Autumn camping at ‘cool’ Cliff House campsite, Suffolk

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.

pitch amongst the trees at Cliff House
pitch amongst the trees at Cliff House

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.

Walberswick beach nearby
Walberswick beach nearby

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.

Facilities

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 house at Cliff House Holiday Park
the house at Cliff House Holiday Park

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)

[gdl_gallery title=”Camping” width=”165″ height=”170″ ]

Time to pack up the tent and spend a few nights under canvas before winter sets in!

 

 

Get ready for Spring at Gladwins Farm Cottages, Suffolk

Looking for the perfect family holiday for this Spring? Eco-friendly, dog friendly and family friendly, a getaway at Gladwins Farm Cottages is more than just a countryside retreat…

Set within 22-acres of beautiful countryside in Suffolk, just a short drive from London and a stone’s throw from the coast, Gladwins Farm comprises nine tastefully renovated cottages suitable for couples and families.

With beautiful surroundings and facilities aplenty, you can relax and unwind in your very own rural retreat. With dogs welcome, the family pooch need not miss out on a holiday too!

Gladwins Farm, Suffolk (1)

Accommodation

The retreat includes nine cottages of various sizes sleeping 2 to 8. All the accommodation at Gladwins Farm has been refurbished to a high standard and decked out with all the latest mod cons including White Company linen, ipod docks and Nespresso machines. Some of the cottages boast their own private hot tubs.

Everything is provided for babies and children, including a selection of toys on request.

Gladwins Farm, Suffolk (3)

Facilities

Beyond the cottages is an indoor swimming pool, games room, indoor and outdoor play areas, a tennis court, farm animals to feed and woodland walking trails. Also on site is a beauty spa and a small shop selling local food and delicious ready meals for easy catering.

Gladwins Farm has won awards for its eco-credentials and all the electricity powering the cottages and heating the pool is supplied by solar power, while the heating is run off a biomass wood-chip boiler.

Gladwins Farm, Suffolk (4)

In the surrounding area

You can really get back to nature at Gladwins Farm – go on a woodland walk or take a bike ride around the countryside. Or for a day out, Gladwins Farm is located just 15 minutes from Colchester, the oldest recorded town with its castle and historical sites. Colchester Zoo is also nearby, as well as Hedingham Castle, historic Lavenham and the Essex coast.

  • ‘Good’ credentials:
    The installation of 210 solar photovoltaic panels which enables Gladwins Farm to product all its own power over the year
  • Installation of a biomass wood chip boiler – this system heats the farm’s cottages as well as the indoor pool, with much of the wood chip material coming from our own grounds. with the remainder bought locally
  • Fair Trade tea and coffee is provided
  • Investment in energy efficient lighting, heating and white goods has helped cut energy consumption significantly and, by using locally sourced food and services wherever possible, the farm has extended its green principles to the wider community, benefitting the local economy as well as the environment
  • The farm provides on-site recycling for waste materials and facilities for the composting of organic kitchen waste through a local service partner

 

Recommended for… Families with children of all ages, groups looking for a rural retreat, couples who love the countryside, dog-owners who like to take their pooch on holiday with them.

Be aware that… Peak holiday times might be busy with families and children so if you’re looking for a romantic Easter or summer holiday break, this might not be the place. The farm is also short distance from shops, pubs and restaurants so a car is advised.

Price and availability: Prices start from as little as £30pppn and you can choose from a 3, 4 or 7 night break. For further details plus contact and booking, visit www.gladwinsfarm.co.uk

Gladwins Farm, Suffolk (2)

5 of the best wild swimming spots

From hidden rivers, natural pools and secret coves, guest blogger Daniel Start, author of the best-selling book Wild Swimming, shares his five favourite places for a natural outdoor swim… (and if you like this, don’t forget to enter our competition to win all the books!)

There is something slightly naughty, a little bit scary and wonderfully invigorating about wild swimming. We swim regularly in the Avon just upstream of Bath and often see kingfisher and otter tracks. It always feels a bit renegade stripping off in the meadow and plunging in, while walkers look on somewhat startled.

People have been bathing in rivers for eons. From the holy wells and river baptisms of Celtic Pagan and early Christian times, through to Wordsworth and Coleridge frolicking in Lake District waterfalls, there has always been a strong tradition of wild water swimming in Britain. The health and psychological benefits of dipping in natural waters have also been long known. George Bernard Shaw, Benjamin Britten, Charles Darwin and Florence Nightingale were all advocates of regular cold baths to strengthen the mental constitution and physical state.

Bobbing along with a frog-eye view these are places to commune with nature, seek inspiration, and be humbled by the immensity and wonder of the natural world. They are also a place of fun, adventure and good times. So we invite you lay out the picnic rug, jump on the tree swing and plunge in. Welcome to a fresh world of holiday adventures, romantic escapades and family days out.

Best for… skinny dipping: Sharrah Pool, River Dart, Dartmoor

Sharrah is the largest and best pool on this wild and wonderful river stretch in the forested Dart Valley nature reserve. It’s also the birth place of Charles Kingsley, author of The Water Babies, so no better place to return to your natural state. You might also explore Bellpool Island just downstream, and upstream are the Mel Pools, a range of smaller pools, including a few good chutes if you have an inner tube. Descend to river from Holne and bear left along a good path for 40 mins to find this long narrow pool.

Skinny dipping in Sharrah Pool © www.wildswimming.co.uk
Skinny dipping in Sharrah Pool © www.wildswimming.co.uk

Best for… picnics: River Waveney, Bungay, Suffolk

The River Waveney was the favourite river of Roger Deakin, forefather of the wild swimming movement. I love the two miles loop around Outney Common, starting and returning from Bungay. This town is one of Suffolk’s most independent little places, with quirky cafes, food stores and craft shops, so it’s the perfect place to stock-up on picnic supplies. It even has its own river meadows at the bottom of Bridge Street, perfect for a picnic and quick dip if you don’t fancy the walk. There’s also a riverside campsite with canoe hire (www.outneymeadow.co.uk, T: 01986 892338).

River Waveney (by Daniel Start)
River Waveney (by Daniel Start)

Best for… canoes/boats: Anchor Inn, River Ouse, Sussex

This remote riverside pub, down a dead end lane, is in a bucolic position on the River Ouse. They have a fleet of rowing boats available for hire and you can swim and boat for up to two miles upstream through fields as far as Isfield. Continue to Barcombe village, turn right then right again, (Anchor Inn, BN8 5BS, T: 01273 400414) or walk upstream a mile from Barcombe Mills, another popular swimming spot.

canoeing on River Ouse, Sussex (c) www.wildswimming.co.uk
canoeing on River Ouse, Sussex (c) www.wildswimming.co.uk

Best for… pubs: Galleny Force, Stonethwaite, Lake District

Two sets of pools and cascades, with grassy knolls and ancient rowan trees. Fun for plunging, snorkelling and picnics. Upstream is Blackmoss Pot a brilliant place for jumps. But the best bit is the wonderful Langstrath Country Inn (CA12 5XG, T: 01768 7 77239) where you can warm up with an open fire and superb food. They even have rooms with white linen sheets, what could be more luxurious after a hard days wild swimming?

Galleny Force, Lake District (by Daniel Start)
Galleny Force, Lake District (by Daniel Start)

Best for… jumping: Faerie Pools, Glen Brittle, Isle of Skye, Scotland

The famous ‘Allt Coir a Mhadaidh’ pools and waterfalls are tinged with jade hues from the volcanic gabbro rocks. The mystical peaks of the Black Cuillin mountains tower over and they are embued with legend and fairy tales. You can swim through the underwater arch between pools and there’s also a high jump into one. The water is so clear you sometimes think there is no water at all, so you better double check first! From Sligachan Hotel (A87) follow A863 / B8009 and turn left (signed Glen Brittle) just before Carbost. After four miles find ‘Fairy Pool’ car park on your left.

Faeire Pools, Isle of Skye (by Daniel Start)
Faeire Pools, Isle of Skye (by Daniel Start)

*WIN the full set of Wild Swimming books*

If that’s whetted your appetite for some outdoor adventures (or if you just like browsing through beautiful books while cosying up indoors!) don’t forget to enter our fantastic competition to win the full set of Wild Things books, worth almost £150. You have until 5pm on 6 October 2014 to be in with a chance of winning nine inspiring books including Wild Swimming (UK, France and Italy editions), Hidden Beaches, Wild Running, Lost Lanes and more – See full details and how to enter

5 wild books