New Whitlingham yurt

Camping booms on doorstep of Norwich as Mongolia meets Broads...

Wednesday, June 4, 2014
8.00 AM

Visitors to one of the region’s newest campsites have been impressed by the striking mix of Broads scenery and Mongolian design.

For Whitlingham Broad campsite has added to its glamping offer with the addition of a luxury yurt - complete with authentic Mongolian artwork painted on the door by a local artist.

Billed as perfect for families or groups of friends, it has been built by Broadland Yurts in nearby Panxworth.

Linda Robey, who opened the campsite last year with her partner Fergus Bootman, a Broads Authority officer, said: “The reaction has been incredible. We have shown lots of families around it and the four sets of guests who have already stayed in it loved it.”

In addition to the yurt - a traditional Mongolian structure - the site has 60 camping pitches, four six-person bell tents and two shepherd’s huts.

Miss Robey, 33, said they had enjoyed a busy Easter and bookings had been good around both May bank holidays.

“We have already been taking a lot of bookings for the school summer holidays so the outlook is really good,” she said.

She currently runs the business on her own, with her partner helping at weekends, but they will be looking to take on staff over the busy summer period.

The couple had the idea for their business after falling in love with the place where they walked their dog.

Miss Robey, who had previously worked in catering management for 15 years, said: “We wanted to change our lifestyle and be part of the local community a bit more.

“We always thought it was crazy there was no campsite at Whitlingham; it is such a beautiful place and perfectly located on the doorstep of Norwich.”

They leased the site from the Crown Point Estate and poured their savings into the venture, paying for new sewerage and drainage and an upgrade to the electricity sub-station as well as funding a toilet, shower block and reception building.

Most of their trade has come via their own website, www.whitlinghambroadcampsite.com/,‎ but they have also been recommended by the popular website www.coolcamping.co.uk

Chris Scargill, tourism partner at Larking Gowen Chartered Accountants which produces an annual Tourism Business Survey, said: “The 2007 recession created a resurgence in the camping sector born out of the necessity for holidaymakers to tighten their belts.

“For some the bug has really bitten, but for others there was still a desire for modern ‘home’ comforts – and so ‘glamping’ became the new buzz word. As the tourism sector sees a slight loosening of customers’ purse strings, but a desire for maximising value for money, the attraction of glamping may well see further growth.

“There is still a trend of booking late, both for economic factors (the ability to save for the break) and a fear of the weather. However, the robust nature of glamping units over traditional camping methods helps, in many ways, to address the risk of the weather having a wholly negative impact on a holiday.”