Stay the night: Camps Heath Barn, Suffolk

A refurbished farm building offers the perfect site for extended family or large groups to explore the Broads, says Sarah Barrell

There appear to be canal boats motoring along the top of the field.

My four-year-old alerts me to this weirdness, so I prepare an indulgent smile, but on inspection the marshy land stretching out towards the horizon is so very flat that it's difficult to tell the broads from the fields. The boats that ply these waters, heading inland from Oulton Broad towards Norfolk's canal network, really do look like grass-top craft.

There is a lot to go "wow!" at here if you're four. With nothing but the occasional tree to interrupt the marshy flatlands, the sun and moon can be seen keeping each other company in the sky hours before dusk or dawn; and dawn hits land first in this most easterly corner of England, after its journey across the North Sea from Amsterdam. All this can be watched, like a very slow-paced movie, from the glorious picture window of this newly converted barn.

The entire west wall of this 350-year-old red-brick structure was rebuilt with the addition of a two-storey window that lends the barn's two lounge rooms something of a cathedral elegance. With help from the Traditional Building Company, owner Jan Overy, spent three years living in a trailer while converting this former dairy barn into self-catering accommodation. It opened last year and this spring received five stars from Visit England. Jan's labour of love continues this summer with work on a new pool house complete with indoor and outdoor swimming pool, sauna, gym and yoga gallery. He lives on site now in a studio annex and manages to be present and helpful but not intrusive. Colouring books, extra hangers and other friendly bits of kit appeared as if delivered by pixies to the laundry room, and the kids were invited over to meet his horses when they were turned out into the paddocks in front of the barn.

The rooms

Big sandstone flags line the ground floor, which has double-height ceilings supported by thick wooden beams. These alongside wall tapestries and wrought-iron chandeliers make the barn feel rather grand. A huge collection of cottagey "antiques" – slightly twee displays of everything from old typewriters to vintage ice skates – temper the opulence somewhat. The main barn sleeps 12 in four rooms (not six rooms as the Hoseasons website insists on suggesting). There are two double rooms on the ground floor, and the upstairs has two family rooms sleeping four; each has a kids' room with two single beds and a double adults' mezzanine room with vaulted ceilings and views over fields. All rooms are en suite and downstairs rooms have underfloor heating. Soundproofing makes it less noisy than other barn conversions. Bigger parties can spread out into an adjoining two-bedroom cottage that sleeps four people.

The food and drink

The barn's big kitchen opens on to a terrace with BBQ and picnic table; inside there's a huge range cooker and a dining table that comfortably seat our party of 12. It's about getting people together here, and to fuel the feast, Suffolk has no lack of gourmet grocers, farm shops and fishmongers. Head to Adnams in Southwold (about 25 minutes away) for superb British wines and beers. Further south, the town of Orford has its own smoke house and great seafood shops with everything from local oysters to Cromer crab. For staples, the village shop is within walking distance and a couple of big supermarkets are 10 minutes by car. Jan leaves the kitchen stocked with basics on arrival and has suggestions for everything from pubs and restaurants to butchers and chippies.

The extras

Much of the surrounding land is managed by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, and there are lovely walks along bridle and canal paths plus great birding-watching (barn owls, kingfishers, marsh harriers and terns). The broad sands and kiss-me-quick distractions of Lowestoft are five minutes away; wilder stretches of coast offer crabbing and seal spotting. Our kids loved Bewilderwood (bewilderwood.co.uk), a treehouse adventure park populated by mythical Boggles and Twiggles. The barn has TVs, DVD players and free Wi-Fi and, this autumn, begins residential yoga weekends.

The access

Children and pets are welcome (with an additional charge of £12 per dog, per stay). There are high chairs and stair gates and the front garden is enclosed, although parents need to be aware of a dyke bordering the property. The grounds are scattered with shingle and the barn is spread over three floors with narrow staircases, so wheelchair access is difficult.

The bill

Sarah Barrell stayed at Camps Heath Barns (REF E4980) as a guest of Hoseasons (0844 847 1100; hoseasons.co.uk) which has a week's stay from £880.

The address

The Barn, Queens Highway, Camps Heath, Oulton NR32 5DW (01502 562981; campsheathbarn.co.uk).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
Angel Di Maria is shown the red card
tech
Sport
Roger Federer after his win over Tomas Berdych
sport
Life and Style
News in briefs: big pants in 'Bridget Jones's Diary'
fashionBig knickers are back
Sport
James Milner is set to sign for Liverpool this week despite rival interest from Arsenal
sportReds baulk at Benteke £32.5m release clause
News
The controversial Motor Neurone Disease Association poster, featuring sufferer Michael Smith, has drawn a series of angry complaints
newsThis one has been criticised for its 'threatening tone'
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Bid Writer

    £25000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

    £23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

    Day In a Page

    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific
    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    Dame Colette Bowe - interview
    When do the creative juices dry up?

    When do the creative juices dry up?

    David Lodge thinks he knows
    The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

    Fashion's Cher moment

    Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
    Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

    Health fears over school cancer jab

    Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
    Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

    Weather warning

    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
    LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

    High hopes for LSD

    Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
    German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

    Saving Private Brandt

    A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral