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East Sussex Glamping Holiday – A Unique Weekend In 1066 Country

From staying in an adorable shepherd’s hut to swinging through the trees, visiting a historic castle and getting out on the water, this East Sussex glamping holiday is perfect for those looking for a weekend break with a difference. 

A few weeks ago, we took a drive down to 1066 Country – an area of East Sussex and Kent that we absolutely adore. The landscapes are beautiful, with lush countryside leading all the way to the south coast. There are quirky towns, picture perfect villages and lots of cool activities too.

Bedgebury Pinetum
Bedgebury Pinetum is a lovely place to visit on your East Sussex glamping holiday

It’s also a great region for food and drink. Fresh fish and seafood is on the doorstep, and as you drive through the region, you’ll pass farmland, vineyards and orchards. With so much great produce on the doorstep, it’s easy to see why the area has developed a top food scene.

However, rather than a standard staycation, this trip was a little different. Forget hotels or B&Bs, we wanted to try some of the area’s quirky accommodation. Yes, we were going glamping in East Sussex! So, time to tell you about our idyllic break in the region, plus the lowdown on our cute glamping experience too.

Walking in Bedgebury Pinetum
Ready for the highlights of my East Sussex staycation?

Guide To Going On An East Sussex Glamping Holiday 

Stay in quirky accommodation at The Original Hut Company

When I told friends that we were going glamping in East Sussex, they assumed we’d be staying in bell tents, safari tents or yurts. But no, our experience was even cuter! We checked in at The Original Hut Company in Bodiam and were shown to our very own shepherd’s hut down by the river.

Drinks outside our shepherd's hut in Bodiam
Drinks outside our shepherd’s hut in Bodiam – one of the best places for glamping in East Sussex

What a setting! Our hut looked out towards Bodiam Castle and was moments from the River Rother. I’d wanted to stay in a shepherd’s hut for a while. Experiences like this are becoming popular in the UK, but not all are in locations as spectacular as this.

Beautiful evening at shepherd's hut at The Original Hut Company, Bodiam
East Sussex glamping doesn’t get better than this! Beautiful evening at our shepherd’s hut

You’re probably wondering what a shepherd’s hut is like inside. The biggest surprise for me was how spacious it was. Ours slept 5, with 2 double beds (the kitchen table converts to a bed) and a single bed. If you have kids, this would work for a unique family break.

There’s a kitchenette with gas hob, tap with drinking water and a dining area. For stays during colder months, there’s a fire to warm up the shepherd’s hut too. 

Inside our shepherd's hut at The Original Hut Company, Bodiam
Inside our shepherd’s hut at The Original Hut Company, Bodiam
Inside our shepherd's hut at The Original Hut Company, Bodiam
How’s this for an East Sussex glamping holiday?
Inside our shepherd's hut at The Original Hut Company, Bodiam
Inside our shepherd’s hut at The Original Hut Company, Bodiam

Outside is a picnic bench and a campfire – the perfect spot for a BBQ or to toast some marshmallows. 

In terms of facilities, there’s a block containing toilets and showers moments from the hut. They were nice and clean, plus the showers were hot, so no complaints there! 

Along with the glamping site, The Original Hut Company has general camping areas too, and it was clear from our visit that it’s one of the most popular campsites in Bodiam. It’s particularly handy as you can get out on the water close by, hiring kayaks or paddle boards from the team at Epic Life

One of the biggest selling points to staying here? The Hub! Yes, there’s an amazing café on site where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner, light snacks, coffees, a glass of wine or whatever you fancy. There’s also a large outdoor area where you can sit outside.

The Hub, Bodiam
The Hub, Bodiam

After a busy day exploring the region, we stopped at The Hub for a drink and watched a hot air balloon take off from the grounds!

My favourite experience on our East Sussex glamping holiday was the BBQ we had outside our shepherd’s hut. Making a fire, watching the burgers and sausages sizzle, toasting marshmallows and enjoying the views and the woody scent of the campfire was magical. Added to that, the stars put on a twinkly show for us that evening too. What a romantic staycation!

BBQ time at our shepherd's hut
BBQ time at our shepherd’s hut while glamping in East Sussex

It’s worth noting that The Original Hut Company offers hampers containing BBQ and breakfast ingredients, so you don’t have to bring much with you. They also have plenty of items available for purchase in The Hub too. 

Visit Bedgebury Pinetum and Forest

Bedgebury Pinetum is a beautiful place to visit if you like walking, biking, or something a little more adventurous! The National Pinetum is home to over 12,000 trees and several walking and cycling trails. In essence, it’s a lovely place to spend a day enjoying the great outdoors.

Bedgebury Pinetum
Bedgebury Pinetum – one of the prettiest spots in the region

Go walking in Bedgebury Pinetum

I went for a long walk around Bedgebury Pinetum, taking in views of the world-leading collection of conifers and Marshall’s Lake. My favourite spot was the conifer cathedral – a row of tall conifers with a narrow path in the middle. If you love photography, it’s an amazing spot! Just look at it…

Conifer cathedral at Bedgebury Pinetum
Walking through the conifer cathedral at Bedgebury Pinetum

Go mountain biking through the forests

This is also a really popular spot for cyclists. The forests are home to 10km of family cycle tracks and over 13km of single-track trails. Getting out on two wheels is a beautiful way to take in the surroundings.

Some of the trails provide an exhilarating experience, with challenging climbs, steep descents and jumps. They pass through beautiful forests and will definitely get your adrenaline pumping!

Mountain biking in Bedgebury Pinetum and Forest
Mountain biking in Bedgebury Pinetum and Forest – a great addition to an East Sussex holiday

If you don’t fancy bringing your own bike, you can hire one from Quench Cycles. They have a store located by the car park,  and were really helpful when we asked for advice about the right trails for us!

Swing through the trees at Go Ape Bedgebury

As if the walking and cycling trails weren’t enough to keep you busy at Bedgebury Pinetum, it’s time to see the landscapes from the dizzy heights of the tree tops!

Go Ape Bedgebury
Go Ape Bedgebury – a really fun activity for all the family 

I loved taking on the Treetop Challenge – a 2-and-a-half-hour course that includes zip lines, cargo nets and even a scary Tarzan swing! It’s a great way to immerse yourself in the beauty of the forest, while challenging yourself. 

There’s a Treetop Adventure option for smaller kids too, making this a great activity for families visiting 1066 Country.

Go Ape Bedgebury
One of my personal highlights of our East Sussex holiday – Go Ape Bedgebury

Go paddle boarding at Bodiam Boating Station

One of my favourite activities to do on my travels is stand up paddle boarding. I find it so peaceful and relaxing. It engages your core and mind, and is the perfect way to switch off from the stresses of daily life. 

Paddle boarding from Bodiam Boating Station
Paddle boarding from Bodiam Boating Station – a lovely activity to add to your East Sussex glamping trip

I love it so much, I contemplated buying my own board, before realising that the only place I could use it near to my flat would be the River Thames! Not quite as appealing… 

Thankfully, East Sussex has lots of picturesque places to go for a paddle. We hired boards from Bodiam Boating Station in Northiam and went for a leisurely paddle along the River Rother. Blue skies and sunshine surrounded us, as we ventured towards the pretty village, passing rowing boats and fishing boats along the way.

Paddle boarding on the River Rother
Paddle boarding on the River Rother in East Sussex

If you’re a little unsteady on a SUP, Bodiam Boating Station also rent out rowing boats, kayaks and canoes. Head upstream, and you could even reach Bodiam Castle. It’s over 3 miles away though, so not for the faint hearted!

Conveniently, there’s a café on site at the boating station, so you can grab lunch or a cuppa before or after your trip. When we visited, Lime Wharf Café was offering a special burger menu, but I know their standard menu features a variety of tasty tapas dishes. If the weather is nice, the garden setting is very cute too! 

Lime Wharf Cafe, Northiam
Stop for lunch at Lime Wharf Cafe, Northiam

Explore Bodiam Castle

Have you ever seen a more perfect castle? Bodiam Castle is one of the most popular places to visit in East Sussex, and dates back to the 14th Century. It has a moat and turrets, and is in a spectacular setting with the River Rother flowing past. It’s owned by the National Trust and is open to the public.

Bodiam Castle, East Sussex
Bodiam Castle – one of the most popular places to visit in East Sussex

It was built in 1385 by a former knight of Edward III, to defend the area against French invasion during the Hundred Years’ War.

After crossing the bridge over the moat and under the original portcullis, you can wander around the ruins inside. Look up and you might even spot one of the resident bats! Fascinatingly, some of Bodiam Castle’s towers are closed because they’re home to one of the most important bat roosts in south east England. You can find out more about visiting Bodiam Castle here

Bodiam Castle, East Sussex
Loved exploring Bodiam Castle in East Sussex

Go on a wine tour 

One of the highlights of my East Sussex glamping holiday was the day we spent with Vine and Country Tours – an award winning local tour company specialising in food and wine experiences in the region. Jamie and Steph who run the company have so much passion for their beautiful corner of England, and love showcasing the area via the great produce on offer… and yes, that includes the wine! 

Exploring Gusbourne Estate
Exploring Gusbourne Estate on a wine tour

We enjoyed a tour of Gusbourne, a vineyard in Appeldore, Kent which produces award-winning English sparkling wines. Walking along the neat rows of vines, with grapes dangling down almost ready for harvesting, gives you a new level of appreciation for what the talented English winemakers do.

After learning all about the production process we sat down to taste a few of the best sellers: Gusbourne Rosé, Brut Reserve and Blanc de Blancs. I’m a big fan of English sparkling wine, and adored Gusbourne’s Rosé in particular – very crisp and elegant. 

Gusbourne Estate in 1066 Country
Wine tasting session at Gusbourne Estate in 1066 Country

Then, it was time to feast, and wow do Vine and Country Tours know how to put together a delicious table of food! Several beautifully-presented dishes arrived at our table, all utilising local, seasonal ingredients. The beetroot tartare, with blackberries picked on Gusbourne’s land, was heavenly, and had us reaching for seconds… and thirds! 

Jamie from Vine & Country Tours telling us about the food
Jamie from Vine & Country Tours telling us about the food

The tarte tatin made with courgettes and tomatoes was delicious too, as was the summer salad of peaches, tomatoes, feta and croutons – a recipe I’d be keen to recreate at home!

A delicious lunch by Vine & Country Tours
A delicious lunch prepared by Vine & Country Tours

The great food was accompanied by Gusbourne’s still wines – a chardonnay and a pinot noir, which had just won gold medals at the prestigious Wine GB Awards.

This vineyard experience was one of my favourite activities in 1066 Country, and something I’d wholeheartedly recommend if you’re planning a holiday in East Sussex or Kent.

Enjoy a gourmet dinner at The Curlew

If you’re looking for a gourmet dining experience during your East Sussex holiday, I’d recommend booking a table at The Curlew. While the outside may look like a pub, the food here is a departure from gastropub cuisine.

A lot of the ingredients are grown locally or foraged within the Kent and East Sussex countryside, so you can expect the menu to reflect the season.  

Personally, I was excited to see a menu of small plates. I love eating at places where you get to share a range of dishes, and enjoy a variety of tastes and flavours. There are a few larger dishes which would suit bigger groups too.

Dinner at The Curlew, Bodiam
Dinner at The Curlew – one of the most popular places to visit in East Sussex

From meaty pork dumplings with a seriously dunkable Asian dipping sauce, to an earthy beetroot dish with three types of the root vegetable, it was a wonderful evening of entertainment. Our favourite dishes were the roast hake which came with a shellfish sauce, and the miso cod which was served with samphire and a buttery seaweed emulsion. Absolutely divine!

The meringue with sea buckthorn was a tasty way to finish the meal too. Such clean, simple and attractive presentation. 

Dinner at The Curlew, Bodiam
A great dinner at The Curlew, Bodiam

The tricky bit may be getting a table! Definitely book well in advance if you can, as this is one of the top restaurants in East Sussex right now.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my experience glamping in East Sussex, and some of the special places I discovered during my trip. This is a beautiful part of England and a very easy weekend getaway from London too. We visited towards the end of the summer, but this would be a fab weekend break from London during the autumn and spring too. You could even enjoy it in the winter months if you wrap up warm (and add a wet suit when you’re doing the water activities!) 

A big thanks to 1066 Country for inviting me to experience this British staycation. Be sure to check out the 1066 Country website for plenty of travel inspiration and tips for other places to visit.

If you’re looking for other places to visit in this part of England, take a look at my guide to a beautiful Sussex staycation, guide to Hastings, some quirky things to do in Hastings, plus my Brighton weekend guide. Or head over to the Great British Bucket List to read about one of our favourite walks in East Sussex – the Eastbourne to Beachy Head walk.

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With a passion for food, fun and adventure, Chloe is the content creator behind one of the UK's top travel blogs Wanderlust Chloe. From volcano boarding in Nicaragua, to sailing around Sicily and eating her way around Japan, her travels have taken her to some of the coolest spots on the planet. Named Travel Influencer of the Year in 2022, Chloe regularly works with a number of tourism boards, producing inspirational travel content across multiple platforms. Find out more about Chloe here.

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