Travel Review: 'Quality family time' at Algy's Farm Campsite, Themelthorpe
- Credit: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP
One night under the stars, two delicious pizzas, three very noisy boys, and a family of five snuggled inside one teepee in the heart of rural Norfolk – what could go wrong?
That was the challenge we set ourselves when we agreed to embark on an overnight adventure in a field at Algy’s Farm Campsite in Themelthorpe, near Reepham.
It comes following a number of farms offering pop-up campsites this summer, boosted by a change to government planning policy and rising demand for staycations.
New regulations allowing farmers in England to operate a campsite without planning permission for up to 56 days – double the usual 28-day limit – were extended to the end of this year in an attempt to bolster farmers’ income and encourage domestic holidays.
Armed with this knowledge, farm shop owner, Algy Garrod, created the pop-up campsite to cash in on the post-lockdown staycation boom. He teamed up with a neighbour who hired tents to festivals until lockdown cancellations removed his market.
It brings another revenue stream into his expanding business, which already sees him managing around 1,000 acres of farmland and running Algy's Farm Shop at nearby Bintree.
Now, 20 teepees currently grace the landscape of the campsite, based at Old Hall Farm, including the one we were given on our arrival.
Basically, everything about our visit did exactly what it said on the tin.
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We arrived in a field with ploughed areas, exceptionally clean shower and toilet facilities located in mobiles, and a selection of impressive teepees, as well as other happy campers who were putting together their own tents.
We were quickly shown to our accommodation for the evening, before grabbing a picnic blanket out of the back of the car and tucking into the two wood-fired pizzas we had ordered from Algy’s Farm Shop just a five-minute drive away.
After filling our bellies with a 14” pepperoni and Hawaiian, we ventured inside the teepee and weren’t disappointed.
Its TARDUS-like exterior was welcoming while offering a comfortable inside, as proven by our three excited boys, aged 8, 6, and 4, when they jumped on the mattresses provided and continued to squeal like excited piglets.
A little table and lamp also greeted us, as well as some outside chairs for us to use. We rushed to unpack the car and made up our beds for the evening, before letting the boys run around the site to burn off some pent-up energy while we lit the fire pit (which can be hired for an extra charge of £5 per stay).
Dressed in pajamas and snuggly onesies (well, the kids anyway) we enjoyed roasting marshmallows on the fire and watched the sunset fade over the picturesque mid-Norfolk fields. The location is incredibly quiet and tranquil and was the perfect setting for us to have some quality family time together.
The farm site itself is spread over 12 acres and is a 35-minute drive from Norwich and the coast. There is also the chance here to enjoy the local wildlife and even have a little potter along nearby Marriott’s Way.
Although it is a working farm, it is a peaceful site that is family-run and groceries can be ordered online to be delivered to your tent at a convenient time for visitors. There is also a sink for washing up.
This may be a temporary set-up for now, but all of the foundations appear to have been put in place for something which could potentially become a great location to stay at all year round.
Mr Garrod already intends to apply for planning permission for a permanent campsite in some shape or form and will be looking at further investment to put in a new road to the campsite. He is also awaiting a planning decision from Breckland Council for an expansion to the farm shop.
The campsite is listed with outdoor accommodation provider Pitchup.com, which claims farmers could earn as much as £7,000 per day by opening a temporary campsite during the holiday season.
Prices are from £100 per night for up to six people in a teepee, with the use of shared shower and toilet facilities, or £130 for the sole yurt that also sleeps six and boasts its own private bathroom. Campers can bring their own tent and pitch up for £20 on the non-electric grass pitches.
Pizzas are available on Friday nights between 5.30pm and 7.30pm, and toppings on offer include margarita, pepperoni, Hawaiian, vegetarian, or vegan.