As far as secrets go, this is probably one of the worst kept ones in Britain – and quite rightly so because this campsite is one to shout to the hills about. As soon as you arrive, you're encouraged to grab a wheelbarrow, load your stuff and walk down past the beautiful disused railway bridge towards the main camping area. Accessing the site from the bridge makes it feel isolated, secluded – and just that little bit secret; plus you get a great view of the entire site along the way. The site itself consists of fifteen spacious pitches cut in to the long grass of a stunning secluded meadow, interspersed with a scattering of recently planted saplings, and all encircled with a backdrop of ancient oak and hornbeam trees. If you fancy more of a glamping experience, then you can take your pick from the three 'secret shelters' on offer – a tree tent, bell tent and an Arkette (a kind of shepherd's hut). Wild flowers scattered all over the place, gives the site a natural, hippy vibe, whereas the neighbouring woodlands (a Site of Nature Conservation Interest) are just begging to be explored. Owner Tim is a keen botanist and wants to turn this place into the UK’s first ‘edible campsite’ – a planting programme is underway, with an increasing array of berries, edible shrubs and flowers growing freely, ready for campers to pick fresh and add to the saucepan. Incidentally, if you happen to fall in love with any of the secret structures during your stay then, most unusually, you can buy them. Once Tim honours his commitments to other campers who have already booked, he will deliver the structure straight to your door. How novel indeed!
The Owner Says
The Secret Campsite Lewes is one of The Secret Campsites, a collection of Real Camping and Wild Glamping sites focused on nature, peace and space.
The campsite is a peaceful, tents only campsite for nature lovers, real campers and their families, who are looking to explore Sussex, Brighton or Lewes. Our woodland meadow camping pitches are large and secluded and come with their own camp fire pit and free hot showers. We also have a number of unusual shelters where you can spend the night.
By keeping the meadow car and dog free we enable wildlife to flourish, and this increases the number of encounters that you and your family will enjoy. It also ensures that it is a safe place for children to roam freely and explore, and we have an area of woodland where dens can be built and trees climbed.
We are located in a beautiful and sparsely populated part of East Sussex, and our camping meadow is enclosed by both private and public nature sites. These include great stands of ancient and coppiced woodland, and a site of nature conservation interest, SNCI. This mosaic of habitats is incredibly rich in wildlife and The Secret Campsite Lewes is lightly managed to create an environment where wildlife can thrive. The surrounding ancient woodland has been encouraged to advance at the edges of the camping meadow, which ensures an ever changing diversity of animals and plants for you to watch, hear, eat, smell and touch. Catch glimpses of deer, hunt for slow worms, wake to the dawn chorus, build dens or simply enjoy the unique flavours of fresh and foraged produce at the end of a busy day.
We also have two secret shelters, The Tree Tent and Gridshell. These are both fantastic quirky accommodation options for your stay in our beautiful site. Both of these beautiful shelters have been designed by local inventor and designer Jason Thawley and the Tree Tent was even featured on George Clarke's Amazing Spaces.
Camp with us as you relax and explore Sussex, and you’ll leave wanting more.
Please note we are a peaceful family site and do not allow groups. Please see our Beech Estate Campsite for group bookings or visit the Wild Boar Wood site for bell tent glamping stays.
Our favourite spot
Tents – yes. Caravans, campervans, big groups, young groups, dogs – no.
The local area
There’s plenty to do in Brighton, 13 miles away, but don’t overlook the delights of Lewes, a pretty market town nestled in the South Downs just 5 miles from the site. There’s a farmer’s market on the first Saturday of the month and an outdoor lido for hotter days. You can walk there from the site – ask at reception for the route. Glyndebourne Opera House is just a few miles away and the South Downs National Park is a 3 mile stroll to Offham. Finally, Middle Farm and Drusillas Park are a great morning out for children which can be combined with walks around the Friston or Ashdown Forests to wear everyone out ready to collapse back at the campsite around a fire to tell stories and play cards.
Best local places to eat and drink
Tim, the owner, knows all the best places to get fresh, local produce, including the Holmansbridge Farm Shop (01273 401964) in Town Littleworth which is a 5 minute walk away. The Royal Oak (01273 400418) is a 20 minute walk away along the dismantled railway line that links the campsite to the village of Barcombe. The Horns Lodge (01273 400422) is a 20 minute walk through Balneath Woods and Markstakes Common and serves great beers and tradfitional pub food. If all country pubs could be as good as The Griffin at Fletchling (01825 722890) with its delightful garden and exceptional food, the world would be a happier place. Lewes is home to the wonderful Buttercup cafe (01273 477664), which is located in a courtyard that it shares with an antiques business, and for the more adventurous Chaula's Indian Restaurant (01273 476707) is heaven for gourmets of Indian cuisine.
Why stay with us?
Campfires allowed. 12 pitches in the main camping meadow and a further 5 on the western side of the site near the showers. 2 of these are amongst the fruit and nut trees making up our disorganised orchard, and the other three are on a south facing bank nearer to the buildings with views to the South Downs or into the neighbouring woods. 3 showers occupy an old stable block along with toilets; compost-loo shacks are nearer the pitches. Trolleys are available to transport your gear to the main meadow. No shop as such, but you can buy firewood at reception.
ReviewsAdd Your Review
Our 2nd stay over May 2017 half term and it's always our first choice. Beautiful peaceful surroundings, relaxing and cooking by the campfire, llarge plots which are perfect for a little solitude but still close enough for the kids to find friends. Wildlife and fantastic walks. Tim and team wonderful hosts.
Keep it secret - its too good to share!
As a life long camper and scout leader it is always great to find a new gem of a place to stay. The Secret Campsite is one of those amazing gems. The only pre-requisite my son had for his birthday camping trip was that we had to have a "proper caveman fire to cook on!" Its not so easy to find a campsite these days that allows open fires for reasonable safety reasons - however Tim and the gang at the Secret Campsite avoid this by giving everyone acres of space almost literally!!! We cooked every meal on the open fire and it was wonderful. From the moment we arrived and Tim came bounding out to greet us, get to know our names including the three excited young boys in the back and then send us off to explore the site and decide where we wanted to pitch to the moment we left having met the sheep, we had a wonderful time both on site and exploring the local cycle tracks and pubs. Tim remembered our names from the very first meeting which is always a lovely touch but I won’t let on to how he does it - that’s another secret. I cannot recommend this place enough - but please don't tell anyone - its a secret for a reason.
Lovely countryside, great organization, generous host
I stayed at The Secret Campsite for four nights in the middle of August and had a wonderful time. There are dozens of great walks in the area, nicely interrupted by pubs and farm shops, and Tim had laminated guides to take with on the walks. I was traveling on my own and without a car, and it was an easy day trip to Lewes via bus, and would have been not that much further to Brighton and Hove, but I was having too good a time exploring the countryside to be interested in Brighton on this trip! Life was very easy at the campsite, with great hot showers, washing-up station, fridge, and the great farm shop a short walk up the road. The organic eggs at Springle (honor box) a bit further on are fantastic. The individual sites are well separated. It was great being able to collect some herbs on the way back from the shower in the evening to put in the tent. Everything is as described on the website, but what the website doesn't convey is the quality of the hospitality. My (feckless) new enthusiasm for ultralight backpacking meant I was cold and stiff the first morning, and Tim generously loaned me a wonderful thick sleeping bag to supplement my ultralight sleeping pad, and after that I slept much better! I also somehow lost track of my tent stakes somewhere between Ohio and Town LIttleworth, and he had spare tent stakes, too. Whatever request or question I had (and there were plenty, since I'd only been in the UK for a couple of weeks at that point), Tim was ready with an answer. I really can't say enough good things about The Secret Campsite, and hope to come back and stay again sometime soon!
Perfect weekend retreat
Myself and a friend, along with her 9 year old daughter camped here back in May in the Tree House tent and I must say we had a fabulous time. The Tree Tent was large enough for us all and very comfortable to sleep in with the temperature working well for that time of year. We loved the way the areas were separated off just enough with the long grass to make you feel like you had your own space, without making you feel isolated, the outdoor furniture being a lovely additional touch. We loved being so close to the woods and made the most of the great nature walks you can take, seeing the deer at night really made the trip, alongside all the other birds and nature you never to get to see as Londoners. We especially liked the Secret Teapot and took advantage of the great hot chocolates provided! Tim and his family have set up something special here and we are looking forward to coming again in 2015 with the rest of the family to stay in the amazing Gridshell. The Midgets xxx
Wonderful Wildlife weekend
Stayed for a wildlife weekend 12/13 July - super-friendly people, very informal and laidback campsite, with peaceful, spacious plots for your tents. You can keep yourself to yourself and explore some beautiful Sussex countryside, or, on this particular weekend, join in with a packed agenda full of informative and educational activities. Kids loved the bug hunting, pond dipping and moth-trapping....we loved their enthusiasm and the fact that they were occupied from morning through until evening. Will definitely return....
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