I now have some idea of what Dorothy must have felt like during the storm that ultimately saw her transported to Oz. This story does not involve lions, tin men or yellow brick roads. It does, however, feature seals, warm ale and a long, winding coastal road.
The weekend that has just passed saw a few good friends and I sample life as ‘glampers,’ when we headed up to the North Norfolk coast in order to spend a couple of nights living it up in a yurt. For those of you who have no idea what one is then the first thing to point out is that it is not a sea-faring vessel, which one of my colleagues assumed it was (she thought I was just pronouncing ‘yacht’ in a particularly plummy accent), although given the prevailing conditions over the weekend it very well may have had this assumption tested. It is in fact a large, round canvas hut, with a domed roof (ours was the red one in the picture above), and the one we stayed in was based on the type of accommodation apparently favoured by those living on the steppes of Mongolia. The site at which we stayed, Burnham Deepdale, have a few of these yurts, all arranged in a line, along with some teepees and set up perfectly for groups to maximise the potential of the glorious Norfolk coastal weather. When it turns up. Each yurt had it’s own decking area in front of it, complete with barbeque and seating, and although a short but bracing walk away, the site was well serviced, including showers that certainly top any that I have experienced at a campsite.
Each also has it’s own wood-burning stove, which I have been told normally raises the temperature in them to a very comfortable level very swiftly. However, it seems that our experiences of first-time yurt living were uncharacteristically testing, as I shall explain….
When you think of booking what is in effect a camping trip, albeit ‘posh camping,’ you would be forgiven, and normally rewarded, for assuming that the last weekend in April would be a good bet for fine, classically Spring-like conditions. We made that assumption. Nature, in it’s role as a moody, unpredictable creature, clearly felt compelled to throw a small tantrum, with the weekend of the 27th – 29th April being a good window in which to hurl it’s insults. Cue a weekend of pissing rain, strong winds, which saw the yurt very nearly test it’s kite qualities on Saturday night, and bracing cold, that even a greedy and subsequently well-fed wood burner couldn’t tame. Another thing which added to the overall scene and experience was the fact that yurts act as climatic amplifiers, which means to say that if it is spitting lightly outside, then the sound inside will be that of a monsoon. If there is a brisk wind then the yurt will amplify that to hurricane-status for the auditory sakes of it’s inhabitants. My advice, as such, would be to take a set of ear plugs if you stay in one in anything other than perfect weather, especially if you are a light or easily disturbed sleeper. Our yurt was moving, and rattling, and generally groaning so much on the second night that we even lost two members of our group, who opted to leave not only the yurt but the campsite and drive home at 3am. This after only arriving at 2pm. Classic British camping holiday!
In spite of the insanely grey, wet, and generally shite weather – uncharacteristic I might add for Norfolk in Spring – the entire experience was ace. It could have been sunnier but spending a weekend with good mates, drinking great Norfolk ale, eating superb food, such as locally caught seafood, seeing some of the natural wonders of the area, such as the Blakeney seals, and generally just having fun, it really doesn’t matter how you do those things – they’re still cracking experiences and fond memories. Would I do it again? Yes, I definately would but I think I would be aiming squarely in the middle of the high season (ie SUMMER), just to be sure 🙂 Oh, and to top it off the sun promptly came out of hiding on Sunday evening. Once everyone had returned home. Couldn’t make it up.
“Any top tips?” you say. Well, yes. Here they are…
- Where to stay – Burnham Deepdale. Well managed site, with a hostel, camping pitches, teepees and the oh-so-famous yurts.
- Where to eat – The White Horse & Jolly Sailors pubs, both a short walk from the campsite, are excellent. The former does a cracking breakfast, and has stunning views out to sea, with the latter doing amazing pizzas.
- What to drink – The Real Ale Shop, near Wells. A superb range of Norfolk ales and situated on a lovely little farm.
- What to do – so many options! We went out on a seal-spotting trip at Blakeney, took in the quaint tea-shops of Burnham Market, missed a bus in Wells and got our sealife and bowling fixes in Hunstanton. Add decent weather and the beaches become the obvious draw.
- Unless you know that it’s going to be scorching weather, pack as you would for any camping trip as it can get quite chilly.
- Take extra light sources. Loads of people make the mistake of assuming they have electricity, due to the fact that they look and feel like buildings. They don’t so take a couple of lamps to add to the one that the site provide.
- Ask for extra wood when you arrive. Running out at 10pm on a freezing cold, blustery Saturday night is not ideal.
- Consider booking two adjacent yurts if there is going to be more than, say, five of you going. Although they can officially accommodate 8 people, it would be snug so best to pay more per person and not be packed in like sardines.
- Take ear plugs – they are pretty noisy structures but very sturdy, so don’t worry; it’s only noise.
- Enjoy yourself – they’re a very comfortable and fun way to camp, and a great base for the North Norfolk coast.