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Riddlesworth Park Glamping
Welcome to the flattest part of Norfolk… no, scrap that. Welcome to one of the flattest parts of the entire UK – England’s answer to America’s Great Plains or the vast Canadian prairies, where every open stretch of land runs as far as they eye can see, or, more accurately, as far as the next patch of looming woodland, the real variants in this level East Anglian landscape. For camping – or rather glamping – there’s no better terrain on which to push your tents pegs. And when you straddle the bicycle, saddle the horse or simply set off on two fat feet, there are few more ideal places to breeze your way around.
Riddlesworth Park is the prefect base for just such adventures, a pleasant 5-acre site set around the estate of historic Riddlesworth Hall. The field that is now adorned with five luxurious nomadic-style tents and one cosy pod (do the maths; that does work out to over an acre of space each!) was once an agricultural pasture – an aftermath of East Anglia’s use in the 'Dig for Victory' era. Indeed, the whole area is inextricably linked with the two World Wars: Thetford Forest, despite its reverence, is actually one of the newest forests in England, replanted after World War I to replace fallen timber, and the varied fields of sugar beet, onions, potatoes and pigs were all rapidly expanded around the same time by the cherry-cheeked farmers from those ‘Help the Effort’ posters. It’s a pleasant find for glampers in Norfolk, then, that Riddlesworth is now returning to its parkland origins, replanting the hedges that were once torn up and reseeding wild plants where crops took over.
The glampsite itself makes the most out of this changing locale, with just five different units tucked within the space, free of cars, road noise and all outside intrusions. It feels intimate yet spacious, with loads of room for kids to kick a ball about and run wild, while still huddling privately around the family campfire when evening falls. The accommodation comes stylishly decorated, with colourful bunting decorating the canvas of each yurt and interior furnishings like old-school lanterns, blankets and cosy scatter cushions. There's the added luxury of proper flushing loos, showers and an uncovered kitchen-cum-shop-cum-dishwashing area are an essential added extra. For onsite amusements, there's a sand pit, bug hotel, play area in the woods (great for den building!), fairy village and boule piste, while group bookings are most welcome too with a communal tent for shelter next to a big BBQ firepit.
Run by affable Lou and Ben Chandler, the campsite is accompanied by the family’s neighbouring livery yard, providing a happy addition for those wanting to take their horse on holiday too. For everyone else, adventures are just as accessible without a trusty steed. Start by talking to the couple themselves, who know the surroundings better than anyone, and then trundle off into, most probably one of the many vast, intriguing woods. Thetford Forest Park couldn’t be more on the doorstep if it tried, though the largest area of it is actually just the other side of its namesake town, certainly the best place to go for pleasant family cycle routes and a chance to spot Norfolk’s diverse wildlife. It’s amongst these pines that the old boys form Dad’s Army march in the credits of the programme, with Warmington-on-Sea the fictional alias for Thetford town – another war-time claim and the reason for the Dad’s Army Museum in the centre of town. It’s a bit more peaceful now, and surprisingly it's a haven for Norfolk wildlife. Keep quiet and there’s deer to be spotted, not just in the park but also back at camp – a real wildlife treat accompanying the comforts of this comfy, modern glampsite.
FacilitiesPitches are car free and feature proper flushing loos and hot showers. There is also an undercover area with sinks for pot washing and you can buy basic camping provisions (plus a few extras) in the honesty shop. Yurts all feature double beds and/or bunk beds (including bedding and linen), cushions, blankets, throws and rugs, a wood-burning stove, LED lanterns and fairy lights. Outside there are chairs and picnic tables for use, plus a BBQ campfire pit with a complimentary basket of logs on arrival. Guests also receive a kitchen box (kettle, pots, pans, utensils, cutlery and plates) and a cool box (with ice packs that can be replaced from the honesty shop). There is livery available on Riddlesworth Park's farm, so those looking to bring their horse can do so – contact the site for further details. For onsite amusements, there's a sand pit, bug hotel, play area in the woods (great for den building!), fairy village and boule piste. Group bookings are most welcome too with a communal tent for shelter next to a big BBQ firepit.
Suitable ForGlamping only, so tents, campervans, caravans, motorhomes and pets – no. The site welcomes both individual and group bookings.
NearbyThe campsite is on the doorstep of Knettishall Heath which is the start point for the famous Peddars Way walk. For family cycling, though, and space for curious kids to run wild the endless Thetford Forest (01842 815434) is ideal and both Go Ape! (0845 6431943) and the High Lodge (01842 815434) are particularly good ways to capitalise on this. Those looking for something a little more refined can test thier tastebuds with a tour of the English Whisky Distillery (01953 717939) in East Harling or visit Wyken Vineyards (01359 250287), near Bury St Edmunds (with a shop, gardens, working farm, restaurant and occasional markets to explore).
Food & DrinkThe campsite can provide breakfast hampers with locally sourced produce – enquire when booking. The nearest village is Garboldisham (3 miles away) has a village store or head a little further to the Tesco near Thetford (5 miles) or Hill Crest Nurseries Farm Shop (6 miles). Pubwise there is plenty of choice within an easy driving radius but the George & Dragon (01953 717918) in East Harling is a particularly good choice, and The Vine (01953 681908) in Hopton is also nearby – both are lie a little over 2 miles away. For something further afield, venture to the secluded Angel Inn (01953 717963), in Larling with fine ales and a lengthy dinner menu. Or try the characterful, thatched building in the centre of Barningham; The Royal George (01359 221246) dates from the 15th century and serves excellent, locally-sourced meals.
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