Amber's Bell Tent Camping at Walcis Farm Amber's Bell Tent Camping

UK England East Anglia Norfolk Norwich

Riverside glamping in rural Norfolk, with wild swimming, canoeing and a local, car-free cycle trail that runs to Norwich city centre

The River Wensum takes its name from an old English word meaning ‘winding’. And at this bell tent glamping site, 10 miles North West of Norwich, it’s easy to see why. Set in a meadow on the banks of the river, tiny streams seem to meander off in every direction, with the main waters running directly beyond your tent and no fewer than 34 different lakes and ponds within a mile’s radius of the site. In summer, the place is heaven. Wild swimming, stream jumping and general splashing about is the order of the day, while you can also climb to an amazing view-point on the farm, with uninterrupted views across the River Wensum and the Norfolk countryside. Even if you prefer to stay on dry land, the river makes the perfect backdrop as you walk to a different kind of watering hole too; it’s a half-hour stroll to the local pub.

In the grounds of the Walcis Farm Estate, Amber’s Bell Tent Camping is one of four glamping locations set up by Amber Wykes in Norfolk, each with similarly magnificent settings on large country estates. Comprised of just six canvas bell tents, there’s a real sense of seclusion to the Walcis Farm camp, with ample space in the meadow for children to make friends and roam safe from any cars (it’s a mile to the nearest main road). By day, the river makes an inevitable focal point – some glampers bring canoes to use – while, by night, campfires flicker and the stars are pleasingly bright in the sky.

The bell tents themselves offer a good blend of camping style with glamping comfort. They’re entirely off grid and made of real cotton canvas, but inside there’s still the luxury of a real double bed, a wood-burner to keep things warm, bunting, rugs, storage and all the crockery, cookwares and utensils you could need. A campfire pit and picnic table sits outside, while it’s a short wander to the purpose-built, gas-powered shower and toilet cabin in the meadow.

If you’re not swimming or canoeing, there’s carp fishing on the estate (book ahead and the Marriott’s Cycle Way is under a mile from your bell tent door. This former railway line has now been restored for use as a car-free cycle path, which offers an excellent, family-friendly route into the centre of Norwich. Lock up your bikes for the day and explore the old Norman castle and museum or cycle five miles in the opposite direction to the Georgian town of Reepham, where there’s local food galore (look out for the Meloncaulie Rose fruit and veg shop) and home made cream teams in the Dial House – an eccentric former coaching house where you dine surrounded by antiques (most of which are for sale). Well fed and well explored, you can pedal home as birds return to roost in the great trees beside the glampsite. Then light the campfire for the night and settle in to your riverside abode.

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The campsite owner says

Oaks Meadow at Walcis Farm Estate is a typically Norfolk Constablesque landscape, with lovely hillocks offering uninterrupted views of the river Wensum, which winds its way sleepily through the centre of the site. Six of our cozy, stylish tents inhabit this stunning watery landscape. It is sooo quiet down here. You are literally miles from the nearest road, so the sounds of nature abound. The meadows themselves offer a wonderful open space for roaming and play and the surrounding estate attracts walkers and wildlife enthusiasts.

It is the river, though, which is the star attraction here. With a launch from which to access the crystal clear water for a spot of wild swimming or canoeing, you can lose yourselves in dreamy days spent messing about by the river. Need supplies? Walk along the riverside path which takes you to nearby Lyng, or for added adventure, canoe there. The estate has an established 1920’s hotel on it’s perimeter where you can safely cycle to for a roast and private carp fishing is available on the estate by appointment.

Leave your car and life at the gates, and take a dive deep into nature.

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