Corona virus management plan.

Bell Tents in meadow at The Secret Campsite

To reassure our customers that we are taking the current situation very seriously, we have devised the following hygiene management plan for The Secret Campsite.

All campers over the age of 16 years are required by law to scan our QR code via the NHS app on arrival at The Secret Campsite.

We advise that everyone uses the conveniently located hand sanitisers before AND after touching any equipment or furniture around the campsite. 

Please can you explain this to your children and accompany them, wherever advised, to ensure your “back to nature” camping trip is successful. It is your responsibility to ensure your children keep their hands clean. 

Our hygiene management plan

We take the health and well being of our campers and that of our environment very seriously. We thoroughly clean our facilities daily and pride ourselves on great feedback from our camping guests. We take immediate action when things break, or are running low. It happens, even here! Once we even had a frog in the shower…

The Secret Campsite is unique.

We have very large, well spaced pitches, often 15-20 metres apart. This is a good space to be in in order to minimise your risk of infection. To further reduce the risk, we are limiting bookings to one family per pitch

The risk areas and the risk items

However, there are parts of The Secret Campsite where you are more likely to meet other people, looking to wind down, escape and camp for a few nights. 

These parts of The Secret Campsite are the areas we are focused on and we have devised an additional cleaning plan to reduce the risk of spreading infection from these points.

Please explain this information to your children, and where necessary please accompany them to these facilities.

All touch points on, or in, the listed areas will be wiped clean with the UK Govt health recommended cleaning fluid 3 x times a day.

1 Main shower and toilet block

To reduce the number of people in the shower block, please join the toilet or shower queue outside the entrance. Please wait outside until a cubicle is available.

Please use the hand sanitiser on entry and exit from the main shower and toilet block. Below are the main touch points:

  • Toilet cubicles
  • Disabled toilet
  • Hand basins
  • Showers
  • Flip top bin

There are now hand sanitisers within the shower block plus the pre-existing 3 hand basins for hand washing.

We have removed the Fly curtain at the entrance for hygiene reasons.

2 Family shower room

Please use the hand sanitiser on entry and exit from the Family shower room. Below is a list of the main touch points:

  • Toilet
  • Hand basins
  • Coin operated timer
  • Shower
  • Pedal bin

The baby changing mat has been removed for the foreseeable future.

3 Washing up area

Please use the hand sanitiser on arrival at the Washing Up Area. We also request that only one person is present at each sink, at any one time. Below is a list of the main touch points:

  • Please wipe clean the washing up bowls with soapy water after each use.
  • The fridge will be closed for the foreseeable future.
  • The freezer will be available for campers to freeze their own ice blocks. These must be kept in their own plastic bag for ease of identification. Please use the hand sanitiser after touching the freezer handle.
  • The Meadow water point will have a fixed hand sanitiser.
  • The water point near reception will have a fixed hand sanitiser.
  • The sink and water point near the compost toilet will be turned off.
  • The Rubbish bin lids will be wiped clean regularly.
Washing up area at the secret campsite

4 Reception

Please use the hand sanitiser on arrival and exit from Reception. Below is a list of the main touch points in reception and our adjustments:

  • Please bring your own phone charging and bed inflating equipment to plug into our power points (reception hours only).
  • We can only accept contactless card payments.
  • Electric car charging point (use reception hand sanitiser).
  • We will provide paper copies for any local maps or walks or destination QR codes for the local area.
  • The Secret Teapot cups are single use and disposable.
  • FSC nature study sheets have been removed for the time being.

5 Camping equipment

After collecting or handling any of the following items, we advise campers to wash their hands thoroughly or use the hand sanitisers provided. 

  • Firestands
  • Dutch ovens
  • Rocket stoves
  • Rubbish bins and bin lids
  • Recycling points
  • Large waste and recycling bins
  • Wheelbarrows
  • Axes

6 Our unusual shelters

The Tree Tent

All touch points in the Tree Tent will be wiped clean after each occupancy on top of our normal cleaning procedure.

Please bring ALL your own bedding ( sleeping bag, pillow or other bedding). We will provide a mattress protector that will be washed on a high temperature after each visit.

The Gridshell

The Gridshell Secret Campsite

All touch points in the Gridshell will be wiped clean after each occupancy on top of our normal cleaning procedure.

Please bring ALL your own bedding ( sleeping bag, pillow or other bedding). We will provide a mattress protector that will be washed on a high temperature after each visit.

The Okra

the OKRA at the Secret Campsite Lewes

All touch points in the Okra will be wiped clean after each occupancy on top of our normal cleaning procedure.

Please bring ALL your own bedding (sleeping bag, pillow or other bedding). We will provide a mattress protector that will be washed on a high temperature after each visit.

New 2021 Opening dates

2021 camping dates The Secret Campsite Lewes

Monday’s announcement has meant that we now have a firm date when we can fully open.

This is the 17th May, and we are taking bookings from this date for the rest of the season. New restrictions until 21st June, mean that we can have a maximum of 6 people or 2 households for each pitch.

From 12th April until 16th May, we are allowed to open 2 pitches at the campsite. Each of these 2 pitches will have access to their own shower, toilet and hand basin. Most of these pitches have been reserved for rescheduled bookings, made by campers who had planned to visit us from 26th March when we were scheduled to open.

Like last year, we will be managing the site to minimise the risk of infection. The fridge will remain in reception and we will make use of the outside freezer to supply ice blocks so that you can keep your items cool on your pitch.

You can read more about our site management plan here

Over the course of the outbreak we ask all of our current and future customers to accommodate a few changes to our normal rules:

  • We will happily reschedule any booking that can’t be enjoyed to a mutually convenient date. This could be due to our forced closure, or because you, or a member of your booking, needs to isolate.

If you have any concerns or would like any of the information clarified please get in touch. We love speaking with people and there’s no one here at the moment, so we’ve got heaps of time to chat.

Bookings at The Secret Campsite during the Covid outbreak

Over the course of the outbreak we ask all of our current and future customers to accommodate a few changes to our normal rules:

  • We will happily reschedule any booking that can’t be enjoyed to a mutually convenient date. This could be due to our forced closure, or because you, or a member of your booking, needs to isolate.

We have implemented a strict management plan to help minimise the risk of transmission whilst you are staying with us at The Secret Campsite. You can read about this here

If you have any concerns or would like any of the information clarified please get in touch. We love speaking with people and there’s no one here at the moment. so we’ve got heaps of time to chat.

We’ll even tell you what creatures we have just encountered

Planting trees and shrubs around the campsite

view of a camping pitch at the secret campsite

We set The Secret Campsite up as a place where campers could relax and connect with the natural world around a campfire down in sunny Sussex.

To ensure that we deliver this we spend lots of time enhancing parts of the campsite so that more of our native flora and fauna move in. This year I set myself the task of planting 150 new tress and shrubs.

My favourite part of the planting process is chosing the plants that will do a great job for us. So, selecting indigenous species is critical, then matching them to our underlying soil conditions. We’re in Sussex so The Secret Campsite unsurprisingly sits on clay. Bone dry in the summer and soaking wet throughthe winter.

When we first set up the campsite we had a grant from the Woodland Trust and we sourced the plants from Ashridge Nurseries in Somerset. I have used them quite a few times since then as their plants have normally been great.

What we planted

This year we ordered 2 packs, one focused on bird friendly plants and the other focused on edible plants that campers can enjoy foraging with at different time during the season.

The bird friendly pack included the following species: Hawthorm, Wild privet, Crabapple, blackthorn, Guelder rose, Hazel, Common Pear, Purple barberry and Scotch rose. These plants have been dotted around the Bank part of the campsite in clumps and as screening for some of the pitches.

The edible pack included: Cherry plum, Crabapple, Blackberry, Blackthorn, Hazel, Autumn olives, Elder, and Sweet briar rose. As they mature they will provide a rich mix of berries, nuts and fruits to compliment our eclectic orchard.

Finally, I put in a large Common Walnut, positioned to screen the Okra (more on this beautiful struture later). I also planted a Wild Service Tree which, in time, produces succulent fruits.

Its nearly the end of planting time so we were in a rush to get the last plants in.

Have a look at our video we really got our skates on.

Wish You Were Here

planting trees at the secret campsite

Despite the gloomy air pervading the nation, interesting and exciting things are still happening. So, we thought we’d carry on as normal and rather than just enjoy the arrival of spring here at the secret campsite on our own, we thought we would share it.

So we have decided to start sending postcards from the camping meadow that let you know whats going on. If you want to join in, just click here and each day you’ll get something to lift the spirits.

We’re realists, so not everything will be interesting but, if you fancy having a look around, pay our instagram account a visit. We’ll be sending out a virtual postcard so feel free to write back with some of your interesting news.

The refreshing thing about wildlife and nature is that it hunkers down carries on, whatever the dilemma it faces.

Every year a couple of ducks lay a clutch of eggs on one of our ponds. Most years lots of the eggs survive and the ducklings hatch out. I then watch as the numbers of ducklings waddling around the site and into the ponds decreases.

This year we spotted a couple of eggs near one of the pond. I think it might be the Moorhen so discreetly, I’m keeping my eyes peeled, but not getting my hopes up. Fingers crossed, things will go to plan for Mr and Mrs Moorhen. In their lives this is the challenge that they face every day, Jays, Magpie, Foxes, Badgers not to mention the dilemmas once the eggs hatch and the chicks start hurtling around the campsite in a long wobbling line

Cancellations due to Corona virus

Camping pitches at The Secret Campsite Lewes

Our normal cancellation policy is that once a booking has been made we will provide a 50% refund if we receive a cancellation 30+ days from the arrival date of the booking. This policy remains in place.

However..

…. until further notice we will happily reschedule any booking to a mutually agreed date in 2020 or, if the current situation continues into the middle of summer 2020, we will very happily extend this to a mutually agreed date before mid summer in 2021.

If you need to cancel or reschedule, please let us know as soon as possible by email to avoid any confusion.

If we are asked to close

If we are told that we have to close the campsite, we will do so immediately.

The wildlife we share the campsite with won’t mind in the slightest. Not that the local dormouse can post any glowing reviews for us.

If this happens, we will happily reschedule all of the bookings to a mutually agreeable date, in the near future.

What we do and what we provide

The Secret Campsite is a small and very passionate little business that has been running since 2012 and we have lots of plans for our future. They all include encouraging more people to connect with our natural world as they relax and chat around a campfire. We have ideas we are keen to develop and lots of work to do for the local wildlife. Not to mention the efforts we make with our fantastic partners such as Sussex Wildlife Trust.

We remain optimistic that our little 10 acre site near Lewes is a perfect location to escape from the turmoil and stress that is being inflicted by the Corona virus.  This year we are looking forward to seeing all of our regular and new customers at some point over the summer.

In the meantime, it might be invigorating to take a step back and see how nature might be taking its chance to flourish, whilst it still can. 

privet hawk moth at the secrrt wildlife festival

Here are some observations:

More places are hearing a dawn chorus

The morning air is smelling cleaner in our cities

Bees on the move are being spotted by more and more people

The night sky has far fewer moving lights to distract us

The roads are quieter

Living out in the countryside, as we do, we can sometimes be blase about these observation. But, now many more people are starting to spot and enjoy them, and that has to be good for us all, as well as for nature.

Stay safe and remain optimistic.

Covid-19 virus

Currently the Secret Campsite remains open for camping trips, as well as for stays in our Tree Tent and The Gridshell.

But, this may change, and we are ready if and when it does.

Our team is very much alive to the current situation and its fast moving nature. So this post is to reassure all of our current and future customers that we are on top of this pesky virus.

Our management plan

We take the development of the virus very seriously. To this end, we have sought advice and reassurance from a number of resources in our effort to minimise the risk of infection to our guests.

I have implemented a site management plan to minimise this risk and you can read this in more detail here.

Cancellations

If you are unfortunate enough to become infected, or if you need to self isolate, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Where this is the case, we will happily reschedule your stay to a later date, within the next year. You can read the addition to our normal terms and conditions here. I fully understand the concern and uncertinty this outbreak has created. We promise to make this a simple process for all of our customers.

Our campsite

Our little campsite is set over 8 acres and has 18 pitches in total. The site evolved from our passion for the wildlife we share the space with, so there is lots of space. We are very different to most other campsites and you can read about this here. It might even lift your spirits.

If we have to close

In the unfortunate event that we have to close The Secret Campsite, we will rearrange all stays. In all cases we will aim to find a convenient date for both of us, subject to availability.

If you have any questions concerning a stay, or how we can be of help in reassuring you, please feel free to get in touch. We will get back to you promptly.

Above all stay safe and we look forward to seeing you here, sometime soon.

Tim, Lisa and the Team

2020 Camping season almost here

aerial view of the secret campsite near lewes

In just 18 days time on the 27th March we throw the gates open to a new camping season at The Secret Campsite. Whoopeee.

Its been a dreadful winter, with so much rain and wind, but we’re super upbeat going into the new camping season. Whatever else is going on around us, it can be happily left at home for a few days, whilst we escape.

Real camping

Real camping is a perfect way to leave behind everyday troubles. It’s a chance for us to reconnect with the natural world. Our everyday lives are filled with all sorts of interruptions. So its blissful to escape to somewhere quiet and hidden. Once here we can spend time with the people who are really important in our lives.

quiet camping at the secret campsite

Campfires

The campfire is a perfect accompniment to your escape, so i’ve ordered in lots of firewood. Its really important that those long evening conversations are accompanied by the glow, hiss and warmth that a campfire provides. Its a perfect place to watch the night sky and see which constellations you can identify. We’re very lucky in Sussex, to be surrounded by so much woodland. This woodland screens us from the nearby towns of Brighton and Lewes and ensures that we get an ink black backdrop.

marshmallows at the secret campsite zoe holland

Wildlife

Our little campsite, set in a woodland meadow in sussex, is really fortunate to be surrounded by amzing habitat for wildlife. We have managed the site with this in mind for the last 15 years.

This attention to detail means we have a huge range of species sharing the site with us. Some of them are pretty rare, like the nightingales, adders, Purple Emperors, Great Crested Newts. We even have some dormice living nearby.

privet hawk moth at the secrrt wildlife festival
Privet hawk moth

By managing the site for wildlife, we create opportunities for our campers to connect. Its not just the peace and tranquility we create that enables this but its the other campers we meet. Campers who have found us also value these characteristics of the site and the surrounding area. So much so that they keep coming back, some since we opened in 2012.

Every year we host an event with Sussex Wildlife Trust at the campsite. The Secret Wildlife Festival is a fantastic weekend. Families get to see, touch and hear about the creatures and plants we share the campsite and te rest of Sussex with. You can read more about the festival here

The Area

We’re based just a couple of miles from England’s newest National Park. The South Downs National Park is just north of the fiercely independent town of Lewes and 10 miles from the vibrant city of Brighton. We’re 6 miles from the beautiful heaths of the Ashdown Forest where Pooh Bear was created and Nightjars can be heard on a summers evening. Or if you like asimple trip tothe beach rather than braving the frenetic activity of Brighton, Seaford is your place. Better still you can enjoy superb fish and chips from Trawlers in the town centre.

But, if like me, you just want to walk and enjoy not using a vehicle you can wander over to the Anchor Inn for some boating, or walk along the river to Lewes. You can catch the bus back to Barcombe if you wear yourself out. For the swimmers amongst you, there’s the Pells Pool and for the brave, wild swimming at Barcombe Mills.

rowing in the ouse near the anchor inn.

At the campsite

Many people come and stay with us and do nothing much at all. We even wrote a book about this approach to camping and it got mentioned in the Sunday Times when it first came out. Why not have a read and start to dream about your trips over the spring summer and autumn.

We look forward to meeting you

Secret Wildlife Festival 2020

Mammal trap at the secret campsite

The tickets for this years Secret Wildlife Festival run in conjunction with Sussex Wildlife Trust go on sale next Tuesday 10th March and they sell like hot cakes.

Have a look at our earlier post about this years festival.

The tickets will be live for booking from Tuesday at 1:00pm. So, put down that gourmet sandwich, or the recently foraged wild garlic pesto pitta and head over to the website. We only have 18 pitches available for the weekend and it is filled with a wide range of exciting activities.

Bushcraft activities at the secret campsite wildlife festival near lewes

What happens

Weekend events include: Moth Trapping, Woodland walks, glow worm hunts, Butterfly and bug nets. Each evening we set mammal traps, hedgehog tunnels and prime the camera for sometrail camera footage. The trail camers is positioned at different parts of Knowlands Wood to see who we share the space with.

Buff tip moth at the secret campsite

Doors to the Secret Cinema are thrown open on Sunday morning when we get to see what the camers have picked up.

You can read what happened at last years festival here.

Saturday evening is the bring your own barbecue where festival goers get to discuss the days activities. You can do this as you cook some sausages or vegetarian options on the campsite barbecue. Its a popular spot for the first drink of the day.

Although the weekend is filled with a wide range of activities and events, you dont have to join everything. The more relaxed amongst you can pick and chose the talks and walks you want to attend. You can then spend time relaxing around a campfire to the sites and sounds of nature.

We have minimal light pollution at the Secret Campsite and this enables a fantastic star show on clear nights. So, as the children attempt to drop off, you can pick out the space station flying overhead.

Want to join us?

You can sign up here to go on our mailing list and be pre-warned for when tickets go on sale each year. It also allows you to be sent any late availability that we have when campers cancel their trips at the last minute. As if anyone would?

The weekend is hosted by Michael Blencowe and his amazing team of experts from the Trust. To date we have raised in excess of £18,000 to support their work around Sussex.

Tickets for the festival are Adults £84, Children 3-16 £42, Under 3’s £15.

Nature and how we can help

In the last couple of weeks I have attended a couple of very forward thinking and inspiring events. Both were less than 10 miles from the Secret Campsite. One was in Brighton and the other along the coast either side of Rottingdean. We live in a very forward thinking area and Sussex based organisations are showcasing lots of great ideas to tackle the climate emergency

Everyone knows that our environment is under a bit of pressure and our native species are feeling the heat. We are keen to do our bit to rectify this situation whilst inspiring people to think ‘What could be possible?‘ At The Secret Campsite, we devote much of our time to creating space for wildlife.

We hope that some of our ideas act as a catalyst for the peole camping with us. and send some of our campers back with a better understanding and some ideas that they can develop in their own way

Landscape Innovation

The first event Landscape Innovation was run by Sussex Wildlife Trust and the University of Sussex. It was held at the Falmer campus on the outskirts of Brighton on the 23rd January.

Bella Lack delivered the most inspiring talks which was pretty impressive from a 17 year old. Bella painted a vision of where we could be, if we make some tough but achievable decisions. Hopefully some politicians heard what she was saying.

I loved the short presentation from Alistair Driver of Rewilding UK. Alistair talked about the rewilding process and its status in the UK. Charlie Burrell and Isabella Tree’s project at Knepp is a fore runner of the rewilding movement, but it sounds like lots more people are keen to start. There are at least 15 other large scale projects in the early stages.

Rewilding UK at Landscape innovation conference in sussex
Alistair Drivers Rewilding the UK talk

I’ll save my thoughts on this for another blog post.

Other talks from economists, estate managers and government advisers highlighted the issues we need to tackle.

I’ll cover the second event Nature 2020 in a different blog

What can we do

There is a limit to what each of us can do individually. So the best advice seemed to be for us all to pick one area of concern. To focus on this and be open minded but uncompromising. Finally to do it brilliantly

If we all do this, great things will happen.

So here at The Secret Campsite we are focusing on creating amazing spaces for wildlife and trying to encurage as many people as possible to visit and be inspired, without damaging what we have created.

So far it seems to be working here.