woodfire camping

I’m a life-long camper and every year I hanker after a camping trip when summer wanderlust is in the air. Luckily, there are seven campsites close to Brighton, each no more than an hour from the city, I’ve tried and tested and highly recommend for a weekend getaway. If you don’t live in Brighton, they also make a great base to explore Sussex and taking a day trip to Brighton.

∗PS organised in no particular order!


Blackberry wood, Streat near Ditchling, East sussex

blackberry wood camping near brighton

This is my go-to campsite for wild camping close to home. It’s also in one of my favourite tiny, hidden Sussex villages, which you’ll find just a 20-minute drive outside Brighton deep in the Sussex countryside. Here, it’s all about ‘proper’ camping in a beautiful meadow and lighting fires. Read more here and here.


Chalky Downs, Bevendean, Brighton

chalky downs campsite near brighton

Look at that setting! This family-run, friendly site is located on a farm which is walkable from Brighton. That said, its setting amid the rolling hills of the South Downs National Park is so beautiful, you’ll probably be happy to leave the city behind for a while. It’s pretty basic, but the there are plenty of hot showers and the toilets are always well stocked with loo roll. Bonus points: They also serve cook breakfasts!

Find out more here


Stud farm, Telscombe Village, East Sussex

stud farm camping telscombe

Another pared-back site close to Brighton, this time with distant sea views – and epic sunsets – but no showers. I thought this would bother me, but didn’t. I just relaxed, lit a campfire and embraced the back-to-basics simplicity and casual atmosphere. What’s also nice is that it’s small, but it fills up quickly, especially on summer weekends.

Find out more here.


Plumpton College Camping, Plumpton, east Sussex

plumpton college camping near brighton

A temporary campsite with a dreamy setting on an agricultural college in the South Downs. It’s a simple set-up with toilets and showers provided by the college, washing-up facilities in the open air and flat, spacious, grassy pitches. There are also 20 bell tents available to hire – with beds (but no bedding). Good spot if you fancy hiking to the town of Lewes for a pub lunch at The Swan Inn.

Find out more here.


Kitts Cottage Camp

kitts cottage campsite near brighton

This is a goodie for a group camping trip. There are three fields set in a fruit-tree-filled woodland to pitch up in and lots of space between. Each pitch also gets its own firepit AND toilet – no more traipsing to the camp loo in the middle of the night! Hot tip: I highly recommend ending a hike around the local area with a trip to the nearby Bluebell vineyard for a tasting followed by a squiffy self-guided walk around the vines.

Find out more here.


Knepp Wildland Safaris and camping, Horsham, West Sussex

knepp safaris and woodland camping near brighton

This place is out of this world and features in my upcoming book Secret Sussex. Camping here feels like you’ve stepped through a portal to the African wildland. This wild landscape is the result of a conservation project which uses a process known as “rewilding” to encourage and maintain diversity. Encounters with herds of wild ponies, cattle, deer and pigs as they roam are almost always guaranteed, not to mention sightings of once-rare birds, mammals, butterflies, beetles, reptiles, plants and fungi. You can pitch up your own tent, or stay in one of their yurts or shepherd’s huts.

Find out more here.


Woodfire Camping, Graffam, West Sussex

woodier camping near brighton west sussex

This is my dream campsite and I want to be best friends with the owners, Stella and Griff, who like me, are children of the 70s and 80s, lifelong campers and partial to a vintage tent set up. It’s dreamy for so many reasons: they have a few vintage tents set up to stay in; the setting overlooking the hills (so many times have I rocked up to a campsite only to discover I’m facing a hedge for a couple of nights), it’s off-grid; they chalk up dinner menus on a blackboard each morning which you order and they cook for you that night; it’s within walking distance of four pubs. Not surprisingly, because of its uniqueness and brilliance, getting a spot is like trying to get a Glastonbury ticket… Booking opens in January – good luck!

Find out more here.

Happy camping!

(Kitts Camp pic via here)

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