The Secret Campsite is featured in The Guardian 13 February 2021

Secret Campsite Sussex photo credit NIgel French
Secret Campsite featured in Guardian newspaper
The Guardian Saturday 13 February 2021

Thankyou very much to The Guardian. We featured in their “30 UK campsites with availability for summer 2021” written by Rachel Dixon and Jane Dunford. They used a great photo, taken here by local photographer Nigel French

Guardian article featuring The Secret Campsite Lewes
Secret Campsite features in The Guardian article Saturday 13 February 2021

What they wrote

It was a great little piece describing our large, well screened pitches, 2 Secret Shelters (The Gridshell and Tree Tent) and our forward looking approach. This includes the provision of solar powered showers, electric car charge points and recycling facilities onsite, to minimise our environmental impact.

The Secret Teapot, our little takeaway cafe, created by our 3 children in 2013 was mentioned. They are now older teenagers and frequently found working at campsite reception. The article also mentioned our local village of Barcombe ( good local pub here), and the local town of Lewes

Connecting

Features like this are great. They raise the profile of our campsite which is brilliant for business. And help connect us with other interested organisations who share both our love of wildlife and the importance of connecting with nature. We are working towards creating a space which will really utilise green energy alternatives. This also helps support our local council, Lewes, to meet their commitment to zero carbon by 2030.

Our aims

At the Secret Campsite, we aim to give every visitor, irrespective of age, a great time here. And a little bit more. There’s a great Swedish word for it, Lagom.

We want you to go away having loved your little escape here. You may remember the glow worms at 10 pm on a warm August evening. Perhaps the owls hooting in the meadow at night. Or just the chance to catch up with friends over a local beer or cider around a campfire whilst your kids pootle around. We have even had a few marriage proposals take place here too. No wedding invites yet though.

Relax and reconnect

So whatever you take away with you when you leave, we want you to go feeling relaxed and reconnected to the natural world. We believe that being responsible with our environmental footprint and ensuring that we treat our wildlife neighbours considerately, is really important.

So stay tuned for news about our increased capacity of electric chargers, the new solar panels on the barn and our new wildlife area.

Secret Campsite pitches for Lewes District Councils carbon target

Councillor Adrian Ross visits the Secret Campsite Lewes

We are thrilled to share this news from Lewes District Council, about how the campsite is trying to help the Council achieve zero carbon by 2030. Their press release is in full below;

The Chair of Lewes District Council made a socially distanced visit to The Secret Campsite in Lewes recently to see how the countryside venue is working to become a standard bearer for nature friendly living.  

When Councillor Adrian Ross was elected Chair, he immediately confirmed his theme of office would be ‘a green recovery, environmental action and a fair society’, allied to supporting the council’s target of carbon neutrality by 2030.

Launched by Tim and Lisa Bullen in 2012 on a rundown and redundant garden centre, The Secret Campsite is billed as ‘real camping with nature’ and has attracted plenty of attention in the national media for connecting campers with wildlife and the natural world more broadly.

Councillor Adrian Ross said:

“It was lovely to visit The Secret Campsite.  It’s in a beautiful location and Tim and Lisa have made a great effort to protect and enhance the local biodiversity.  Local tourism is central to the green recovery of the district post-Covid  and the campsite also brings in much-needed custom for the nearby shops, pubs, restaurants and visitor attractions. 

“And I’m particularly excited by the way they have embraced the council’s sustainability goals, adapting their business to help us achieve our climate and biodiversity objectives.”

Tim has been part of the council’s Climate Action Forum that is feeding into the work to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and is constantly making changes and adaptations at the campsite to completely harmonise its relationship with the environment.

Tim Bullen said:

“We are really keen to help Lewes District Council achieve or even surpass their target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and we have plans to demonstrate the actions we are taking to help hit its targets.

“Plans at the site include specific wildlife features such as bunds for reptiles and ground nesting bees, electric car charging points and the use of renewable energy to provide heat and hot water for the site.”

Councillor Matthew Bird, Cabinet Member for Climate Change, said:

“It’s not just that Tim and Lisa’s sustainability ethos is clear in everything they do at The Secret Campsite, it is also their willingness to share their approach. Tim has been really generous in contributing his experience and values to the council’s sustainability expert panels and the Community Climate Forum.

We are thrilled that our environmental approach will help support the valuable work of Lewes District Council to achieve its target of zero carbon by 2030.

The Secret Campsite wins a Silver award!

Silver Award at The CPRE

We won a Silver Gong! Not quite at The Oscars but at the well regarded Awards hosted by the CPRE, the countryside charity, formerly known as the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

The CPRE shares our own interests in nature and landscapes, climate change and energy, sustainable transport, farming and better places to live.

We entered the CPRE Sussex 2020 Awards in the category of “Connecting people to the Countryside”. You can view our entry here.

The 2020 awards

Our ethos

At The Secret Campsite, we strive to share our wildlife rich habitat with campers who may not get to see the natural world in action. Lots of children don’t hear the hoot of an owl at night or perhaps have encountered a slow worm. We think these experiences can spark an interest in nature and the natural world and can create valuable family time and space.

Watch our video entry below.

Lockdown haircuts!

We are lucky to have great neighbours that include butterflies, deer, toads, adders, hedgehogs and so many more.

Pop by and meet them (and us) some time!

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.

The Sunday Telegraph’s “20 best campsites near a pub”

Sunday Telegraph , campsites with great pubs

I only found out on Monday morning when Katherine in the office asked me about Giant Crested Newts. She’d read it in The Sunday Telegraphs “20 best campsites near a pub” feature. But best of all, The Secret Campsite had been picked as one of them. Better still, we were the first one listed…..hooray

We had been visited a few weeks before by deputy editor Olivia Walmsley. Olivia was researching an article for the Sunday Telegraph about great campistes near pubs. She wanted to write about the camping and then pay a visit to a couple of local pubs for some food and refreshment.

Sunday Telegraphs pubs and camping article

The camping part

The Gridshell was free for Olivia and Jonny’s first night. But, being full up, we then had to move them onto a camping pitch on the bank for Saturday night. This worked really well and it sounds like they enjoyed cooking over the campfire and an amazing dawn chorus. What a great way to start a Sunday morning, despite a drop of rain.

Glamping in Sussex

Local Pubs

We’re really lucky with the pubs near to the campsite as they offer a diverse range of prices, locations and food.

The Royal Oak played host to Olivia and Jonny’s Saturday lunch. After this they headed off for some wild swimming at Barcombe Mills, before heading back to the campsite for another campfire by their Bell tent.

Village pub near the campsite in Sussex

On Sunday, after a downpour they enjoyed a hearty Sunday lunch at the Five Bells in Chailey.

You can read the whole article here

Some other great local pubs

We really enjoy these 2 local pubs and lots of campers sing the praises of them both. But there are even more places within a short walk or a 10 minute drive. Here are a few more that are also worth trying out.

The Half Moon at Plumpton is at the foot of the South Downs and make a great base to start a walk up onto the beautiful open chalk downland and the South Downs way

The Rainbow is a mile and half away and has a carvery, so its a safe pub for a meal on a Sunday evening. Many local pubs kitchens are closed after lunch on Sundays so campers could go hungry!

The Griffing Inn is super expensive but provides an amazing dining experience, so if you’re feeling flush its worth the extra few miles drive, but best book a taxi home and increase the mortgage in advance.

Finally if you’re feeling energetic why not get some rowing in and retire for a long luch afterwards at the Anchor Inn at Barcombe Mills

It’s great when independent writers and the public recognise what we are doing and the space we are trying to create, and when its combined with a great pub serving good honest food it’s a winning combination.

Why we are different to most campsites

We set the Secret Campsite up in 2012 to provide an uncompromised space where wildlife could flourish. It also had to be a space where campers could escape their busy technology filled lives. But, we also needed to earn an income.

So far it’s proved to be very rewarding and successful on both fronts. We’ll never be rich but, we have an amazing space here. Something, surprises me almost every day. This morning it was seeing the hornets that have moved into the sparrow hotels now that the chicks have fledged. Glad they chose their bedrooms.

Olivia’s article is one of a number of features we’ve had written about us. We’ve even won a few awards as well. In 2016 we were awarded a community hero award for our work with animals. In 2013 we were voted one of the Guardians top 10 campsites in the UK.

So we think we’re doing something right. The reviews we get on Cool Camping and Trip advisor seem to back this up…. most of the time.

By the way, Giant Crested Newts was a typo. We’ve got Great Crested Newts here and we are really proud of them. They are increasingly rare.

BBC radio Surrey and Sussex award for the Secret Campsite

Yesterday evening we were invited along to the BBC Radio Sussex and Surrey Community Hero Awards at the Crown Plaza hotel near Gatwick.

We had been nominated in the animal welfare section. Listeners of the two BBC Local radio stations, which are broadcast throughout Surrey and Sussex, nominated businesses and individuals they thought were doing great work and we were being nominated for our work with wildlife.

Imagine our surprise when we won. If you want to read more have a look  at the link to the awards

More exciting news to follow very soon

Cool Place of the Day

We were really pleased to hear that we have been listed as the Cool Place to stay in the Independent travel section, on 26th April.

 

Secret Campsite in Sussex

 

How true this was. It was flipping freezing in Sussex on Tuesday night, but ‘Cold Places to stay’ is much less enticing. Either way, have a read of the article and if it sounds about right we’d love to see you come camping here either in your own tent, or up the tree in our fantastic Tree Tent.

Firewood for the Campfires

Our Escapees Handbook, appears in Sunday Times Travel magazine

This months issue of The Sunday Times Travel magazine carried a short piece on our escapees handbook which was written for the Secret Camsite by Sussex writers Daniel Neilson and Adam McNaught Davis.

We occasionally have PR stories published in the national press, but were delighted to have this story written about the handbook which sums up the ethos of our little campsite in Sussex.

You can download a copy of the handbook for free or alternatively, buy a copy at the checkout, when you come camping. A £1 donation goes to Sussex wildlife trust for any copies purchased.

On a similar theme, there was an interesting article by Jon Henley in The Guardian a few years ago. It was all about allowing children to interact with nature in an unsupervised way see if you agree.

Surprising encounters whilst you do nothing much are great to experience… in most cases.

DSC_9256

Escapee handbook anatomy of

DSC_9269

 

 

RSPB Photo competition winners to stay at The Secret Campsite

The RSPB announced the winner of their photography competition and the prize is a camping trip to The Secret Campsite where we look forward to meeting them all and seeing what images they can capture of the wildlife that we have around the campsite. There were over 70 entries.

There were four categories in the competition, Landscapes, Wildlife, Urban Wildlife and Families Enjoying the South Downs.

The competition, which was launched in October and ran until 28 February, aimed to celebrate the landscape of the South Downs with its range of habitats, stunning views and abundant wildlife.

Chris Mole, winner in the landscapes section, took an atmospheric shot of the fields above Plumpton and Neil Hulme was first in the wildlife section with a beautifully detailed shot of a Duke of Burgundy butterfly at North Marden.

Mark Jones’s shot of a fox and a dog meeting at Tilmore Brook was first in the urban wildlife category, and Rebecca Berry won the Families Enjoying the South Downs section with a picture of a youngster jumping against a background of colourful hang gliders. I’d love to post all of the winning pictures but sadly i can’t seem to re size them to fit the web site

The winners were presented with their prizes on Saturday 22 March at the RSPB’s Pulborough Brooks nature reserve. The public will be able to view the images in the reserves tea room from Sunday 23 March onwards.

Here is a full list of the three winners in each section:

Landscapes:

1st place: Rape Fields above Plumpton by Chris Mole

2nd place: First Light, Chanctonbury Ring by Martin Birchall

3rd place: Deep and Crisp and Even by Sue Povey

Rape Fields above Plumpton_Chris Mole_1-2-14

Wildlife:

1st place: Duke of Burgundy Butterfly at North Marden by Neil Hulme

2nd place: Brimstone at Kithurst Hill by Julie Redford

3rd place: Mating Chalkhill Blue Butterflies, Cissbury Ring by Kenneth Turner

Urban Wildlife:

1st place: Fox Encounter, Tilmore Brook, Petersfield by Mark Jones

2nd place: Wheel of Life by Rich Howorth

3rd place: Treecreeper in Petersfield Garden by Judith Jones

Families Enjoying the South Downs:

1st place: The Leap! by Rebecca Berry

2nd place: Running on the Downs by Chris Mole

3rd place: South Downs Way – descending from Beacon Hill near Harting Down by Mark Jones

The Leap!_Rebecca Berry_27-2-14