When I first mentioned the words ‘caravan holiday’ to my husband he shuddered and mumbled something about yellow coats and Hi-de-Hi and went back to reading his newspaper. To say he was reluctant about a caravan holiday would be an understatement, but he did perk up slightly when I showed him the price of a Haven Holiday compared to the same week away at Centre Parcs (less than half the price!).
My friend (who owns her own caravan) recommended the Wild Duck site, as it is a smaller Haven site, set among woods and not right on the seaside. There are a range of caravan types, from the basic Standard to luxurious Platinum. I decided somewhere in between would suit us, choosing a Deluxe Plus model (the ‘Plus’ being the heating in the bathroom and bedrooms, which my husband had great delight pointing out that we probably wouldn’t need in the middle of summer – oh well). I was given the option of paying the total at the time of booking, or spreading the payments over the months before the holiday, for no extra cost.
Our holiday at Wild Duck
I’m not sure who was more excited about our holiday, Little Miss or me! The week before the holiday she asked every morning if we were going to Wild Duck, while I printed off the entertainment guide and highlighted all the things I wanted to do (yes, I am that organised). Finally the day arrived of our departure and we loaded up the car. And when I say loaded, I mean loaded. I don’t know where half the stuff came from. Considering our Deluxe Plus caravan came with bedding, I really only needed clothes and towels.
I was impressed by Wild Duck from the moment we arrived. You can tell it is a well looked after site – the gardens are tidy and all the buildings look clean. The staff at reception were very friendly and we even had a chat about gardening while she was finding my details.
Our caravan was quite new and very clean. We were so lucky with the position of our caravan – right by the entertainment complex and swimming pool. Little Miss was excited at having two single beds in her room; she couldn’t decide which one to sleep in. When she finally got to sleep that first night, she’d been in and out of each bed about 10 times.
It took me a while to get use to the space in the caravan. The bedrooms were small, but the kitchen/lounge had heaps of space. I had more bench space in the caravan kitchen than I do in my own galley-style kitchen at home.
The facilities at Wild Duck
I think I would go as far to say that you wouldn’t need to leave the Wild Duck camp site at all during your week if you didn’t want to. There is a well-stocked SPAR shop (albeit a bit on the pricey side), an indoor and outdoor pool, restaurant/bar, fish and chip shop, playgrounds and nightly entertainment in the Live Lounge. Out of our six full days at Wild Duck we had three on-site and three off-site.
We swam nearly every day, sometimes twice a day. Both the outdoor and indoor pools are suitable for little ones. The indoor pool has a separate paddling pool, while the outdoor pool has a shallow 75cm pool roped off at one end of the main pool. The pools don’t have slides, but they did have balls and dive sticks that anyone could use. I loved how close we were to the pools. We got changed into our swim suits in the caravan and just walked across to the pool, walking back with our towels wrapped around us.
We never ate in the restaurant, but the food looked OK and the prices were about standard. We did have a feed of fish and chips one night and I was disappointed with the meal. It was quite expensive and wasn’t very nice. Not sure if it was just an ‘off’ night, as there were always plenty of people eating from there.
I had expected to do some laundry while on holiday, but once I saw that it was £6 for a load of washing, I decided against it, just doing hand washing in a bucket in the caravan. This wasn’t a problem for me, but if you are camping with a baby or more children you may just want to pay the £6 per load (or take heaps of clothes!).
Entertainment at Wild Duck
There is plenty of organised entertainment for kids at Wild Duck. There are sports activities throughout the day like archery, fencing, target shooting and kayaking. These are at an extra cost, but you can buy an activity pass for £40 (six sessions) or £75 (12 sessions). Little Miss was too small for most of the sports activities; although there was mini archery and fencing which we never got round to doing. There are also puppet shows, quizzes, a pantomime and talent show. We did a few, but they were really more for older children. I was really starting to see why Haven is so popular with families – there’s just so much to do.
There are bikes and carts available to hire as well as mini golf. The mini golf looked a little tired, but we did hire a cart for an hour one day and took a trip around the site.
We went to some of the kids’ club activities which are hosted by the FunStars (equivalent of the Hi-de-Hi yellow coats). The FunStars are great with the kids, really enthusiastic and seem to enjoy themselves as much as the kids. There are two types of kids’ clubs – Little Cubs for 0 – 4 years and Club R&B for 5 – 8 years, but that’s not strict – one FunStar suggested Little Miss might enjoy one of the Club R&B activities later in the week.
There are three playgrounds on site and we spent quite a bit of time at all of them! My favourite was the treehouse right at the bottom of the site. We took the scooter up there a couple of times.
We took Little Miss to the Live Lounge twice for the Go Tots pop concert (or the disco, as she called it). It was a lot of fun, especially after a couple of glasses of wine! The kids all did some dancing, then there were a couple of games, followed by some bingo. Again, I was super impressed with the FunStars hosting the entertainment. They genuinely seemed to be enjoying themselves, considering they must do the same thing night after night after night…
We didn’t stay on for any of the later entertainment, although I did pop my head in one night about 10pm and the Live Lounge was packed and everyone seemed to be having fun.
Other things to do around Wild Duck
Wild Duck is about four miles inland from the coast on the edge of the Norfolk Broads. The closest beach is at Gorleston (four miles), but we headed into Great Yarmouth to get the whole English seaside experience! I’ll write more about that in another post.
We also had a day out at BeWilderwood, a treehouse adventure park with, zip wires, jungle bridges, boat trips and a sky maze. And I’ll write more about that in another post as well!
Yes, I liked Wild Duck a lot. It is completely family-focussed and there is a lot for kids of all ages to do. I thought it was great value for money compared to some of the other holiday options I had looked at. The staff were all friendly and when I told the lady on reception that I’d broken a wine glass she said, ‘good, that means you’re having a good time!’ I would definitely go back and I would recommend it to anyone else. And it’s not anything like Hi-de-Hi!
All the important bits
Wild Duck is just south of Great Yarmouth, off the A143 towards Beccles. The address is Wild Duck Holiday Park, Howard’s Common, Belton, Great Yarmouth, NR31 9NE.
A three night stay (the minimum you can stay) can start as low as £129, but it all depends on when you go and what type of accommodation you want. The Haven website has all the information and lots of last-minute deals as well.