In the second of our site reviews, we are looking at a much smaller, family run camp site, situated in Oxwich Bay, on The Gower Peninsula, not too far from Swansea.
In spite of its diminutive size, the site has some nice facilities, including an outdoor pool and paddling pool, washing and laundry facilities and nicely maintained and presented shower / toilet blocks.
The site is situated along a narrow, mostly single track road, with limited passing places, so it is probably for the best that they don’t accept caravans. The web site emphasises that they do not take motor homes either, but they always seem to be allowed on without question, and, once again, folding campers seem to fall into the trailer tent category, so no problems of acceptability there.
The site boasts all of the features mentioned above, as well as an elsan disposal point, grey water disposal point and fresh water supply. There are one or two idiosyncrasies in respect of the facilities, but these are covered in more detail, in the main body of the review, below.
The site is divided into two main fields; an upper field and a lower one. These fields are dissected by the entry road, as well as by fencing, buildings and the outdoor pool. It is located at the top of a single track road, running up from the main beach area, and this road takes some 10 – 15 minutes to navigate on foot, depending on your overall fitness, how much you are carrying with you, and how many times you have to move out of the way to allow traffic to pass.
As you enter the site, the reception office is directly in front of you. As you are required to make payment in full before pitching, it is quite inconvenient not to have anywhere dedicated to park the car while you run in to do this. Having made payment, you can either turn right into the lower field, or left into the top field. Bearing in mind that the former is completely open and accessible, it does rather beg the question as to why there is a chain link gate across the entrance to the upper field. It’s sole purpose appears to be to force drivers to get out of the car twice, in order to open it, and then close it again, on passing through.
Having made payment and negotiated the chain link barrier (if applicable) you are then free to pitch your unit. Pitches are not marked, but the owners / managers will guide you to where they would prefer you to pitch. The web site specifies that there is a mixture of; “grassy, flat and sloping pitches available”. Whilst this is true, the vast majority of the pitches are sloping (some quite steeply) however, to be fair, if the site wasn’t situated where and how it is, the upper field would not be afforded the exceptional views it currently is, so a little bit of a slope is a small price to pay. The lower field, on the other hand, has a similar slope to it, but is not blessed with the same coastal outlook.
All of the facilities are based in one central area, behind the reception building. There are a number of washing up stations, toilet / shower blocks, laundry room, and a number of power points, where you can charge phones etc free of charge. This is a bonus, as, just like Shell Island, the first site we reviewed, there are no electric hookups on site at all.
All facilities are clean and well maintained. They’re not exactly state of the art, but they are well presented, and more than adequate for a site of this size. That said, there are some annoying little issues that do tend to grate on you after a while. All pretty minor in their own right, they do tend to become a little annoying when taken as a whole.
The site appears to have two identical sets of toilet blocks, all contained within the same building.
We were lead to believe that this was to provide additional facilities in times of greatest demand, however, we have been on site more than once, during peak periods, and the only times we have ever seen the extra facilities being opened is when the main ones were being cleaned. At a time when the site is full to over flowing (more on that later) this does seem to be a rather strange policy.
Other minor issues with the facilities include:
- Showers cost 20p for 7 minutes (at the time of writing). OK. not bad value, and it keeps the queues down, I appreciate that, and change is always available in reception, but why do it? It’s annoying and inconvenient, especially when you arrive at the toilet block, having made your way across the site, carrying everything with you, EXCEPT your 20p. It’s happened to us more than once, and you can’t help thinking; “Why not just stick an extra quid on the pitch price and be done with it”? I know other places do this, and I know it’s not a big issue, but, when it’s one of many, it does have a tendency to degrade the overall experience somewhat.
- Toilet rolls are not provided in the toilet blocks. You have to take your own. This is more than a little inconvenient when you arrive there late on a Friday evening, and you don’t know. It’s also not great, when you’ve picked your way across a darkened field, half asleep, and you realise you’ve left it in your unit. We get through more toilet rolls in a week at this site than we do at home in a month, as the kids have a tendency to forget to bring the rolls back, and that’s the last you see of them. (The rolls, not the kids!)
- Hot water for washing up also costs 20p, however, this comes with the added inconvenience that each washing up sink is fed, independently, by it’s own mini water heater, so you have to pay your money and wait for the water to heat up, before you can use it. I, for one, am very grateful that I have a folding camper with a decent sink, so I don’t have to spend half of my holiday using the facilities.
On the plus side, the swimming pool is a real bonus on this site. It’s open for most, but not all, of the day, and is not supervised, so children under 17 are not allowed in without an adult. The pool is always heaving in warmer weather, but is a lot more convenient that a walk down to the beach and the kids love it.
There is no clubhouse, eatery or shop on site, but, for a site of this size, that is to be expected, and there are plenty of places to visit in the local area.
There is a lovely hotel at the bottom of the road, (The imaginatively titled; Oxwich Bay Hotel) which is right on the beach, and a very popular venue for weddings, and you will often see wedding parties on the beach, which is a favoured location for the photos. The food there is great, and pretty good value, and there are other decent places around too.
Talking of the beach, this is a lovely asset to the site, with miles of sandy beaches, rock pools etc. On the edge of the beach are water sports facilities, eateries and plenty of toilet facilities (although the ability to hold your breath, for long periods, in some of the older ones is a distinct advantage). There is also more than adequate (if slightly expensive) parking, although, for most days, we preferred the scenic walk down to the beach from the camp site.
Unfortunately, the mini market in the bay is a real disappointment and in no way adequate for a self catering holiday (plus it’s really expensive). Fine for a bit of breakfast, the odd ice cream and a morning paper, but, otherwise, largely useless. We always go with family, and it always ends up with two of us and the kids pitching up, while the other two head off on the 25 mile round trip into Swansea for a decent supermarket.
The site, itself, has much to recommend it, but there is one issue that many (myself included) will find particularly annoying (as is clear from other reviews I have read of this site) and that is the issue of being able to park (or not) next to your tent, or, in our case, camper. This is down, in the main, to two reasons. Firstly, the site is, apparently, prone to water logging, and many reviewers have had problems where they have not been allowed to park up near their tent, due to issues with the ground. As many campers use their cars for overflow storage, phone charging etc, this can be an annoying inconvenience, but it is hardly the fault of the site owners, and not something you would expect from such a sloping site.
What is, in my opinion, totally inexcusable, though, is the ridiculous way the owners try to ram as many units as possible into the site during peak periods. We have been out to the beach for the day, on more than one occasion, leaving an open and spacious camp site, and returned to find our unit totally lost amongst a sea of other tents etc. The situation is so extreme that you even see guy ropes from some tents interweaved with those of their neighbours.
Not only does this prevent parking next to your unit, but it makes the night time trip to the toilet block a real challenge.
This site has many positive qualities. It is in a lovely location, with more than adequate facilities, both on site and in the local community. The owners are, in the main, extremely helpful, and the pool is a real bonus.
The location is lovely, with a beautiful beach, plenty of spectacular walks, a 12th Century church and 14th Century castle and plenty of places to eat but be prepared to travel for any decent groceries. There are a number of minor irritations on the site, such as the constant supply of 20 pences needed, and the lack of toilet rolls, but these are not a major issue, and the benefits of the location more than outweigh this. To be fair, though, this site only really comes into its own, from a family perspective, in the good weather, as there are no entertainment facilities on site, no electric hookup to power TVs etc, and little in the immediate vicinity to keep the family entertained. Rainy days are more than likely to involve a trip into Swansea, where there is much more to keep the family amused. That said, for the shorter break, with no kids in tow, that won’t really be an issue, and, it is a lovely relaxing site to kick back and enjoy the scenery.
The only major downside of this site is their insistence on cramming as many units onto the site as they possibly can during peak periods. For this reason, I would say avoid bank holidays, and other peak times, but, otherwise, this site is well worth a look, if you’re thinking of a short break in the Swansea area.
The Oxwich Bay web site can be viewed by clicking on the picture below.