A spin round a Great Broad

I’ve singularly failed to put together my final Highlights of the Isle of Wight blog post and for that I apologise. I’m sure it’ll pop up at some point (gotta wait for the muse, man….).

I can tell you about the great stay we had at Whitlingham Broad Campsite this weekend instead. With our usual forward planning and attention to detail we booked up last Wednesday. The staff kindly agreed we could arrive at 8.30pm, an hour after the normal check in time but traffic out of London so bad it was a nerve shredding schlep (with a record breaking speed toilet stop) to get there with only minutes to spare. Fergus on the reception desk was lovely and welcoming however and whizzed us through the check in, the facilities and the fire policy.

The campsite is easy enough to find and astonishingly close to Norwich city centre for such a peaceful site. It’s within the Whitlingham Broad Country Park and is just over the road from the Broad itself, woodland, a ruined manor house, an outdoor adventure centre and play area.

The Saturday dawned bright and breezy and we headed to the Flint Barn visitors centre (pictured) to enquire about a wildlife boat trip on the Broad. Unfortunately the boat, which is solar powered, was awaiting a part and not running. It’s a 50 min trip which might be a bit long for short campers but the lady in the Tourist Information Centre was super friendly and helpful so we left full of ideas for things to do.

Bernice on a bright and breezy morning on Whitlingham Broad (Flint Barn over the road)

We decided to walk the path all the way round Whitlingham Great Broad (there’s a Little Broad as well). It’s 2.3 miles, a bit borderline for SC and her short legs so we devised a scavenger hunt of things to find and see to keep her occupied and minimise complaining of the “are we nearly there?” variety. It is a pretty walk but the view of the water is mainly obscured by trees so, in some ways, you could be anywhere.

Stroll around the Great Broad with scavenger hunt

Constitutional complete and many treasures later (although I’m still slightly sceptical of SC’s claim that she saw a frog on a lily pad…) we arrived back in the blazing sun. The cafe at the visitors centre looked very tempting but we headed back to Bernice for lunch.

The site has been recently refurbished and it shows. It’s beautifully kept with a great little shop and good waste recycling. The toilets are super swish, you feel like you’re in a spa with wooden doors, square sinks and posh hand wash (for the record I am NOT complaining!). Watch out for the light sensors in the toilet at night though, they turn off after about twelve and a half seconds if you’re in the shower and leave you bumbling around in the dark. The site also has a range of glamping accommodation if you don’t have a Bongo in your life…..

We had a range of ambitious plans for the afternoon including walking into Trowse, going to the pub, exploring the woods and the low ropes play area. In the end we plumped for doing…..nothing. It was very hot, SC picked up some pals staying in the Toyota Regis opposite, we played junior Monopoly and naps were taken. But there is loads to do without needing to drive if the weather’s not so good or you’re more actively inclined.

I’m a big fan of doing not much however and camping is ideal for that. There’s a limit to the chores you can do in a Mazda Bongo and the internet reception is normally bugger all. We whiled away the afternoon then ordered pizza from the visiting chefs (get in quick, they only make 30!). The evening featured a short walk to the ruined manor house in the woods, chat with the neighbours and more….not much.

The building was inhabited in the 18th century by an eccentric named William Money, best known for his experimental but ultimately unsuccessful hot air balloon travel 🎈 

Norfolk never lets us down!


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