A nature adventure

The Waverny River Centre

The Waverny River Centre - Credit: Archant

Get back to basics, or not so basic, with a family break on the Norfolk Broads which caters for both hardcore campers or high-brow glampers. Nick Roberts visits the Waveney River Centre

City slickers heading to the north Norfolk coast for a sunny weekend break is an understood phenomenon, the lure of locations such as Holkham, Holt and Burnham Market leading to the area being dubbed Chelsea on Sea.

But I think the well-to-do of West Kensington might be missing a trick. Surely the purpose of escaping London’s bright lights is to get away from it all and remind yourself of the benefits of being one with nature. And if that is your aim, the Waveney River Centre could not be more perfect.

The multi award-winning holiday park and marina is set in the stunning surroundings of South Norfolk’s Waveney Valley, with fabulous views across the Norfolk and Suffolk marshes. In terms of accommodation, all options are available, from literally pitching up with your own tent to bedding down in your own luxury penthouse.

For my young family, one of the smart leisure lodges fitted the bill perfectly. Accommodation includes central heating and double glazing and features a lounge/dining room, two bedrooms (one with en suite shower), a family bathroom and a handy veranda for al fresco dining. The spacious kitchen area includes an electric oven, gas hob, microwave, dishwasher and fridge/freezer.

But what reminds you of the unique qualities of this venue are the views. Situated on The Broads, England’s largest wetland with more than 125 miles of safe, enchanting waterways to explore, this really is like a different world — you’ll need to check your sat nav to be convinced you are only a touch more than 100 miles from Loughton. And the Waveney River Centre makes the most of this ideal location. As a family we made our debut voyage in an inflatable canoe, just dropping it into the water off the jetty for a quick paddle up and down the broads.

There is also a ‘Ternpike’ ferry service which takes you just a matter of metres from the centre across to the edge of Carlton Marshes Nature Reserve. This wildlife haven of grazing marsh, fen meadow and peat pool has been described as ‘the broads in miniature’ and is a perfect place for a walk. This link with Suffolk brings the village of Oulton Broad — and its railway services to Norwich and Lowestoft — within a 45-minute walk. There’s also a circular walk through the reserve, while hardcore ramblers can try the 77-mile Angles Way which runs along the river’s edge on its way from Great Yarmouth to Knetishall Heath (near Thetford), calling at Oulton Broad, Beccles and Bungay en route.

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For the children there is a wildlife garden back within the Waveney River Centre itself, plus a versatile swimming pool and a play area, for burning off any excess energy before bedtime or while dinner is being prepared. Or if you prefer to eat out on the park, you can. The Waveney Inn is a newly-refurbished pub and restaurant which offers a good selection of traditional English dishes which are sure to go down well with young and old diners alike. n

Waveney River Centre

Burgh St Peter, Norfolk NR34 0BT

01502 677343