By William Coleman
Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the Caravan and Motorhome Club’s Parliamentary Reception at the House of Commons to find out who won the CL site of the Year and has the best Sites In Bloom for 2019.
Once a year the Caravan and Motorhome Club hold a reception, usually in the Churchill Room, to award both the CL site of the year and the best Site In Bloom. It is also a celebration of all things touring in which PMs address the importance of caravan tourism and just how much revenue it brings to local economies across the UK.
Sites In Bloom Award Winners
A site is so much more than just neat pitches, clean facilities and a friendly warden, you also have to think about the site’s “wow factor”. Two within the Club’s network are
York Beechwood Grange in York and Ashridge Farm in Hertfordshire. They have both fought off tough competition to take home the prize of Caravan and Motorhome Club’s ‘Sites in Bloom’ 2019 Award.
The displays were evaluated using criteria including layout and creative use of space, variety, innovation, flair and colour coordination, with particular attention being paid to economy and low maintenance.
The geographical location of the site is also taken into account by the judges and the fact that plant species are chosen to suit the local environment.
York Beechwood Grange took first place in the ‘multi-couple’ (a set of site wardens and a set of assistant site wardens) category.
This beautiful site is set in rolling countryside just outside the historic city of York. It is perfectly located for easy access to York city centre, home to the stunning York Minster, the JORVIK Viking Centre and the National Railway Museum. Hungry visitors can stop off at one of York’s many tea rooms or cafes.
A short drive from York Beechwood Grange, explorers will find the famous Moors, home to miles of walking, cycling and horse riding routes. Slightly further afield, renowned foodie destination Malton is a must visit for those looking to sample the very best local produce.
The charming seaside towns of Scarborough and Whitby both make for excellent day trips from the city too, each boasting great coastal views, beaches and buckets of history.
Located in the rolling countryside of north Hertfordshire, Ashridge Farm took first place in the ‘single couple’ category (one set of site wardens). Nestled in a wooded reserve but just a few miles from the A1, the site is perfect for those after a quiet break but are keen to explore.
The picturesque village of Ashwell lies just a short walk from the site, home to many quaint 15th century cottages and local pubs. The surrounding countryside is marked with footpaths for keen walkers, and the rolling hills make the area perfect for cyclists.
The university city, Cambridge, is an excellent day trip from the site. Bursting with ancient buildings, the stunning river Cam and cobbled alleys, visitors can spend hours exploring this historical city.
There are a number of quaint market towns also a short drive away, including Hitchin and Baldock. National Trust site Wimpole Hall, and the Duxford War Museum, are two other leading attractions near the site.
Edinburgh Club Site took second place in the ‘multi-couple’ category, whilst the Minehead Club Site in Somerset was runner up in the ‘single couple’ category.
Harvey Alexander, Director of Marketing at the Caravan and Motorhome Club said: “I’d like to thank all our incredibly dedicated site wardens who work hard to ensure that every site in the network has attractive grounds.
Every year we receive so many wonderful entries for the Awards, so huge congratulations to the winners and thank you to everyone who entered.”
The Sites in Bloom Awards were introduced in 2003 by Club Life Member, the late Alan Payne OBE, who wished to recognise the creative and horticultural skills of site wardens and volunteers, and to showcase their success in making their sites colourful and welcoming.
The Club Best Voted CL Site
CL sites are one of the Club’s best assets for those who are in need of some much needed rest and just want to get away from it all.
If you want a holiday with a difference on a site that has a maximum of 5 pitches then a Club Certified Location is for you.
These postcard picture locations are usually hidden away on private estates or farms and offer a very different break compared to your traditional Club site. I spent a few nights at the Paddock CL site at Catly Cross and it was perfect. Calm, quiet, picturesque and a great way to recharge your batteries.
This year the Club were pleased to announce Brunette Cottage as the Certificated Location of the Year 2019
Situated in the beautiful Welsh Borders countryside. Cherry Cottage in Dorset took second place and Marylands in Pembrokeshire came third. Best Newcomer was awarded to Barn Owl Meadow in Suffolk.
The sites entered for the CL of the Year Awards are nominated by Club members, recognising the very best sites and rewarding hard-working owners who pull out all the stops for guests.
The awards are presented at the House of Commons in recognition of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act (1960) which enables the Caravan and Motorhome Club to grant certificates to landowners to operate CLs.
Grenville Chamberlain OBE, Chairman of the Caravan and Motorhome Club said: “Our network of CLs provide our members with unique stays up and down the UK, and whilst each one is special, they unfortunately cannot all win!
The awards celebrate owners who truly go above and beyond to give visitors the very best experience. The nominations were extremely close – I’d like to congratulate all of the winners and thank all our CL owners for their tremendous work.”
Winner – Brunette Cottage
Brunette Cottage is situated just in North Wales, near the Cheshire/Shropshire border. It has been run by motorhome owners Paul and Helen Clarke for the past eight years, who set up the site to share their tranquil piece of the countryside with other Club members.
Alongside five hard standing pitches, each with its own water point and electric, the site boasts a washroom with underfloor heating, as well as an information room with fresh cakes and local jams. Paul and Helen strive to improve the site year on year, including introducing a mini croquet pitch last summer. There are two National Trust properties within 35 minutes of the site, as well as a range of exciting walking and cycling trails.
Second Place – Cherry Cottage
Cherry Cottage is located just south of Sherbourne, Dorset. The site opened in June 2019, when long term caravanner Lynn Pearcey turned her dreams of owning a site into a reality.
The site is comprised of a mixture of hard standing and level lawn pitches that are all positioned to maximise countryside views and beautiful sunsets. All pitches have electric and WiFi, and the site also has a toilet, laundry room and micro shop. The self-proclaimed prettiest town in Dorset, Sherbourne, is a short drive or bus ride away, and slightly further afield lies Dorchester, bustling with museums, shops and restaurants.
Third Place – Marylands
Marylands is nestled in the heart of rural Pembrokeshire. Site owners, Jane and Ray, have been Club members for over 30 years and have run Marylands for just over a year.
The site is made up of five hardstanding pitches, and has both a toilet and shower room. The site is well located for access to the lovely beaches and coastal paths of Pembrokeshire, and the nearby county town of Haverfordwest is bustling with shops, pubs and restaurants. To help visitors navigate the local area, Marylands is renowned for its useful welcome packs.
Best Newcomer – Barn Owl Meadow
Barn Owl Meadow lies in the idyllic countryside along the Suffolk/ Norfolk border. The site is owned by Roger and Pauline Dixon, who named it after the many barn owls that swoop over the meadow.
The site boasts an amenity building with two large bathrooms, one of which is wheelchair accessible. Each are fitted not only with showers, toilets and hand basins, but also hairdryers and shaving points.