We’ve talked about camping as a family for years, but if I’m honest, I’ve not been keen. Although I love the outdoors, I’m not keen on sleeping there, and I do like my home comforts! With all the building work we’ve done this year, holiday funds were very short this year, so we’d not planned to go away this summer, until we stumbled upon Amber’s Bell Tents on Instagram. Their beautiful bell tents looked like the perfect setup for us to trial out a couple of nights camping, and we made a last minute booking for a summer getaway in North Norfolk.
Ambers Bell Tents have sites across North Norfolk, and we opted for the site at Mannington Hall. The 10 bell tents are set in the grounds of the Walpole Estate, and it’s a stunning setting that makes you feel so connected with nature from the moment you stroll through the gate.
You can’t take cars onto the camping field, but there are lots of wheelbarrows available to wheel your stuff across the field to your tent, which the boys loved doing.
The tent itself was beautiful. Enough space for the 4 of us, and really well equipped for everything we needed during our stay, with all the crockery and cooking bits we needed. We actually had a thunderstorm on our second evening, and the tent stayed nice and dry. The beds weren’t as comfy as our bed at home, but definitely beats my usual expectations of camping and having to sleep on the floor!
And the log burner was a wonderful addition, especially when we returned home on the second day just as a heavy thunderstorm hit. We sat inside the tent, snuggled up warm, listening to the rain hit the canvas.
In the outbuildings set in the middle of the field is a little supplies store, which operates an honesty book system. You can buy little camping stoves there if you like, or fuel for the campfire. It’s also home to a little pizza oven, which you are welcome to use during your stay.
I think it’s fair to say that we all loved the campfire. John managed to fire it up for every meal we ate at the campsite, even during the pouring rain! There really is nothing better than the smell of sausages cooking on the fire for breakfast, or drinking hot chocolate and toasting marshmallows over the coals in the evening.
I loved the nature reserve, which sits at the back of the camping meadow. It had a circular boardwalk, which made the perfect place for an early morning walk to clear my head, with the sound of dragonflies buzzing, and the sunlight streaming through the trees. It’s the perfect place for a bit of pond dipping and there are sessions available for children to sign up to if you wish.
When the grounds are open to the public, campers have free access to explore the grounds, and we took full advantage of that on the evening we arrived, when we pretty much had the grounds to ourselves. We’d have loved to spend more time exploring, but sadly we stayed on a Sunday and Monday night, and the Hall only opens from Wed-Sun.
We only had two nights, so we didn’t get the chance to explore that much of Norfolk, but we did head out to Hunstanton Beach, which was well worth a visit. Miles and miles of sand stretching out into the distance, and lots of dunes for the boys to explore.
I think we were all quite sad that our break was so short, as we didn’t really get to explore Norfolk as much as we’d have liked, but it had really just been a test to see whether we could manage camping as a family – which I think was a resounding yes!