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Hidden Spring Vineyard, Vines Cross Road, Horam, Heathfield, East Sussex
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Hidden Spring does what it says on the tin: family camping a la fame, squirrelled away in fields corduroyed by vineyards and apple orchards. It's situated near the sleepy village of Horam - which has all you might need from a bakery, off licence, and fish and chippy - and there's a palpable sense of calm that slips over you as soon as you drive up the rutted road and catch your first view of the campsite. It's basic, but good basic, and for a reason too - owners Tamzin and David want their visitors to experience a back-to-nature treat, a place where kids can make dens in the copse, run wild through the orchard, and play hide-and-seek in the woods.

Hidden Spring Vineyard, Vines Cross Road, Horam, Heathfield, East Sussex

There are two fields to choose from - a tents-only option, and one for campervans and caravans. But don't worry, given the site's pursuit of aesthetics over rampant profit, there are only a select number of caravans allowed at any one time, so the views of the undulating fields, grass-munching horses, and sweeping vineyards are unbroken.There are tire pits like witches' cauldrons in the campervan field. You can buy wood and firelighters from Hidden Spring's little shop (which operates an honesty tab) and do the Neanderthal thing. Of an evening you can listen to the owls begin their calling while your flames turn a rich Halloween orange and carbonise your burgers; it's a beautiful spot to sit back and chill.The endless vistas of hay fields, soft chalky backdrop of the South Downs, and first-class pubs of East Sussex make a trip here well worth it, and there are more local attractions than you could hope to cover in a weekend, from castles to stately homes.

Hidden Spring Vineyard, Vines Cross Road, Horam, Heathfield, East Sussex

COOL FACTOR Eco-camping on a gloriously pretty farm.

WHO'S IN? dampers, tents, campervans, caravans, dogs (on leads) - yes. Young noisy groups - no.

ON SITE Campfires allowed in fire pits. There are 10 pitches in the caravan field with electric hook-ups; 10 pitches in the camping meadow; and a couple of fully furnished 'luxury' tents. Kids' swings; dens in the woods; and the farm shop sells locally sourced meat (BBQs for hire), eggs, milk, and logs. The shower and loo block is spotlessly clean. The farm produces red and white wine and its own apple juice. Wood sculpture classes can be organised on request.

OFF SITE Wilderness Wood (01825 830509) is a family-run working woodland park in the Sussex Weald. There are woodland walks, a cafe, and play area. Drusillas Park (01323 874100) is a great place to entertain the kids, with its menagerie of animals - from monkeys to tarantulas, lizards to otters. Finally, the nearby Cuckoo Trail is a cyclist's paradise; built upon 11 miles of disused railway track, it weaves through woods, fields, and the best of the Sussex countryside.

Hidden Spring Vineyard, Vines Cross Road, Horam, Heathfield, East Sussex

FOOD AND DRINK BBQing that locally produced meat under the stars makes for a perfect dinner. Otherwise, try the Brewer's Arms (01435 812288) in nearby Vines Cross. It offers shabby-chic decor, a great atmosphere, and an earthy menu.

GETTING THERE From East Grinstead head to Uckfield on the A22. Then take the B2102 to Cross In Hand. From here take the A267, turning left for Horam and heading through the little high street shortly before turning into Vines Cross Road.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT Train to Eastbourne then Stagecoach bus no. 52 to Horam.

OPEN 1 March-31 October.

THE DAMAGE Tent plus adult £12 per night; child (3 to 14 years) £3. Bell tent £25 per night; dome £40; yurt £50.

Hidden Spring Vineyard, Vines Cross Road, Horam, Heathfield, East Sussex



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