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Kingslakes Holidays, Chilla, Highampton, Devon, EX21 5JS

Mike and Annie visited us in June and following their stay sent us the following story, detailing their family’s (nearly) 30 year relationship with Kingslakes. We found it a fascinating read and loved seeing their holiday photos too. Over to you Mike and Annie…

Christmas 1992 saw my father and older brother receive vouchers for a weekend break at a fledgling fishing complex in Devon, Kingslakes, the work of Mary and Gordon King. Thus began a family’s fascination with what I have seen called elsewhere ‘a little piece of heaven’.

Dad is sadly no longer with us but through a love of the complex forged through trips with him in the nineties, myself and my brothers, one older one younger one in-law, have continued to visit in various groupings; together as brothers or with our own families, passing on the fascination to our own children and latterly my grandson. Throughout that time we’ve been privileged to watch the site evolve, from those early days with Mary and Gordon, the middle years with Dave and Valerie and now as it is, in Stuart and Emma’s clearly capable hands.

So this June, having in the last 12 months re-connected with a childhood friend, another trip to Devon was planned to induct him into the Kingslakes club. With the craziness of the Covid year the trip was to include my and my partner’s mothers, two special ladies who deserved a treat after taking the trials and tribulations of multiple lockdowns in their stride with a fortitude we younger generations could learn from.

What an incredible week. The team on site are remarkable. Nothing was too much trouble and specific requests for our party were sorted where possible in minutes, and this ensured all we had to do was enjoy the holiday.

Jason and Dawn as ‘front of house’ there to settle us in from key handover and property talk through to our first evening at the clubhouse working the bar and kitchen, and then repeat, repeat, repeat day after day. In the evenings in the clubhouse bar service was first rate, food was amazing and plentiful and any request for help was dealt with, with a smile. Thank you both for all the things we see as customers and the myriad of other things we never get to see; Dawn, special thanks for sorting the maggots, and Jason your willingness to get that key on departure day so I could check Dragonfly’s layout has already turned into a repeat booking.

In the restaurant very remiss of me to not get names but thanks to the waitresses, dealing with our motley crew was doubtless a challenge. It can’t be every week someone asks for a small half chicken and chips.

On the final day we were last to depart the field behind the clubhouse and saw the cleaning crew begin to assemble. We didn’t meet you but we know our lodge was spotless on arrival. In these Covid aware times you are undoubtedly under pressure so thank you.

And of course Andrew. I’ve met a few people in my life who can talk to whoever they meet in a way that makes you feel at ease immediately and, where guidance might be needed, provide it without you ever realising you are being instructed. It is a very special talent and your time taken around the lakes was appreciated by Kev and myself and I’m sure all the others you took time to talk to. I did manage a dawn start one day and there you were, already preparing for a days strimming, grass cutting, swim maintenance, hot tub daily checks and general grounds keeping ……. I’d hate to think how many items are on your job description. Thank you for everything.

Oh, did I mention Kev and I got to do some fishing too? The lakes have changed, the stock has been managed and the profile of a fishing day has changed. In past years, on occasion it seemed an empty hook would have attracted some attention. Fun for the numbers game but indicative I think of crowded lakes. This time we had to put in the time but the rewards justified the effort. Based largely on a desire for bigger fish, our attention was concentrated on Blackbird and Kingfisher with simple presentation of floating baits accounting for 40 plus carp in 4 fishing days. Around 15 low doubles with highs for the week exceeding 11lbs for one of us and just below 14lbs for the other, all fit and healthy fish with just a few marks from recent spawning. An interlude on another day on Jenny Wren saw around 20 tench and 2 small but scale perfect crucians grace our nets on a gloriously sunny day.

So Stuart and Emma, and the team, many thanks for the latest evolution. Kingslakes continues to retain a remarkable tranquillity whilst now offering a few more creature comforts which as I approach my 60th year, and after 3 decades of Kingslakes adventures, is greatly appreciated. If you’re watching dad, a hot tub replaces take away curry night and Match Of The Day, and in the new lodges we don’t have to argue over washing the dishes now. And from that first trip, eventually taken in February 93, your ‘oft told story of sheep’s eyes glowing out of the mist in the headlights of the car as you came in through the gates, well now it would be Alpacas, Goats or Donkeys but you’d feel just as much at home and love it just the same.

We will be back.

Mike and Annie