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Alde Garden

UK England East Anglia Suffolk Saxmundham

  • Campfires allowed
  • Short walk to pub
  • Good walks nearby
Never before, in the history of human camping, has so much variety been packed into 0.89 acres of garden.

If there were an annual award for ‘English campsite with the greatest diversity of accommodation’, the owners of Alde Garden would be permanently practising their acceptance speeches and making mental notes not to blub on discovering that they’ve triumphed over Angelina Jolie again.

Guests to this peaceful pub garden, on the edge of the little village of Sweffling, can choose between a stay in a bell tent, a yurt, a gypsy caravan, and a ‘wooden tent on stilts’ (inspired by a trip to New Zealand). Alternatively, they can bring along their own tent and camp in the time-honoured fashion. Indeed, youthful owners Marie and Mark encourage non-campers who have booked into the more glampy accommodation to bring along a tent to give traditional camping a try. Battle-hardened tentophiles, meanwhile, can spend their final night in the yurt or gypsy caravan, say, as a bit of a naughty treat (there’s even a cute self-catering cottage for those who need to bait the hook for less enthusiastic campers).

However you decide to stay here, the vibe remains the same. A garden kept deliberately wild (and with its own friendly hedgehog) combined with facilities artfully constructed from reclaimed and recycled materials engender a laid-back atmosphere, where the sixties and the tenties collide to rather pleasing effect.

Take the brilliant jungle shower, for example – made from wood Mark and Marie have picked up. Showerers can hitch up one of the site’s bags of solar-heated water to enjoy an (entirely modest) outdoor shower, with the added bonus of a view of next door’s free-range pigs. There are also two spotless conventional showers for those for whom cleanliness is next to indoorsiness.

The pathways around the 0.89-acre (they’ve measured it) site weave a web of discovery with different glamping structures and homemade wares at every end. There’s also a converted wooden barn communal kitchen area complete with straw bale seats – a particular hit with kids – plus a well-stocked bookcase in the yurt. They’ve all been lovingly crafted by hand with materials that would otherwise have gone to waste. A friend of the couple has even created the wood-burners from discarded gas bottles. And if you’re more into cycling than recycling, you can borrow one from the cluster of bikes, including a tandem, kept on site.

After dark, myriad colourful solar-powered lights and sun jars give the place a magical dingly dell feel, an illusion enhanced by the soft glow from the brick pizza oven (bring your own ingredients and become Italian for the night), and the rosy blush of the communal fire.

Like chicken and egg, though, it’s difficult to decide which was the afterthought here, the campsite or the pub. The White Horse – whose garden forms the site – is open four nights a week and has been awarded East Anglian CAMRA pub of the year. It would be easy, from its cosy interior – with regular live music, roaring woodburners and real ales straight from the cask – to think the campsite was merely tacked on for a little extra cash. Yet pitched in your quiet spot in the garden it would be equally valid to decide the pub was the real ‘added-extra’, something that simply couldn’t compete with the inspiring campsite outside. Either way. Who’s complaining?

Visitors should note that there’s one space at the very top of the garden that’s not open to guests – where there’s a teeny tiny tent. ‘That’s ours’, laughs Mark. ‘We hated the idea of not being able to camp here ourselves so we’ve got our own tent up for whenever we want to treat ourselves.’ A campsite so good the owners camp there themselves? You won’t get a better recommendation than that.



There’s a communal campfire near the bottom of the field and 5 small bring-your-own-tent pitches scattered around the side of the field in cosy nooks and crannies beneath or behind trees. The loos, in buildings attached to the house, are very clean (2W, 1M, plus a compost loo), and you can choose between a conventional shower (1W, 1M) and the jungle shower under the trees (definitely worth a go – it’s surprising how warm the sun can make the water). Kids love the numerous chickens and ducks that wander about the site, while a diablo and a poi are available for any minors who live in hope of running away to join the circus some day. A room is given over to a freezer, a fridge, a washing machine, and microwave. There’s also a covered kitchen/dining area with gas cookers, straw-bale seats, cutlery, crockery, pots, pans, tea, and coffee. A mobile shop stops at the campsite on Fridays from noon to 2pm, but there’s no shop in Sweffling itself. There is some occasional traffic noise from the road that runs past the site.

Suitable For

Tents – yes. Campervans, caravans, dogs, groups – no.


Framlingham Castle (01728 724189; see English Heritage) is an astonishingly fine yet little known 12th-century fortress with frequent child-friendly events. The coastal gems of Dunwich, Southwold, and Aldeburgh are within striking distance, as is the world-famous bird reserve at Minsmere (see RSPB) with nature trails, hides, and visitor centre. More birdwatching, as well as walks along the Alde Estuary and boat trips are all to be had at Snape Maltings (01728 688303), whose concert hall is the home of the Aldeburgh Festival (01728 687110) co-founded by Benjamin Britten and held every June.

Food & Drink

Alde Garden’s on-site pub, the White Horse (White Horse), is open 4 nights (Fri, Sat, Sun & Mon) plus Sunday lunchtimes, so you’re never more than stumbling distance away from a refreshing drink. They have an excellent (and ever-changing) selection of real ales and a small collection of organic fairtrade wines and carefully chosen speciality spirits. Otherwise, there’s a pleasant 8-and-a-bit-minute walk through a meadow to another White Horse (01728 663497) at Rendham – there’s a third White Horse close by too, nobody knows quite why – where you can get a decent bite to eat and sup some locally brewed Earl Soham ale. The extensive Friday Street Farm Shop (01728 602783) at Farnham sells its own home-grown fruit and vegetables and doubles as a café.


Early May–end Sept

Are you the Owner?


Contact Alde Garden, The White Horse Inn, Low Road, Sweffling, Suffolk, IP17 2BB

Show Map

Getting There

Be ye warned – SatNav will take you on a rather circuitous route through Sweffling. Rather you should aim for the small town of Saxmundham on the A12. From there, take the B1119 west. Pass the White Horse in Rendham, round a sharp left- then right-hand bend, and immediately after another sharp left-hand bend, turn right at a crossroads and you’re at Alde Garden.

If you can get yourself to Saxmundham station , there is a local taxi firm, Swift Car (01728 602986), which will pick you up from the station and take you to the site for around £7.50. Or there's a bus service with a stop directly opposite the pub.


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Rated ★★★★★ over 16 reviews


Stunning Place that I keep going back to

I absolutely love Alde Garden and have been going at least once a year since 2012, (up to 5 times in one season). I've travelled to the site by car, public transport and even cycled the 60 miles a few times - sustainability is positively encouraged throughout the site with wood burning stoves, sunshine powered showers and even the eggs provided by the on-site hens.

Jul 2, 2019 by Dave Souch


We have now had two wonderful holidays in the dragonfly yurt with our two young children. We have had lovely days relaxing on the site and playing at the park in nearby Rendham, and great days out crabbing at Walberswick and on the beaches at Southwold, Dunwich and Aldeburgh. The campsite is magical in the evenings with the campfire going, and we love cooking and eating outside on the bbq and in the jungle kitchen. The yurt itself provides plenty of room to stretch out in, with a table for drawing pictures and playing games. On cooler days a woodburner adds to the cosiness.
Aug 10, 2018 by Jane

A little gem

This place is so amazing that it`s almost impossible to describe. Everything was perfect, we stayed in the hideout for one night and we loved it! The place is perfect for two people, relaxing and even if it is in the camping, it feels like we were miles away from everything. The communal areas are equipped with everything and choices of organic food and fresh daily eggs where a plus (loved the honesty pot!). The small pub is just beautiful and relaxing, great choice of beers and board games. The surroundings are perfect for amazing and scenic walking, can`t wait to be back to explore more! Thank you Marie for everything and see you soon :)
Jul 21, 2018 by Silvia

A Magical Campsite

This was our second visit to Alde Garden, and once again we were given a very warm welcome by Marie and Mark. They have created something very special and me, my partner and our three kids all very quickly relax into the calm, peaceful and beautiful grounds. The wild nature of the campsite is wonderful, with it's winding paths, Ducks and Geese and plenty of bird song. This is a truly magical place set up and run by two lovely people. Thanks again. Look forward to seeing you soon. Tom
Jun 25, 2018 by Tom Hoyland

Beautiful site

We stayed in the Dragonfly Yurt for the weekend in late May 2018, with our two children. This was our second visit having previously stayed in the Bell tent a couple of summers ago. The reason for coming back are plenty, but it’s always held a special place for us as a truly magical site. The hosts Marie and Mark are welcoming you into their garden, and are great to have around. As are the geese and chickens. There’s so much to enjoy at this eco-friendly site from the jungle shower to eco toilets. However, you do have the option of the standard facilities. The shelter is well stocked and you can meet people whilst cooking or making a cuppa. The firepit allows for communal fun and the garden itself ensures you have privacy, which is great considering it’s not huge. The Yurt is clean and funkily designed. The pub is attached and allows for a decent beer in a traditional setting. All in all, the coolest site we’ve stayed at. We will be back next year
Jun 4, 2018 by Paul and Katy

Perfect cottage and welcoming hosts

Our stay at Badger Cottage was perfect. We had everything we needed in the cottage as well as it being comfortable and warm with the log burner. Loved the big bath and being so near to the pub where everyone was so welcoming and the beer and pies tasted delicious. We really enjoyed playing bar billiards too! Looking forward to coming back in the summer to see the new round house and garden when it’s in full swing
Jan 31, 2018 by Sara

A gorgeous little cottage

Thank you to Marie and Mark for welcoming us to Badger cottage. We had such a lovely weekend. The cottage is gorgeous. We loved the log burner, it was all lit for when we arrived which made the cottage smell so nice as well as warm and cosy. And the pub, only a few steps away was so welcoming and friendly. Thank you. We will be back x
Mar 3, 2017 by sian

Brilliant site for kids and nature

We stayed here one weekend late Summer 2013, our first camping trip with our 8mth and 3yr old. A lot of care has been taken with the site and on arriving you have a real sense of entering a different world. We all loved the various chickens, ducks and other animals roaming the place, the wild gardens, and the relaxing atmosphere. We pitched our own tent in a secluded spot by the pond : 'Pond Pitch'. The site is based around a fully equipped open communal kitchen area; the kids loved the hay bale seats and quickly made friends. The pizza oven was fired up one evening, and we had a lot of fun making our tea whilst eating it around the campfire with some of the other guests. Having access to a proper pint from the pub next door helped too...

A brilliant site and we'll definitely be going back.

May 15, 2014 by AndyS

Soul Food

My wife and I stayed at Alde Garden last Saturday night, having had an arduous 10 minute drive to get there. We are regulars at the attached pub, and had been given a "Yurt voucher" as a present, hence our little local excursion.

It is difficult to write a review about this wonderful place without getting overly poetic but bear with me. The spread of camping options covers all the bases you need, ranging from small tent pitches, through to a bell tent, a tipi, a gypsy caravan, two yurts and the very latest creation of a "hideout" shelter roofed with old vinyl records!

All this is secreted in various nooks and crannies created in the garden and tucked into/behind enough trees and bushes such that nobody is staring into their neighbour's window as it were. This is typical of the theme running through the place and is an example of the attention to detail in all aspects of it both large and small.

Marie was on "hen feeding" duty as we arrived; not only do Marie and Mark run the campsite and the pub (The Sweffling White Horse if you're passing), they also have assorted ducks, chickens and geese to care for too. If you stay here in the summer then expect to meet some or all of them at some point; they are entertaining creatures if a little noisy in the morning.

We were staying in Barn Owl yurt, which is a gem of a place. Being a typical bloke I was drawn to the woodburner heater which I was shown how to light and set up properly and safely. All my incendiary desires were provided for with a good supply of newspaper, kindling, firewood and big heatproof gloves. Chaps, if you don't have the luxury of an open fire at home (like me) then stay here when it's cool enough to use the stove; you know it makes sense.

The rest of the yurt is furnished and equipped with all the other essentials, including a wash stand, calor gas stove, table, books, solar lighting and loafing rugs in case the lure of the woodburner is too much to leave. In all it is a charming space; the panel in the top of the roof is aligned to catch the rising and setting sun, but in our case it was more about being rainproof but more of that later.

The campsite facilities in general are again so thoughtfully provided that you don't have to do much in the way of "what domestic stuff to bring" thinking; it is already there. Kettles, pots, pans, utensils and other kitchenalia is all kept for general use in the large open fronted communal use shelter, again containing a couple of gas rings and running drinking water. If you fancy yourself as an outdoor cook then you have the choice of the wood fired pizza oven or the communal camp fire; it is another example of the variety of choices you have.

We arrived at the site just before 6.00pm and by 6.30 we were sitting by the camp fire with a glass of cheeky red, ordered in advance by me to help us settle in so far from home. In essence, the rest of the evening followed that pattern, and due to an unfortunate "ships in the night" moment we missed chatting to the couple in the other yurt so had the fire to ourselves all evening. It can't be stressed enough that the simple pleasure of us just sitting by a wood fire listening to the increasingly vocal owls as it got dark was sublime; soul food indeed.

We retired to bed and by midnight were listening to an epic rainstorm trying to drill its way into the yurt, contrasted with the soft red glow through the stove air vent. Cosy? You bet.

If you want to come somewhere truly special, run by special people then you know what to do.

Oct 14, 2013 by TP


I had a lovely stay here recently in the Bell Tent which was very roomy but also snug. Great little place, lots of ducks, geese & hens running about and it has a magical feel at night when the fairy and solar lights come on.  Haven't camped in years so was a bit of a culture shock especially on the cool moist September mornings but I loved it. Solar showers were far better than I had anticipated & I was sorry not to get to try the jungle shower but we just didn't have enought sun sadly.  Nice cycling from the door (I cycled to Badingham on the lane to Pound Farm and only met one car) and easy enough walks to Framlingham and Saxmundham. Local Aspalls cyder is lush and the White Horse pub attached to Alde Garden is amazing, just as I imagine village pubs used to be years ago.   (Shame my camping companion was a miserable git who wouldn't make the most of a lovely few days, needless to say we will not be camping together again!). The yurts look beautiful as well and would be perfect for a romantic break, the gypsy caravan also looked stunning. Marie and Mark are great people and the green ethos of Alde Garden makes you really think about how you treat the environment a\nd how you can reduce your own carbon footprint.  Inspiring.

Sep 26, 2013 by Puddleduck

Alde Garden

There are so many people doing the green thing really badly it's refreshing to find people doing it so amazingly well. I'd been looking for a venue for residential reiki weekends and was turned down by a few campsites. Not only is Alde Garden perfect for a healing weekend Marie has bent over backwards to help. Fiona from Star Tarot. 

Aug 20, 2013 by Star Tarot

Alde Garden

We stayed here in June 2011 and have been hankering to go back ever since. It is a lovely place, calm and relaxed, where little things like a mother duck leading her ducklings to the tiny pond become the highlight of your morning. We stayed in the gypsy caravan, where sleeping in a "cupboard" under our bunk made our 5-year-old son wild with joy. The caravan itself is very attractive with a great view from the steps, and you have the added benefit of a "donkey hut" nearby for storage and cooking. The communal fridge is a good size and there is a microwave which comes in handy if you don't feel like cooking over a fire. The bathroom and tree bog were brand new and spotless.

We absolutely did not want to leave, and hope that we can both return AND find other sites as good as this!

Mar 19, 2013 by kmckay

Alde Garden

We have just returned from a four night stay at Alde Garden (should have been six but torrential rain and strong winds ruined the fun).

Alde Garden is a truly unique site. As well as the regular tent pitches it also has a variety of 'glamping' options including a tipi, a yurt and a gypsy caravan. We stayed in our own tent and it was great to be right in the centre of things with chickens, ducks and geese doing their thing around us.

The owners are keen to promote a communal vibe and have set up a kitchen which can be used by everyone - whether staying in a tent or one of the other options. Don't worry about forgetting any equipment as they have everything from corkscrews to hot water bottles. There is also a fridge, microwave and washing machine.

For me, one of the joys of camping is cooking on an open fire, and at Alde Garden you only have the option of doing this on the communal fire. It is a personal preference that I would rather have had my own fire to do this on. Many of the people staying their viewed the communal fire as a really good thing, and it was certainly nice to sit around the fire talking to new friends.

The facilities are excellent, clean flushing toilets as well as the delightful treebogs, which are the nicest composting toilets I have ever found! There is only one shower for ladies (I assume the same for gents) but this wasn't a problem when we were there.

The site is well placed to visit many Suffolk delights including Southwold, Dunwich and Aldeburgh. The food around the site is excellent, look out for the roadside tables buckling under the weight of home grown produce.

Sep 8, 2011 by rky

Alde Garden

We’ve just had a lovely relaxing holiday at Alde Garden, watching the chickens and ducks and generally chilling out. Great facilties - washing machine, fridge/freezer, spotless loos and shower, fully equipped camp kitchen... and free eggs from the birds. Lovely countryside and great hosts.
Jun 15, 2011 by mshamster

Alde Garden

Marie and Mark have created a truly special place at Alde Garden. It’s a beautiful campsite, so many personal touches designed to make your stay easier and more fun, a huge emphasis on conservation/ecology/recycling (you’ll feel more green just booking in!), and no cars on site, so it’s truly peaceful. The communal kitchen, eating area and firepit are a huge bonus, and it was great to beable to relax in the evenings and swap stories of the days events. We stayed in the yurt in October ’10, which was a brilliant experience - the woodburner kept us toastie warm, and we cooked on the gas stove in the yurt, and in the communal kitchen. Lit by solar powered fairy lights and candle lanterns, the yurt is magical at night, and the kids (5 and 2) loved it! We stayed again in April ’11, but the yurt was booked already, so we tried Badger Cottage, which was perfect - beautiful reclaimed furniture, roll top bath, fully equipped kitchen and lovely seating area...but we still spent most of our time on the campsite! Tried out the compost loo, and can honestly say it smells more pleasant than most indoor lavatories - the view of the fields next door is a added bonus while relieving yourself! And we’re booked in to stay again in September, in our tent this time...if repeat custom is any sign of a good campsite, then this is it!! My only concern is that this place will get so popular, we won’t get a pitch...
Jun 9, 2011 by indigoclaire

Alde Garden

My wife and I and and a couple of good friends decided on visiting Alde Gardens for my birthday last June. I think we were there in their second week of opening. We were all exited about the visit as the web site made the place sound fantastic and we were not disappointed. We were made very welcome by Marie and Mark (and the chickens and ducks that roam around) and immediately felt at home. There is such a relaxing, ram shackle feel to the place that made us feel really at ease and comfortable. We were only supposed to stay 3 nights but on day 2 I decided I would like to stay longer. The idea met with universal approval as no one wanted to leave anyway. So all in all we stayed for 5 nights and had a blast. The facilities are great, with stoves to use set up ready, a fridge and freezer for supplies, nice and clean toilets and showers. The jungle shower was popular with everyone!! Every evening ended up around a blazing camp fire sharing stories with the other guests (a right groovy crowd) and usually after a couple of beers a guitar would appear for a bit of a sing song. We pitched our own tents but the other accommodation looked very good. The Yurt and the Gypsy caravan being very popular and wonderfully laid out. There was a definite feeling of community that felt wonderful having been on some very impersonal camp sites in the past. The best recommendation I can give is that I’m going back for my birthday again this year and I can’t wait. Bright Blessings for the future. Gareth and Maddie
Jan 30, 2011 by Corngarden

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