The Okra at the Secret Campsite

the OKRA at the Secret Campsite Lewes

Quirky and comfortable are the hallmarks of the Okra. It has a bold five-sided shape, with precision wooden cladding and a simple interior. The Okra accommodates up to 3 people, which includes a maximum of 2 adults.

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top bunk OKRA The Secret Campsite

The Okra sits in the orchard area of the campsite and is the latest understated design by Jason Thawley from Tree Tents.

Inside you’ll find 2 double sized bunk style beds, with one accessed via a short ladder. There is a small day sofa, perfect to sit on whilst playing cards and board games. It has low level lighting.

interior of the OKRA at the Secret Campsite

The large “porthole” shaped window ensures guests sleeping in the top or bottom bunk can enjoy beautiful, natural light.

The front doors open onto a small decked area, perfect for your morning coffee. Below this is the firepit with a bench and logs for evening campfire conversations, perhaps even some cooking. 

How many can stay?

The Okra sleeps 3 people with a maximum of 2 adults and one child. We provide 2 double beds with mattresses, in a bunk bed style.

What we provide

The Okra has its own fire pit with a bench and logs, where you can relax in front of the campfire and discuss the days adventures. There is a small decking area in front of the entrance doors, perfect for sipping a morning coffee. We provide basic cooking equipment including a camping stove, a kettle, mugs, saucepan, frying pan, plates and cutlery for your trip. There are free solar powered hot showers and flushing toilets at the campsite. The Okra has low level lights inside.

OKRA firepit at the Secret Campsite

What you need to bring

Required: Duvet or sleeping bags, Pillows and pillowcases, Bed sheets, Towels, Tea Towels, Food, Drink, Rubbish Bag, Torches and Lanterns, Warm / Dry / Suitable Clothing. Wellies if the weather isn’t being kind.

Recommended: Torch, marshmallows, ingredients for your cooking and a sense of adventure.

Please note that you cannot cook inside the Okra. So please bring your own gazebo if you wish to ensure your cooking remains dry.

round window in the OKRA at the Secret Campsite

Don’t forget

We don’t allow any cars or pets in the camping areas, nor do we have large groups of campers or any music onsite. The Secret Campsite is focussed on providing a great habitat for wildlife and we strive to minimise our impact on it. In turn, this creates an amazing space to relax with your family, or a few friends.

To accommodate these worthwhile idiosyncrasies, we have a small fleet of  wheelbarrows and trollies. You are very welcome to make use of them to transport your belongings to the Okra.

The Okra at the Secret Campsite

The price

£125 per night for 2 people and a minimum of 2 nights, (3 nights over Bank Holidays). Extra guests pay our normal camping rates. Click on the button below to make a booking.

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The Secret Campsite welcomes the Okra

Inside the Okra at the Secret Campsite

We have mentioned the Okra before. It’s got a bold 5 sided shape with precision cladding and a simple interior. It was built here last summer, by Jason Thawley, of Tree Tents who also designed both our Tree Tent and our Gridshell.

The Okra will be available to book from May 17th.

The Okra accommodates up to 3 people. Either 2 adults plus 1 child, or 1 adult plus 2 children or 2 adults. There is a maximum of 2 adults.

Inside the Okra you will find 2 double sized bunk style beds, with one accessed via a short ladder. There’s also a small day sofa, perfect to sit on whilst playing a board game or cards, plus low level lighting.

round window in the OKRA at the Secret Campsite

The large “porthole” shaped window ensures guests occupying either the top bunk or bottom bunk can enjoy the natural light. The Okra sits in the Orchard area at the campsite and has its own firepit with simple seating.

OKRA firepit at the Secret Campsite

There is a small decking area at the front of the Okra where you can sit and relax with a local cider or two, after a days walking around Lewes or the South Downs. Or perhaps just a day spent onsite doing Nothing Much.

However you choose to spend your time here, we can bank on one thing…

One of you will shout “Shotgun” the top Bunk!

top bunk OKRA The Secret Campsite

Autumn at The Secret Campsite

Sheep at the Secret Campsite Lewes

The sheep arrive

This season went by in a flash and now we are deep into November. A particular highlight is the new sheep coming to graze off the camping meadow. They arrive and tread warily out of the trailer. Then hesitate but upon hearing the rattle of a bucket, will charge straight into their new home for the next month or so. Sometimes the new sheep headbutt our 2 sheep. I do find this painful to watch, but once the pecking order is established it becomes more harmonious!

Sloe Gin

Generation Distillers Sloe Gin
Sloes foraged from The Secret Campsite

The meadow is currently the source of sloes and rosehips. Our friends at Generation Distillers, located in nearby Chailey, have created a wonderful sloe gin using The Secret Campsite sloes. Check it out next season. Perfect for enjoying around the camp fire. In the interim we can assure you that it is delicious. And we will endeavour to not drink it all!

Foraging

Hedgewitch foraged cordials
Locally foraged cordials from Hedgewitch

Our forager in residence, Jane Hedgewitch, has been harvesting the rosehips in the meadow too. Jane has a long history of rootling in the hedgerows and makes fantastic cordials, extracts and preserves that she sells here and often at Lewes Friday Food Market too. This summer we enjoyed (and stocked) her delicious Wild Cherry Blossom Cordial. You can read a bit more about Jane in a feature by Muddy Stilettoes Sussex here.

We are currently working on lots of exciting new projects at the Secret Campsite and hope to reveal more in our next newsletter. You can sign up for it here

Cool Camping Instagram “Takeover”

We were thrilled to be invited to “takeover” Cool Camping’s Instagram earlier this week. It represented a great opportunity for The Secret Campsite to tell our story, with a real “day at the campsite experience” theme. It was also a leap of faith for Cool Camping too. We have worked with them since we started, they reviewed us back in our early days and most probably you used their booking system when you booked your stay here.

So armed with their Instagram log ins, I sat down and thought how best to tell our story. In marketing terms we have lots of “content” and lots of lovely photos. But we wanted to show it as it is. So we whipped out the camera, combed our hair (still no hair appointments freed up yet after Lockdown) and did a lot of takes in the meadow.

Live filming

I pitied the lovely camper snoozing on his pitch as Tim did 10 takes, all identical, with each one faster to try and cram the required points into his 15 second clips. It was a comedy act of suddenly talking very fast for the last 5 seconds.

Real camping with nature at The Secret Campsite

Real camping

We featured an intro by Tim, explaining our story and how we transformed an old run down garden nursery into the Secret Campsite. This entailed renovating old buildings, planting a lot of trees to provide natural screening for campers and a wonderful wildlife habitat. And what we think “real camping with nature” actually is.

The Okra Dining Pod created at The Secret Campsite
The Okra Dining Pod

Our Secret Shelters

Then we ran some video interviews with Jason Thawley. He has designed all our Secret Shelters including The Tree Tent, The Gridshell and the Okra . We also featured a sneak peek of his new ” Okra dining pod” .This is aimed at the hospitality sector for socially distanced outdoor dining opportunities.

The Secret Wildlife Festival programme 2019

Secret Wildlife Festival

Tim introduced the Secret Wildlife Festival, our annual fundraising festival run in conjunction with The Sussex Wildlife Trust – sadly cancelled for 2020 but it will resurface for 2021. The Festival is a wonderful way to reconnect with Nature and Wildlife, the schedule is put together by the hugely informative Michael Blencowe and his colleagues at Sussex Wildlife Trust.

Scrub scrub!!

The COVID clean!

We filmed the COVID clean. This takes place 5 x per day, involving bleach solution, multiple buckets, gloves, and face masks. This is in addition to the normal daily deep clean. It’s really not very interesting to watch but filmed in Slo-Mo makes it visually far more amusing! Our last newsletter relayed our COVID policy which prompted lots of relieved comments so we understand how important this is.

Marbled White Butterfly at The Secret Campsite by Colin Gibbs
Marbled White by Colin Gibbs

Wildlife

We featured lots of wildlife photos, including butterflies, moths and grass snakes. We were delighted to welcome people from the Sussex Butterfly Society here last weekend. Colin took a beautiful photo of one of the many Marbled Whites who spend the summer here.

BBQ and campfires at the Secret Campsite

Campfires

Finally, we turned our attention to arguably the best part of any camping trip, the BBQ and campfires. Tim’s a dab hand at lighting campers fires, secretly, we do have a blowtorch here too, when all else fails.

We loved the opportunity to introduce The Secret Campsite to a new audience over at Cool Camping. We had the occasional technical drama which hopefully passed by unnoticed!

The Times guide to “50 Great Staycations”

The Times 50 Great Staycations

Well that is a great start to the 2020 camping season! We featured in “50 Great Staycations” in this weekends edition of The Times.

UK best places

The article outlined the pick of the best places for escaping the hordes within the UK. It featured beautiful sleepy Cornish towns, pine plantations in Northumberland, and lovely nature reserves in Suffolk.

East Sussex

East Sussex scored twice with the rather cool Belle Tout lighthouse set in beautiful Birling Gap and also with The Secret Campsite! There are a hatful of inspiring places to stay and some amazing places to visit around the area so we were surprised that East Sussex only had 2 entries!

See the full article here The paywall will preclude you reading it all for free but I have faithfully reproduced the article here. (Copyright The Times Newspapers)

Such a great start to the rather disrupted camping season! Thank you for including us.

Things to do, eat, and see near to The Secret Campsite

Boating at The Anchor Inn Barcombe Maynard Frith

Sussex is a wonderful place to visit and there’s plenty to do, eat and see whilst you are here. Here’s a list of places that our campers seem to enjoy. Please check the company website for current times and all opening details.

Sussex visitor official websites

Sussex Top Attractions

Brighton

Lewes

Family Attractions

Branching Out Adventures (use booking code TSC20)

Drusillas Park small animal zoo

Bluebell Railway

Newhaven Fort

Hurstmonceaux Observatory Science Centre

Lavender Line

Lewes Castle

Farleys House & Gallery

Anchor Inn Boating at Barcombe

Places to swim

Seaford, Brighton, Cuckmere Haven beaches. Rockpooling at Seaford.

Great Lidos at Saltdean and Pells Pool Lewes .

Wild swimming at Barcombe Mills (Though be aware that there are sewage works located close by)

Houses and Gardens

Sheffield Park and Garden (NT)

Borde Hill Garden

Michelham Priory

Alfriston Clergy House (NT)

Anne of Cleves House Lewes

South Downs Heritage centre

Nature and Walks

South Downs Walks visit South Downs National Park Authority

Walks from The Secret Campsite to South Downs Way

Cycle rides near Lewes and Falmer try The Cuckoo Trail

What’s on with Sussex Wildlife Trust

Sussex Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves or perhaps Lewes Railway Land

Museums

Ditchling Museum of Arts and Crafts

The Royal Pavilion

Cinemas

Lewes Depot

Uckfield Picture house

Food markets

Lewes Friday Food Market

Lewes Farmers Market

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

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

Secret Wildlife Festival 2020

moth at the secret wildlife festival

We have just confirmed the date for this years Secret Wildlife Festival. The festival is in its eight consecutive year and is run in conjunction with Sussex Wildlife Trust. To date, we have raised in excess of £18,000 for the Trust. This money helps to fund the Trust’s work to preserve and conserve the threatened fauna and flora of Sussex.

This year the festival will run over the weekend of 26-28th June. Sign up here to be notified of the date that tickets will go on sale.

What happens?

As ever, the festival will be hosted by the inimitable Michael Blencowe from Sussex Wildlife Trust. Michael will be accompanied by a team of expert volunteers who add immense colour to the weekends activities. You might have a questions on species identification or, where to locate your mammal trap for the best results. Fear not, someone will be on hand to help.

The weekend is filled with a wide range of wildlife focused events and talks. Our activities typically include, bat walks, butterfly hunts, moth trapping, mammal traps and trail camera footage. The footage we collect is used to create a film for the Secret Cinema on Sunday morning.

forest school activities at the secret campsite

Our team of enthusiasts also lead forest walks, reptile searches, forest school activities, hedgehog tunnels and even a pitch black,glow worm adventure search.

butterfly hunt at the secret wildlife festival

These events take place throughout the day and are led by one of the experts from the Trust.

What else goes on

On Saturday evening, if the weather is kind to us, we light a communal barbeque. Our impromptu cooker is a great place to enjoy and share the highlights from the days activities. Everyone at the festival is welcome to cook whatever they have brought along with them, vegan or carivore. Perhaps even the odd marshmallow.

At other times over the weekend campers are welcome to enjoy the peace and tranquility of the campsite, whilst younger members of their party explore the site, looking for lizards and grasshoppers. Our camping pitches have their own firepit, where you can relax around a campfire, cook breakfast, or perhaps just enjoy a cold beer or a glass of elderflower presse, if you’ve bought some with you.

You can also enjoy hot and cold drinks from The Secret Teapot which is locted at reception.

Who’s it for

The Secret Wildlife Festival is aimed at wildlife enthusiasts and their families. I’m amazed every year how knowledgable the younger campers are on such a wide range of animals and plants. We also get some expert Mums and Dads attending who are keen to encounter some of our rarer native species.

A few years ago we saw a Purple Emperor. Well, to be fair it was Michael and some of the hawk eyed amongst us.

In other years we’ve had appearances from Adders, Bats, Great Crested Newts, Dragonflies, Glow worms, Cinnabar moths and Privet Hawk moths.

Privet hawk moth at the secret campsite

In 2016, we captured brilliant footage of the badgers residing near the site and last year we found evidence of Dormice living alongside the campsite.

Who knows what this year has in store?

The Secret Wildlife Festival is a great way to get closer to our amazing wildlife, but its also a chance to escape your busy lives and relax for a couple of days amongst like minded campers, enthusiasts and experts.

activities at the secret wildlife festival

Camping is also a great way to connect with the people close to you, as the sun sets and the stars start to appear in the ink black sky.

Find out when tickets go on sale

Sign up here to join our Festival mailing list and be the first to hear when the tickets go on sale. Our festival tickets sell out incredibly fast and like Glastonbury, it’s all sold first come first served. So make sure you are at the front of the queue.

Read about last years festival here

Lagom and The Secret Campsite

This is a Swedish word that is rather dear to our heart.

We hope that it perfectly captures the approach we take at The Secret Campsite……. plus a tiny bit more.

The dictionary definition is broadly somewhere in this space: in balance, appropriateness, and a Swedish Proverb implies ‘the right amount is best’.

This approach to lots of issues feels very forward thinking and we think it sums up what we are trying to do at The Secret Campsite.

We keep the numbers of campers on site low, but enough for us to earn a living.

To provide good quality, clean and simple facilities.

Give people their own private space and request that they dont impose on other campers pitches.

…and we encorage campers to quietly explore the natural world and wildlife we have encouraged into our little part of Sussex

We have always tried to slightly undersell what we offer or provide. We aim to provide a solution that is always just a tiny bit better than has been hoped for prior to arrival.

but we definitely don’t want to under deliver on someones expectation.

Have a look at the Wikipedia definitions and then decide what you think about the socially minded Swedes.

We love their approach!

Next week Petrichor another evocative, natural word.