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Glamping with the Twiggles!

We popped along to Hoveton Estate for a bit of 'glamping' action with Amber's Bell Tent Camping. Great location in the heart of the Broads in a beautiful secluded copse with plenty of outdoor fun for the family. Plus BeWILDerwood next door!

 

THE LOWDOWN 

Amber’s Bell Tent Camping has a range of small, family friendly sites across Norfolk including Mannington Hall, Wiveton Hall, Hoveton Estate and Walcis Farm. Each offers something a little bit special from outdoor adventure to wild swimming to fruit picking.

We stayed at the brand new Hoveton site, located next door to one of our favourite adventure parks – BeWILDerwood. You can hear the screams of excitement as the kids swing around the treetop adventure park and my youngest was convinced the Twiggles might pop over for a cup of tea!

A detailed welcome pack has everything you need to know about the site and surrounding area. There was even guidance on how to light the wood burner and fire pit. I hate to admit it, I found this very reassuring as I would normally defer to Mr O but on this occasion I was flying solo with the kids.

I get a little bit stressed when it comes to camping and packing, so I really appreciated the line that “all you needed to pack were towels and torch” (obviously food and clothes, but you get the gist). This is camping made easy and I’ve got to say I’m a convert.

Easy to find for visitors to the area, simply follow the signs for BeWILDerwood and you reach the exclusive glampers carpark. Wheelbarrows are waiting to transport your luggage down the short track to the little oasis that is Plum Tree Grove.

 

THE VIBE 

This is idyllic Norfolk at its best – a secluded copse surrounded by woodland and luckily for us the sun was shining.

Eight stylish bell tents, each with enough space to allow a little privacy. Each tent was named after a woodland animal and you are welcomed with a vase of fresh wild flowers – lovely touch. Inside, the tents have a stylish shabby chic feel with quirky cushions, bunting, creative crate storage and tables and a selection of books for kids and adults.

Every little detail has been considered – good quality beds & bedding, wood burner, cool chest and freezer blocks, vintage kitchenware, solo lanterns, picnic benches and a fire pit. Plus there were a few kitchen essentials such as teabags, salt, sugar, a sponge, a tea towel and of course marshmallows for toasting.

The site is great for kids – lots of simple activities from a small woodland balancing area to tyre swings to a table tennis table. My girls range from age 7 – 13 and I always worry that the older two will get bored when we go ‘back to nature’, but they loved the open space and spent the weekend playing ball games, climbing trees and cartwheeling in the sun.

It is as idyllic as it sounds and I even got to read my book in a sun lounger the kids made for me out of the wheelbarrow – genius!

The facilities are top notch – nice loos, hot water in the showers and washing station, shared refrigerator and even phone charging points – phew!

If you need a little extra luxury, you can even pre book an onsite holistic massage!

 

THE SCOFF & QUOFF 

Self catering all the way baby – however there are food hampers available to pre order. Wroxham is only 3 miles down the road if you need provisions and check out the Out & About section at the end of the review for some nice eating out recommendations.

The honesty shop sells portable stoves for £15 and all manor of fire lighting paraphernalia for BBQing on the rather clever tractor tyre fire pit.

Keep it simple, that’s what I say – bacon for brekkie and hot dogs for tea.

 

PILLOW TALK 

Depending on your group dynamic, the tents can sleep up to five people with one comfy double bed (thick mattress and wooden base) and three camp beds, which stack away during the day. The camp beds were perfectly adequate for my kids and the double duvets added extra comfort.  I guess if you’re a group of friends you’ll have to toss a coin to see who gets the best bed!

Good quality quilts and bed linen – not a sleeping bag in sight. I slept like a log and woke to sunshine and bird song – perfect!

I absolutely loved showering semi alfresco – the shacks were very cute and spacious!

If the site is at full capacity, patience is a virtue – however with gas heated hot water on tap, there’s no need to get up early to bag a shower.

 

OUT & ABOUT

If you have children, it’s unlikely you’ll escape a visit to BeWILDerwood but to be honest why would you want to? This magical outdoor adventure park in the trees is well worth the visit and can keep the kids occupied for at least a day.

If you venture off site, you’re in the heart of the Norfolk Broads and there are plenty of options for boat trips, sailing, paddle boarding and canoe hire in the area. Wroxham is the most commercial and ‘Visit the Broads’ details all the local boat hire companies.

If you fancy something away from the crowds, our Muddy Award winning Boutique Hotel – The Norfolk Mead Hotel hires a six-seater English Harbour Yacht and you can pre order a lovely picnic.

Just down the road in Coltishall, you’ll find Secret SUP Paddle Boarding who run great taster sessions and events. There are also some lovely spots in Coltishall such as Horstead Mill and Caen Meadow in Wroxham for a little wild swimming.

Cycle or hike along the Bure Valley railway line for safe, easy family friendly cycling. Bike hire available from Norfolk Broads Cycling and you can even catch a lift on the steam train.

The Garden Kitchen cafe at nearby Hoveton Hall is a great little spot for lunch, cake or homemade sorbet! Head down to the river in Horning and you can enjoy alfresco lunch/dinner at The Swan Inn in Horning. If you like your real ale, take a 15 minute drive to Woodbastwick which is home to Woodfordes Brewery and their great country pub – The Fur & Feathers Inn.

Norwich is only a 20 minute drive if you fancy a spot of shopping or culture, see our guide here.

Of course, you’re also en route to the beautiful beaches of Sea Palling, Waxham and Horsey – where you’ll be sure to spot a seal or two.

 

MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: Families looking to upgrade their usual camping trip. Locals wanting to escape and relax in the countryside for a couple of nights under the stars.

Not for: Anyone who doesn’t like sleeping under canvas. This is definitely more boutique camping but essentially you are still in a tent, cooking outdoors and sharing facilities.

Large groups looking for a bit of a party – I’d recommend taking the whole site as it’s not really fair to disturb other guests who might have a slightly more relaxed agenda.

The damage: Prices start at £145 (peak) and £95 (off peak) per night, minimum two night stay.

Amber’s Bell Tents Camping, Hoveton Estate, Hoveton, Norfolk. Other sites at Wiveton Hall (Norfolk coast), Walcis Farm (central Norfolk), Mannington Hall (on the way to the coast).

Find more ideas here

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