Camping is perfect for people who like to feel at one with nature, however, some of us don’t always like the thought of ‘roughing it’.
If you tick this box, you may be more suited to glamorous camping, also know as ‘glamping’.
The UK’s first floating pod…
Hippersons Boatyard have recently opened their brand new glamping pod on the Norfolk Broads.
‘Secret Water’ even takes glamping to a new level, in fact, I would say it presented higher standards that some of the luxury hotels I have stayed in!
With the support of the LEADER fund, and part of the rural development programme, owners Simon and Mary Sparrow have spent over a year investing their own time and money into this luxury glamping project, making it one of the first of its kind in the UK.
A picturesque setting…
Set on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, Secret Water provides a unique getaway experience with stunning views of the Waveney Valley, providing the perfect base to explore the local area and beyond.
The pod sleeps up to four people in one double room and a bunkroom perfect for families. Included in your stay is the hire of a rowboat or you can upgrade to one of the sail packages for a larger day boat.
Set in the beautiful market town of Beccles, around every corner you will find quirky independent shops, restaurants, cafes and standing 97ft tall, a large free standing Grade I listed bell tower.
The personal touch…
Upon arrival, Simon and Mary warmly greeted us.
We made our way to the pod; surprised to see it’s not just any pod… its double arch gives it character and interest. Its river setting immediately made me feel serene and calm, there’s just something about being on the water.
Secret Water comes with a large decked area out front so you can spend long afternoons reading a book and sipping on a glass of wine or watching the sun go down, gazing at the river as you watch boats come and go.
It has all of your creature comforts, including underfloor heating, an induction hob for cooking, a fully fitted washroom and WC, TV and DVD player and luxury mattresses and bedding. There are even vintage binoculars for the bird lovers amongst us and card and games for the kiddies.
Finished to an extremely high spec the interior features fully fitted bespoke sliding doors and engineered bunk beds crafted by Hippersons boat builders; we thought the design was very in-keeping with its surroundings.
We were also delighted find left for us a tasty cake from local bakery Twyfords, along with some tea, coffee and fresh milk.
Who wants to cook when you are away? For dinner we ventured out to the local award winning pizza restaurant, Oakfired, which is walking distance from the boatyard.
Owners Paul Williams and Paul Jackson have put their heart and soul into creating an authentic and welcoming restaurant for all the family.
As you enter, you will notice a gigantic wood-fired oven, with a fiery orange glow emanating from its mouth. Oakfired serve true Neopolitan Pizza and are the third restaurant in the UK to hold a license to make them.
We visited for the pizza, but there is more to the menu including tasty starters, freshly made salads and mouth-watering desserts including sundaes to share. All pizzas also come as gluten free and can be made vegan on request.
To start, we opted for the Arancini – deep fried risotto balls stuffed with smoked cheese, served with dressed rocket and sundried tomato sauce, a firm favourite of mine.
We tried the vegan Marinara, one of the most authentic pizzas to come out of Italy, and known as ‘sea of tomatoes’, along with the Americana with the substitution of the meat – sweetcorn, red onion, jalapenos, heavy on the mozzarella cheese. So good, so fresh and so tasty!
We then finished with the Chocolate Brownie Sundae, which was to die for, although my husband didn’t quite grasp the concept of sharing that one
Back to base…
As we made our way back to the pod, we enjoyed taking in the surroundings of the countryside.
The pod was warm from the underfloor heating and although it had started to rain, I couldn’t think of a more peaceful environment to fall asleep in, listening to the rain fall on the river. It’s safe to say we slept well!
Breakfast at Baileys…
On a Saturday morning the town is full of people and has a real market town vibe.
Paul and Suzanne Buck, who have over 30 years’ experience in the catering business, took Baileys over last year. Here you will find everything you need to kick-start your day right through until dinner.
The contemporary breakfast menu concentrates on simple ingredients cooked well.
With a couple of cappuccinos in hand, followed by poached egg penny bun baguettes and fruit granola with Greek yogurt, we were ready for the next part of our adventure.
On the broads…
To finish our stay at Hippersons, took out one of day boats. Simon gave us a quick lesson in how to operate the boat and off we went.
With the sun reappearing at last, we cruised along the river past gorgeous town houses, the clock tower and then up to Geldeston.
Here is the perfect place to moor up and pop into The Locks Inn, a quaint little pub owned by Grain Brewery, beside the river.
It was the perfect little stop for a quick pint, a packet of crisps or some lunch.
We could have spent all afternoon on the river, but hours seemed to roll into minutes and before we knew it, it was time to return.
We absolutely loved our stay at Hippersons, it was even better than we thought glamping could ever be.
Here you will find a peaceful base to explore the Suffolk Heritage Coast and Norfolk Broads, by car, foot or by boat.
Address: Gillingham Dam, Beccles NR34 0EB
Address: The Royal Oak, 35, Ravensmere, Beccles NR34 9DH
Address: 2 Hungate, Beccles NR34 9TL