PLEASE NOTE: We have been informed that this campsite has now closed and is no longer taking bookings.

There’s always a slight feeling of apprehension when arriving at a campsite for the first time. You’d like to believe that you’ve done enough research by studying the site’s own website, you might have read a recommendation in a book, or a handful of reviews online, but as you pootle down the road in your campervan looking out for the little brown sign with the tent and caravan logo you’re bound to be hoping that it lives up to your expectations. First impressions count so when you drive through the gates at Hidden Spring and are greeted by a single lane track, tree lined on one side and with grape vines on the other you’re off to a promising start. The track climbs up a gentle incline until at the brow the rows of vines on the left stop and the field opens up to reveal around 15 pitches, all with electric hookup. Through a gap in the hedgerow on the right there’s another field which is home to the site’s tipis and yurts.

Camping amongst the vines

Beer garden at The Star

We¬†visited Hidden Spring in the week after the Easter bank holiday and with 2 couples, 2 vans, and Conker the dog, the full HappyCampervanning gang were in attendance. David, the owner, had let us know that he wouldn’t be around to greet us when we arrived, but that the main reception building would be open, and there’s a map of the site up on the wall that had our pitches marked. So we parked up our vans and set to work putting up the awnings. Shortly after, David came over to welcome us and made sure we had everything we needed. Later in the afteroon we went back down to reception for a chat about the site, the vineyard, the wines and the local pubs. (We might’ve had a little taste of the wine too!). There’s just 3 acres of vines on the site which allows the owners to produce around 2500 bottles of wine each year, and they also produce honey and apple juices, all of which can only be bought on-site. They also have a small supply of frozen burgers and sausages from the local butcher. The site is home to a few sheep, pigs and chickens on site but this is mainly just to provide meat for the owner’s own family. There’s also a fridge and freezer provided for use by the guests. So as the evening drew in we returned to our pitch with a couple of bottles in hand ready to light the fire pit (each pitch has its own fixed fire pit, and logs are available to buy from the shop). You can also rent cooking grills to turn your fire pit into a barbeque.

Plenty of walks from the site

From the top end of the site there is direct access to the footpaths and bridleways that spread across the surrounding farmland and we found that in the 2 days that we spent at Hidden Spring we never ventured out through the front of the site and onto the roads, preferring instead to walk cross-country to a couple of nearby pubs (an OS map is highly recommended!). On the first day we walked to The Brewers Arms (less than 2 miles) which doesn’t look much from the outside but the bar staff were friendly, and the beer was good. The following day we found ourselves eating lunch in the beautiful beer garden of The Star in Heathfield- we were lucky that the weather was so good as all the tables indoors were fully booked. We planned a scenic walk from the campsite to The Star that took in part of the Cuckoo Trail, an 11-mile stretch on a former railway line which is now open to walkers and cyclists. Our route from the campsite to The Star was around 4 miles each way.

Facilities
Setting
Locality
Friendliness

There are two large modern unisex shower rooms which may not sound like many but Hidden Spring is a small campsite and we never had to queue. We were told that the number of pitches has been reduced since last year purely because the owners wanted a less hectic workload.

Any negatives? Well, I suppose that if you have a young family then the shower & toilet block (which also houses the washing up area) might be a little too far from the pitches for you to be comfortable letting the youngsters wander down on their own, but for us we liked that they didn’t interfere with the view. You might also like a few more things to keep the kids entertained, but on the other hand you might be grateful for the absence of commercial temptations to limit the requests for sweets and ice creams and rides!

By the time we were ready to leave we were all agreed that this is amongst our very favourite campsites so far…

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Hidden Spring Vineyard, Horam, East Sussex4.552011-05-04T22:01:50+00:00Tom