Move over glamorous yurts with your flat-screen TVs, real glamping is about going off-grid, getting back to nature and leaving all mod cons behind – welcome to Eco Camp UK…
There’s nothing like arriving at a beautiful campsite knowing that you don’t have to spend the next two hours grappling with tent poles and blowing up airbeds. At Eco Camp’s Wild Boar Wood campsite, in the heart of Sussex, all the hard work has been done for you. Just step inside your kitted-out and cosy bell tent within your own woodland clearing, and you’re already camping without having to lift a finger!
A hidden woodland home
Well, it’s not entirely without effort (but that’s all part of the fun). Wild Boar Wood campsite is hidden (literally – directions are only given to guests) within a small wood in the middle of farmland, just outside the village of Horsted Keynes and Ashdown Forest. On arrival, campsite wardens Pete and Amy meet you at the car park with huge wheelbarrows ready to take all of your luggage down the track and into the campsite.
The wood is very pretty – bluebells carpet the ground during springtime – and wildlife takes priority at this sustainable site. Several bell tents are dotted around, each with their own fire pit and eating area. We were there in during a quiet mid-week but the campsite does get busy at weekends and during holidays, although most tents are quite private from neighbouring campers.
Furnished bell tents and campfires
The campsite boasts flushing loos and hot water ‘bucket showers’, plus washing up facilities. As expected, everyone is encouraged to use water (especially hot water) wisely, and make use of the recycling and composting bins. A small shed houses information and maps about the local area, plus lots of books to borrow during your stay. Amy and Pete are incredibly helpful and friendly, and live on-site in their own caravan. They’re happy to chat about the bird life and other wildlife their share their woodland home with (and help light a fire if, like us, those bush craft skills desert you!).
Our bell tent was furnished with a double memory foam mattress, spare beds (although we moved in our own travel cot), crockery, cutlery and cooking equipment, wind-up torches and lamps. The ‘dining’ area was large with a fire pit for cooking plus a small camp stove, table and chairs – the area was sheltered with a tarpaulin (useful as we experienced some light showers during our stay, although not that noticeable through the tree canopy).
There are several farm shops nearby so you can purchase local meats, vegetables and diary products (plenty of choice for the campfire).
A heritage railway to visit
One surprise treat found at this camp’s location, is the heritage Bluebell Railway. Steam trains run daily along the track at the far side of an adjoining field – give them a wave from the campsite and you may even get a ‘toot’ back! The Bluebell Railway stations (of Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes) are a short drive away. You can buy a ticket to ride the train, or (as we did) purchase a station-only ticket (just £3 for adults) and watch old steam trains arriving and departing. Old locomotives are also available to view inside the station sheds.
The surrounding area is all bucolic countryside, farmland and forest so perfect for country walks and basic exploring. Ashdown Forest is famous as the setting for Winnie the Pooh – you can even find ‘Pooh bridge’ to play a game of authentic ‘Pooh Sticks’.
A bell tent at Wild Boar Wood in mid-week costs £65 for two people per night, rising to £90 at weekends (extra child £12 per night, under 3s go free). For booking and more information visit www.ecocampuk.co.uk.