I was looking for a location near to the Norfolk Broads from where I could travel with ease and not over great distance to the many RSPB and Wildlife Centres located throughout The Broads.
The location of Willow Farm Barn was perfect for my needs but what clinched my decision to book was that I read all of the reviews and was most impressed by all of the comments relating to the accommodation and the owners. Could it really be that good? The short answer is yes.
The reason for my stay was to get out onto The Broads and do as much walking and photography as I could, I had contacted Julie prior to my arrival to ask if they minded if I accessed their farmland in search of wildlife, Julie very kindly agreed to my request.
Upon my arrival I was greeted by Julie who turned out to be as kind and friendly as she had been described in the other reviews. Before I had seen the accommodation she took the time to give my a tour of the farm which was absolutely fascinating and much appreciated. (The goats that I thought were sheep that looked like poodles were lovely, worth going there just to see them!)
The accommodation was everything I could have wanted, clean, homely, comfortable, warm, with all that you could need for a self catering stay. As mentioned in the other reviews, Julie kindly provides a welcome feast for you for your arrival which went down a treat over the five nights that I stayed there, top marks for the Maryland Cookies (they didn't last five nights!)
The location as I said is within easy reach of The Broads and also Norfolk itself. The local town of Poringland is only a mile away and has a good selection of local amenities on offer; grocery shops, garage, pub, Chinese Takeaway, American Diner, Fish and Chip shop and more. There is a Pub about 50 metres away from the farm which does a good selection of food, as well as this pub there are numerous other pubs in the local area who all cater for eating.
I would recommend visiting the following locations if interested in nature, wildlife, walking;
RSPB Strumpshaw Fen - Nice reserve with on site centre, toilets and refreshments.
Ted Ellis Nature Reserve Wheatfen - Nice walks with on site centre (check opening times) and toilets.
Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens - Good day out, nicely laid out walks around the gardens with a reasonable selection of wild animals in well laid out enclosures. Restaurant, toilets, gift shop and play areas all on site.
How Hill Nature Reserve - Make your way to Toad Hole Cottage to access the nature trail and Secret Garden. There are toilets on site but refreshments are seasonal opening at How Hill House (check timings)
All in all I had a wonderful time in The Broads and would love to return when the wildlife is more active and I will certainly be looking to stay at this location again if it is available.
One footnote if you do decide to stay at Willow Farm Barn, watch out for the hob extractor hood.....it bites! It got me on a daily basis, my head has the scars to prove it, silly me really, I should have learned after the first time I tried to knock it off the wall with my head!
Willow barn was a brilliant place to stay. Everything has been thought of. A welcome hamper that includes everything you would need. We have been staying at cottages and barns for some years and this was the best place by far. Thank you to Jullie for making us feel welcome. We shall want to stay again.
A compact barn with a homely feel. Thanks for the provisions which included eggs, bacon bread, juice, milk, tea/coffee, fruit and a bottle of wine. Julie made us feel welcome and the barn was immaculate inside. Many thanks.
Willow Farm Barn was in an ideal situation for us wanting easy access to Norwich and yet in a rural quiet setting. The accommodation was of a high standard and very well equipped. Julie made us very welcome and left us with a very handsome starter supply of food. Thankyou Julie. We'll come again!