Review: Hickling Campsite, Norfolk Broads (updated 2020)

Review: Hickling Campsite, Norfolk Broads (updated 2020)

2017

Due to our work commitments it isn’t always an option to take long holidays, so we prefer to nip off for a few days here and there whenever we can. Due to our love of the sea, Norfolk is a popular choice as it’s our nearest coastline and offers a relaxing change of scenery. We had a brilliant time near Cromer last year, so I thought it would be good to try somewhere a little different.

Our destination this summer, was the picturesque Norfolk Broads, more specifically the village of Hickling.

As always, when choosing a campsite, I start with the location and work from there. Hickling Campsite is ideally situated: walking distance to Hickling Broad, just a few miles from the sea and with a small town nearby for supplies (Stalham).

From the website I wasn’t sure what to expect; It looked like quite a small campsite and I was worried that it might be very basic. In reality although it was small, it had everything we could need. It was also a while since we’ve camped without an electric hook up and I was concerned that we wouldn’t cope without our home comforts. In fact, I think that the simpler experience was much better. It also turned out to be one of, if not the most relaxed sites we’ve ever camped at. There are no set times for arriving or leaving, plus you can pitch where you like. It was also reasonably priced, costing us £20 a night (£10 per adult, under 16’s £5 and under 3’s are free). The site is open from May to September.

Our pitch was spacious, even with a large tent and two vehicles

I was very impressed with the facilities at Hickling Campsite. There were four unisex toilets and four showers, which were all spotlessly clean. The owner, Jo, popped around every morning and evening to check everything was ok. The showers were hot and the cubicles were so roomy that all three of us easily managed to fit in one. As is often the case, it got busy in the mornings, so to beat the queues we just washed at night time instead. There were also two small freezers for iceblocks and a washing up area. However, by far the best thing about Hickling, was the braziers that were freely available to use.

The toilet block and showers at Hickling were always clean I’m picky about showers, luckily these ones were roomy and had a plentiful supply of hot water The pot wash area, complete with local OS map, which made me smile

It was great to have a fire at night, both for cooking and heating purposes. It was also fantastic to introduce Finn to the delicacy of toasted marshmallows, even if he wasn’t too sure about the strange texture! Firewood was available for £5 a bag, which we both thought reasonable considering the amount we got.

Loved the little hut with marshmallows and firewood for sale, complete with honesty box Finn had his first experience of toasted marshmallows! The braziers were a nice touch at Hickling Campsite

If camping isn’t your thing, there are also several glamping options at Hickling Campsite. There is a bell tent, an impressive pod and three huts that are available to stay in.

One of the huts that is available for hire

Overall we had an amazing three nights. The site was busy, and that did put us off a bit to start with. However, we had a big enough pitch and it wasn’t too noisy. I think that it’s just been a very long while since we’ve camped during the school holidays so it was a bit of a shock to the system.

Hickling Campsite may not have acres of space, nor a play area, but what it does have is a lovely, relaxed rural charm and a brilliant location for exploring the area. We will definitely be back!

2020 Update

After spending four nights at Hickling Campsite last week, I thought it was time for an update. There have been lots of improvements in the last 3 years, but some things have stayed the same.

After our previous stay, I was eager to see if Hickling Campsite was as good as I remember

Firstly, what has stayed the same? The toilet and shower blocks were largely the same, just with extra cleaning and hand sanitisers available. One of the main reasons we went back is because we love a campfire. The braziers are still free of charge to use and there’s a shed with wood and marshmallows to buy-just remember some change for the honesty box!

The 2020 model of brazier has a movable plate to make cooking super easy

The same laid back charm is very much evident and the great location still make this a firm favourite.

Secondly, the changes. Obviously, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic things were always going to be a little different this year. Happily, it really didn’t impact on our stay at Hickling. There were plenty of hand sanitisers available and a small army of staff kept the showers and toilets spotless throughout the day. It always has been a well run and clean site, but seeing so many people bustling about was extra reassuring at this time.

The post Covid shower block in 2020

The biggest change is the addition of the ‘Hickling Hut’, a small on site shop selling a few essentials, local produce and hot drinks. Although not a dealbreaker, it is always good to have an on site shop for emergency ice cream bribes or cups of tea when the gas runs out.

There is a new washing up area, which is great and means that it was easier to social distance, as opposed to the two sinks that were available before. It may have been there last time, but we also found the ‘charging cupboard’ handy to keep our powerbrick topped up.

The new washing up area was a welcome addition

I also loved loved loved the baby baths (always tricky trying to persuade a toddler to stay in a shower). I used one for Ollie after a day at the beach, I just put it in the shower tray and filled it with the shower and actually managed to give him a proper wash. I also made good use of the pick your own herb garden. A brilliant addition that I’d love to see at more sites.

Anybody who has wrestled a willful toddler in a campsite shower will appreciate this little touch! I used the herb garden and loved it!

The only real drawback for us is that it is a small site, and there is very little space for playing or kicking a ball around. I spent a lot of time apologising to our poor neighbours! There are also a lot of tent pitches, so it does feel a bit restricted in terms of space. Also, with no marked pitches, I feel that this means that the space isn’t always used in the most efficient way.

Despite the minor drawbacks, we often talk about what sort of campsite we’d love to run, and I have to say Hickling ticks a lot of our boxes. It’s also pretty good value, with just modest price rises in the last 3 years. Adults (16+) are £12 per night, children £6 and under 3s are free.

If you made it this far, here’s a quick summary of the pros and cons

ProsCons
Very clean facilitiesIt is a small site
Campfires allowed & wood sold on site (using braziers)No separate play area
Freezer available No marked pitches (personal thing)
Shop on site
Able to arrive/leave whenever you like
Sockets available for charging
Little details like herb garden & baths
Staff members available
Very flat pitches

Have you visited Norfolk before?

Here are some things to do nearby:

Hickling Broad

Sheringham Park

West Runton Beach

Related

Comments

  • Ashley Beolens Ashley Beolens August 25, at 09:30

    Love hickling broad, so this campsite looks ideal to me, great read.

    Reply
  • NickyE NickyE September 07, at 06:38

    Thank for your informative review. I wonder if you could help me with an additional question? I have long hair which I like to wash everyday, so it is important to me to have either a hair dryer or access to an electric socket (so that I can plug in my own). It’s not possible to tell whether the showers run on electricity or gas, so I wasn’t sure.

    Reply
  • Hickling campsite looks like a great place to camp – and nice roomy hot showers is always a very good thing and how lovely to be able to toast marshmallows on the braziers. Good to see that it is still a good place to stay with regards to social distancing and Covid. The baby baths are a brilliant idea. #AdventureCalling

    Reply
  • Lisa at Baby Loves Travel Lisa at Baby Loves Travel August 06, at 11:29

    This sounds like the sort of campsite we like. I love campsites that have a small shop for the things I inevitably forget. And ones that think of simple small touches like providing baby baths are fantastic. It’s those little thoughtful things that set them apart from other sites. #AdventureCalling

    Reply
  • Lauren Lauren August 10, at 11:51

    Sounds like a lovely little campsite. And I love the pick your own herb garden idea. It looks pretty flat too. No rolling into the sides of the tent at night – I have a thing about touching the sides of the tent. I wasn’t supposed to do it as a kid, and it has stuck with me. 😀

    #AdventureCalling

    Reply

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