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Little Dernwood Farm, Dern Lane, Waldron, Heathfield, East Sussex
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Dernwood Farm is hidden away down a rolling country lane in the patchwork fields of Sussex. Like a Russian doll-within-a-doll, the campsite itself is further secreted inside an eight-acre clearing in the middle of a coppice wood originally grown for charcoal burning. Isn't it fitting, then, that fires are a welcome addition to the earthy, authentic camping experience on offer here?

Little Dernwood Farm, Dern Lane, Waldron, Heathfield, East Sussex


On arrival you make yourself known at reception, pick up your organic eggs and choose from a rich selection of fresh flavoursome beef (produced here) to roast on your BBQ.Then, armed with some logs, pop it all into one of the trolleys or wheelbarrows provided and make your hobbit-like journey through the woods to the fairy-tale field that truly earns its moniker of'wild'.

'It's a kind of filter,'says Amanda, your welcoming host, of the 10-minute walk through the woods,'a real discovery as you shed your city skin and unwind. It also keeps away noisy campers looking for a quick fix.'There's no electricity here; this is a low impact, eco-friendly campsite, so it's just you, your canvas, and delicious food cooked by your own fair hands over the fire pits provided.

Little Dernwood Farm, Dern Lane, Waldron, Heathfield, East Sussex


Come spring the three adjoining semi-natural ancient woods are aglow with thousands of bluebells. When you take a walk through them keep an eye out for the small pits once dug for the mining of ore in centuries past.

This is a place to really lose yourself for a few days, zone out from the urban noise you left behind, and tune in to the wildlife around you.

COOL FACTOR? As hidden and earthy as it gets. WHO'S IN? Tents, dogs (on leads) - yes. Campervans, caravans, groups - no. It's a family campsite: no electronic noise or raucous explosions after the North Star appears.

ON SITE Campfires allowed in designated pits. Shop sells meat and eggs. There are 2 toilets, a cold washing-up area, a standpipe, and a log store (£5 per load), as well as solar-shower sacks. Wheelbarrows to transport your kit. Kids love to explore the fallen trunks and play hide-and-seek in the endless expanses, and Amanda can show them the animals. The yellow trail is a 40-minute rough walk through the woods. The nearest road is 2 miles away - and that's a mere country lane.

OFF SITE The Cuckoo Trail, a spit from the site, is a great option for cycling or walks - weaving through woods, fields, and the best of Sussex countryside. Normans Bay, named after the conquerors who landed here a thousand years ago, is just 20 minutes away. Pop into The Observatory Science Centre (01323 832731; www.the-observatory.org) - on selected evenings you can look through their telescopes at events in the night sky.

Little Dernwood Farm, Dern Lane, Waldron, Heathfield, East Sussex


FOOD AND DRINK Stock up on steaks before heading to camp - they're hung for 21 days so are bursting with flavour. Beyond the wood in Chiddingly, the Six Bells (01825 872227) comes highly recommended (voted Best Bargain Pub in Britain) for its tasty fare and shabby-chic decor.

GETTING THERE Head to Horam on the A267 and, just before the garage on your left, head right down Furnace Lane. A mile on take the first left turn to Chiddingly and Little Dernwood Farm is on your left, opposite Copfold Farm.

OPEN 1 April-late September.

THE DAMAGE Tent plus adult £8 per night; child (over-5) £5, under-5s free. Family (2 adults and 2 children) £20.



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