As we did so many amazing trips when we were in Devon thanks to Devon’s Top Attractions, I wanted to share them all with you, so over the next few days expect plenty of posts about the places we went, what we loved, what we didn’t and most importantly what toddler L thought of them, so in this article I’ll tell you about our trip to Watermouth Castle.
We went to Watermouth Castle on our first full day in Devon, following two days of travelling and therefore two nights in different bedrooms we picked Watermouth Castle because it was literally 5 minutes from Sandaway Beach Holiday Park where we staying. I liked the idea that we could have a lazy morning and head there for when it opened, stay as long as L wanted and then be back to the caravan in minutes for more laziness.
Husb and I were ridiculously excited about this trip, we had checked out the website before we left and showing L all the different rides and getting him excited about his visit. With a castle, model trains and loads of toddler friendly rides we both thought we were onto a winner. Cue moody toddler to dash our dreams.
When we arrived we made a foolish error that neither of us realised until later into our day trip, we left Gerry the Giraffe in the car, I actually blame this on L and his moodiness which started the second we pulled up, he wasn’t even happy to get out of the car.
When you enter Watermouth Castle you are lead through loads of different rooms in the castle and down into the dungeons, there are also toilets pretty early on which can be super useful if you’ve travelled a long way.
The first room we entered had robots playing musical instruments, these scared L, so we moved swiftly onto the next room that had some old penny games machines (they take 10p coins) and you could win little egg capsules with toys in. We let L play a game or two and it seemed to perk him up for a bit.
Then there were model trains, a collection of vacuum cleaners, a dairy display and other Victorian life displays before we moved into the dungeons. There were things to see round every corner and behind every door, old shop displays and fairy tales, anything you could think of really. There were some scary bits, but you were well warned about those and could easily miss them, which we chose to do given to the fact we had a toddler on the edge.
You are then lead into the courtyard, what we didn’t realise at the time was that you couldn’t re-enter the castle to see things again or pick up on bits you had missed, we were hoping that as the day progressed and the mood improved we could back track a bit and look at things properly but it was not to be, we also didn’t realise we couldn’t leave the castle and re-enter, remember I mentioned we had left the giraffe in the car.
Whilst these two things didn’t directly effect us until later in the day they are well worth noting so you don’t make the same mistake, to be fair these were the only things we didn’t enjoy about our trip to Watermouth Castle, that and the fact the new Thunder Luge Toboggan Run hadn’t opened yet, but we can hardly hold them responsible for that, we both just wanted to try it out!
In the courtyard of the castle there is a gift shop, which whilst easily avoidable, a necessity when travelling with toddlers, has an ace fudge shop at the back of it, the entrance to the underground water display which we sadly missed, toilet facilities, a cafe and a small ride. You return to the courtyard to leave the castle at the end of your day.
L had of course sniffed out the gift shop and was in there like a whippet, we did what any good parent would do and told him he could have a gift at the end of the day, this was not acceptable to him and another meltdown ensued, but we persevered and made the rather pretty walk up to the gardens where all the rides are, along the walk are barrels which have little animatronics inside that light up and move when you press a button, I was not allowed to do this, it was not acceptable to the child, I did sneak a couple in though.
We started of in ‘Merry-go Land’ and flitted between there and ‘Adventure Land’ for hours, the two areas are essentially joint. L straight away saw the Plane Ride and he wanted in on it, so we waited a few moments for it to be ready and popped him in a plane. He promptly changed his mind and decided he just wanted to watch other children have fun on it, this became a recurring theme throughout the day, so a massive shout out goes to the uber patient and friendly staff who bore witness to this fiasco.
We then had a snack stop, on one of the many benches that were dotted around, L loved feeding his raisins to the birds. The break gave us all time to calm a bit and we went to try our next ride, a lazy river style adventure, which L loved, until he got very slightly misted by a gorilla spraying us with his hose.
Things significantly improved for us after that. We played mini golf,£1 deposit per ball which is returned when you return the ball. Jumped about on a water fountain, he didn’t mind getting wet then did he! Had a go on a digger ride which was only 10p a ride. Played at the park and went round on the snails about 3 times.
Eventually we stopped for lunch which was fast and yummy and really good value. We loved that the cafe in Merry-go Land had so many seats and that some of them were right next to a little mini playground so you could eat whilst the little ones played safely.
After lunch it was off to get lost in the maze which everyone enjoyed a lot. Then we explored some more of the gardens, tried to persuade L onto a ride other than the snails, which was not to be. He did want to go on the pirate ships but they were one of the few rides he was too small for.
Then there was another failed attempt at flying, this was when we noticed the lack of Gerry Giraffe, L decided he wanted him and would go on the rides if accompanied by his giraffe, so whilst we sat and waited poor husb went all the way back to go and fetch him from the car. It’s quite a way so when he realised he couldn’t he was a bit stuck.
All was not lost though as L had spotted all the water fountains in the Mystical Water Gardens and played and played until he was soaked through. After a change of clothes we went to explore gnome land, which was awesome, an entire village of gnomes with some houses you can go in. There is a really big slide, a camera obscura, gold panning and a man with a really long neck.
At this point, with a truly exhausted child in tow, we decided it was time to head off. We had a slow walk back to the castle, taking in a few more of the sights.
As adults we loved the fact that all the rides were dotted in and around the most fantastic formal gardens, they had somehow managed to combine crazy childhood fun with a grown up elegance and it just worked. We also loved that once you were in Watermouth Castle, other than food, everything was included and those games that weren’t were only 10p a go, I don’t mind 10p for a ride!
We really enjoyed getting to go on a lot of the rides with L and that there were some he could do by himself like a big boy. There was just so much to offer and had we been staying in Devon longer we would have made the most of the £2.50 return ticket.
For kids there was literally nothing not to love about Watermouth Castle, there was so much to do, even for small kids and every little detail had been thought of to make it even more fun.
Update – 10/06/2016 – Since writing my post I’ve had a little chat with the guys at Watermouth Castle and we could have left to get the car and go back into the castle, we were just unlucky to happen upon the wrong signs, which they are now looking to change as if we were confused other people would be too. So what you need to know is of course you can come and go to your car and you can re-enter the castle up until final admission. So yes, the one thing I didn’t like was just us being muppets, there is literally no reason not to visit now!
Disclosure – our entry to Watermouth Castle was complimentary in exchange for our honest review.