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Woodland Camping Eco, Ashwood Farm, West Hoathly Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex
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Woodland Camping Eco, Ashwood Farm, West Hoathly Road, East Grinstead, West SussexThis woodland escape in the very heart of the Ashdown Forest is nothing short of magical. Its owners, Wendy and Patrick, are fiercely eco-nnnded and their sense of respect for the land resonates throughout the site.

On arrival, plant your bags in a wheelbarrow and make your way past the fairy knoll and maze to the enchanted woodland area - your very own Rivendell - a sanctuary of oak and silver birch at the source of a river. Speaking of The Lord of the Rings, there's something a little 'Galadrielesque' about Wendy, with her gentle demeanour, wise eyes, and belief in a person's right to privacy. There's every encouragement for you to get rcacquainted with nature here - build a fire, recline, relax, and listen to the breeze.There aren't any mod consjust one of the best locations in wild Sussex to get in touch with your inner bushman. In the centre of the wood there's a maypole for pagan festivities, and the trees are strung in brightly hued ribbons and trinkets — fortunately no wicker effigies with burning policemen inside.

On a warm night, sit around the fire or shoot the breeze with your fellow eco-people. Nearby is a tipi, erected by a chap who wanted to live like his ancestors did thousands of years ago. By day he's a fireman, by night he eats raw meat and berries. Is he a werewolf? 'No,' replies Wendy,'he's remarkably healthy - and very handsome.'There's a compost loo in the wood, but for showers you'll have to pop back to the block by reception. In order to keep things natural there are no electric hook-ups.

COOL FACTOR Hidden-away pitches in an ancient forest.

WHO'S IN? Tents, campervans - yes. Dogs, groups - no.

ON SITE Campfires allowed - collect your own wood from the forest, £5 per fire pit, per night.There are 10 pitches; a compost loo in the wood; and a canvas shelter for communal dinners. Water vats are brought to the clearing every morning. If you've got loads of stuff, owner Patrick can take you on his tractor (£5 each way) or else use the site's wheelbarrows. There's a shower block by reception; pigs and ducks for the kids to watch, plus a kids-only fairy knoll. And just to continue that elfin trend, archery lessons can be requested (£40 per hour).

OFF SITE Sheffield Park (see www.nationaltrust.org.uk) is a few minutes' drive away and makes for a wonderful excursion if you like ornamental gardens. Wander past monkey puzzle trees and lily-studded lakes to the centrepiece cascade. Deers Leap Bikes (01342 325858) are round the corner from the site; hire a bike (£20 per day) and head for pretty Weir Wood Reservoir (www. weirwoodreservoir.co.uk) or further explore Ashdown Forest.

FOOD AND DRINK You can buy organic eggs, milk, and bread at reception. Nearby, the Old Mill (01342 326341) is a homely gastropub in a 15th-century building.

GETTING THERE From East Grinstead, take the A22.Turn right on to the B2110 (Turners Hill Road), then right again on to Saint Hill Road. Finally, go left to West Hoathly Road and Ashwood Farm is about Vjmile up, on your right.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT Take the train to East Grinstead, and a cab from there.

OPEN 1 April-late October.

THE DAMAGE Tent plus adult £12 (£8 if you come by earless means) per night; child (up to 13 years) £6 (£4).





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