I have always done my up most to be honest and upfront with you all in my reviews. If there’s an aspect to something I didn’t like I will say so and attempt to make suggestions for improvements. I am one of those people who appreciates quality and if something isn’t right I will have to have my say. We have just arrived home from our first touring caravan holiday of the year and it was a memorable holiday, to say the least! Now I didn’t have to write this review as it was something we paid for and I’m not expected to write a review for it. However, I was so utterly upset by so much of it that if I could perhaps improve things for others then write about it I will. If it turns into a bit of a rant I apologise in advance.
Firstly folks please research where you are going a bit better than I did on this occasion. It can take some sifting through websites to find reviews from tourers or campers of large caravan parks. But had I done this I may have realised a few things. The site was below standard. If you pay for something you expect it to be as advertised. If it’s not as advertised then phone calls should be made to you before you leave so that you have the option of a refund. Even when we headed to the pitch no staff members warned us of what was to come. Neither was any real apology made.
Why did we choose Haven, Blue Dolphin, near Filey?
We always go away early on in the year when caravan parks re-open for their season. Yes we expect bad weather as that is to be expected. This year we wanted to go to the Yorkshire coastline and after some research I picked Blue Dolphin because the touring site looked to have much larger pitches than the three other Haven sites in the area. We do prefer the look of Primrose Valley however I did look on TripAdvisor about this site and I saw that all the people who had stayed with a touring caravan were unhappy with the noise from the neighbouring road.
We have already been to Haven Reighton Sands, near Filey. Haven Marton Mere, near Blackpool, and Haven Thorpe Park, Cleethorpes. We loved our large pitch at Thorpe park and although we were flooded out in the awning one night it didn’t ruin the holiday and hey the pitch had gravel on it and it was a freak of nature. Reighton sands and Marton mere we felt that the pitches were a little crowded in but it was fine and we left happy. Haven Blue Dolphin was a whole other story. One that we will remember for some time that’s for sure. Speaking to a lot of people who were staying there this will be the same for them as well.
So why did it all go a bit Pete Tong?
We left home around 10am aiming to arrive on site at 12:30pm on the Thursday before Easter weekend. This winter in the UK the weather has been dreadful and snow and rain has soaked the land across the country. While excuses may be made that this is part of the problems on the touring site it is certainly no excuse when you hear that it was just as bad in October before it shut for the end of the season. Plus it is an ongoing issue for the past few years. What is the issue? The site is a water logged bog that immediately turns to thick oozy, impossible to drive on let alone tow on, mud.
We arrived to a long queue of caravans and lots of annoyed looking people in the office. We didn’t get off to a good start as there was only one person at check in and she proceeded to ignore me for 15 minutes whilst she dealt with the customer in front of me. It was a group of people who had requested pitches next to each other but hadn’t been allocated them. Even a glimmer of acknowledgement or to ask why I was waiting would have been appreciated. Two other lots of people wandered in, waited awhile and left fed up. Which at the time I thought was a little odd.
In the end I spoke up and asked if she could please give us our touring pack. She luckily obliged and pointed out where our pitch was. She drew on the map where to go and no more about the pitch was said. We got up to the top of the hill and soon realised that the area where our pitch was was full of water. As soon as we got out our feet sunk. Mark tried to motor move us into place and our caravan just wouldn’t move. He then tried towing again and we got ourselves stuck. Our large pitch was no good for a heavy twin axle. My son and I headed down the hill and started noticing caravans covered in mud and people stood with their tourers looking confused and fed up. This was a small insight into what was actually going on.
I went into the office and I said that there was no way we could get on the pitch and now we were stuck. She was slightly apologetic and said she wasn’t sure why we had been allocated that pitch as that part should be shut. This is the lady who had just allocated me this pitch. We were designated a new pitch, promised it would be dry and promised a tractor to tow us there. There were many other people wanting a change of pitch, in fact just about everyone. I even met a couple who had moved three times and were still unhappy. There was another who had moved twice and many queuing to request a move.
Luckily the tractor had arrived by the time we had walked back up the hill. The receptionist had asked me to check the new pitch first but to be honest I just wanted to trust her as we were cold, wet and very hungry by now.
As it turned out the pitch was very muddy, uneven and had pieces of rubbish on it. So we had to be towed onto that as well. We weren’t happy but we lived so far away we couldn’t turn around and just go home. Not with a twin axle in tow and a 4 year old boy who would have been very disappointed. We were told that they were busy and this was a good pitch and about all that was left that could accommodate our 7.9m caravan. So we stuck it out along with many other unhappy campers and tourers. The site deteriorated at a great speed. The roads became thick with mud, all grass became deep with mud. The whole site became completely unacceptable bar about 7 euro pitches with a hard and gravel standing that remained clean and usable. Everyone else on a grass (mud) pitch had to simply suffer.
In the end after arriving at 12:30pm we didn’t sit down for lunch in their restaurant until 14:45pm. That is how long it took for them to sort everything out and move us etc. We literally plugged in and drove down to eat.
I lost count of the amount of cars, caravans and camper vans that had to be towed in or out by their tractor during our 3 night stay. This included 4×4’s, it was that bad. We nearly went home early but hey we’d paid to stay so why should we. Plus Mark hadn’t slept well and was concerned about driving back. We also didn’t see the point in complaining to anyone higher up because I am sure they must be well aware of what was happening. We didn’t want to upset ourselves any further.
In reality the whole touring and camping area should not have reopened. It should either be a May-September site or it needs investment now. They know it’s an issue, we knew that by speaking to staff members. If most of the pitches could have a hard standing for the caravan, some gravel for the awnings and wider roads to park the cars on it would be a far more pleasant and practical area to pitch up in. It would have been nice to have that option.
You pay a premium to pitch up at a Haven park, especially without any discount. It can cost a lot more to stay at a Haven than anywhere else. So why did this site have to be so lacking in care for its touring customers? We had never experienced anything like this at the 3 other Haven’s that we visited and two of those 3 were in bad weather. Believe you me we have stayed with our caravan in some pretty bleak weather. But the sites are built to cope and cope you do. This was a whole different story. One I will make sure we never repeat. Having a tractor on site does not make up for the dire quality of the pitches.
Incidentally another issue was knowing which pitch is which. They have concrete slabs with the pitch number on but most of the numbers are rubbed off and unreadable. They have small stickers on the electric boxes stating the pitch number but they are confusing and it’s not clear where a pitch ends and begins. This caused so much confusion that we actually came back one day to find someone else also on our pitch. They were parked just a few inches from us on our supposed large pitch. We were livid and requested that they move. Which they ignored. Eventually they were towed to their actual pitch some 2 hours later without a word of apology to us.
It was also a shame that there was only one toilet and shower block which was located in the middle of the field. If you were down the bottom or top of the hill it was one heck of a trek up and down (especially in biting winds and rain). For the amount of pitches (200) this site should really have two blocks of facilities. This is not just my opinion. The waste water is also right next to the chemical disposal. Which means you have to stand in other people’s waste water to empty your toilet box! Not pleasant.
But maybe it’s the site itself? To be honest we found some of the facilities to be sub standard. The evening entertainment was especially disappointing. In the past there’s been quite a few Haven staff entertaining the kids and putting on shows etc. This time it was just a couple of characters and no staff on the dance floor at all. Completely different to what we are used to with Haven (especially compared to Reighton Sands, just down the road).
Thankfully the playground on the touring site was relatively dry and some of it benefited from astro turf.
The furniture in the soft play area looked like it had been hugely abused, the pool always had a massive queue and the site itself was not quite what we are used to from a Haven. I hate to feel so down about the site and I want to think positively. However, there wasn’t a lot positive about our stay. Only that we are safe in the knowledge that all the other Haven sites we’ve been to have had much better touring pitches.
Needless to say we also had to be towed out of our pitch. We had to wait over an hour after requesting for help to come for us at 9:30am. We had requested this the day before, twice that day and on the phone. It was very disorganised and we eventually found the tractor about to tow someone out that had only just got stuck and only just asked for help. Such a shame that we ended on another negative note.
As a blogger I don’t believe in burning bridges. But I equally believe that I should be honest and not just write about everything that is good. This is the first time in three years of caravan ownership that we have been so upset and disappointed. It’s also my first truly negative review. Honestly, I want to make sure that others don’t have to go through the same as us. It’s sad that so many people went home early, got stuck and were unhappy. I hope Haven Blue Dolphin will make improvements to their pitches or move the touring area to a flatter less boggy area of the site. If any improvements are made to the site I will hope that I can update you on here.
I also want to point out again that this problem has been on going for some years now. It was bad when they shut in October and has been bad many times over. Improvements need to be made asap. It has very little to do with the bad winter we have just had and more to do with the fact that the site just isn’t very good and can’t cope with any sort of bad weather. Not just from this past winter. You pay a premium for a pitch at Haven and you expect what was advertised, despite the bad weather the pitches should be able to cope at least enough to make life easier and more enjoyable.
Haven Blue Dolphin is very close to Filey which is well worth a visit with the tide in or out.
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I also made a little video of the mud mud mud on site