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 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
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
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