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A 'best of both worlds' glamping and camping site in Norfolk with a secluded feel yet ample attractions just a stroll beyond the hedge-line

We love the kind of campsites that feel utterly remote. Where long narrow roads lead you seemingly into nowhere and nights have a silence that’s only disturbed by the hooting of owls and rustling of rabbits. But even better is a campsite with all the same winning traits – back-to-nature freedom, dark starry nights and that semi-wilderness feel – yet when you set out beyond the bushy boundaries you discover that, actually, civilization is within incredibly easy reach. It’s precisely this category that Swallowtails falls into.

A mile outside of Holt in the countryside of the North Norfolk Coast AONB, Swallowtails is a ‘best of both worlds’ sort of location. The Georgian town is within easy walking distance (and home to a host of excellent eateries), while the expansive coastline, a collection of beaches, dunes and marshland, is speedily reached by bike or car. It’s all very immediate, accessible and on your doorstep, yet the site still feels distant and cut off. Mature trees surround every side of the camping meadows – a flat, grassy glade without electrical hook-ups – and kids are encouraged to build dens in the woods or head out in search of wildlife. The space is, in fact, owned by the Holt Hall Outdoor Learning Centre, so the ‘get kids active’ ethos should come as no surprise.

It’s not just the location that offers options, though. Whether you’re a traditional tenter, a campervan couple or a family in need of more high-end luxury options they have an adequate array to suit. The regular pitches offer ample room, with small hiker’s tents intermingled with larger family tunnels, and raised firepits are allowed. Luxury, meanwhile, comes in the form of fully furnished yurts, featuring king sized beds, wood burning stoves and a family sized gas BBQ. Bedding, towels, tea towels, rugs and blankets are all provided, as is a six-person wicker picnic hamper full of all the crockery, cutlery and utensils you could possibly need.

Offsite the most obvious distraction is the coast. Nearby Blakeney is a family favourite, owing to the ferries that chug out to Blakeney Point where a 500-strong colony of common and grey seals reside. And the beach beyond Salthouse also offers something slightly different – it is one of very few pebble beaches along this sandy stretch of coast and a fantastic place to watch the waves crash on stormier days. Despite all this, and Holt’s walkable accessibility, it’s not uncommon to spend much of your time at the campsite itself. Art workshops, nature activities, pizza oven building, foraging and apple pressing are just a small collection of the wide-ranging activities the campsite offers, as well as three special food nights a week during school summer holidays (two for pizza making, one for Asian street food). The real question you end up asking by the end of you stay is whether you came to visit Norfolk or simply to visit Swallowtails itself? To us, there’s not really a wrong answer!

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The campsite owner says

Swallowtails ticks all the boxes for the perfect camping holiday. Situated just a couple of miles from the beautiful North Norfolk coastline yet close to the vibrant town of Holt with its many array of gastro pubs, galleries, antique shops and the well known food hall, Bakers and Larners. The site is hidden away within the tranquil woodland glade of Holt Hall Environmental Outdoor Learning Centre, well away from any roads. Unfortunately no dogs allowed. We are a couple who have lived in Norfolk since moving from London in 2005. In Freya’s case, it was a return to her home county after an eleven year absence in London studying and working as a scenic artist for theatre, film and television. We are environmentally minded and try to limit our impact on the environment as much as possible. We spend a lot of time at the campsite with our two children during the time that the campsite is open and really enjoy getting to know our guests.

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