Crazy Camper's Campsite Review: The Orchard Campground, Suffolk

Posted by Teen Bean in , , , , , , ,

Camping is one of my biggest passions. Upon moving to England I was a bit shocked to find that most people have never been camping and many who have been camping have become camp haters...

After living in England for the last year I definitely have begun to uncover the reasons for these opinions, as the average campsite in England is usually just a large open field in the middle of a no-where-small-English-village. Gone are my American spoiled days of wooded campground, built in fire pits, nature walks, large lakes, undiscovered caves, spotting of fawns and other innocent wildlife and the ability to guarantee the state of the weather...

I was convinced that my good camping days, especially on English soil, were over.

However or the last weekend Steve and I were slipped insider information into a campsite that supposedly allowed 'open fires'. (Side Note: due to the extremes of health and safety most camp grounds will not allow open fires because someone could get hurt... talk about taking away all the fun of camping!)

So with our trusty little blue demon car all loaded up with our camping gear we head out to Wickham Market, Suffolk's The Orchard Campgrounds to see what they had to offer.

I am happy to report this campground by far is my new favorite place to camp in England. We looked the campsite up and plugged the post code into our Sat. Nav. We wondered the whole way if we would really find the site because no signs were posted anywhere giving directions or assurance that we were following the right path.

At the end we were weaving down what appeared to be someones private drive only to realize it was indeed a road and the campsite was located off that.

After only a quick hour and 45 min drive from Colchester we arrived ....

Check in was ridiculously easy. We had phone before we left asking if they were really fully booked for the weekend (as their website said) but they said they had space for us. We found the staff to be really down to earth and friendly.

The campsite boasted over 42 varieties of bottled beers, ales and wines and they were not joking. Their little convenient shop was stacked up with bottle after bottle of tempting brews and vino. They also had a frig packed to the gills with locally sourced meats for grilling up as you please.

They offered to do a fire kit (kindling and a wheelbarrow of wood) for £20... this seemed a bit pricey but they said if we brought back half a wheelbarrow they would reimburse us £7.50 = DEAL.

The receptionist then walked us around their little campgrounds to see where would be a good spot for us and let us choose a nice cozy corner in amongst some trees. He was hoping we could stay more by their river, but a group of campers had spread out more than he anticipated. (we were quit happy about this because the nearer to the river the more it did smell of pooh, but we chalked it up to the river and being outdoors!).

We got our tent set up with little to no hassle; Steve and I were patting ourselves on the back for what expert campers we have turned into. We got all our things settled and then went for a little campground discovery walk.

This campground was the thing kids dreams are made of. It had a gently flowing river that kids could paddle in or go river dipping with nets. We got to see a few river creatures that had been joyfully caught by a happy gang of river children. Periodically through out the campground were rope swings tied to trees that could even manage the bigg-ness of our adult-ness!

There was a secluded little pond surrounded by patches of woods that contained hand built forts by, what I can only assume was, another notorious gang of forest children (complete with a Girls Only sign broken in half by what I guess was the remains of a full on boy vs girl battle of dominance. Who won is hard to tell, but the tree foliage sure took a beating).

A littler further on where two old school gypsy caravans of which I have only ever heard of and never seen. Even though I am in love with our tent 'The Emerald Castle' I was a bit jealous of the guest that got to stay in those gypsy caravans!

We meandered up to the Toilet/Shower/Kitchen facilities and again were quit pleased. The toilets and showers were average, but clean (and bonus in my book fully stocked with T.P.). The Kitchen area was cool as they had two refrigerators for guest to store temperature sensitive food if they wish. Bonus for milk not going off! They even had a washer, dryer and microwave!

Near their reception area they had a cozy out-door cafe style area, where guest could order simple bbq foods and drinks. They had a massive T.V. set up which was constantly showing the Olympics- so everyone seemed really happy.

We collected our wheelbarrow of wood and headed back to our campsite where we unloaded and popped open the wine (we forgot a wine bottle opener, but lucky for us our next door neighbours were friendly enough and more prepared).

We settled in and read the rest of our Hunger Games book. Nothing better then sitting outside and reading with your favorite person in the world! We also served ourselves up a wicked selection of cheese and crackers so I was overly happy. Steve went up to the shop to grab a few brews (an Abbots Ale and a Spooky Ale!) while I stayed satisfied with my wine.

As it started getting dark we decided to start up our fire, sense we really wanted to enjoy the fact that we FINALLY had found a campground that allowed open fires. Steve had our baby fire roaring in a matter of minutes and we sat taking in the ever hypnotic flames. When the coals were really amber we made a make-shift grill (Side Note: while using wood to be the support beams for a metal grill can work, it would be much better to use an all nonflammable device to grill meats!).

But finally, YUM we ate a filling dinner of sausages, crips and coleslaw.

We sat for the next 3+ Hours taking in the flames, finishing our drinks and talking overly long about each topic of conversation = BLISS! 

We hopped into our tent cozy tent and slept away!

It was such a beautiful weekend that the next morning we woke up greeted again by the sun. We struck up the gas grill to make our breakfast. The one sad let down was that we forgot to bring a big water bottle and had to keep hiking back to the front end of the campground to fill whatever we could find with water to trek it back to our campsite! (Side Not: Buy camping water jug!).

After breakfast we lined up for showers, which again were included in the campground cost. They were warm and spacious, but again showing in Campgrounds is not my favorite so I just showered and dressed as quickly as possible and got out of there!

Once we were squeaky clean we went back and packed up camp, got our re-fund for half a barrel of unused firewood and got out of there! A wedding was getting set up for that afternoon and we were happy to leave them to it.

All in all, the camping experience was amazing. We loved how easy it was to get there and set up. Loved that we could drive our car right to our camping site. Loved that they supplied us with wood (wish it could have just been a bit cheaper, but glad for the re-fund). Loved our OPEN CAMP FIRE. Loved the atmosphere (though there were 5 million children everywhere, they did mostly keep to themselves and didn't bother us a bit). Loved how cute and friendly the campground and staff where. Loved the tree rope swings. And Loved that it only cost £16 for a campsite.

We both give it a two thumbs up and can't wait to go again!

We love camping!

This entry was posted on Friday, August 17, 2012 at Friday, August 17, 2012 and is filed under , , , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


What a fantabulous adventure! Way to bring the best part of American adventure to our old folks across the pond! ;)

August 22, 2012 at 5:57 PM

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