static, life. One family had spent many joyous spring and summer months of the last several years in France and had enjoyed exceptional holidays. Another family regularly escape to West Wales and couldn’t be happier with their purchase.

It got us thinking, so when the opportunity to stay in one for a few nights presented itself, we thought this might be the time to revisit and see if it really is something we might consider in the future. We were warming to the idea and there was only one way to find out.

We’d heard good things about Pearl Lake Country Park in Shobdon, North Herefordshire. We’ve always really liked this part of the country. The border area between Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire is a particularly beautiful part of the UK.


Pearl Lake attracted us also because of its proximity to water. Living on the coast in The Vale of Glamorgan, we love being by the sea and, when we’re inland, we do like to be beside a lake, river or stream. Pearl Lake is glacial and ten thousand years old. In fact, it’s the largest natural lake in Herefordshire and is complemented by another smaller water feature on the park known as Pearl Pool. This seemed a good omen.

Finding the park is relatively easy with satnav but we did notice it dropped out occasionally. Mobile signal is pretty bad in this neck of the woods so if you need constant contact with the outside world, you may like to consider another location. Having said that, if you really want to disappear, this is the place. What Herefordshire, Worcestershire and good old Shropshire lack in 5G, they more than make up for in other areas – we’ll come to those later.


Even in the depths of winter, Pearl Lake is enchanting…

Pearl Lake claims to be five star. That’s a pretty bold claim and, honestly, they can back it up quite confidently. It is immaculate. The grounds and lake are beautiful. We were a little worried about finding our accommodation, but it was really no problem – their helpful staff gave us really good directions and we found it in minutes despite it being early evening when we arrived with the light going. Talking about location of the holiday homes, Pearl Lake has consciously positioned them, so they are offset to maximise everyone’s views. Ours, as we were to discover in the morning, looked out on green fields and a golf course with the lake being a two-minute walk away – what a great view.

As a base, Pearl Lake is perfect. You’re in a beautiful part of the countryside. The Borders, I would argue, is amongst the best in the UK. It is pretty stunning. There are some great villages, market towns and cities within easy drive too so you can enjoy the best of both worlds and if you own a small plane or helicopter, Shobdon airfield is a mere five minutes away.


Shobdon Airfield has a great cafe on site.

Once you’ve landed and made your way to your caravan, you can prepare yourself a meal if you wish. The facilities are excellent – as you’d expect. The interiors are stylish, beautifully well-equipped and basically designed to be a home from home.

So here we are on the Borders, and if there’s one thing they do particularly well in this area it’s food. This is farming country and if you walk into any independent butcher, chances are you’re going to leave with some excellent beef, pork or lamb. But who really wants to cook when they’re away? I certainly don’t. On site, The Lakeside Bar & Bistro is just two minutes from the holiday home and is a great attraction and asset to the park, offering a wide range of cuisine and some great local beers and ciders. There are also regular events and music going on there throughout the season.


The pubs in the area are proper country pubs…

A ten-minute walk away, just down the road, is a rather excellent establishment called The Bateman Arms. Sadly, it was fully booked so we opted for The Corners Inn in Kingsland. Not sure why it’s called that – perhaps it’s because it’s on a corner. What I do love about this place is The Corners Mixed Grill.


And what a mixed grill. If you’re in the area, you must try it, assuming you’re not veggie (sometimes as they say life choices suck). There’s much more on the menu but we only had eyes for the meat fest and it is seriously good.

After a great meal the night before, we woke to a beautiful morning and decided we would explore some of the towns and villages of the area.


Tenbury is a sweet town…

First stop, Tenbury Wells, a super cute, ancient market town on the northwest edge of the Malvern Hills, Worcestershire. A river does run through it and it’s the Teme (Teme Valley). The parish is home to just over 5,200 souls and we really liked it. It’s cultural claim to fame is holly and mistletoe production.


It has an equally cute, compact and bijou round market which, I believe, is open Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays but do check. Darth Vader sells eggs there – honestly.


The town has an excellent confectioner (sweet shop), a brilliant butcher and a superb deli with an incredible selection of cheeses (and yes, we had to try some). They also have a brilliant TIC (Tourist Information Centre) and the lady there was so helpful and enthusiastic. It was clear to us she loved the area. Well worth popping in because there are always things happening, especially in the spring/summer months, and the TIC keep on top of what’s going on.


Next stop, Bromyard, a town in the parish of Bromyard and Winslow. We’re in darkest Herefordshire here in the valley of the river Frome (sounded a bit Lord Of The Rings that – Bromyard, east of Mordor). I digress. It is near the county border with Worcestershire on the A44 between Leominster and Worcester. They’re an active lot in Bromyard with over a hundred clubs catering for all interests. You can find out more on the excellent www.visitbromyard.org.uk.


Suz is fab!

Bromyard has some real gems. If you’re into your fashion and love an indie boutique, then Suz Ladies Fashions is a must. The owner is a lovely lady and has an excellent eye – everything was on trend, and she is the perfect host, very knowledgeable and helpful.

The Cosy Café serves up a very decent bacon roll and exceptionally good coffee and home-made cakes (we can certainly endorse). The owner had recently been to Cardiff (St David’s 2) Christmas shopping but hadn’t explored the Victorian arcades! Seriously, if you’re in Cardiff, the old arcades are a must – they are packed with indie gems.


They’re a creative lot in Bromyard! What a great town.


Heather Sweet-Moon’s quirky creativity.


Near the carpark, you’ll find Bromyard Heritage Centre – what a find. It has a great gallery with some exceptional works displayed. We particularly liked Heather Sweet-Moon’s quirky ceramics. While we were there, they were just finishing up a community art class. The tutor was an extremely talented gentleman and some of the students’ works are quite exceptional. Clearly Bromyard has a lot to offer residents and visitors alike.


Leominster
is just over twenty minutes away by car, so it seemed rude not to grace it with our presence. We’ve visited a while ago but had forgotten what a delightful market town it is. If we had to sum it up, Leominster is the antiques and collectibles capital of the UK. Some might argue but we love its quirky buildings and every other one seems to be an antique shop.


Leominster Antique Centre is a great example. Four floors of browsing heaven. Just along the road is Blast From The Past. We purchased a few things here and the owner is a hoot.


At 1 Corn Square, you’ll find The Press Room. Now a café/eatery, it used to be home to Leominster News (hence the name). Having been on our feet for a few hours, we thought we deserved a break which included a good coffee and a few cakes.


We didn’t fancy anything heavy at this point as we had plenty of nibbles we’d acquired along our travels, but the food coming out of the kitchen looked pretty scrummy – home-made fayre, and the customers seemed to be enjoying it. Definitely on our return visit radar.

After a good night’s sleep in our holiday home, we were treated to a little guided tour around the facilities and a look at some of the caravans and lodges on offer. This was entirely our request – don’t panic, you’ll not be harassed to buy. This is not Lanzarote time-share hell. Seriously the quality of accommodation here is simply exceptional, and this combined with the beautiful location and brilliant staff make Pearl Lake one of the most sought-after parks in the country. It’s five stars and it’s earned every single one through sheer dedication and passionate customer service.


Ludlow is steeped in history…

Just before we left for home, we took one last relaxing walk around Pearl Lake and headed off to Ludlow, hoping to find somewhere for lunch. Ludlow, another market town, has plenty of good places to dine but could we find a table? Nope, they were all booked up or we could wait for an hour. This is an enchanting town so no real surprise it’s popular with locals and tourists. It was once described by Country Life magazine as “the most vibrant small town in England”. It certainly has real charm. It’s been around since the 11th Century, but we didn’t want to wait that long for lunch so thought we’d take a chance finding something on our return journey.


Superb carvery at The Down Inn, near Bridgenorth

We’re so glad we did. Tootling down the Ludlow Road near Bridgenorth we happened upon The Down Inn, a carvery with rooms. Well, what can we say, after a great two-night break, it’s really lovely to finish things off on an even higher note and The Down Inn did not disappoint. This was one of the best carvery meals we’ve enjoyed in a long time. It was busy but we were fortunate enough to get a table.


The desserts are divine…

We were in and the food looked pretty appetising! The beef was utterly stunning and there was plenty of it. Everything about our meal here was superb: the meat, the vegetables, the gravy, the desserts, the service – we honestly couldn’t fault it. We would certainly go out of our way to dine here again in the future.

So, yet again, The Borders, this charming neck of the British woods, has delivered. A fabulous short break trying out the five-star caravan lifestyle complemented by lovely people and exceptional market towns that still deliver quintessentially Welsh and English products and services. There is hope for this country still, and the brilliant Pearl Lake team have restored our faith in the van lifestyle.

Pearl Lake
Country Holiday Park
Shobdon
Leominster
Herefordshire HR6 9NQ
01568 708326
info@pearllake.co.uk

www.pearllake.co.uk

Socials
www.facebook.com/DiscoverParks
www.twitter.com/PearlLakePark
www.instagram.com/discoverparks

Pear Lake celebrates!
Pearl Lake recently celebrated 25 years. You can read all about it by clicking here.

If you love Pearl Lake, you might like its sister park, Rockbridge.
Rockbridge Country Park is situated within a short drive of the Midlands, the Wirral and South Wales, just outside the Welsh border town of Presteigne in the heart of the Welsh Marches.


Llanandras in Welsh, Presteigne was formerly the county town of the historic county of Radnorshire and is one of a number of ‘Gateway to Wales’ border towns. Close by are the towns of Kington and Knighton, with the city of Hereford less than an hour’s drive away. Hereford has an extensive choice of shopping and eateries, including the now world-famous Beefy Boys (yes, we’ve eaten there and it’s fab).

Like Pearl Lake, Rockbridge is part of the Discover Parks family of three parks. The other two including Arrow Bank Country Park are both a 15-minute drive away and visitors and residents of Rockbridge can also use the facilities at the largest of the three parks – Pearl Lake. The area around Rockbridge is full of extensive walks. There are walks along the river Lugg, which runs alongside the park, the 177 mile long walking trail, Offa’s Dyke Path, which is steeped in history with many castles, hill forts and evidence of Roman occupation as well as many other locally listed walks and trails.

Rockbridge Country Park www.rockbridge.co.uk is a registered Premier Park, offering 5-star touring and holiday home facilities. It sits beneath the infamous Offa’s Dyke path and is surrounded by rolling Welsh hills. There is also a residential part of the park, a fantastic place to live with its ever-changing scenery. A peaceful site where you can brush off the unrelenting pace of modern life and enjoy the great outdoors right on your doorstep. This summer sees the launch of its new holiday home development The Retreat.

Dark skies!
Presteigne has just been awarded a dark sky status – click here to find out more.

Rockbridge Country Park
Presteigne
Powys LD8 2NF
01547 560 300
info@rockbridgepark.co.uk

www.rockbridgepark.co.uk

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