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Swattesfield Campsite, Gislingham Rd, Thornham Magna, Suffolk IP23 8HH
01379 788558
9 19 20 383 35 33 11 23 27 25 30 8 22
 

We say

Deep in the wilds of north Suffolk, keen camper Jonathan set up this seven-acre campsite with his dad in 2011. It’s a simple site exuding a Cool Camping vibe, with two grassy fields – one for camping, the other for glamping – separated by a small lake with some adjoining woodland to explore.The position is perfect for bucolic strolls across the well-marked paths and bridleways of nearby Thornham Walks and for exploring the historic Walled Gardens on the estate, which has recently been restored and is open on weekends.

It’s a great place to do nothing and get into nature.You can pitch your tent in the bottom field or the woodland beyond, or take up residence in a boutique bell tent complete with a full-size double bed and handy cooking facilities. Plus there’s the Pixie Hut and the Hay Cart – ideal for a family or small group. They have some ingeniously suspended firepits for cooking, and some of Jonathan’s mates recently built him a fabulous outdoor pizza oven out of recycled materials.

Overall, it’s a site with a lovely chilled-out atmosphere situated in a very special location.

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They say

(info supplied by the campsite)

Swattesfield Campsite is a seven acre site with plenty of space yet an intimate feel, with only around six pitches allowed at any one time this is a campsite that oozes calm and relaxation. There's plenty of space with no marked pitches and the option to camp where you'd like; in the woods, under the walnut tree, in the glade, by the hedgerow or by the pond.

As well as the tent and campervan pitches we also offer two Boutique Bell-Tents with all the creature comforts you'd need to have a thoroughly enjoyable stay. At five metres across these are big enough for four or five and have a full-size comfy double bed as well as two or three fold out child beds. Supplied by SoulPad our Bell tents have coir matting throughout with torch lanterns, a gas hob and all your cooking equipment, your very own picnic table and fire pit.

Another option is our very own, and unique to Swattesfield,  Pixie HutsWeggle and Swaggle! Our octagonal wonders have four peak-a-boo windows, a comfy full-sized double bed and two smaller beds for any little imps. With their own decking area and dining table and over-looking the south facing skies of Suffolk you'll soak up the best of the sunny days. The huts have their own picnic tables, chimenea and all your cooking facilities including a Pizza Oven for all campers to use. These really are the new way to camp; cosy, cutsey and a great place to wind down and relax.

Our latest edition and new for 2015 is our converted Suffolk Hay Cart fit for two adults and two children. Another exclusive for Swattesfield and converted by my own hands there is a double bed with another bed underneath for two with their own peek-a-boo doors for any little 'uns to peek through. All your cooking equipment is supplied making the Hay Cart a real cosy camping experience.

There is a communal fridge and freezer for all to use and keep your drinks chilled. Open fires are allowed in our fire pits and use of our handmade Pizza Oven is free for all to use. Our toilet facilities are clean to use and there is plenty of hot water for the showers. There is a large outside double sink unit for pot washing and the like and we have a free book library and board games to loan.

Swattesfield is in it's fourth year and has settled into a delightful countryside campsite in North Suffolk making it the ideal spot to stay and explore the Waveney valley and the local market town of Diss with it's popular auction house T.W.Gazes; auctions Friday and specialist auctions on Saturdays, and viewings on Thursdays. The poet John Betjeman said of Diss,

'Yes, it will be blissTo go with you by train to Diss'

And he was right with direct mainline trains direct from London Liverpool Street to Diss station, which is 6 miles from Swattesfield Campsite.

With 12 miles of direct walks from the site and an 11th Century pub, Forge Cafe and Coach House restaurant within 25 minutes walking distance there's more than enough to keep you fed and watered. There's even a play area 15 minutes easy stroll away for the kids as well fishing lakes a little further afield. The market town of Eye is only 5 minutes away and all this with an easy train ride from London Liverpool Street and only an hour from Cambridge, 30 minutes from Norwich and 55 minutes from Southwold and Aldeburgh, Swattesfield Campsite is an ideal place to have a relaxing break.

I hope to see you soon!

Kind regards,

JonathanSwattesfield CampsiteSuffolk

You say

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★★☆☆☆

Let down by

I visited the site this year with friends and our children and I'll admit to being dissappointed enough to write some feedback.  During our stay there were repeated issues with the hot water and at one point the cold water in the wash facilities. This was dissappointing.

After the matter had continuing into the second day I was again fustrated by the lack of presence from the owner who during my four day stay I only saw once and that was when I went to pay for my stay.

Now it might be that I am comparing this site to one I stayed at the week prior to visiting this site, there the owner was very present. He popped round on a regular basis and shared info, weather forecasts etc and was charming with it.

I also considered the sites facilities to be tired and generally poor. You can make wash facilities earthy and rural without looking rundown, which I guess makes them harder to clean as well.

The site has plenty of potential and hopefully the owner will take time to address the faults, but given the other better alternatives available I'd look elsewhere first next time.

Responce from the campsite owner:

Thank you so much for your constructive review. We continue to develop Swattesfield Campsite, ensuring it represents the relaxed informal and car free campsite with great, limitless and free hot water, and all with clean and open facilities for all. Unfortunately the period you stayed coincided with an emergency power cut by National Grid, completely out of our control - this prevented the pumps from working for our fresh water borehole and consequently no water. A sign was placed for all visitors to see and I personally visited every camper when this happened but there were some campers that had left for the day to visit the beautiful Suffolk countryside and so was obviously unable to speak with you at the time. All campers are free to contact me if they have specific queries but Swattesfield Campsite is a low density, intimate campsite and experience has shown that many campers like to be left to enjoy the walks and open space on the campsite. There is plenty of information and walks maps on the open kitchen and near the free to use fridge and freezer.
It's obviously unfortunate that you felt the need to post your experience here, many months after your visit and without mentioning your issues when we met when I would have been more than happy to explain.
As can be seen by the numerous excellent reviews already received you can see yours is an unusual experience. And here is some recent feedback around the time you also stayed: "I never had to queue and enjoyed a piping hot shower every day", "Well run and well located", "the shower was very good, always hot water when we used it", "nothing disappointed us from the cleanliness ... and the facilities", "We found Jonathan, the owner, to be friendly, helpful and laid back", so it may be your interpretation of rural facilities are simply the location of Swattesfield Campsite being of a delightful countryside location with easy access to walks, play areas, pubs and restaurants not to be what you're looking for. Kind regards, Jonathan

★★★★★

Just Perfect! :)

My partner and i have just returned from a spontaneous weekend away (along with our pug) at Swattesfield and it couldn't have been better. We arrived at 11pm Friday eve after deciding we'd like to get away from everything for a few days and nothing disappointed us from the cleanliness of the tent and the facilities, the facilities which were provided, the walks we went on and the fab country pub we found. The atmosphere was extremely relaxed with an honesty box for the kindling and logs if we wanted them (which we did!). We started the saturday having breakfast at the local cafe and then headed out on the walking trails (for which maps are provided) ending up at the four horseshoes pub which was really lovely and the food was amazing too. We then returned to camp, lit our fire pit and laid outside our bell tent for the evening with nothing but the sound of birds and our conversation to listen to which was for us was wonderful. A weekend with no phones, TVs or iPads was exactly what we wanted. We don't normally write reviews but after visiting here we couldn't not write one. Thanks for such a lovely weekend, we will most definitely be back :)

2 of 2 readers found this review useful.

★★★★★

Great weekend!

Me and my boyfriend chose this campsite for a weekend away from technology, for his birthday and just to enjoy ourselves. Went by train and a cab, cab service was bad, charged way to much for a 15 minute drive because he got lost, nothing to do with the campsite. However, it was just a really pleasant weekend, we arrived on Friday 6th June and got a warm welcome greeting from Jonathan, the campsite owner, he told us where everything was and where we could find the shop, which was very helpful indeed. After we found our place to pitch our tent we went to explore everything that was around us. The walk to the shop was a bit of a pain in the hot weather as we had to walk through a lot of fields and tall grass however it was a really nice atmosphere and good to be away from London. We had great weather the whole time we were there. Every night we made our own little fire with the fire pits given to us and the wood that we brought on site, the best part was the roasted marshmallows. For my first time camping it was a pretty good experience, unfortunately me and my boyfriend forgot some things which was annoying as we planned it out for so long. The showers there are clean and have a temperature dial so you can choose how you want it, which was nice. The toilets were clean and always lit up of a night time so you could see where you were going. The nature was very pretty and I loved it. On our second to last day we were the only ones left on the campsite which was very peaceful. On our last day we had time to waste so we walked around for a while and found a tree craved into a lion and saw what we think to be a wild deer. Even though our last day was really stressful with trying to get home as all of the cab companies wouldnt take our calls or they wouldnt come to where we were or none of the were avaliable, for a long while we thought we weren't going to get home and catch our train, so we thought we were going to have to walk 6 miles to the train station however Jonathan the campsite owner kindly offered to give us a lift to the station which we couldn't be more thankful about and appreciative. The worst part of the whole thing was the journey through London on tubes in rush hour as we had heat stroke from being in the sun the whole weekend and forgetting suncream so we were burnt, and the packed out hot stuffy trains didn't help. This was nothing to do with the campsite though even with all of hassle me and my boyfriend had a great weekend break together here away from everything and just being together. I want to thank Jonathan for being so generous to us otherwise we would of been stuck. I will like to go here again but I think I'll wait until I can drive as everything is a lot easier and you can get around easier.

Shelby Lewis and Luke Miller.

2 of 2 readers found this review useful.

★★★★★

Swattesfield

This is a fantastic site, very, very pretty and well run by Jonathan and Phil who are very easy going but accommodating when you have a need.

The showers and toilets are pretty basic but the location is superb and caravans are banned so if you are a proper camper this is a great site. There are plenty of decent pubs and shops nearby. Firepits are available for real fires.

The site is great and very safe for children who have plenty of room, including a woods and playing field, to make their own fun. There are a few homemade swings and he most fantastic natural 'bushcraft' den.

The site is not far from the London/Norwich main line, which can be irksome sometimes but the trains are few and far between, just the odd one very late at night or very early in the morning.

We've been three times now, including a week-long break so it's definitely recommended.




2 of 2 readers found this review useful.

★★★★★

Lovely relaxed site

Have just returned from 3 nights at this campsite and had a lovely time.  We were camping with our two young children and were keen to find a site that didn't allow cars and that was family friendly.  

The site is divided into two fields and we stayed in the lower field (which also contains some bell tents and log cabins).  Cars are only allowed in this field while dropping and picking up belongings.  The upper field seems lovely and offers some hidden camping spots within the woodland (as well as some hidden rope swings) but this field contains an unfenced lake that we felt was just too dangerous with an 18 month old.  

This site overall is very relaxed.  We were happy to be able to let the little ones roam a little and they had a great time playing with some neighbouring children.  It was a real plus that campfires are allowed (using the provided fire pits).  Jonathan the owner was friendly and on hand to answer queries from time to time but generally seems to leave the campers to enjoy themselves.  It is nice to be able to chose your pitch wherever you fancy and the layout of the site suggests that it would rarely feel packed.  The shower/toilet block is more basic than some sites but is MORE than adequate and although there is only one shower, I never had to queue and enjoyed a piping hot shower every day.   

This is a great spot for real campers.  Well run and well located.  We would be VERY happy to return.


1 of 1 readers found this review useful.

★★★★★

Family birthday celebration

We needed a campsite that would cater for a large family group for our first camping experience. We were lucky that we found Swattisfield. We had a bell tent, a Pixie hut and the Shepherds hut, all 3 provided  excellent accommodation for 4 people and 5 in the bell tent. The utensils, cooking facilities were very good, we cooked breakfasts and dinners on 2 days. Never having used shower/toilet blocks before, we were thinking that maybe a week without a shower would be ok. But the shower was very good, always hot water when we used it. The kids (5 aged between 9 and 2) loved the space and freedom of running around outside. I have had quite a bit of communication with Jonathan before our visit, during our visit and since we arrived home and at all times I have found him to be very friendly, very helpful and fair. Wanting to spend a special birthday with all the family but conscious of costs for some, Swattisfield ticked all boxes, we loved it.

1 of 1 readers found this review useful.

★★★★☆

Great tranquil site

Location

Swattesfield campsite is situated in lovely countryside with pleasant surrounding villages, a secluded location, well away from main roads. Although there is a train line nearby, it is far enough away that the sound is not a disturbance.

You can access the Thornham walks directly from the gate which is a huge plus for the campsite for us. As well as the local woods, these walks can take you through surrounding countryside and villages around the Thornham estate along quiet, lovely and well waymarked paths. The nearby Forge Café does a nice cuppa, cakes and meals, and is recommended.

Also recommended is the Four Horseshoes inn, that does a good meal at a fair price, and a nice selection of ales, ciders, etc.

Site

The site itself is pretty in a natural way, and surrounded by trees, hedges and wildlife - a real ‘relax and enjoy nature’ kind of place. The pitches are unmarked, and the provided fire pits are great, adding to the back to basics feel.

We visited just after the Easter holiday as others were leaving, and so had the site to ourselves. But with the size of the site and the number of pitches that are advertised, I can’t imagine it feeling too busy. It really does feel as if it is run more as a hobby than a commercial enterprise.

The facilities block is basic, but clean and more than adequate, with plentiful hot water. Washing up is undercover. There are the ‘fridge and freezer for campers use, and nice little touches like leaflets for surrounding attractions, map of the local area, a couple of shelves of books to borrow from, the weather forecast on a blackboard, etc.

We found Jonathan, the owner, to be friendly, helpful and laid back. He appears to rely on campers natural consideration for others rather than a long list of rules to be followed, asking only for sensible things like parking your car near the entrance once you've unloaded to keep the site car free, and keeping fires off the grass to keep it looking nice.

Glamping

Our visit was partly to celebrate a special birthday, and so we opted to stay in one of the glamping accommodations - the shepherds hut. This was fantastic, lovely inside, a great wood burning stove to keep the chill at bay in the evening, even solar lighting. Picnic bench, ‘cooking station’ and fire pit. Very comfortable and highly recommended.

And even though we came to ‘glamp’ on this occasion, we would love to visit this campsite again with our tent.

1 of 1 readers found this review useful.

★★★★★

Would definitely recommend!

Had an overall enjoyable experience at this campsite. 

The site and surrounding areas were very lovely (even though it was a grey and rainy weekend), lots of walks on offer, and the facilities available were very good. I had gone to get away from London for the weekend and be just out in the countryside by myself (great since I was the only person there that weekend) and that is exactly what I got. The owner was very friendly and easy to have a conversation with as well as helpful while I was there. While shops and pubs are not extremely close they are hardly a difficult trek from the campsite and are in two very nice and friendly villages nearby. All in all I would definitely go again and recommend it to others who would like to get away to the countryside for the weekend.   

1 of 1 readers found this review useful.

★★★☆☆

not quite cool...

Had a nice night, good weather helped, and a nice pitch in the trees, but the site is let down by lots of small things: It's looking very tired after only a few years (last years pizza oven is falling apart), I would not call it small-child safe with the unfenced pond and the map and signs are pretty useless. Also, if they are pitching at this end of the market, then the "Ryan Air" approach to pricing needs to go, in that if they say they provide fire pits, they need to make it clear that this is only if you pay for their wood and kindling! Lastly, there are two good sorts of campsite owners, those you never see, and those you do see, but who are properly friendly and don't make you feel like you've suddenly appeared in their back-garden! Lastly....maybe a small thing to some people, but the main reason I won't be back, or recommending it; when I shake hands with someone, and introduce myself, the other person is supposed to do the same....VERY rude!

Response from campsite owner: 

A warm welcome is always open at Swattesfield Campsite to all lovely campers that are looking for a delightfully natural and open country campsite. For those happy campers looking for dappled walks, free-to-use showers, pizza oven, fridge and freezer, with a large double sink station and covered information area and car-free environment it's a welcome breath of fresh air. 

We welcome all campers that would like open fires, to get back to real camping if they wish with the freedom to camp almost where they wish as we don't have marked pitches. And for those that would like more comfort then there is always one of our Bell Tents. With double beds and two further kids beds if needed, there is also it's own cooking station with all your cooking implements, your own picnic table and fire pit you - really only need bring your bedding. We greet with open arms any camper that would like to stay in our Pixie Hut; big enough for two adults and two children, it has it's own wood-burning stove, outside chimenea, picnic table and all your cooking equipment. It's called a Pixie Hut because it's cute, quaint and set in the trees and it helps to keep trolls away - we don't like trolls.

Swattesfield Campsite is nature's garden, a truly back to nature experience where campers have the experience of seeing many wild birds and animals with Herons, Kingfishers, Moorhens and Eegrets all frequenting the natural pond on the upper field. On the lower field, which is almost two acres large, there is plenty of room for campers and is surrounded by trees and hedges and a real sun-trap. From here there's easy access to the free-to-use showers and free-to-use fridge and freezer to pop your cool beers, wines and ice-creams in. From the main camping area the free-to-use Thornham Walks offers 12 miles of way-marked walks where campers can visit the 11th Century thatched pub, The Four Horseshoes. Walkers can also take the easy going woodland paths to The Forge Cafe and free-to-use play area. There's also The Coach House - a family run cafe/restaurant offering delicious home cooked food at great value. 

Back to Swattesfield Campsite and campers can choose to have a fire and, whilst firewood literally does grow on trees, it's unable to be sustainable, slow-grown hard wood, dried, seasoned, hand-cut and netted for your convenience and like the fire wood we sell, there is also the hand cut kindling, dried, bagged and small enough to start the fire in our firepits. The fire pits we use are specifically chosen to be raised off the ground thus avoiding scorching and killing the grass below and keeping the site looking as lovely as possible. We also actively discourage campers that wish to burn and destroy the hedgerows and surrounding trees which are homes to many birds and insects and are a key part of the lifecycle of a real countryside campsite. 

Then there is the hand made, clay pizza oven, full of character and charm and a delight to cook in with a little practice! The pizza oven was made by squelching clay, straw and grit to make the perfect consistency so it will hold it's shape and retain the heat for cooking. The free-to-use pizza oven is an organic cooking station which is offered continuous tlc throughout the seasons to maintain it's appearance.

Swattesfield Campsite is lovely, we love lovely people to come and stay, to relax and enjoy a warm welcome, a great country side environment, that has space and big skies for small and big kids to enjoy.

With Love, Swattesfield Campsite

P.S. Hugs are always available to cheer you up...they're free too!

1 of 1 readers found this review useful.

★★★★☆

Bell Tenters

Had a lovely, relaxing time for 3 nights in a Bell Tent with our doggy. The Bell Tent itself is really cute – tonnes of space, really comfy bed and a straw carpet. They provide you with a gas cooker and all plates/cutlery.  We went just before kids broke up for summer holidays and so the campsite was really quiet – perfect!  Jonathan is really friendly and you barely see him after you check in – nice to be left to your own devices. Facilities are basic but no less than you need.

It’s a fair walking distance to the local pub or shop (especially in the heat!)  Local forests are lovely, but the heat is absolutely baking in the open wheat fields. Have no complaints about our stay, just that the local area has relatively little in terms of breathtaking landscape. The area is very flat and so there is a lack of sightseeing such a mountains or streams/lakes where you could have perhaps dangled your legs in the summer heat.  

But if you love Suffolk, this is the place for you!

P.S- there is a great tree swing in the forest off the back part of the campsite where the Shepherds Huts are!!  Nice forest too :)

Beware of the lack of phone signal in the campsite or anywhere locally! Luckily the local pub, The Four Horseshoes, kindly let us borrow their landline to call a cab! We did discover that there was signal in the forest by the Shepherds Huts though – strangely!  

0 of 1 readers found this review useful.

Nearby Campsites

Cool Factor

Wonderfully tranquil, with not a jot to do but walk, cycle or just sit and think.

Pitches

12 unmarked, grassy camping pitches. 3 bell tents (sleeping 4/5), 2 pixie huts and a converted Suffolk hay cart (sleeping 2 adults and 2 children).

Who's In

Tents, small campervans, dogs – yes. Caravans, big groups, young groups – no.

On Site

Campfires allowed off the ground. No hook-ups. Simple but clean toilet block, with 2 showers, 6 sinks and 6 toilets. Small shop sells camping equipment and food essentials. Gislingham village shop is a 15-minute walk away.

Off Site

Thornham Walks – 12 miles of waymarked footpaths accessible from the site (open daily 9am–6pm April–October; shorter hours outside this period).

Food & Drink

If you don't fancy cooking, would like a special greeting pack (we're thinking Champagne, chocolates, flowers!), or a breakfast, lunch, nibbles hamper then these can be provided on request. The Thornham Estate’s Forge Tea Room (01379 783035) and Thornham Coach House (01379 783373) are a 15–20-minute walk away and serve lunch and dinner. Try also the Four Horseshoes pub (01379 678777) in nearby Thornham Magna, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and is about a 25-minute walk.

Open

Open first spring Half-term until last Half-term of the year.

2015: late March - early November.

The Damage

Tent Pitches from £12 and Campervans from £17 per night.

Pixie Huts from £195 per Monday to Friday or Friday to Monday break.

Boutique Bell Tents from £170 per Monday to Friday or Friday to Monday break.

Suffolk Hay Cart from £195 per Monday to Friday or Friday to Monday break.

Getting There

To find the campsite from the A140, follow the signs to the Thornham Walks and continue past the Walks entrance , continuing along Gislingham Road for about a mile and then turn right soon after seeing a 'school' sign and 'Slow' marked on the road - there is a Swattesfield Campsite sign marking the entrance on the right. And if you're travelling from the opposite direction and through Gislingham, exit the village past the Church and towards Thornham Magna. About 1/2 mile out of the village and soon after travelling under a train tunnel you will see a 'school' sign and 'Slow' marked on the road - there is a Swattesfield Campsite sign marking the entrance on the left.

Public Transport

The nearest station is Diss (6 miles) which is on the direct mainline from London Liverpool Street and often stops at Manningtree, Colchester, Stowmarket, Diss and Norwich. It's only an hour and a half from London and there are usually cabs waiting at the station or you can put your bike on the train and cycle.

Tags

Beach huts  Bedding  Bell tents  Bicycle routes  Bushcraft courses  Campervans permitted  Campfires permitted  Cooking facilities  Dogs welcome  Exclusive Hire  Fishing  Forest  Glamping & luxury camping available  Good for kids  Good walks  Linen  Nice views  Pods  Remote location  Romantic retreat  Shepherd’s huts  Short walk to pub  Showers  Tent pitches  Towels  Wooden wigwams  Woodland camping