Would I recommend a visit to Carradale itself? Absolutely - for its beautiful beach, its big skies, its fabulous views of Arran's peaks,its quirky golf course, its walks, its hotel food and its gold foundry workshop. Would I recommend staying at this site? absolutely not, if you have a motorhome, which is a pity as it used to be a favourite of mine when we tented.
Shockingly expensive at 33 GBP a night for a hookup on a patch of rutted bare earth. (Yes, 7-8 GBP cheaper to Caravan Club members, but it was not suggested that we join. If you're coming for a week, it it's worth joining.) This is the price of a 'resort site' in the South Lakes in July 2009, for which you would get a swimming pool, campers kitchen or a restaurant, disabled toilet/family suite, private sink cubicles, hard standing, a TV socket, a water pipe at each pitch and possibly your own grey water drain. It might not matter to you, but you don't get any of these at Carradale - its awards were won many years ago, and were deserved then, but now the site is resting on its laurels. The other sites we went to in Argyll this week charged half to one third of this fee, yet all were better managed and maintained with better facilities and just as much of interest off site.
Given the takings - the site was full, midweek: 60 hook-ups, do the sums - it's shocking that there is virtually no sign of any capital works at Carradale since our last visit about seven years ago. Sure, there's now a hardcore access track to avoid passing through the farmyard to the east, but it needs re-surfacing. The same shabby toilet cubicles are permanently locked because the toilets don't work, there are no disabled facilities as far as I could see, no family / privacy sink cubicles, and there are many deep and unavoidable potholes throughout the site that triggered a knocking noise in our motorhome suspension for the rest of the week.
There has also been minimum maintenance to the landscape. The gorse on the banks has got taller and now blocks the famous sea views (check against old photos) and - more dangerously - obscures sight lines so drivers can't see anyone coming out from behind the gorse. The bracken (with its spores) has spread wider, paths are worn to ruts in the grass and those to the beach quickly turn to mud in any rain. Ragwort (a typical weed of waste ground) is prolific, though hand pulling solves the problem.
We have friends who have family in Carradale and we have arranged to meet up in August over the last couple of years with them and other friends who have an Eriba motor caravan.
The drive to Carradale is not easy along a single track road. It does have ample passing places though and we are lucky enough to be high up in the cab of our 1999 Autotrail Cheyenne 634L and we can see most vehicles coming. Watch out for the local bus, the driver owns the road and everyone has to move over! Most drivers are considerate although there are some who have not got a clue.
The approach to the site is down a narrow winding unmade track full of potholes. Probably best not to arrive too early you would not want to meet another unit coming out as there is only one passing place.
On arrival we checked in with Colin the site manager and explained that we had prebooked our pitch by number could our Eriba pals be given one of the three vacant pitches next to us when they arrived. This it seems was not possible as thesw pitches had also been booked. Anyway after a couple of days and no show fom our expected pitch neighbours, colin relented and allowed our pals onto one of the vacant pitches!
It had been very wet for most of July and into August and the site was pretty well churned up. There are no tarred roads on the site and it was pretty rutted in places.
There are laundry and dishwashing facilities, the latter had a nest of House Martins and although it was lovely to see the parents trying to encourage the young to leave the nest, no one had bothered to clean the droppings from the floor for some considerable time and with all the rain it was slippy to say the least.
There are not now the sea views from your pitch that perhaps there once was, because of the ferns that form the perimeter between the site and the beach, however they do act as a natural windbreak. The approach to the beach is by various paths through the ferns approx. 100yards if that. The beach is is in a natural bay, very shallow and safe.
Carradale itself is a pleasant fishing village with a couple of hotels & pubs serving meals and is about 20min walk away. There are other forest walks around the area of varying difficulty and length. Again though we required wet weather gear in August.
There is no play area for children although why bother with one if you are right on the beach?
However if you play golf this is the place to be.
There is an honesty box for round charges.
The new clubhouse was officially opened the weekend we arrived and although it does not have a bar or kitchen it does have changing facilities. A vast improvement on the old wooden shack that had probably been there since golf was invented and considering the new clubhouse was paid for without a bank loan and entirely from the visitor fees via the honesty box, there have been a lot of honest visitors to Carradale.
The 9-hole course, according to the scorecard is short. Probably a full on drive and pitch to the green on the longest hole. Don't be fooled it is tough,very tough! There is no such a thing as an easy golf course.
This was our second visit to Carradale - two adults, two children and a dog. The campsite has a fabulous location next to the beach and within the Carradale estate. Perfect for dog walks and games of rounders.
Toilets are in need of a facelift and it would be great if there was some area for children when it is wet - even a sort of lean-to with table tennis or something similar. We were unlucky with the weather and this would have been ideal.
Overall it's a great campsite. The owner is helpful and it's great for children with bikes. Carradale has lots of cycle paths around the village. Also midges are rare and it's relatively sheltered, depending on your pitch. However it's a no-frills sort of place and won't suit anyone looking for any sort of entertainment on site.
We have just returned from 5 heavenly days at this site and have thoroughly enjoyed a wonderful experience.
Colin the warden is friendly and could not do enough to ensure that our stay was as stress free as we were hoping. The toilet and shower facilities were clean with a good flow of hot and cold water for many a refreshing and warming shower.
As the site is located near the beach you have instant drainage if it rains, and it did rail, although within 5 minutes of it doing so you wouldn't think it had.
We enjoyed absolutely wonderful weather and our three dogs, Rocky, Scamp and Lucy absolutely loved starting and finishing the day on the beach, there most enjoyable place.
Having experienced the site first-hand I had to write this review as I think some reviews I have read have not given the site the justice it deserves!
The only downside to our stay was that it couldn't have been for longer!
Thank you Colin, I am already planning our return next year!
Choose this site for our May Bank Holiday due to the previous favourable comments and location. Have to say not disappointed on either counts. The site has large flat pitches, although our tent being a large one was sited away from the main camping field and among the motorhomes. We had terrible rain over the 4 nights, and found the site to be well draining and cope well with the wet conditions. The site has easy access to the beach and our two kids enjoyed building fires in the evening. The facilities were OK. My wife stated the ladies shower was pitiful but the mens was fine. The toilets were well cleaned, got a little grubby due to the wet conditions and that the site was full, but the owners just about kept up with keeping them to acceptable standard.
We felt safe for our two kids aged 5 & 7 to roam the site and ride bikes around the grass. They enjoyed the local Pony Rides and the giant Drafts at the nearby tea rooms. Meal in the Carradale Hotel was good and staff very child friendly.
Due to the weather we took a few trips to Campletown to the local swimming pool (which is fairly new and very nice. Day trip to Gigha on bikes is also enjoyable. Hope to go back to take advantage of the fabulous beaches on the doorstep of the site.
We stayed for a week in August and thoroughly enjoyed our stay, the site owners are very friendly and always willing to oblige when possible. Although some facilities are a little dated compared to other caravan club sites, we found them to be very acceptable and cleaned regularly. No midges as such but lots of wasps. Very nice beach, and some nice forest walks nearby, all in all we will definitely return.
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