Cliff House Holiday Park
If you look at the website before your visit, don’t be put off by the emphasis on holiday cottages and caravans. This 30-acre woodland site has lots of prime tent pitches among the trees and on the lawn in front of the house. If hide-and-seeking in the woods, peddling along the figure-of-eightshaped path through the site or ball games aren’t enough to keep the kids busy, they can always head off to the playground for climbing, swinging and sliding, or to the indoor family games room for table football and pool. Or go and visit the neighbours! The National Trust’s Dunwich Heath Coastal Centre and Beach is right next door.
Steps (rather steep ones) take you down to the stony, band of beach itself, at the bottom of the cliff, where you can fly kites, beachcomb or paddle in the sea, or take the short walk along the pebbles to the Coastal Centre, for porpoise - and seal -spotting in the Seawatch Room. While also on the doorstep (or should that be tentstep?) is the Minsmere bird reserve, recently on the BBC's Springwatch and home to fantastic nature trails throughout the heath, woodland, beach and dunes. Special events are organised year round, so you can try your hand at nestboxbuilding and join in their birdwatching safaris, while the birding hides are open for anyone to use (if you've got the patience to keep quiet for long enough that is!)
The combination of quiet woodland camping, days on the beach and a wealth of treasures to explore, make for an all round gem of a campsite. Yes, the place is constantly modernising, with an onsite bar, electricity on almost every pitch and a second, newly refurbished shower block, but thankfully it's more to keep up with the times than to slide the slippery slope towards becoming a commercial power house. The feel is still one that very few sites are able to master; being large, universal and welcoming to both campers and caravaners, yet still retaining a small-scale feel and that true sense of camping where you can pedal your bike safely around by day and snooze peacefully beneath the trees at night.
FacilitiesThe grassy area in front of the house is perfect for ball games. The 2 shower blocks have recently been refurbished, with 3 showers, 4 toilets and 4 washbasins for women, and 3 toilets, 3 showers and 3 washbasins for men in the main block. There are 4 washing-up sinks and a launderette with 2 washing machines and 2 tumble-dryers. The playground has climbing frames, swings, football goals and a slide, and there is also an onsite indoor games room, pub and restaurant. A small shop (selling all the basics) is open all day and during the evenings in high season, and from 8.30am–3pm in low season, as well as evenings if it is busy enough. There is immediate access via steps to the beach.
Tents, campervans, caravans, dogs, groups... all welcome.
A 10-minute drive (or hour’s stroll) takes you into Walberswick. Here you can do a spot of crabbing (it’s the home of the British Open Crabbing Championships) before hopping onto a foot ferry for a short ride over the water, or take a longer boat trip from the harbour. Alternatively walk into Southwold, with its sandy beach, colourful bathing huts and quirky pier with hand-made penny-slot machines. The National Trust’s Dunwich Heath Coastal Centre and Beach (01728 648501) is next door and the RSPB’s Minsmere reserve (01728 648281) has hides and nature trails – recently seen on the BBC's Springwatch.
Food & DrinkThe 12 Lost Churches (the name of the onsite pub/restaurant) does pub grub and children’s meals, and the National Trust tea room along the beach at the old Coastguard Cottages (01728 648501) has splendid views and boasts the best puds on the Suffolk coast. If fish and chips are more your thing, head for the Flora Tearooms on the beach car park at Dunwich. If you fancy more upmarket pub dining, children are welcome at the Crown in Westleton (01728 648777), which even bakes its own bread.
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