Dale farm's 40 years as a hub for visitors
By Stuart Laundy - Senior Reporter
A DALE caravan park which started life as a five-pitch farm diversification project has celebrated 40 years in business.
The venture was launched at Doe Park Farm, Cotherstone, as a way of boosting income after egg production became unviable.
The park has grown steadily in the past four decades. It now offers 70 pitches and has a four star rating from Visit England.
Stephen and Alison Lamb, who run the farm and caravan park, are planning to mark the anniversary with a fundraising effort once Covid restrictions are further eased, along with a competition offering one lucky visitor the chance to stay at 1981 prices – just £1 a night.
Mr Lamb said the caravan park was the brainchild of his parents, late father Keith and mum Muriel.
“My mother was looking through one of the farming magazines and there was an advert for people to have five-van sites as part of diversification projects.
“At the time, it was something to replace the chickens. We had been selling eggs, but that had become saturated – all farmers had chickens and were selling eggs, so that was fizzling out.
“My mother said could this be one way to replace that.
“My father was not so enthusiastic. He felt it could interfere with the farming side of things.”
With caravan facilities closed at nearby Thwaite Hall at the time and a successful visit from a Caravan Club field representative, the Lambs decided to give it a go.
“My father embraced it and brought it to where it is today,” said Mr Lamb.
“At the start it was classed as a certified site. You needed a reasonably level area, a tap and somewhere to get rid of the rubbish. It was £1 a night,” he added.
As the park started to expand, the Lambs left the umbrella of the Caravan Club to become a licensed site, growing steadily from five to 15 pitches, then 27, 40 before finally reaching 70.
The caravan site is now an integral part of the 200-acre farm business which is home to a flock of Texel cross Mule sheep and a small herd of suckler cattle.
“This type of farm needs an additional income – we have no arable and no moorland,” said Mr Lamb.
“Ours happens to be a caravan park.
“I know it’s not for everybody and not everybody can do it.
“I would like to think we are farmers who run a caravan park. The two businesses work well together.”
Mrs Lamb added: “People come because of the farm and the location and the farm benefits from people coming.
“About 80 per cent of our visitors are returners and we still have a handful who have been coming since we first opened.
“Most of our visitors come from within about an hour's drive but we do get some holidaymakers coming from all over the country.
“It’s very much people wanting the peace and quiet of the countryside and people who enjoy supporting the local economy,” she said.