Review: £10-a-night camping at Trinity Park
- Credit: Natalie Sadler
Camping is the way to holiday this summer - and despite a whole wave of new campsites opening in Suffolk, pitches are still in short supply.
The back-to-basics holiday option has been rising in popularity in recent years as families seek more sociable outdoor-themed breaks, but the Covid pandemic has accelerated that growth and now us seasoned campers are struggling to get booked in.
I left it late booking for bank holiday weekend (traditionally the start of the camping season for us) and when friends said they wanted to join us I was adamant we wouldn't get three large EHU pitches (electric hook up for those not in the know) on a prime weekend but I was to be proven wrong.
After reading a piece by my colleague Sophie Barnett on new camping sites in Suffolk, I discovered that Trinity Park - home of the famous Suffolk Show - was taking campers and we booked for the bargain price of £10 per night.
To put this into perspective, we were paid £25 a night 10 years ago when we camped at the now defunct Orwell Meadows just a few miles from Trinity Park, and this summer we have booked a site in Norfolk for £45 a night. And we even got the use of a picnic bench included, often sites charge £20 a weekend for this luxury.
I warned our friends not to expect much - but I was massively underplaying this little green oasis on the outskirts of Ipswich.
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When the show is set up it masks the natural beauty of the landscaped grounds and seeing it largely empty I was amazed at how many trees there were around site.
We camped in what would have been the countryside area had the 2021 show gone ahead last week, close to the forestry ring.
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There is a little wooded area, complete with a hand made wicker fence at the entrance point just a few hundred feet from our tents - a tranquil, shaded spot that I have never spotted before despite numerous visits to the show.
Our children adopted this as their new hang out and spent much of the weekend searching for insects, playing hide and seek and make believe games. It could not have been more idyllic. I only ever book campsites with a playground but this proved children really can make their own entertainment and don't always need swings and slides to occupy them.
Only one of the toilet blocks was open for campers - the brick built facility opposite where the vintage fun fair sets up - and a number of toilets were taped off for distancing reasons.
The block has just three showers for women and a similar number for men, which initially caused some concern. However, there was never a queue, showers were steaming hot, and powerful and even had an adjustable head - this may seem an odd observation but most campsites opt for low maintenance fixed heads that make it difficult to shower small humans.
A boot sale sprung up early Saturday morning, and the circus was also in state during our holiday but with 350-acres to play with it didn't impact on us at all.
They could have squeezed a few more campers in, or many more if they had opened up more toilet blocks but by offering only around 60 pitches it ensured campers were spread out, and gave a peaceful air that many more established campsites now lack. Even with our super-sized 8-man tent and a trailer parked on our pitch there was plenty of room around us.
The location of the showground - on the edge of Ipswich but with almost direct access to the A14 - made it the ideal base and we were able to offer our friends a tour of some of our favourite local spots.
We visited the Suffolk Food Hall where we browsed for lunch time treats while the children bounced on the pillow (we took it in turns to supervise the children), stopped off at Holywells Park to try out the splash park (which had yet to reopen), and took a trip to Felixstowe for fish and chips on the beach.
When it came to the take down (the least fun part of camping) my friends questioned why I had played down their expectations for the site and I had to admit I got it totally wrong. Far from being a cheap option that just gave us the chance to be together, Trinity Park proved to be a little gem of a campsite, especially with the scorching weather we had while we were away.
The price did not justify the beauty of this site and the team could have charged double, if not triple, that for what is on offer. If you are still looking for a campsite this summer, this could be the perfect option. After all, you don't need to go far when there is so much to see and do right here in Suffolk.