Cliff House Holiday Park
If you look at the website before your visit, don’t be put off by the emphasis on holiday cottages and caravans. This 30-acre woodland site has lots of prime tent pitches among the trees and on the lawn in front of the house. If hide-and-seeking in the woods, peddling along the figure-of-eightshaped path through the site or ball games aren’t enough to keep the kids busy, they can always head off to the playground for climbing, swinging and sliding, or to the indoor family games room for table football and pool. Or go and visit the neighbours! The National Trust’s Dunwich Heath Coastal Centre and Beach is right next door.
Steps (rather steep ones) take you down to the stony, band of beach itself, at the bottom of the cliff, where you can fly kites, beachcomb or paddle in the sea, or take the short walk along the pebbles to the Coastal Centre, for porpoise - and seal -spotting in the Seawatch Room. While also on the doorstep (or should that be tentstep?) is the Minsmere bird reserve, recently on the BBC's Springwatch and home to fantastic nature trails throughout the heath, woodland, beach and dunes. Special events are organised year round, so you can try your hand at nestboxbuilding and join in their birdwatching safaris, while the birding hides are open for anyone to use (if you've got the patience to keep quiet for long enough that is!)
The combination of quiet woodland camping, days on the beach and a wealth of treasures to explore, make for an all round gem of a campsite. Yes, the place is constantly modernising, with an onsite bar, electricity on almost every pitch and a second, newly refurbished shower block, but thankfully it's more to keep up with the times than to slide the slippery slope towards becoming a commercial power house. The feel is still one that very few sites are able to master; being large, universal and welcoming to both campers and caravaners, yet still retaining a small-scale feel and that true sense of camping where you can pedal your bike safely around by day and snooze peacefully beneath the trees at night.
FacilitiesThe grassy area in front of the house is perfect for ball games. The 2 shower blocks have recently been refurbished, with 3 showers, 4 toilets and 4 washbasins for women, and 3 toilets, 3 showers and 3 washbasins for men in the main block. There are 4 washing-up sinks and a launderette with 2 washing machines and 2 tumble-dryers. The playground has climbing frames, swings, football goals and a slide, and there is also an onsite indoor games room, pub and restaurant. A small shop (selling all the basics) is open all day and during the evenings in high season, and from 8.30am–3pm in low season, as well as evenings if it is busy enough. There is immediate access via steps to the beach.
Tents, campervans, caravans, dogs, groups... all welcome.
A 10-minute drive (or hour’s stroll) takes you into Walberswick. Here you can do a spot of crabbing (it’s the home of the British Open Crabbing Championships) before hopping onto a foot ferry for a short ride over the water, or take a longer boat trip from the harbour. Alternatively walk into Southwold, with its sandy beach, colourful bathing huts and quirky pier with hand-made penny-slot machines. The National Trust’s Dunwich Heath Coastal Centre and Beach (01728 648501) is next door and the RSPB’s Minsmere reserve (01728 648281) has hides and nature trails – recently seen on the BBC's Springwatch.
Food & DrinkThe 12 Lost Churches (the name of the onsite pub/restaurant) does pub grub and children’s meals, and the National Trust tea room along the beach at the old Coastguard Cottages (01728 648501) has splendid views and boasts the best puds on the Suffolk coast. If fish and chips are more your thing, head for the Flora Tearooms on the beach car park at Dunwich. If you fancy more upmarket pub dining, children are welcome at the Crown in Westleton (01728 648777), which even bakes its own bread.
Opening TimesAll year.
PitchesThere are around 120 marked pitches (50 for tents) spread throughout the woods or on the flat grassy lawn in front of the house. Plenty with electrical hook-ups.
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Rated ★★★★☆ over 4 reviews
Lovely warm, clean showers
Peace beside the sea
As the other reviews say, this is a really lovely site in a stunning seaside setting. We camped for a week under tall pine trees, which gave privacy and much-needed shade as the weather hotted up. Soft bark chip on the flat camping pitches meant that we enjoyed really comfortable nights' sleeping. The weather was beautiful, which meant we could cook and eat outside – but bug repellent is a must! We also walked the short distance to the steps leading down to Dunwich beach and enjoyed some night-time barbecues and campfires on this pebbly and mostly empty beach.
So far as the facilities, the showers are large and clean with plenty of hot water via a push-button shower system. There were only three showers each for men and women in the main block, but there was never any problem getting in when we wanted – I assume the caravans have all their own facilities. There is also a large laundry room and indoor and outdoor washing up areas. The shop sells most things you might need - bread, milk, insect repellent, string, matches, etc etc - with newspapers needing to be ordered the day before. The bar and restaurant is really good and just not what you expect from a campsite. Staff are friendly and helpful, the food is excellent and the interior stunning. The only downside is that although there are plenty of tables, chairs and benches outside to enjoy a drink and watch your children playing in the huge adventure playground, they were not particularly clean each time we sat outside and the chairs and tables on the balcony have definitely seen better days.
The site is perfectly situated for trips to Aldeburgh, Southwold, etc and there are some beautiful walks from the site. The campsite staff were extremely helpful in suggesting walks and maps are available from the shop. We walked along the cliff tops and made our way to the pub in Dunwich, which is well worth a visit, with a large garden and fabulous food.
We have stayed in many different types of campsite all over the country, but this is probably the quietest we have encountered. For us, this was a bit of a downside as the place definitely lacks atmosphere in the evening. The site manager seemed to enthusiastically police the camp at night – one poor family group who had put their children to bed and were just sat chatting quietly outside their tent were told to be quiet. The time? 10.45pm. As a family-orientated campsite, this was rather unnecessary. While the weather was so beautiful and warm, we liked to sit outside in the evenings, but you did feel you had to whisper as soon as it got dark. In addition, we found the extra costs rather more than we have encountered on other sites. We booked for two adults, a teenager and a child and had to bring a pup tent at the last minute for my teenage son. We had paid for each person on the pitch, but ended up having to pay another almost £50 for the pup tent, which seemed incredibly expensive. Electric hook-up leads, too, cost £50 deposit plus £15 to actually use – again, far more than we have paid on other sites.
But these things aside, this site is rather lovely and well worth a visit.
Cliff House is a fanatically sheltered site on the Suffolk coast. Even went the weather is inclement you can expect a warm stay with the newly built bar and restaurant area, offering alcoholic drinks, hot drinks and freshly cooked food.
The site comprises of a variety of erected tipis and bell tents to suit the glamper, pitches under the canopy of the non-deciduous evergreens, or large euro tents and motor home pitches. The pitches are spacious and nicely arranged. You don’t need to pitch right next to a motor home if you don’t want too either, there are enough options on the lawn opposite the house or towards the back. Right at the back of the campsite you can head down the steps (not suitable for pushchairs or elderly) on to a shingle beach. There are some great walks along the beach to Dunwich village or to the RSPB Minsmere birds reserve. On hot days you can also have drinks on the balcony of the bar looking over the campsite.
In July there is a big cycle event that comes through the village called the Dunwich Dynamo. This is quite a spectacle, thousands of cyclist who have cycled through the night from London, find themselves at the end of the journey on the beach in the village. It's worth checking out! But also worth finding out the dates as it may hamper plans to get lunch in the village pub.
There’s plenty to do in the area, Dunwich has a Good Pub guide approved pub in the village plus some old ruins. Head further along the coast to explore the Suffolk coastline and beautiful coastal towns and villages such as Southwold. It’s definitely a better site for young children and adults rather than teenagers as Dunwich is a quiet village in the evening.The facilities are clean tidy and spacious, all flushing toilets and fair pressure showers. Not an eco loo insight, thankfully! There is a shop on site which a good range of things from children’s kites, toiletries and foods.
The site is particularly good for one situated on the coast, clean, a good size, pleasant walks, not too commercialized but has a good shop, bar and somewhere to eat if the weather decides to be a bit British!
A superb site but terrible customer service!
This is a really lovely site with good facilities and in a fantastic sea side setting, but very much let down by the terrible attitude of the staff. we have had a wonderful week at Cliff House, and would very much like to return, but feel put off doing so by the unpleasant nature of the staff both in the booking office / reception and in the restaurant.
The facilities are well appointed, clean and quite modern. the site is large, but as it is very wooded you never feel on top of each other and it feels quite secluded. we were lucky enough to have a cliff top pitch and even though we couldn't see the sea from our tent we could hear the waves on the pebbled beach which is a lovely sound to go to sleep to.
We had some problems with not getting the booking we had asked for (travelling with another family had asked for adjoining pitches, both with hook up and got pitches at opposite ends of the site without hook up), the reception staff were quite rude when we queried this. Also getting fed in the restaurant was a bit of a challenge, but the food was ok when we did get it.
A course in customer care for the staff and you'd have a perfect site!
If you don't mind a bit of aggressive snobbery then the site is worth a visit.
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