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Clippesby Hall, Hall Lane, Clippesby, Norfolk
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Clippesby Hall, Hall Lane, Clippesby, Norfolk
Clippesby Hall in the Norfolk liroads achieves the near impossible - managing to make a large campsite feel friendly, non-commercial, peaceful, and altogether rather lovely.

Set in the manicured grounds of John Lindsay's family manor house, the site forms its own little self-contained canvas village. The facilities are pretty extensive, with 115 pitches (many with electric hook-ups), a small outdoor swimming pool, two grass tennis courts, a football pitch, mini-golf, archery courses, two children's play areas - including a BeWILDerwood-style adventure playground - a tree house in the woods, a games room, cycle trail, bike hire, shop, cafe, holiday cottages, pine lodges, and even an onsite pub.

You might assume that this place is about as quiet and peaceful as a night on the hard shoulder of the A12. But somehow John and his family have managed to incorporate all these amenities into the grounds of their home, while still retaining its unique character and personality.The result is an exceptionally tasteful camping park with a relaxed, family atmosphere.

Clippesby Hall, Hall Lane, Clippesby, Norfolk


The site began life as a market garden, but campers have been coming here since the 197()s. It has gradually evolved at its own pace over the years and today the pitches are divided across several discrete camping areas, each landscaped and spacious enough to avoid any feeling of overcrowding, and named according to their individual characters. Fine Woods is a dog-free space almost entirely surrounded by conifers, The Orchard has plenty of tree cover, while The Dell is hidden away in a quiet corner with woodland pitches just for tents. Rabbits Grove is a favourite among younger campers, and the Cedar Lawn has pitches spread out over a gently sloping sweep of lawn beneath a huge cedar, complete with rope swing. There is plenty of space between pitches and some interesting little nooks and crannies mean that even in busy periods you can still find a relatively secluded space to call your own.

Clippesby Hall is the perfect location from which to explore the Broads National Park, a network of rivers and lakes that forms Britain's largest protected wetland. Although the rivers are natural, the lakes are man-made, the result of 400 years of enthusiastic peat digging from the 12th century onwards. Hundreds of acres of peat were dug up for fuel in the absence of suitable woodland in the area. However, water soon began seeping through the porous ground, causing marshes and then lakes to appear. In a centuries-old example of how human intervention can significantly change the landscape, nature has also demonstrated its ability to adapt to a changing environment, and this collaboration of industry and nature has resulted in a stunning waterscape.

Clippesby Hall, Hall Lane, Clippesby, Norfolk


True to form,John has organised a unique way of exploring the Broads. The CanoeMan (aka Mark Wilkinson), accompanied by his two springer spaniels, Mr Darcy and Uisce, takes you directly from the site for a peaceful nature-spotting canoe trail through beautiful waterways inaccessible to motor-powered boats. If you'd rather explore the local area by pedal power, Clippesby also hires out bikes along with circular route maps, helmets, locks, and repair kits (child seats and other accessories too).

Don't be surprised when you are personally guided to your pitch on arrival - it's all part of the service, along with the deliberate decision not to put large, obtrusive pitch markers and unnecessary signs everywhere. After all, this is John's home and garden. It's been in the family since his grandfather bought the hall back in 1945, and he doesn't want to ruin it by making it look like, well, a campsite. And that's the beauty of this unique place. It doesn't feel like a conventional, commercial campsite. It's more like camping in the delightful grounds of a stately home.

Clippesby Hall, Hall Lane, Clippesby, Norfolk


COOL FACTOR Extensive facilities combined with a peaceful, relaxed, family atmosphere.

WHO'S IN Tents, campervans, caravans, motorhomes, dogs (on leads) - yes. Croups - sometimes.

ON SITE Some 115 pitches (with and without hook-ups) spread out in separate glades (some of which have tent-only areas). Plenty of entertainment and things to do on site (see p174).The facilities blocks are dotted around the place and have modern showers, toilets, basins, and washing-up sinks with draining boards outside. There's even a family room with a bath. Plenty of staff members on site mean that everything is kept clean and well maintained. Recycling is encouraged as part of the green ethos. No campfires.

OFF SITE Your Clippesby Hall welcome pack includes a booklet all about discovering the Norfolk Broads, including ideas for days out by foot, bike, boat, or canoe. One of the best means of exploration is in a Canadian canoe with knowledgeable CanoeMan, Mark Wilkinson (01603 499177). Or, for something bigger, head for Potter Heigham - 'the Blackpool of the Broads' as Mark likes to call it - 4 miles north of the campsite, where there are boatyards hiring out all sorts of vessels by the hour or day, as well as pleasure-boat trips. The nearest beaches are around 6 miles away, at Winterton-on-Sea, Sea Palling, and Horsey, where you'll also find Horsey Windpump (01263 740241). Climb its 5 flights of steep steps for views over the coast and broadlands landscape, or walk along the canal to Horsey Mere.

FOOD AND DRINK You don't actually need to leave the site. Susie's Coffee Shop serves hot drinks and croissants for breakfast, and sandwiches and cakes throughout the day. You can order freshly baked bread or pizza to take away, and the shop sells local and fair-trade produce. Susie also sells ice cream from her summerhouse by the pool on sunny days. Campsite pub, the Muskett Arms, serves meals with locally sourced ingredients, and local real ales and ciders. If you find yourself in Woodbastwick (around 6 miles away), the Fur and Feather Inn (01603 720003) is a superb country pub with a fantastic garden for the summer. It serves Woodforde's ale, including the famous Norfolk Nog. The Woodforde Brewery is next door and offers half-hour tours on certain evenings.

GETTING THERE From the A47 between Norwich and Great Yarmouth, take the A1064 atAcle (Caister-on-Sea Road). After about a mile, take the first left at Clippesby on to the B1152 and follow the signs to Clippesby Hall.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT Take a mainline train to Norwich then the local service to Acle. From here it's a short taxi ride to the campsite.

OPEN April-October.

THE DAMAGE Prices range from £10.50 per night in low season for a tent, car, and 2 people to £30.50 in high. Extra adult £5.50; child £2.75, under-3s free; dog £3.75; hook-up £3.25.



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