OK folks, we’ve been banging on about it for ages and now the time has come! We’re very excited to announce the opening of our new campsite – Woodfire at Firle! For those who love a bit of wild camping (but with our luxury touches) we’ve found this small, secluded site in a stunning location, right on the South Downs Way and perfect for walkers or cyclists.
Of course you’ll want to know more – there’s more info below (scroll down) and also please do go to our FAQs before emailing or phoning as hopefully most questions will be answered there and far more quickly!
The site is tucked into one of the folds of the hills on the Firle Estate in East Sussex just beneath Firle Beacon on the South Downs Way and is more remote than our current campsite. It’s reached along the Old Coach Road that runs from Brighton to Eastbourne; a farm track with pot-holes – perfect for 4x4s and fine in our old Ford Focus but not suitable for low-slung cars. From the parking area you can call for a lift up the side of the field though we also have wheelbarrows to carry gear the short distance to the site itself. As with our current site, everything is carefully thought through to be ecologically sensitive and sustainable. We have two new lovely compost toilets and our fabulous hot showers are run by solar power, along with washing up and handwashing sinks.
This year it’s a field-in-progress and we’re just inviting those who know about us already by email and word-of-mouth so we can get your feedback and create a site that’s truly for campers, by campers. There will be a large canvas shelter with a big firepit for communal cooking, a copper gypsy kettle for tea and hot water bottles and a massive Bialetti pot for morning coffee. We will also be cooking our Friday stew along with Griff’s famous flatbreads, and breakfasts and lunches are available at the magical hidden garden at Beanstalk Cottage, three minutes’ walk down the track. The wonderful Ram Inn in the village of Firle is a lovely walk away (30-40 mins) and also does great food!
This is an extraordinary site, tucked into one of the folds of the South Down hills, totally immersed in its surroundings, though with the comforts that you can expect from Woodfire; a little wilder than our current site and probably not one to bring your brand new BMW to.
What are your prices? This year it’s £14 per adult, per night and £8 per child, with a two-night minimum stay at weekends and 3-nights over the August Bank Holiday.
Do you have pre-pitched tents? Not this year, though maybe next.
When are you open? We’re taking bookings every day until Thursday 30th September 2021, and will be taking bookings from Easter 2022 tothe end of September 2022 from 2nd January 2022.
What facilities are there? Two each of brand-new compost loos and hot showers with all the lovely touches of the ones at our current site. Three handwashing/toothbrushing sinks; two washing-up sinks with hot water. The water comes from a nearby borehole and serves residential properties nearby. Our builders have been drinking it with no ill-effects, but because we haven’t yet managed to get certification for it, we’re asking you to bring your own bottled water until this comes through.
What is there to do nearby? So much! We are walking distance to Charleston Farmhouse, which has a fantastic programme of events, courses and exhibitions throughout the summer. We’re also just a couple of fields away from Hunter Gather Cook, if you want to combine your stay with one of their courses. Beanstalk Cottage Tea Garden is a few minutes down the track and the stately Firle House is also walking distance and well worth a visit with its amazing art collection, exhibitions and gardens. Middle Farm is a short walk away and has a great Open Farm, a play area for kids, a tearoom, garden nursery and great farm shop selling local produce. We’re right on the South Downs Way, so perfect for walkers and cyclists. Slightly further afield, are stunning villages and towns; Lewes, Brighton and Eastbourne as well as the coast, of course, with cliff walks, beaches and amazing swimming spots like Cuckmere Haven by Seven Sisters cliffs, where the Cuckmere river meets the sea.
Who is running the new site? Dave Watson, who built all the beautiful roundwood timber-framed structures at our current site has done the same at the new campsite and is staying on with his girlfriend Rozie to welcome you there! Dave is a woodsman who apprenticed under Ben Law (Ben’s Woodland House is Kevin McCloud’s favourite ever Grand Design), and over time, he plans to develop some bushcraft, coppicing and charcoal-making courses. Rozie is Sub Editor on Permaculture Magazine and runs our kitchen garden at our current site, with plans for a veg box scheme and ingredients for camp-cooking over time. (We’re so excited to be working with them!). We’ll also be around when we can on Monday-Wednesdays when we’re not cooking at our current site.
Are there any rules? Yes – these come partly from conditions imposed on us by the South Downs National Park and partly from our own experiences of creating a brilliant place for you to stay – you can find them below. They are mostly about respect and responsibility, which we’re sure you would show anyway, but we still need to spell them out. Please be aware that if you, or anyone you are responsible for, behaves in a way that may disturb other campers, you will be asked to leave immediately. And no one wants that.
Can we bring dogs? Absolutely. As a working farm, there are many other animals around including sheep and cattle – so long as you’re confident your dog will be well-behaved around these and other campers, dogs are welcome but please keep them on a lead at all times while on the campsite, follow the SDNP’s Take the Lead guidance and clear up after them immediately. Dogs are the owner’s responsibility and you will be asked to leave if they cause any problems.
Can we have campfires? Definitely – we sell firewood (sustainably coppiced local wood). We can’t have fires on the ground, but you can bring your own firepit, or hire them from us for between £8-£10 for your whole stay. No need to book these in advance, we have plenty. Please don’t collect wood locally as deadwood is really important for habitats.
Is there cooking? On Friday evenings Dave is cooking our well-loved Woodfire summer stew and flatbreads for campers under a beautiful roundwood timber-framed shelter he’s constructed from wood in the surrounding woodlands. He also has a communal fire going mornings and evenings for tea and coffee, hot water bottles and marshmallows. Friday-Sunday, breakfasts and lunches are available at Beanstalk Cottage, a short walk down the track and The Ram Inn in Firle also does delicious food. If you want to join in with the Friday stew, please order it when booking – standard portions are £10 and half portions are £5. (I’m afraid we probably won’t have the capacity to do a vegetarian option this year, though maybe! We’ll let you know if we do.)
Can we have barbecues? Absolutely – just make sure they’re raised off the ground – we usually have a few bricks around you can borrow if you need to. We also have a selection of grills you can borrow to put over your firepit for cooking on – you can’t book them in advance but we usually have enough. (Btw if you have any old oven/barbecue grills you’re thinking of chucking, we’d be delighted to take them off your hands and give them a new home).
Do you allow cars on the field? No, this site isn’t accessible by cars. Campers park in the car park, and then transport their stuff up the farm track to the campsite in the huge wheelbarrows we provide or Dave can give you a lift in his truck.
Can we bring a caravan, campervan or motor home? Unfortunately not, we’ve seen from experience that they wouldn’t make it up the final farm track!
Can we play music? Everyone loves a campfire sing-song and a strum on the old guitar, but I’m afraid no-one truthfully enjoys your bongo drums (we took a straw poll and it was fairly conclusive) and we ask you not to play any electronic stuff at all – car radios and even phones can sound very irritating from just a few yards away. Sound travels a long distance in this area and to respect our neighbours, we ask for quiet voices only round the campfire after 10.30pm.
Do you have a fridge for campers or a freezer? Not this year, sorry.
Can we book a group? Yes! We love groups – we grew up camping with groups of friends, we know it’s one of the best ways to get together. However we are a small, albeit perfectly formed, campsite on one open area rather than a forest or a sprawling site where you can take over a dedicated field. We’ve learned that having large groups on our site can change the atmosphere both for the group and for the rest of the campsite. Because of this we have now limited group sizes for bookings to around 12 people across a maximum of three pitches* (we realise that there may be the odd extra child or small tent) – if you want to book a group please read the info below first.
- Coronavirus: in this new corona era, group bookings will obviously need to adhere to the government guidelines in place at the time; we will do everything we can to help you with this.
- We need you to know where your children are, that they understand things like how to use the toilets and where they can and can’t explore, for their own safety as much as respect for other campers and our neighbours. We also need you to know that we come round at 10.30pm and ask for quiet voices round the campfire so you don’t keep your neighbours up – if you’re planning on sitting up drinking until 2am, this means we’re not the campsite for you!
- To manage group bookings we ask that:
- Everyone books for themselves. We understand there may be exceptions such as elderly relatives/language barriers etc so do get in touch if this is tricky, but we want to avoid one person booking on behalf of a large group.
- You nominate a “leader” (hi-viz and clip-board optional) who takes responsibility for everyone in their party knowing and following the way our campsite works.
- Give your group a name for everyone to add to their booking notes so we know you all want to pitch together. We don’t have formal numbered pitches, so it’s not like seats at the cinema – you can book at different times (depending on availability) and still pitch together.
What restrictions are there on our tent size? Although we don’t have demarcated pitches, our allowance is 8x5m a pitch which is pretty massive – not many people know their tent sizes off the top of their head but rest assured most tents aren’t bigger than that. You can fit up to six people on a pitch but please note that the price only includes parking for one car.
What if we need to bring more than one car?
We only have space for two families to do this and it will need to be pre-arranged with us as we honestly don’t have room for more or any overspill. Please contact us if this is the case and we’ll book you in,!
Do you accept stag and hen groups? If you’re planning a relaxing weekend camping, chatting, walking with a few friends, then absolutely. Everyone is welcome, so long as they understand that this is a peaceful, family campsite with children, and not suitable for loud or drunken behaviour and parties. However we do limit the size the size of all groups to 12 people across 3 pitches (see above). Just to reiterate, we ask for quiet after 10.30pm and if you behave in a way that may disturb other campers, you will be asked to leave immediately.
When do we need to arrive by? Any time after 2pm is fine.
Do we need to check in? Yes! Someone from each pitch needs to check in before you put your tent up. This is for fire safety reasons amongst other things. We will need to know your car reg and explain a few things.
What time do we have to check out? We know packing up can take ages, so you don’t need to be off the field until 1pm.
Is there a shop nearby? Yes, Middle Farm is a five minute drive – a wonderful farm shop with local produce, a tea room and even a garden nursery and open farm! The nearest supermarkets are in Lewes.
Where is the nearest beautiful walk? There are so many! This spot is ideal for amblers and ramblers – you can explore the hillside of the Downs straight off the campsite and, as we are directly under Firle Beacon on the South Downs Way, we’re a perfect stop off.
How do I recharge my phone or battery pack? We hope to have solar-powered charging points – TBC!
How do I find you? Please don’t follow Satnav/Waze/Googlemaps as these may bring you along private roads on the Firle Estate and annoy our new neighbours. If you go past Beanstalk Cottage, you’re going the wrong way. From the A27 from Brighton-way, take the next right turning after the Barley Mow pub down Bo Peep Lane; then turn right on to the Old Coach Road following the Woodfire signs. Keep going straght; you’ll pass a US school bus on your left (the supercool AirB&B bus, Skoolie Stays ) and keep on going along the stunning lane until you see the ‘Woodfire at Firle’ sign on your left.
Where is the train station? Trains go direct from London Victoria to nearby Lewes, which is a 15 minute drive away. The train journey takes an hour.
What do we do with our rubbish? We’ll take general waste, though try to make it easy for you to recycle and compost as much as possible onsite, with clearly-labelled bins. One thing – we’d really appreciate it if you didn’t leave us with broken larger items such as punctured airbeds, chairs and even tents – it just means we have to make a special trip to the tip instead of you.
What are the measures you are taking regarding coronavirus? Our primary concern is safety – not only of everyone who visits Woodfire Camping, but also that of our local community and society at large. With this in mind we are taking the measures below. However, we cannot be everywhere at once policing these, so we ask and expect our lovely campers to abide by them please at all times and respect the social distancing of others. We have been awarded the National Tourist Board of England’s Industry Standard mark meaning that our business follows government and industry COVID-19 guidelines, has a Risk Assessment in place and processes to maintain cleanliness and aid social distancing.
Bookings during the Coronavirus outbreak
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 subscribe to Cool Camping’s ‘Coronavirus Booking Guarantee’ – for more details, please see our cancellation policy, below.
In light of COVID-19 we have recently changed our usual booking policy and are subscribing to Cool Camping’s ‘Coronavirus Booking Guarantee’ which we hope provides increased flexibility and reassurance to our guests. This means:
- A low deposit of just 30% to secure your booking
- Balance not due until 30 days before your holiday, in case of late changes to Coronavirus guidance
- Complete flexibility to move bookings in the event of Coronavirus restrictions: in the event of cancellation due to Coronavirus restrictions or for self-isolation, you have the flexibility to move the booking to any alternative available dates in 2021 with no additional charges. The flexible rebooking policy is only available for cancellations related to genuine Coronavirus restrictions. Flexible rebooking is not available for cancellations related to weather or other reasons.
- Due to the low deposit and late balance payment, no refunds can be offered on either the deposit or the balance. If the balance is not paid 30 days prior to the holiday start date, the deposit may be deemed to be forfeited and the booking cancelled. In such an event the flexible rebooking policy will no longer apply.
- Insurance: we recommend additional cancellation insurance to cover in the event of cancellations other than Coronavirus restrictions.
To be legal about it, Woodfire Camping is used by all persons at their own risk. Camping at Woodfire entitles you to access the camping field and any public footpaths and rights to roam areas around it, which takes you across plenty of stunning fields and through gorgeous woodland. We must ask you though to respect any private property belonging to our neighbours and be mindful of the Countryside Code, keeping gates shut at all time as the campsite is surrounded by grazing land. The Firle Estate has a number of working farms and parents must ensure children are properly supervised at all times.
Whilst we make every effort to ensure a safe campsite we cannot accept responsibility for your possessions or personal injuries sustained whilst on the property or having campfires, but we firmly believe that spending time in this rural environment with its inherent ‘risks’ teaches children – and everyone! – valuable lessons about life, which let’s face it, is not a zero-risk venture!
Standard GDPR notice: We collect your personal details, name, address, email, telephone number and credit card details when you place a booking, these details are used for the purposes of managing your booking and receiving your payment. Should you wish for your personal details to be removed from our booking database after your stay with us, or after cancelling your booking, you may instruct us to remove it by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, please include your booking reference with this request.
If you opt in to our mailing list whilst placing your booking, we will add your name, address and email details to our marketing database and use these details in order to communicate with you in the future. We will not share this information with anyone else. All of our marketing emails will include the ability to have your data removed from our marketing database.
We are deep in the South Downs National Park, which is a ‘dark sky preserve’. To maintain this, we do not have electricity onsite so do bring your own torches.
Our hot, powerful showers are in roomy cubicles with hooks, log seats and mirrors and plenty of space to get changed or wash children!
Our covered washing-up area has three sink-and-a-halfs (sinks and a half?) so you can pour away last night’s dregs somewhere other than your washing up water.
Our lovely, clean compost toilets turn something that is usually a waste product into a rich compost that helps things grow, making them both practical and beautiful!