Site Closed due to the weather

The Secret Campsite is closed until 5th April

Due to the heavy rain we have had to close the campsite to avoid our pitches from being excesssively damaged. 

We are really sorry for any inconvenience and will review this as the weather improves.

The Dawn Chorus with Birdsong Academy

Dawn Chorus walk
Dawn Chorus walk

Gokotta Dawn Chorus Experience

Enjoy the Swedish art of rising for the dawn chorus

Date Friday 12 April & 10th May

Time 0500- 09.00 am

Tickets priced at £40-£55 pp (plus optional camping) 

What does Gokotta mean

Gökotta is a Swedish word for the act of rising early and going outside into nature and birdsong. Our Sussex gökotta experience includes:

Step by step audio lessons on how to recognise five key woodland species by sound plus an introduction to the dawn chorus.

A walk through the local woodlands and hedgerows, where hopefully we will hear the Nightingale, several species of warbler and thrush, woodpeckers, owls, finches, tits, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Stock Dove and other woodland birds. Fingers crossed.

Delicious Swedish refreshments called Fika (sugary pastries) to be consumers around the fireside Question and Answer session.

Your host for the Gokotta dawn Chorus Experience is Charlie Peverett, founder of Birdsong Academy and author of Shriek of the Week

More on the event

We will go ahead unless there’s a weather warning in place, please note it will be muddy and damp and uneven underfoot. Sussex is Muddy! Children aged over 10 are welcome to attend. No dogs please.

Please bring wellies / sturdy walking shoes, warm and waterproof clothing plus a torch. It could be dark early on.

The cost is £55 per person, reduced to £50 if you can share a lift and /or camp the previous night, and £40 for Birdsong Academy course graduates & paying subscribers to Shriek of the Week.

If you would like to turn this event into a really wild night then simply book a night’s camping or treat yourself to a night in one of our 3 secret shelters, The Tree Tent, The Gridshell or the Okra. That way you can simply stroll out of bed having had some extra winks.

Please book your Dawn Chorus ticket here 

Please book your camping trip using the dates and booking button at the top of the page. Please book the night before the walk. 

Glow worm evening with Michael Blencowe

Glow Worm hunt at The Secret campsite

Join us for a very special nocturnal meadow and woodland walk, searching for Britain’s most magical creature.

Glow Worm hunt at The Secret campsite

When is it happening?

Dates Thursday 27th June.

Thursday 11th July.

Time 18.00-22.30 pm 

Tickets priced at £20 pp (plus optional camping for guests wanting to stay the night)

More about Glow Worms and the evening

The elusive glow worm is an amazing little creature and is a wondrous sight to see. But have you ever seen one? And what do you know about their lives? They are really rather special.

Glow worm at The Secret Campsite Max Mudie

The evening will start with a hot drink around the campfire. Michael Blencowe will give you an illustrated talk about the lights and loves of the little glow worm. He knows a great deal about them. The talk will be entertaining and educational.

As darkness falls, we will walk into the camoping meadow and our neighbouring woodlands. wOne there we will be looking for badgers, deer, owls and even the local hedgehog. Once it is dark, the glow worms will turn on their lights in an attempt to find a partner. This is a very special wildlife sight. 

Glow Worms at the campsite

Other useful information

Please bring wellies / sturdy walking shoes, warm and waterproof clothing plus a torch. The weather may be unpredictable.

If you would like to turn this event into a really wild night then simply book a night’s camping, or treat yourself to a night in one of our 3 secret shelters, The Tree Tent, The Gridshell or the Okra. That way you can simply creep into bed and carry on listening to the wildlife noises all night.

You can book camping pitches above but if you would like a night in one of the secret shelters please contact Reception, to see what is available.

Please book your Glow Worm Hunt ticket here

Nature based events at the Secret Campsite

Bat Eveninmg at The Secret Campsite
Bat Eveninmg at The Secret Campsite

We have an exciting lineup of Nature based events for 2024. These are either one day/ one evening affairs or a weekend event. Sounds exciting? Read on!

Bat walks with Michael Blencowe

Dates 25th April, 5th and 12th September

Time 19.00- 21.30 pm

Tickets priced at £20 pp (plus optional camping) 

Join and learn all about the amazing world of bats before heading out to explore the woods looking (and listening) for bats.

What can you expect?

The evening will start around a campfire with a hot drink, and Michael Blencowe will talk about our local Sussex bats, their habits, their echolocation, and the different species that this part of Sussex is home to. We will also learn all about the strange tales of folklore that are attributable to bats. Michael has promised to not treat/ subject us to his rendition of Like a bat out of Hell.

Once the dusk falls, we will head into the nearby woodland with our bat detectors and tune into the bats world. They will be flying above and over our heads! The woods are home to many other animals including badgers, deer, owls and more. We will hopefully manage some encounters with these inhabitants too. We will be back at the fireside by 9.30 – 10 pm.

Please bring wellies / sturdy walking shoes, warm and waterproof clothing plus a torch.

If you would like to turn this event into a really wild night then simply book a night’s camping or treat yourself to a night in one of our 3 secret shelters, The Tree Tent, The Gridshell or the Okra. That way you can simply creep into bed and carry on listening to the wildlife noises all night. 

Please book your bat walk tickets here

Please book your camping ticket here 

Secret Wildlife Festival update

Mothe traps at the Secret wildlife festival

This years Secret Wildlife Festival has sold out apart from the Tree Tent, which is still available to book.

Gone in a day

There was a huge rush for tickets on Friday morning when festival tickets went on sale at 08:00. Sales were brisk with the last camping ticket selling in the afternoon.

If you are keen to join us for the weekend, The Tree Tent is still available. The festival runs from 28 – 30th June.

Michael Blencowe is running the wildlife festival at the secret campsite, which will include, dawn chorus walks, forest school activities, moth traps, trail cameras, astronomy and lots of opportunities to ask questions to the experts.

We look forward to meeting you in June

We’re recruiting a new warden for 2024

Bluebells in Knowlands Wood near the secret campsite
camping at the secret campsite sussex

It's a busy, outdoor job

We’re looking for a new warden to welcome and look after guests during the 2024 season. Initially, it’s a 2-3 day a week job during term time with scope for more days during the school holidays. For the right person, it’s also a great opportunity to learn how to run a campsite including day to day management and liaising with suppliers.

We’re a peaceful family campsite focused on nature and wildlife. Campers stay with us to relax and spend time with their family, or 1 or 2 friends. A few years ago, we wrote a book about our approach to camping, The Escapees Handbook The campsite is set in 8 acres with 18 large and spacious pitches along with 3 unusual shelters for guests to stay in.

Our wildlife friendly approach has proved increasingly popular. The new warden will be a cheerful, reliable individual, with a can-do, welcoming personality and a sense of responsibility. Join our team for the 2024 season and perhaps beyond.

The new warden's job

  • Managing reception
  • Liaising with customers in person, by phone and email
  • Cleaning our sustainably designed and built facilities, including toilets, showers and washing up areas and our shelters.
  • Serving customers in our small cafe/shop
  • Occassional help with our new business and nature project

Hours

  • 7 hours / day from Friday to Sunday between late March-October
  • 2-3 extra days per week during school holidays
  • Extra week days will be available during term, time as required
  • Start late March 2024

What you will earn

  • The Real Living wage £12-£13.15 depending on age and experience

Our new warden will be

  • Friendly, helpful and positive
  • Organised and enjoy working with people 
  • Keen to be outside, with some light physical work
  • Practical and competent with technology
  • Presentable with a great phone manner

If this sounds like you and you would like to know more, give us a call 01273 401 100 or send an email tim@thesecretcampsite.co.uk 

To apply to be our new warden, please send an email with your cv explaining why you would be a great person for this role and we look forward to hearing from you by 23rd February.

deer in the camping meadow at the secret campsite

Secret Wildlife Festival tickets on sale from 2nd February

butteffly hunting in sussex
Tickets for this year Secret Wildlife Festival will go on sale at 08:00 on Friday 2nd February 2024

But you'll have to be quick

Tickets for the event normally sell out fast. There are only 21 camping and glamping pitches available for the weekend. So make sure youre ready and waiting at 8 with fingers poised over the mouse and payment card at hand.

The festival takes place from 3:00pm on Friday 28th June until 12:00PM on Sunday 30th June and is hosted by Michael Blencowe and his team of experts. Tickets include access to all activities over the weekend

Tickets for this years festival cost:

£104 for adults

£52 for 3-16 yrear olds

£26 for under 3’s

opening the moth trap

Post pandemic, this is the first time we’ve hosted the festrival since 2019. You can buy a maximum of 2 pitches for the event. Read more about the 2019 wildlife festival.

What happens during the festival

Expect Moth traps, Bush craft, Trail cameras, Mammal traps, Butterfly hunts, Bat walks and Glow worm explorations. There will be an uplifting  Dawn chorus walk for the the light sleepres amongst you. There’s a bring your own food, barbecue on the Saturday evening. Drinks and light refreshments are on sale throughout the weekend from The Secret Teapot, our on site, take away cafe.

Bushcraft at the secret wildlife festival

This year we will be joined by a team of astronomers from Seven Sisters Astronomy Society. They will be looking at the moon, stars and even the sun, (if the weather is kind). It’s an amazing opportunity to gaze out at the enormity of the universe from the comfort of the campsite. Derrick, Paul and their colleagues will happily answer all questions, however technical.

Read more about this years plans in our recent blog post.

Refunds and Returns

Please note that we do not offer refunds for tickets. This is, in part, a fund raising event for Sussex Wildlife Trust

If you are unlucky and not able to get tickets this year, please just email us to go onto a waiting list. If this happens we will contact people, in the order that they signed up for returns. It does occasionally happen

Good luck securing your tickets and we look forward to meeting you

Return of the Secret Wildlife Festival 2024

Secret Wildlife festival at the secret campsite

Hold the front page…. Fanfare of birdsong and a flypast from a kaleidoscope of Marbled Whites

At last, The Secret Wildlife Festival returns to The Secret Campsite after a 4 year Covid related break. The Festival started in 2013 and was an annual event until the Pandemic struck and we had to cancel the 2019 event. But, it’s returning, with even more wonders from the natural world.

opening mammal traps at the secret wildlife festival
Opening the mammal traps

Now that the world has calmed down a little, we are delighted to get the Festival up and running again. So, this summer we are looking forward to welcoming children and families back to the Secret Campsite for a weekend with our favourite wildlife experts. Its a chance to immerse yourselves in the native fauna and flora that we share this beautiful part of Sussex with.

Who is running the festival?

The festival will be hosted by the inimitable Michael Blencowe and his team of wildlife experts.

Host Michael Blencowe

Expect amazing facts, unusual sightings and heaps of laughter as we spend a weekend looking, smelling, hearing, tasting and touching the natural world.

bushcraft at the secret wildlife festival
Bushcraft activities for all ages
Damsel fly at the secret wildlife festival
Pond dipping at the secret wildlife festival
Pond dipping for newts and dragonfly larvae

What will you see?

With luck, you’ll see snakes, glow worms, butterflies, hedgehogs, moths, bats, newts, and a huge array of birds. All against a backdrop of other wildlife enthusiasts.

hawk moth at the secret campsite
dissected owl pellet at the secret campsite
Contents of a Barn Owl pellet
what we saw at the secret wildlife festival

Our team of wildlife experts will lay on a wide range of activities to try and find all tese creatures. This will include:

  • Moth traps
  • Trail cameras
  • Woodland walks
  • Forest school activities
  • Mammal traps
  • Bat walks
  • Butterfly hunts
  • Dawn chorus walks
  • Secret Cinema
  • Forest school
  • Communal barbecues
  • and more…..

Better still, this year we will be joined by a team of astronomers. Derrick and Paul will be viewing the moon and stars and answering super galactic questions with their usual patience and enthusiasm. If the weather behaves we may even get to look at sun spots and sun flares on our very own local star.

the moon from the secret campsite
the moon through a telescope

We have fantastic dark skies at the campsite, which makes for an amazing star show on clear nights

On Saturday evening we fire up the campsite barbecue. It’s a popular and very sociable, bring your own supper event. Festival goers can cook with others whilst they discuss and compare the days excitement and sightings.

Although the weekend is filled with a wide range of activities and events, you don’t have to join everything. The more relaxed amongst you will pick and chose the talks, walks and activities you want to attend.

You can spend time relaxing and chatting around a campfire whilst enjoying the sites and sounds of nature.

Previous festivals

Have a look at previous festivals to see what happens over the weekend.

butterfly hunt at the secret wildlife festival
slow worms at the secret campsite

When is The Secret Wildlife Festival

This year’s festival will he held over the weekend of 28-30th June so make sure you save these dates in your diary.

How do I buy tickets?

 Sign up to our wildlife events list and be one of the first to know when tickets go on sale.

When do tickets go on sale?

Tickets go on sale in February. Tickets always sell out super fast. We only have 20 pitches available for the weekend and the festival is filled with a wide range of exciting activities. It’s a perfect weekend for the wildlife fans in your family. It’s also an opportunity to meet other enthusiasts as well as experts who have the time and knowledge to answer your question, however small.

What will it cost?

Tickets for this years wildlife festival include 2 nights camping and entry to all events.

Adults £104,

Children 3-16 £52,

Under 3’s £26.

All under 16’s get a free Lick -a-lix lolly on arrival. Photo ID will be required! haha

We all look forward to meeting you. That includes the Adders, Glow worms, Bats, Voles, Hedgehogs, Elephant Hawk Moths, White Admirals and even the lowly Red Kite.

adders matimng at the secret campsite

Birds around the Secret Campsite

Today i was treated to an inspiring visit  from local bird expert, Charlie Peverett of Birdsong Academy. We were discussing small groups of business people spending time in nature and the encounters that they might experience in and around the secret campsite.

Our tour started by looking around the campsite and identifying great spaces for birds and followed by a quick look at The Hide our covered camp fire area, designed for post trip refreshments around a campfire.

We have landscaped the site to provide a mixture of habitats and ground cover. This mosaic of plants ensure we get a great variety of birds, including Green Woodpeckers, and Goldfinches. The central part of the campooing meadow is kept open and is grazed, each year, by the visiting flock of Shetland and Jacob sheep.

sheep to manage the wildlife in the camping meadow

There was a couple of Buzzards circling overhead so in fear of our lives we decided to head off down the dismantled railway track.

As we left the site we were treated to a few individual Redwings, visiting from Scandinavia and the odd one of our resident Thrushes. The railway is managed by UK Power Networks and they have a great habitat management regime which creates a variety of pockets of varies pants and is also the hot spot for the spring time singing of our visiting Nightingales. At this time of year there are none around. Currently they will be living it up in africa.

We left the railway track and headed into the beautiful Knowlands wood. Knowlands is managed under a coppicing plan and the benefits of this approach are immediately obvious with a huge range of different heights in the understory.

This provides an immensely divers range of plants and we were quickly hearing Bullfinches, Wrens, Jays, Nuthatches and were treated to a disorganised mob of mixed small birds flying past. This group contained Long Tailed Tits, and a number of other birds darting from branch to branch in search of some food.

Venturing onto one of the rides that Knowlands is famous for, we got an uninterrupted view of the clear blue sky with birds criss crossing overhead. With very little wind we were also treated to the songs of a number of birds, which is when Charlies knowledge comes into its own.

We left the woods and walked back along the railway track spotting 3 goldcrests, each of which alerted us to their presence with their distinctive call well in advance of us spotting them.

Back in the meadow we had a fly by from a small group of Goldfinches who are resident in the camping meadow where they feast on the abundant thistle seeds and mixed ground vegetation.

Charlies knowledge and enthusiasm for all things wildlife permeated the conversation throughout the morning when we discussed Black storks, Beavers, Fallow deer and Lynx.

We plan to run some mid week bird walks, aimed at business teams.

It will provide a fascinating introduction into the sites, sounds and lives of a wide range of our native birds.

It will also provide a chance for work colleagues to connect with each other in a unique environment away from the usual distraction of the office.

For a seasonal sign off I was treated to a hop by, from one of our resident Robins, as i walked back to the house for a very late lunch.

Sheep graze the Secret Campsite meadow

sheep to manage the wildlife in the camping meadow

Creating a campisite that is filled with wildlife requires a lot of help from nature.

To enable more delicate plants to flourish, along with the animals they encourage, we need to graze the camping meadow through the winter. This grazing stops more invasive species such as nettles, grass and docks from dominating.

camping meadow at the secret campsite

Wild little sheep

To achieve a habitat that is ideal for a range of plants we use a small flock of wild sheep borrowed from a friend Owena. Owena’s Shetland sheep leave their farm, near Lewes, in November. They get to spend the winter at the Secret Campsite, for free.

In exchange we get some expert pasture management and a habitat filled with wildlife.

sheep feeding in the camping meadoiw

What a great swap

Hard grazing the meadow

Hard grazing the camping areas, removes most of the tougher vegetation. This gives the smaller plants the opportunity to get established in the spring.

But, there is an amusing hazard.

Bramble leaves are delicious, and also great for wildlife. In their quest to eat these leaves the sheep often get tangled up in the brambles. Each morning when I walk over to the camping meadow to check them, 1 or 2 of the little sheep need freeing from the clutches of the brambles. It’s the downside to using small sheep. They’re to puny to free themselves.

But it makes for a very amusing site. The meadow is filled with little brown, black and cream sheep, walking around disguised as hairbrushes. 

It's definitely worthwhile

I’m not sure that the wildlife we share the campsite with appreciates the inconvenience to the sheep. But, it helps for moments in the summer when campers get to see a glow worm, a lizard or a marbled white. 

Marbled white in the camping meadow

Marbled White in the camping meadow photo Colin Gibbs

Having such a diverse grassland space is great for all sorts of wildlife. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see one of the bats from Knowlands Wood hunting moths over the flower filled camping meadow, as the sun sets.