Touring from the Caravan Club sites at Incleboro Fields and The Covert

Abridged from an article previously published in the Caravan Club Magazine

Our first caravanning trip to Norfolk took place a long time ago along with two young children who, like all youngsters, needed to be kept occupied. In those days we thought there was a general lack of 'things to do' and perhaps that is why we never got around to making a return visit.

Many years later we spent ten days exploring the area along the northern coastline and for several miles inland. What a change since our earlier visit! Where once there had seemed to be a lack of activities we found so many that visitors of all ages are now almost spoilt for choice.

We stayed at two of the Caravan Club sites in Norfolk - Incleboro Fields close to the northern coast, and The Covert around 40 miles further inland. Both sites are well situated for the many things to see and do in the area, but they are in strongly contrasting surroundings and have very different facilities.

Incleboro Fields lies between Cromer and Sheringham, a mile or so from some of the best beaches in the area. It is a large, members-only site spread attractively around the periphery of a local golf course (so keep your head down as you approach!) Terraced pitches are arranged both in small, secluded groups and also in larger areas, and many have a view of the sea.

Incleboro Fields is within easy reach of activities for the young and not-so-young alike, an ideal location for an active holiday or break. For many, especially those with children, a sandy beach will be one of the most important attractions and there is easy access nearby. The coastline here is good also for long seashore walks with the waves creaming in on one side and low cliffs on the other.

The two nearest towns - both on the coast - have a different feel about them. Cromer is a busy seaside resort with wide beaches, esplanade and pier. The pier is popular with children trying their hand at the local favourite of crab fishing during the day, and there are traditional seaside shows at the end-of-the-pier theatre for the older ones amongst us during the evenings. Sheringham, on the other hand, is a little quieter and has managed to retain a degree of old world charm. There are many small and interesting shops - especially seafood restaurants - and we enjoyed wandering through the narrow streets down to the seafront.

There are several family attractions close to Incleboro Fields. The Norfolk Shire Horse Centre is within easy walking distance of the site and is home to several different breeds of Shire horse. Daily demonstrations of harnessing the horses are followed by working displays of horse-drawn farm implements, and there is also a small collection of agricultural equipment and Romany caravans from times past. Children can enjoy rides on a horse-drawn cart and explore an area housing small animals.

The North Norfolk Railway, known also as The Poppy Line, runs steam and diesel trains through several miles of lovely countryside between Sheringham and Holt, in places passing close to the sea. We drove the few miles from the site to Holt before taking the train into Sheringham for a seafood lunch overlooking the beach, followed by the return train ride home. A daily ticket allows as many trips back and forth as you please.

The countryside around Incleboro Fields is good for walking, with several pretty villages and an area of salt marshes close to the coast. Blakeney, a waterside village on the edge of a small estuary, is particularly picturesque with small boats moored all around. From nearby Morston Quay we travelled by boat out to the nature reserve at Blakeney Point where a colony of seals basks regularly on the sand. After viewing the seals from the sea we landed on the nature reserve - ideal for a short walk, but access to the seals on foot is not always possible.

After several enjoyable days at Incleboro Fields we moved inland to The Covert, the Caravan Club site a few miles from the small market town of Swaffham. The contrast with Incleboro Fields is immediately apparent - this is very different, lots of peace, quiet and seclusion. The Covert lies deep in the heart of Thetford Forest, the largest lowland pine forest in the country and, with miles of woodland trails leading directly from the site, ideal for visitors who enjoy walking.

Thetford Forest is extremely pretty, spreading for several miles in all directions. There are opportunities for walking and seeing wildlife throughout the forest (we awoke to find muntjac deer alongside our caravan on several occasions), and a well-equipped forest park features a woodland drive along with walking trails and cycle routes. Those with a head for heights can even walk and swing on ropes at treetop height!

At one stage of World War II Thetford Forest was home to tanks of the British Army, and beside the entrance to The Covert a restored tank sits as a memorial to the British 7th Armoured Division. The Desert Rats, as they were more commonly known, were based here early in 1944 immediately prior to the D-Day Invasion. Around two hundred tanks were hidden in the woods as the crews trained before taking part in the landing on Gold Beach. Some of the pitches at The Covert were originally tank roads and parking areas, and a short trail immediately outside the site follows a path through the forest for a fascinating illustration of life here during those winter months.

East Anglia has long figured in English history, of course, and it was from this area around 2000 years ago that Queen Boudicca led the Iceni tribe into battle against the Romans. At nearby Cockley Cley a mock-up of an Iceni village gives an insight into their lives and times - the village sits alongside a lakeside nature reserve and a small museum of wartime and other local memorabilia.

Norfolk is well supplied with buildings and gardens open to the public. We particularly enjoyed Oxburgh Hall, a moated 15th Century house and gardens close to The Covert; a little further north the gardens at Sheringham Park have several miles of woodland walks with views out to sea (sometimes with a glimpse of a train of the Poppy Line steaming elegantly in the distance), and provide an excellent location for a family picnic.

Our return to Norfolk was full of surprises. Whatever your interest, whether young or not-so-young, you should find different things to see and do.

© GDS 2004
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Cromer pier
The coastline west of Sheringham, with a steam train crossing
Seals basking at Blakeney Point
Desert Rats memorial by The Covert
Incleboro Fields Caravan Club site, near Cromer
The Covert Caravan Club
site at Swaffham
North Norfolk Railway
Blakeney Quay
The 'Iceni Village'