Don’t assume that camping season is over now that summer has gone. Make the most of this burst of autumn sunshine with a quick camping weekend here…
You can fall asleep to the sound of the waves at Cliff House Holiday Park in Suffolk. Located on a clifftop just outside the village of Dunwich and down the road from RSPB reserve Minsmere, this camping and carvanning site is a joy.
Set aside any sniffy preconceptions of the words ‘holiday park’ in the name – although this is a large site which welcomes caravans and motorhomes, it retains a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere without feeling overly commercial or bland (the site is listed in ‘Cool Camping Kids’ which proves its ‘cool’ and family-friendly creds).
You can pitch your tent amongst the trees in this 30-acre woodland setting, or just on the lawn outside the large Cliff House. You’re merely a minute or two away from the sea, accessed via steep steps down to the pebbly beach, with its wide view along the Suffolk coastline to Southwold and Sizewell.
One happy camper family
With all sorts of camper or caravanner welcome, you get a sense of a big eclectic camping family at Cliff House. Categories are roughly grouped together so tent-sleepers won’t be squashed between motorhomes, but a stroll from tent to reception takes in a myriad of outdoor living arrangements – tents (from small to large), campervans (vintage and modern), safari tents (permanently on site), even an Airstream campervan. Many take to decorating their temporary abodes with fairy lights and other glamping gear.
Open fires are welcome so you can toast mashmallows into the small hours if you wish. All the usual facilities you’d expect from a large site are present (shower blocks, washing areas, playground for children) as well as an on-site bar/restaurant and shop.
The surrounding area
This is a beautiful part of the UK coastline (officially an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). The area is dotted with pretty and interesting villages and towns including Southwold, Walberswick, Dunwich and Saxmundham. The aforementioned RSPB Minsmere reserve is minutes away and well worth a visit whether you’re a bird watcher or not. Recommended pubs serving great food and local ales include The Ship at Dunwich and The Anchor in Walberswick (who specialise in organic and biodynamic food, wine and beer including their own homegrown produce and guest craft ales).
Testing our camping gear
During our stay we tested a few camping bits and pieces focusing on the essentials of what any trip needs – food, light and a good night’s sleep!
The Coleman Durarest Raised Double airbed (£89.99, www.coleman.eu) provided, possibly, the most comfortable night’s sleep we’ve ever had on an airbed! Thick and sturdy, it properly raised us off the cool, bumpy ground, and most importantly, it stayed up all night for two nights! Packs away into its own little attached pouch, but as always, that was almost impossible once it was deflated!
The Coleman CPX Portable LED Table Lantern (£29.99, www.coleman.eu) was much larger than expected and provided enough light within the tent and outside. The dome shape emits a wide glow which was quite soft. It’s big enough to stand up solidly on a table or any patch of ground, and its handle allows it to be tied to a tent ceiling (watch your head!). Also attractive enough to use back at home in the garden, so double points for that!
The Campingaz 600SG Stove (£139.99, www.campingaz.com) – Now this is a fancy bit of camping kit. No more squeezing everything onto one flame, this portable camping stove has two adjustable burners with two sets of grill and burner parts. This allows you to have one of each at the same time (e.g. grill some freshly caught fish while boiling up the potatoes) or double flame (boil water for coffee alongside some boiled eggs) or double grill (barbecue time!). No more bending down low as this stove stands on tall telescopic legs. Lots of side and middle trays help you position food and utensils while cooking. All in all a great camping stove that would suit any garden-based al fresco cooking when you get home.
(Click on gallery below for full pictures)
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Time to pack up the tent and spend a few nights under canvas before winter sets in!