‘Mum! It’s a baby deer!’ The 7yo comes crashing into our bedroom in the lodge, where we’re reading, savouring the fact they are able to roam outdoors safely and completely happy to do so.
‘They’ve killed a baby deer!’ Mr A announces, ‘We should never have let them cycle in the forest on their own’.
‘No we haven’t!’ laughs the 7yo. ‘We’ve seen one, outside, come on!’
I follow the very excited 7yo into the forest where my 10yo daughter and 11yo niece are hiding in the ferns.
We saw it run off this way, says my 10yo. ‘It was adorable, can I…’
‘No you can’t have one as a pet.’ I jump in swiftly, ‘but let’s see if we can see it again’.
So we take a dusk walk around some of Kelling Heath’s 300 acres, looking for the adorable baby deer. Sadly I don’t see it, but I am pleased the kids did, and seeing their eyes dancing with enthusiasm for nature is magic. We soon spot lots of rabbits and begin the process of narrowing down which lodge we would buy if we could…
We were asked to review a woodland lodge at Kelling Heath, a fabulous holiday park in Weybourne, overlooking the heath and beyond that the North Norfolk coast. The forest site is made up of luxury holiday homes, woodland lodges and also plenty of acres for touring caravans and tents. This is a holiday park with a difference, it has award winning green credentials, it’s a brand-free independent escape from it all and a perfect family base for exploring North Norfolk. If you love nature, walking, cycling, shopping local, unspoilt seaside and giving your kids the chance to roam safely in nature, this could be the place for you.
It’s beautifully presented with great facilities, a Health and Fitness Club with newly refurbished swim, sauna and steam room, a shop, pub, playgrounds, trim trails, bike hire, sea views and an old fashioned North Norfolk Poppy Line train service to the coast at Sheringham. Here’s what we loved!
We arrived in the dark so it was a joy to open the doors onto the decking and find ourselves surrounded by woods. The lodges are spotlessly clean, cosy and comfy. We stayed in a three bed lodge with a double and two twin rooms.
Within minutes of hiring our bikes we met this stunning view of the unbeatable North Norfolk coast. Stunning heathland spreads across to the bluest seas, to windmills, pretty villages with red roofs and castle like churches.
Bike Hire and Trails
You can hire bikes from Huff and Puff Cycle Hire on site, and within minutes we were kitted out and whizzing through the site’s extensive trails. We went back for helmets after realising that while traffic free, some of the off road trails can be pretty fast if you want them to be. There is something for all abilities though, from little kids in trailers, to mixed generation groups, to teens who want adventure. Huff and Puff have a series of leaflets with longer rides to nearby towns and villages or tea shops. For a weekend break, the 300 acre site was more than enough cycling space for us.
There are regular nature walks, crafty sessions and activities, ask in reception for more info. Every Saturday from March to October an artist leads workshops for kids in the cosy pub. We had a go at block printing, it is so easy to do and so much fun. I will have to share a tutorial.
These are the lovely Autumnal examples, the 7yo was interested in more basic things, his mirror writing didn’t quite work as planned, he wanted to spell poo, but doo kind of describes it…moving on swiftly….
L made a plaque for her door, here she applying the paint to it, ready to print onto a card.
Kelling Heath has a ‘village square’ I really like the fact it was quiet, simple and free of big brand names, no chain coffee shops or chain restaurants, yet it has it’s own great facilities.
The staff were friendly and helpful, the shop stocked lots of local produce, over 20 suppliers are from no more than 20 miles away. We loved the Gnaw chocolate buttons, the champagne and chilli looked awesome too.
The pub grub ticked all the boxes. My veggie pie was so good, I was pleasantly surprised to find a lovely tomatoey ratatouille under this crust and the Norfolk potatoes and seasonal veg were perfectly cooked and varied. Veggie gravy was the finishing touch. The kids wolfed their mac and cheese with their choice of crudites or veg and garlic bread (again fresh and appealing veg presentation here too). Mr A was a little disappointed his burger was overcooked, but he didn’t tell me until it was too late, I feel sure the staff would have replaced it. He did however, proclaim the Ginger pudding as the best pudding he’d had in a long time, which is high praise.
The Leisure Facilities
The Health and Fitness Club has a gym, pool, steam, sauna and hot tub, it’s very newly refurbished and a really clean and enjoyable space to wind down at the end of a day or escape bad weather outdoors. Children are welcome from 10-6pm. In Summer there is an outdoor pool, perfect for cooling off. Membership is included in lodge rental, non lodge guests can buy a 1, 3 or 7 day pass, for a very reasonable cost.
There is also an adventure playground, table tennis, tennis courts, pentanque and an indoor play area.
There are so many walking and cycling trails marked out around the site, you can even download an app to guide you.
Kelling Heath has some great green policies in place – from living green roof on reception, to keeping 100% of waste out of landfill, to the red squirrels that breed here in captivity and release kittens into licensed release projects, to the walks with rangers that help guests appreciate nature and support it. Kelling Heath is an amazing place to star gaze and the site even hosts star parties for the Spring and Autumn equinox.
We loved watching the red squirrels they were so much fun. The male is 10 which is rare, as squirrels often only live until 6 in the wild.
The Poppy Line
This old fashioned steam and diesel train line runs from Holt to Sheringham and back, with Kelling Heath located between Holt and Weybourne. You can hop on at Kelling Heath’s own station, and board the train to Weybourne and Sheringham. The train can’t stop at Kelling Heath on the way back from Sheringham as the incline is too steep to get moving again, but you can travel on to Holt and then stop on the way to Sheringham again.
Sheringham is a brilliant seaside day out and although we didn’t have time to visit, I’m told Holt is also perfect for shopping.
We loved the old fashioned station at Sheringham, with vintage signs, suitcases and cafe. The walk down to the sea front is lined with all kinds of gift shops and eateries, it’s a real new meets old seaside town, with something for all generations.
We ate at the Two Lifeboats pub for decent sausage/fish and chips (get there early if you want a sea view table) which was dog and kid friendly, but as we were leaving I saw a tweet and an instagram message telling me Funky Mackerel has the best hot chocolate and flapjacks. Something the kids could have really done with after paddling – they had an amazing time in the sea, in October!
Kelling Heath is such a perfect family base for North Norfolk. There is so much to do on site, but also loads of great days out within easy reach. You really get the feeling of being among nature which is what North Norfolk is famous for. We’ve been to Norfolk several times now and have so many special memories. This would be the perfect place for a multi generational trip as there is so much to do for everyone. Even our two generations enjoyed the fact the kids could roam free safely while the grown ups took a nap!
When L was a baby I took her to Holkham and to Cromer with my parents, you can see more photos of that here. She saw seals at Blakeney and barn owls at Holkham too, but she won’t remember. More recently we loved our visit to Wells with it’s amazing beach huts and we had a wonderful day out at Pensthorpe, a very child friendly nature reserve with adventure playground and brilliant cafe. We loved our playing and walking along Stiffkey marshes too. It’s an amazing part of the world and you must go visit!
Although dogs aren’t allowed in the lodges and luxury holiday homes, touring and camping guests can bring dogs in the red squirrel areas. North Norfolk is one of the most dog friendly places you can go, loads of pubs and cafes allow dogs and provide water and they will love the beaches.
The film brings it all to life, enjoy!
Do let me know if you have been to Kelling Heath, you are thinking about it or you go – it’s always lovely to hear how other people find things we have enjoyed!
Thanks for having us Kelling Heath. We were provided with the woodland lodge, bike hire and a discount on a meal for the purposes of this review. All thoughts and opinions remain my own.
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