Corona virus management plan.

Bell Tents in meadow at The Secret Campsite

To reassure our customers that we are taking the current situation very seriously, we have devised the following hygiene management plan for The Secret Campsite.

All campers over the age of 16 years are required by law to scan our QR code via the NHS app on arrival at The Secret Campsite.

We advise that everyone uses the conveniently located hand sanitisers before AND after touching any equipment or furniture around the campsite. 

Please can you explain this to your children and accompany them, wherever advised, to ensure your “back to nature” camping trip is successful. It is your responsibility to ensure your children keep their hands clean. 

Our hygiene management plan

We take the health and well being of our campers and that of our environment very seriously. We thoroughly clean our facilities daily and pride ourselves on great feedback from our camping guests. We take immediate action when things break, or are running low. It happens, even here! Once we even had a frog in the shower…

The Secret Campsite is unique.

We have very large, well spaced pitches, often 15-20 metres apart. This is a good space to be in in order to minimise your risk of infection. To further reduce the risk, we are limiting bookings to one family per pitch

The risk areas and the risk items

However, there are parts of The Secret Campsite where you are more likely to meet other people, looking to wind down, escape and camp for a few nights. 

These parts of The Secret Campsite are the areas we are focused on and we have devised an additional cleaning plan to reduce the risk of spreading infection from these points.

Please explain this information to your children, and where necessary please accompany them to these facilities.

All touch points on, or in, the listed areas will be wiped clean with the UK Govt health recommended cleaning fluid 3 x times a day.

1 Main shower and toilet block

To reduce the number of people in the shower block, please join the toilet or shower queue outside the entrance. Please wait outside until a cubicle is available.

Please use the hand sanitiser on entry and exit from the main shower and toilet block. Below are the main touch points:

  • Toilet cubicles
  • Disabled toilet
  • Hand basins
  • Showers
  • Flip top bin

There are now hand sanitisers within the shower block plus the pre-existing 3 hand basins for hand washing.

We have removed the Fly curtain at the entrance for hygiene reasons.

2 Family shower room

Please use the hand sanitiser on entry and exit from the Family shower room. Below is a list of the main touch points:

  • Toilet
  • Hand basins
  • Coin operated timer
  • Shower
  • Pedal bin

The baby changing mat has been removed for the foreseeable future.

3 Washing up area

Please use the hand sanitiser on arrival at the Washing Up Area. We also request that only one person is present at each sink, at any one time. Below is a list of the main touch points:

  • Please wipe clean the washing up bowls with soapy water after each use.
  • The fridge will be closed for the foreseeable future.
  • The freezer will be available for campers to freeze their own ice blocks. These must be kept in their own plastic bag for ease of identification. Please use the hand sanitiser after touching the freezer handle.
  • The Meadow water point will have a fixed hand sanitiser.
  • The water point near reception will have a fixed hand sanitiser.
  • The sink and water point near the compost toilet will be turned off.
  • The Rubbish bin lids will be wiped clean regularly.
Washing up area at the secret campsite

4 Reception

Please use the hand sanitiser on arrival and exit from Reception. Below is a list of the main touch points in reception and our adjustments:

  • Please bring your own phone charging and bed inflating equipment to plug into our power points (reception hours only).
  • We can only accept contactless card payments.
  • Electric car charging point (use reception hand sanitiser).
  • We will provide paper copies for any local maps or walks or destination QR codes for the local area.
  • The Secret Teapot cups are single use and disposable.
  • FSC nature study sheets have been removed for the time being.

5 Camping equipment

After collecting or handling any of the following items, we advise campers to wash their hands thoroughly or use the hand sanitisers provided. 

  • Firestands
  • Dutch ovens
  • Rocket stoves
  • Rubbish bins and bin lids
  • Recycling points
  • Large waste and recycling bins
  • Wheelbarrows
  • Axes

6 Our unusual shelters

The Tree Tent

All touch points in the Tree Tent will be wiped clean after each occupancy on top of our normal cleaning procedure.

Please bring ALL your own bedding ( sleeping bag, pillow or other bedding). We will provide a mattress protector that will be washed on a high temperature after each visit.

The Gridshell

The Gridshell Secret Campsite

All touch points in the Gridshell will be wiped clean after each occupancy on top of our normal cleaning procedure.

Please bring ALL your own bedding ( sleeping bag, pillow or other bedding). We will provide a mattress protector that will be washed on a high temperature after each visit.

The Okra

the OKRA at the Secret Campsite Lewes

All touch points in the Okra will be wiped clean after each occupancy on top of our normal cleaning procedure.

Please bring ALL your own bedding (sleeping bag, pillow or other bedding). We will provide a mattress protector that will be washed on a high temperature after each visit.

New 2021 Opening dates

2021 camping dates The Secret Campsite Lewes

Monday’s announcement has meant that we now have a firm date when we can fully open.

This is the 17th May, and we are taking bookings from this date for the rest of the season. New restrictions until 21st June, mean that we can have a maximum of 6 people or 2 households for each pitch.

From 12th April until 16th May, we are allowed to open 2 pitches at the campsite. Each of these 2 pitches will have access to their own shower, toilet and hand basin. Most of these pitches have been reserved for rescheduled bookings, made by campers who had planned to visit us from 26th March when we were scheduled to open.

Like last year, we will be managing the site to minimise the risk of infection. The fridge will remain in reception and we will make use of the outside freezer to supply ice blocks so that you can keep your items cool on your pitch.

You can read more about our site management plan here

Over the course of the outbreak we ask all of our current and future customers to accommodate a few changes to our normal rules:

  • 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.

If you have any concerns or would like any of the information clarified please get in touch. We love speaking with people and there’s no one here at the moment, so we’ve got heaps of time to chat.

Autumn at The Secret Campsite

Sheep at the Secret Campsite Lewes

The sheep arrive

This season went by in a flash and now we are deep into November. A particular highlight is the new sheep coming to graze off the camping meadow. They arrive and tread warily out of the trailer. Then hesitate but upon hearing the rattle of a bucket, will charge straight into their new home for the next month or so. Sometimes the new sheep headbutt our 2 sheep. I do find this painful to watch, but once the pecking order is established it becomes more harmonious!

Sloe Gin

Generation Distillers Sloe Gin
Sloes foraged from The Secret Campsite

The meadow is currently the source of sloes and rosehips. Our friends at Generation Distillers, located in nearby Chailey, have created a wonderful sloe gin using The Secret Campsite sloes. Check it out next season. Perfect for enjoying around the camp fire. In the interim we can assure you that it is delicious. And we will endeavour to not drink it all!

Foraging

Hedgewitch foraged cordials
Locally foraged cordials from Hedgewitch

Our forager in residence, Jane Hedgewitch, has been harvesting the rosehips in the meadow too. Jane has a long history of rootling in the hedgerows and makes fantastic cordials, extracts and preserves that she sells here and often at Lewes Friday Food Market too. This summer we enjoyed (and stocked) her delicious Wild Cherry Blossom Cordial. You can read a bit more about Jane in a feature by Muddy Stilettoes Sussex here.

We are currently working on lots of exciting new projects at the Secret Campsite and hope to reveal more in our next newsletter. You can sign up for it here

The Secret Campsite wins a Silver award!

Silver Award at The CPRE

We won a Silver Gong! Not quite at The Oscars but at the well regarded Awards hosted by the CPRE, the countryside charity, formerly known as the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

The CPRE shares our own interests in nature and landscapes, climate change and energy, sustainable transport, farming and better places to live.

We entered the CPRE Sussex 2020 Awards in the category of “Connecting people to the Countryside”. You can view our entry here.

The 2020 awards

Our ethos

At The Secret Campsite, we strive to share our wildlife rich habitat with campers who may not get to see the natural world in action. Lots of children don’t hear the hoot of an owl at night or perhaps have encountered a slow worm. We think these experiences can spark an interest in nature and the natural world and can create valuable family time and space.

Watch our video entry below.

Lockdown haircuts!

We are lucky to have great neighbours that include butterflies, deer, toads, adders, hedgehogs and so many more.

Pop by and meet them (and us) some time!

Where to get food during your stay at The Secret Campsite?

The Anchor Inn at Barcombe near to The Secret Campsite

The Secret Campsite is rather well placed for pubs, restaurants, cafes, farm shops, farmers markets and takeaways too. Sussex seems to cater for foodies!

Farm shops

Holmansbridge Farm Shop is 2 minutes walk from the Secret Campsite. It sells a wonderful selection of meat, deli products, fruit and veg plus shop made foods too. The sausage rolls, scotch eggs and pasties are a particular favourite. Plus local wines, spirits and ciders.

Pubs

The nearest pubs are the Royal Oak in Barcombe, which is a 20 minute walk up over the fields (ask us for the quickest route!). Or try The Five Bells in Chailey, approx 40 minutes away. You will find an enviable selection of gins here including Chailey based Generation Eleven Gin!

A great walk is over to the Anchor Inn at Barcombe Mills This is a good pub with the added allure of being incredibly scenic and offers boat hire too. Other great country pubs to try include The Griffin Inn over at Fletching Fancy a carvery? then pop down to The Rainbow just down the road which currently offers a full day carvery on Wednesday and Sundays. With all these pubs, do call ahead to check opening hours and current restrictions surrounding COVID.

Cafes

Our current favourite is the Swedish themed Hubbery Cafe, open Friday – Sunday 10-5 pm. Accessed via beautiful Knowlands Woods it’s a great new pop up. Lewes is rammed full of good cafes. Personal outdoor cafes favourites include Cafe du Jardin and Lewes Depot .

Farmers Markets

Lewes Friday Food Market operates weekly from 9.0- 12.30 at Market Street Lewes. Stallholders vary and may include breads from Flint Owl Bakery, meats from Harrys Kitchen, Cheeses from Cheese Please alongside fresh coffee, organic fruits and veg.

Lewes Farmers Market operates on the first and third Saturday of each month at Friars Walk Car park, Lewes from 9 am to 1 pm. This is a larger food market and offers plenty of choice of local Sussex food and drinks producers.

Takeaways

Plenty of great options here. Erawan does amazing Thai as does Pailin. For Chinese try Castle Chinese . If you are after fish and chips then head to South Street Fish Bar at 9 South Street Lewes, BN7 2BT or call 01273 474710. They currently close at 9.30 pm.

Goodies for sale at The Secret Campsite
Goodies at Reception…

Onsite goodies

Here on site, we sell a few goodies too. Including wonderful meat boxes from Townings Farm and currently 6 exciting flavours of Lickalix ice lollies (these lollies have plastic free compostable packaging). Sussex based Folkington’s stock a range of presses and juices here too.

We are always keen to hear about Sussex food and drink adventures, so pop by and tell us your favourite food haunts while you were camping here.

Young Spotters Snaps

Our Young Spotters Snaps competition is a bit of a punt. Will anyone enter! We meet many enthusiastic young people who enthuse about their wildlife spots during their camping trip. I sometimes get to see their photos and on occasion, I feature them on our Instagram or our Facebook page.

Local photography talent!

James Pearson contacted me as he was keen to come and take photos at The Secret Campsite. He has sent in some great photos. I featured many in a previous blog post here. James has actually unknowingly prompted this competition to be set up!

Silver Fritillary by James Pearson

How to enter our competition

We would like to invite all young photographers under age of 16 years to send in their wildlife photos.These photos must be of wildlife here at The Secret Campsite. Sussex teems with wildlife. So you may have some taken wonderful photos of butterflies, birds, bees, snakes, slow worms? Who knows? Surprise us!

The winning photo will receive a £20 Book Voucher. It will certainly feature on our website and probably on our Instagram and Facebook pages.

The winning photo entrant will be notified by phone at the end of the 2020 camping season. Do send your entries to info@30ninenet.co.uk along with your name and age. Lastly please confirm that we can use your photos on our social platforms.

Our local wildlife residents?

We love it when children camp here and get to see new things. A great example of this, is when we run the Secret Wildlife Festival. I always see wildlife that I don’t recognise. And I love it when the children tell me what it is.

The Secret Wildlife Festival 2019

This weeks spots?

Earlier this week, 3 small campers aged between 4 to 9 years told me their wildlife spots. Rabbits (lots), glowworms, snakes and butterfly and a toad. Humbug the cat, definitely doesn’t qualify for this competition!

Great places to spot wildlife here, are in the camping meadow, the old railway track and Knowlands Woods. Glow worms are best seen in long grasses around 9-10 pm. Get spotting and snapping!

Butterflies at The Secret Campsite

We are positively teeming with butterflies here at the Secret Campsite. Sussex attracts them in swathes or flights as they are collectively known. Other collective terms include a shimmer, a swarm or best of all, a rabble!

White Admiral James Pearson

Young wildlife photographer

James Pearson, a young lad from Lewes with a passion for photographing wildlife has been frequently visiting us. Arriving with his camera, he disappears into the meadow and Knowlands Woods for hours. James sent over his latest butterfly photos and we love them.

Purple Hairstreak James Pearson

Sightings with Sussex Butterfly Conservation

We met the Sussex Butterfly Conservation Society who camped here earlier this month. Follow the link and scroll to 06 July 2020 where you can see and read about their sightings here. Butterflies they saw include Ringlet, Gatekeeper, Marbled White and Purple Hairstreak.

Marbled White at the Secret Campsite
Marbled White Colin Gibbs

Michael Blencowe’s Butterfly book

If you have attended the annual Secret Wildlife Festival, then you will definitely have met with Michael Blencowe from The Sussex Wildlife Trust. Here’s an unashamed plug for his book “The Butterflies of Sussex”. Currently out of stock but keep your eyes peeled for his next book entitled “Gone” due April 2021.

The Secret Wildlife Festival

Our Secret Wildlife Festival is a moth and butterfly spotting bonanza. Moths spotted include the Elephant Hawk, Privet Hawk, Lappet, and Snout. Butterflies include the Purple Hairstreak, Marbled White. We always hunt the Purple Emperor , that’s sometimes spotted in Sussex. We try our hardest to attract it, tactically employing foul smelling dog food, and other rank materials. Finally we were victorious in 2019. Sadly I didn’t have my camera to hand…

We absolutely love seeing all your photographs taken here of the wildlife here at The Secret Campsite. The camping meadow, the old railway track and Knowlands Woods are great places to go and spot lots of different wildlife. Please keep sending them in!

Cool Camping Instagram “Takeover”

We were thrilled to be invited to “takeover” Cool Camping’s Instagram earlier this week. It represented a great opportunity for The Secret Campsite to tell our story, with a real “day at the campsite experience” theme. It was also a leap of faith for Cool Camping too. We have worked with them since we started, they reviewed us back in our early days and most probably you used their booking system when you booked your stay here.

So armed with their Instagram log ins, I sat down and thought how best to tell our story. In marketing terms we have lots of “content” and lots of lovely photos. But we wanted to show it as it is. So we whipped out the camera, combed our hair (still no hair appointments freed up yet after Lockdown) and did a lot of takes in the meadow.

Live filming

I pitied the lovely camper snoozing on his pitch as Tim did 10 takes, all identical, with each one faster to try and cram the required points into his 15 second clips. It was a comedy act of suddenly talking very fast for the last 5 seconds.

Real camping with nature at The Secret Campsite

Real camping

We featured an intro by Tim, explaining our story and how we transformed an old run down garden nursery into the Secret Campsite. This entailed renovating old buildings, planting a lot of trees to provide natural screening for campers and a wonderful wildlife habitat. And what we think “real camping with nature” actually is.

The Okra Dining Pod created at The Secret Campsite
The Okra Dining Pod

Our Secret Shelters

Then we ran some video interviews with Jason Thawley. He has designed all our Secret Shelters including The Tree Tent, The Gridshell and the Okra . We also featured a sneak peek of his new ” Okra dining pod” .This is aimed at the hospitality sector for socially distanced outdoor dining opportunities.

The Secret Wildlife Festival programme 2019

Secret Wildlife Festival

Tim introduced the Secret Wildlife Festival, our annual fundraising festival run in conjunction with The Sussex Wildlife Trust – sadly cancelled for 2020 but it will resurface for 2021. The Festival is a wonderful way to reconnect with Nature and Wildlife, the schedule is put together by the hugely informative Michael Blencowe and his colleagues at Sussex Wildlife Trust.

Scrub scrub!!

The COVID clean!

We filmed the COVID clean. This takes place 5 x per day, involving bleach solution, multiple buckets, gloves, and face masks. This is in addition to the normal daily deep clean. It’s really not very interesting to watch but filmed in Slo-Mo makes it visually far more amusing! Our last newsletter relayed our COVID policy which prompted lots of relieved comments so we understand how important this is.

Marbled White Butterfly at The Secret Campsite by Colin Gibbs
Marbled White by Colin Gibbs

Wildlife

We featured lots of wildlife photos, including butterflies, moths and grass snakes. We were delighted to welcome people from the Sussex Butterfly Society here last weekend. Colin took a beautiful photo of one of the many Marbled Whites who spend the summer here.

BBQ and campfires at the Secret Campsite

Campfires

Finally, we turned our attention to arguably the best part of any camping trip, the BBQ and campfires. Tim’s a dab hand at lighting campers fires, secretly, we do have a blowtorch here too, when all else fails.

We loved the opportunity to introduce The Secret Campsite to a new audience over at Cool Camping. We had the occasional technical drama which hopefully passed by unnoticed!

The Times guide to “50 Great Staycations”

The Times 50 Great Staycations

Well that is a great start to the 2020 camping season! We featured in “50 Great Staycations” in this weekends edition of The Times.

UK best places

The article outlined the pick of the best places for escaping the hordes within the UK. It featured beautiful sleepy Cornish towns, pine plantations in Northumberland, and lovely nature reserves in Suffolk.

East Sussex

East Sussex scored twice with the rather cool Belle Tout lighthouse set in beautiful Birling Gap and also with The Secret Campsite! There are a hatful of inspiring places to stay and some amazing places to visit around the area so we were surprised that East Sussex only had 2 entries!

See the full article here The paywall will preclude you reading it all for free but I have faithfully reproduced the article here. (Copyright The Times Newspapers)

Such a great start to the rather disrupted camping season! Thank you for including us.

Things to do, eat, and see near to The Secret Campsite

Boating at The Anchor Inn Barcombe Maynard Frith

Sussex is a wonderful place to visit and there’s plenty to do, eat and see whilst you are here. Here’s a list of places that our campers seem to enjoy. Please check the company website for current times and all opening details.

Sussex visitor official websites

Sussex Top Attractions

Brighton

Lewes

Family Attractions

Branching Out Adventures (use booking code TSC20)

Drusillas Park small animal zoo

Bluebell Railway

Newhaven Fort

Hurstmonceaux Observatory Science Centre

Lavender Line

Lewes Castle

Farleys House & Gallery

Anchor Inn Boating at Barcombe

Places to swim

Seaford, Brighton, Cuckmere Haven beaches. Rockpooling at Seaford.

Great Lidos at Saltdean and Pells Pool Lewes .

Wild swimming at Barcombe Mills (Though be aware that there are sewage works located close by)

Houses and Gardens

Sheffield Park and Garden (NT)

Borde Hill Garden

Michelham Priory

Alfriston Clergy House (NT)

Anne of Cleves House Lewes

South Downs Heritage centre

Nature and Walks

South Downs Walks visit South Downs National Park Authority

Walks from The Secret Campsite to South Downs Way

Cycle rides near Lewes and Falmer try The Cuckoo Trail

What’s on with Sussex Wildlife Trust

Sussex Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves or perhaps Lewes Railway Land

Museums

Ditchling Museum of Arts and Crafts

The Royal Pavilion

Cinemas

Lewes Depot

Uckfield Picture house

Food markets

Lewes Friday Food Market

Lewes Farmers Market