Another site that we picked because it’s quite close to home (just over an hour away) so perfect for a last-minute weekend getaway. First impressions were disappointing: the site is immediately off a roundabout on the A143 – the road into Bungay is a right-turn at the roundabout with the campsite off to the left – and if you didn’t know that the site exists behind the hedgerow you’d surely keep on driving and not give it a second look. From the road you can only see a couple of dilapidated sheds and the tops of a few rotting old caravans. We had booked in advance though so we ventured in through the gates.
We arrived at Outney Meadow quite late so the main reception, housed in a converted stable, was closed but someone appeared from a bungalow opposite reception to greet us and asked us to follow him to our pitch. He then promptly jumped on a bike and cycled off with us driving behind in the van – a nice little touch. The main carpark at the entrance to the site continues the impression given from the road – it’s a large gravel area lined with old tractors and mouldy caravans. The route to the camping pitch is much better though – down a conifer lined lane with three separate camping areas at the end. One field is exclusively for tents, one has a more formal arrangement of marked pitches around the edge and the third, where we stayed, is part free-for-all (although we were advised where to pitch in order to maintain the regulation distance between vans) and both with water points and electric hook-ups dotted around the field. The site wasn’t very busy when we arrived on the Friday, but we were told that it was fully booked for the following night. A short time after we arrived, the night warden cycled round to introduce himself and check that we had settled in okay.
We parked our two Bongos near the entrance to the field and close to the shower block which also housed the wash-up area. The showers (2 in the ladies, and 2 in the gents) are free and operated on a timed push-button system but hot water in the wash up area is on a meter costing 20p for a bowl full. The showers were just about clean enough but looking a little tired, and the push-button system was frustrating – I’m told that the showers in the ladies’ barely gave 5 seconds of hot water for each press.The small village of Bungay is a 5-10minute walk from the site and has all the essentials covered – newsagent, bakery, butcher, green grocer, and several pubs including the Green Dragon that brews it’s own beer. There’s also a castle ruin that’s free to walk around. It’s quite a picturesque village but unlikely to keep you occupied for more than an hour or so.
The real attraction of Outney Meadow campsite is that it’s situated within a loop of the River Waveney with direct access to the river from the site and the owners run a popular canoe hire business. The four of us rented a pair of canoes at £20 for half a day and spent 3 hours rowing from the site to the road bridge and back (about 3 miles each way, but the way we zig-zagged across the water I think we went a lot further!). It proved to be a popular way for children and families to spend an afternoon, although not everyone went the full 3 miles to the end of the loop, but if the way our arms ached that evening was anything to go by, then I can understand why!
Our verdict is that if you live in Suffolk or Norfolk and are looking for somewhere fairly close for a short break then this site is worth considering. We’d definitely recommend the canoes, but don’t try to row too far and take a picnic and a couple of drinks. If we lived further away, then Outney Meadow and the area around Bungay in general probably isn’t appealing enough to warrant a longer journey.