Happy campers! How Norfolk is having a post-lockdown camping boom
PUBLISHED: 06:35 25 August 2020 | UPDATED: 12:03 25 August 2020
Travel restrictions and months of lockdown have fuelled a camping boom in Norfolk, with sites filling up and camping equipment selling out.
Camp sites have even been forced to turn away holidaymakers keen to pitch a tent and enjoy the great British outdoors as an alternative to flying abroad or exploring cities for their holidays.
Among north Norfolk’s popular sites has been Breck Farm, near Bodham, which is run by siblings Becky Hart and Will Amies and their family.
Mrs Hart said the site, which has about 300 pitches open for tents and caravans, had never been busier. She said: “Demand has been unprecedented, which is good, but exhausting.
“No-one wants to go abroad - they either can’t because the air corridor is closed or they’re scared of flying. People are so desperate to get out after lockdown that they’ll take anything.”
Mrs Hart said she hoped the trend would continue in years to come.
She said: “People who have never camped before have gone out and bought themselves tents, so now that they’ve got the equipment we hope they’ll come back. They could return to having holidays aborad, but have an additional break camping for a few days.”
Mr Amies added: “I think a lot of people have probably got the bug for it now and we’ll have plenty of people returning for short breaks in future years.”
Among the families staying at the site were Vicky Brown, 33 her partner James Walker, 37, and their children Emma, six and three-year-old twins Charlie and Hannah.
Ms Brown said the family, from Loddon, were loving the camping lifestyle.
She said: “It’s a chance to ‘turn off’ a little bit. The kids love being outside, near the woods. They can get dirty and do things they couldn’t do at home.
“My partner and I have camped before and this is the second time we’ve done it with the kids.
“I suppose it reminds us both of our own childhoods.”
Ms Brown said it had been difficult to get hold of items such as a toilet tent and a secondhand cooler box, because of increased demand with many people camping.
Essex couple Rob, 73, and Carol Sharratt, 71, have been staying at Breck Farm for several months almost every year since 1983.
Mrs Sharratt said: “We used to have dogs and we couldn’t go away and leave them, so camping is ideal. “Lots of people come back every single year here - we’ve got several good neighbours.”
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Mr Sharratt added: “We love it. We go walking to Holt and Blakeney, everything is so near. And we haven’t been slung off yet!”
Mike Ashwell, director of the Caravan Accessory Shop in Cromer Road, West Runton, said sales of camping products had been strong in recent weeks as ever more people took their holidays in the UK.
But Mr Ashwell said one product that was particularly difficult to source were gas cylinders used by campers and caravanners for cooking, and cooling their portable fridges.
He said: “Calor gas is the main supplier of gas bottles. Every year it’s a challenge getting enough and this year there’s Covid.
“In the past week we’ve ordered 100 and we’ve had two delivered.
“It’s quite a frustrating situation because we could easily sell 100 a week at this time of year.”
Mr Ashwell said the shop was also now getting supplies from another brand, called Campingaz.
He said sales had been strong across the board for products used in camping and caravanning - from tent pegs to awnings.
Mr Ashwell said: “It’s been massive. With the weather the way it is and the Covid situation people have got more time for outdoor pursuits.
“Every day’s a busy day at the moment. People aren’t so keen to travel abroad and this is something they can do relatively cheaply rather than going abroad.
“People tend to have a tent they can pop out of the attic and pop up on a campsite, and they’ve got a holiday ready made.”
Camping boom: Sites see intense demand
Sal Savory, who runs Galley Hill Farm Camping at Blakeney, said the site was so busy she was having to turn people away every day.
Galley Hill normally has 20 pitches, but Ms Savory said they were now limited to 10 to make social distancing and regular site cleaning easier.
Ms Savory said: “There’s definitely a lot more people camping. They often just want to try it for a little break. One person I spoke to has had her holiday cancelled 56 times this year, and just wanted to get away, anywhere for a few days.”
Ms Savory said others staying at the site had been regular campers for years, having woken up to its benefits long ago.
She said: “They like being in touch with nature and the simplicity of it. Families can spend quality time together and play games, rather than spending time on mobile phones.
“We’re just a mile from Blakeney Quay here, so it’s nicely situated for people to go walks or cycles, or just be out in the open air.”
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