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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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…
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!
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!
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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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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