For those who love being deep in the countryside (but aren’t averse to a few luxury touches) we’ve found this small, secluded site in a stunning location; just a hop, skip and jump down the footpath from the South Downs Way. There’s loads to visit, eat and do within easy walking distance, making it perfect for families, walkers and cyclists.
Woodfire at Firle is on the Firle Estate. By car, it’s approached along the Old Coach Road (which has a good few potholes, be warned). Campers park and then ferry their gear up a farm track using our big wheelbarrows, or grab a lift in our 4×4.
We have campfires, hammocks and a sheltered seating area with a huge copper gypsy kettle for tea and hot water bottles. The crystal clear drinking water is piped straight from a nearby borehole on the Estate, to the powerful hot showers and sinks.
Head to our Firle FAQs to find out more!
We are deep in the South Downs National Park, which is a ‘dark sky reserve’, meaning we don’t have lighting onsite. Do bring your own torches but please no fairy lights on all night – they really disturb nocturnal wildlife.
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 two sink-and-a-halfs (sinks and a half?); drip-dry plate racks and log stools to stand on so there’s no reason why the kids can’t do the washing up.
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!
Pitch anywhere on the field – prices include hot showers and washing up, phone/battery charging, parking and late check-out – while dogs and kids under 3 go free!
Prices per person, per night (2-night minimum stay at weekends, 3 for bank holidays). Please note we are open at weekends only from May bank holiday 2022 until the end of August 2022.
Adult (18+): £15*
Child (3+): £8*
Children under 3: Free
NB If you are booking as part of a group please read about our limits for group bookings in our FAQs
Check availability & book
Do you have pre-pitched tents? Not this year, though maybe next.
When are you open? We are open every weekend over June/July and August 2022, including the Queen’s Jubilee bank holiday from 1-5th June.
Who is running the new site? Dave Watson, who builds all our beautiful roundwood timber-framed structures, and his partner Rozie who is Sub Editor on Permaculture Magazine. 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 runs a kitchen garden and veg box scheme and ingredients for camp-cooking over time. We’re so excited to be working with them!
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? We’re still figuring out our food plans for 2022, but there will definitely be wood-fire-cooked food happening! 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.
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 gear 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 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 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, unless you are booking the whole campsite, 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 and before either 9pm or sunset, whichever is earlier.
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.
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. For more ideas, check out the Things to Do section below.
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!
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 and Coronavirus
The last couple of years have been difficult for everyone and we recognise the huge amount of support we received from campers who wanted small independent businesses like us to succeed. In turn we accommodated all last minute rebookings and cancellations due to coronavirus. However the advent of new strains of the virus and the continuing situation means that we now are treating Coronavirus as an ongoing part of life and we have reverted our cancellation policy to reflect this.
30 days or more before your stay, we will refund 90% of your booking.
29-15 days before your stay, we’ll refund 50% of your booking.
No refunds are available if you cancel 14 days or less before your stay.
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.
WHETHER YOU WANT TO RELAX AROUND THE CAMPSITE, GO ON LOVELY WALKS AND BIKE RIDES NEARBY OR BE MORE ADVENTUROUS, THERE’S LOADS TO DO HERE, COME RAIN OR SHINE.
Nestled on the South Downs National Park, 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.
This area is great for cyclists of all abilities, whether mountain biking along the South Downs Way or just pootling around the lanes – there’s a wealth of tracks and paths to explore.
When it’s hot and you want to be by water, we are close to the coast and beaches of Newhaven West (twenty minutes) and Saltdean – (a hidden gem and only 30 minutes away!) There is also the amazing swimming spot of Cuckmere Haven where the River Cuckmere meets the sea. To be near water closer to the site (and one of our favourite spots) there’s also Pells Pool, an outdoor lido in Lewes fifteen minutes away.
Courses and on-site
We’re also just a couple of fields away from the lovely guys at Hunter Gather Cook, a foraging and cookery school that specialises in game butchery, wild cocktails and outdoor cookery, exclusively over live fire if you want to combine your stay with one of their courses.
Places to visit
Woodfire at Firle is lucky to be surrounded by fantastic cultural venues, historic houses and amazing gardens.
We are walking distance to Charleston Farmhouse, which has a fantastic programme of events, courses and exhibitions throughout the summer. The stately Firle House is also walkable and well worth a visit with its amazing art collection, exhibitions and gardens.
As we as the pretty village of Firle, Woodfire is close to the historic town of Lewes with a beautiful castle and great coffee shops. The seaside cities of Brighton and Eastbourne are less than thirty minutes away if you fancy something a bit more high-octane…
A walk to a proper country pub is one of best bits about camping. We are lucky enough to be within walking distance to two lovely locals. The wonderful Ram Inn in the village of Firle and the great Barley Mow are both about a 30 minute walk away – both do great food.
At weekends, breakfasts and lunches are available at the magical hidden garden cafe at Beanstalk Cottage, three minutes’ walk down the track.
Middle Farm is a five minute drive – a wonderful farm shop with local produce, a tea room, garden nursery and open farm. The nearest supermarkets are in Lewes.
Woodfire Firle is located on the Firle Estate new Lewes, between Brighton and East Sussex.
Please don’t follow Satnav/Waze/Google Maps as these will bring you along private roads on the Firle Estate and annoy our neighbours. From Brighton/Lewes, continue along the A27 past Middle Farm on your left and then signs for Charleston on your right. Continue past the Barley Mow pub on your right, then take the next right turning down Bo Peep Lane. After a little way you’ll reach a B&B on your left and see our sign and the Old Coach Road on your right – turn right on to the Old Coach Road and keep going straight – about half a mile – until you see the ‘Woodfire at Firle’ sign on your left.
Trains go direct from London Victoria to nearby Lewes, which is a 15 minute drive away. The train journey takes an hour and buses and taxis go between Lewes and Eastbourne.