Family Outings: Diggerland, Devon
Can you dig it? Yes you can
Sunday 16 May 2004
The three Diggerlands - Strood in Kent, Langley Park in Co. Durham, and Cullompton, Devon - are designed for children to indulge their muddiest Bob-the-Builder fantasies. Like a theme park with added grit, they are full of diggers, dump trucks and assorted machines with hydraulic scoops, cranes, lifts and shovels. They feature lots of mud, big tyres, frantic lever twiddling, and children screaming with terror or triumph. The action spreads from the shed-like café and shop across big, safe fields, man-made ponds, off-road tracks and muddy digging areas. Take wellies.
Something for children?
A dream-come-true chance to dig a hole in a muddy field with a JCB, take scary rides in a digger's shovel, drive a dumper truck, ride pedal-powered diggers, and enjoy gentle trips on a "digger train". They can also try Land-Rover safaris, all-terrain-vehicle rides, a soft-play centre, a large adventure playground, a bouncy castle, a sandpit and, indoors, PlayStations. Trained digger experts are on hand to help, and exploits can be tailored to age, ability and courage.
Something for adults?
All these fun activities can be safely performed under the pretext of accompanying your children. Also, adults-only JCB racing events are regularly arranged (call to check), and dump truck races for adults are held on the last Friday of the month, March to November, from 6.30pm. Drivers pay £25 each, spectators £10, children £5, including food and drink. Other events include: bring-your-own-off-roader days, dancing diggers' stunt display team, Bob-the-Builder fancy dress days, and young driver tuition.
The Dig Inn supplies decent fast food, but accepts cash only. Meals cost £4 for adults, £3 for children, and the authentic builders' menu includes burger and chips, fishfingers and chips, and curry and chips. Tea and coffee is £1. There's a picnic area and a Snack Shack.
The Goodie Store of Diggerland, with branded clothes, Bob-the-Builder toys, JCB souvenirs and model diggers by Lego, is easily the most dangerous section of the park for adults with children.Must-have treats range from a child-sized Diggerwear T-shirt (£4.95) to the JCB Chief Mechanic Set (£11.99).
Admission and access
Diggerland is busiest during school holidays and summer weekends, but the owner, the UK's largest digger hire firm, can increase the number of machines as needed. Queues are rare and short. Opening times: 10am-5pm, weekends and bank holidays only, and seven days a week in school holidays and half-term.
Admission: £2.50 per person, under-twos free, senior citizens £1.25. All powered rides cost extra, from £1.50 to £4.50 each; an all-day wristband for unlimited rides costs £18.
Disabled access: Easy, level access from special car parking area, guide dogs admitted and carers are allowed in free. Real machines are not designed to accommodate wheelchairs.
How to get there
Diggerland, Verbeer Manor, Cullompton, Devon, EX15 2PE (08700 344437; www.diggerland.com).
By car: exit M5 at junction 27, head east on A38, then three miles south on B3181. By public transport: Tiverton Parkway is four miles away (0345 484950; www.rail.co.uk). The 373 Stagecoach bus from the station passes the entrance to the park (01392 427711; www.stagecoachbus.com).
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