Are you looking for a busy outdoor job working with campers at our beautiful campsite in East Sussex?
We’re looking for someone to welcome and look after guests during 2023. It’s a 2-3 day a week job during term time with scope for more days during the school holidays.
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 in a peaceful, well maintained space. The campsite is set in 8 acres with 18 large and spacious pitches and 3 unusual shelters for guests to stay in. We wrote a book about our approach to camping, The Escapees Handbook
Our approach has proved increasingly popular and we are looking for a cheerful, reliable individual with a can-do, welcoming personality and a sense of responsibility, to join our team for the 2023 season and maybe longer.
Liaising with customers by phone, email and in person.
Cleaning our facilities, toilets, showers and washing up areas.
Serving customers in our little cafe/shop.
7 hours / day from Friday to Sunday
2.5-3 days / week during term time, from April-October
Significant extra days available during school holidays
Start April 2023
What will you earn
£10.90-£12 depending on experience
You will be
Friendly, helpful and positive.
Organised and enjoy working with people.
Keen on working outside.
Happy with some physical work, and always with a smile.
It was a great little piece describing our large, well screened pitches, 2 Secret Shelters (The Gridshell and Tree Tent) and our forward looking approach. This includes the provision of solar powered showers, electric car charge points and recycling facilities onsite, to minimise our environmental impact.
The Secret Teapot, our little takeaway cafe, created by our 3 children in 2013 was mentioned. They are now older teenagers and frequently found working at campsite reception. The article also mentioned our local village of Barcombe ( good local pub here), and the local town of Lewes
Features like this are great. They raise the profile of our campsite which is brilliant for business. And help connect us with other interested organisations who share both our love of wildlife and the importance of connecting with nature. We are working towards creating a space which will really utilise green energy alternatives. This also helps support our local council, Lewes, to meet their commitment to zero carbon by 2030.
At the Secret Campsite, we aim to give every visitor, irrespective of age, a great time here. And a little bit more. There’s a great Swedish word for it, Lagom.
We want you to go away having loved your little escape here. You may remember the glow worms at 10 pm on a warm August evening. Perhaps the owls hooting in the meadow at night. Or just the chance to catch up with friends over a local beer or cider around a campfire whilst your kids pootle around. We have even had a few marriage proposals take place here too. No wedding invites yet though.
Relax and reconnect
So whatever you take away with you when you leave, we want you to go feeling relaxed and reconnected to the natural world. We believe that being responsible with our environmental footprint and ensuring that we treat our wildlife neighbours considerately, is really important.
So stay tuned for news about our increased capacity of electric chargers, the new solar panels on the barn and our new wildlife area.
The Chair of Lewes District Council made a socially distanced visit to The Secret Campsite in Lewes recently to see how the countryside venue is working to become a standard bearer for nature friendly living.
When Councillor Adrian Ross was elected Chair, he immediately confirmed his theme of office would be ‘a green recovery, environmental action and a fair society’, allied to supporting the council’s target of carbon neutrality by 2030.
Launched by Tim and Lisa Bullen in 2012 on a rundown and redundant garden centre, The Secret Campsite is billed as ‘real camping with nature’ and has attracted plenty of attention in the national media for connecting campers with wildlife and the natural world more broadly.
Councillor Adrian Ross said:
“It was lovely to visit The Secret Campsite. It’s in a beautiful location and Tim and Lisa have made a great effort to protect and enhance the local biodiversity. Local tourism is central to the green recovery of the district post-Covid and the campsite also brings in much-needed custom for the nearby shops, pubs, restaurants and visitor attractions.
“And I’m particularly excited by the way they have embraced the council’s sustainability goals, adapting their business to help us achieve our climate and biodiversity objectives.”
Tim has been part of the council’s Climate Action Forum that is feeding into the work to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and is constantly making changes and adaptations at the campsite to completely harmonise its relationship with the environment.
Tim Bullen said:
“We are really keen to help Lewes District Council achieve or even surpass their target of becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and we have plans to demonstrate the actions we are taking to help hit its targets.
Councillor Matthew Bird, Cabinet Member for Climate Change, said:
“It’s not just that Tim and Lisa’s sustainability ethos is clear in everything they do at The Secret Campsite, it is also their willingness to share their approach. Tim has been really generous in contributing his experience and values to the council’s sustainability expert panels and the Community Climate Forum.“
We are thrilled that our environmental approach will help support the valuable work of Lewes District Council to achieve its target of zero carbon by 2030.
We won a Silver Gong! Not quite at The Oscars but at the well regarded Awards hosted by the CPRE, the countryside charity, formerly known as the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
The CPRE shares our own interests in nature and landscapes, climate change and energy, sustainable transport, farming and better places to live.
We entered the CPRE Sussex 2020 Awards in the category of “Connecting people to the Countryside”. You can view our entry here.
At The Secret Campsite, we strive to share our wildlife rich habitat with campers who may not get to see the natural world in action. Lots of children don’t hear the hoot of an owl at night or perhaps have encountered a slow worm. We think these experiences can spark an interest in nature and the natural world and can create valuable family time and space.
Watch our video entry below.
We are lucky to have great neighbours that include butterflies, deer, toads, adders, hedgehogs and so many more.
We were thrilled to be invited to “takeover” Cool Camping’s Instagram earlier this week. It represented a great opportunity for The Secret Campsite to tell our story, with a real “day at the campsite experience” theme. It was also a leap of faith for Cool Camping too. We have worked with them since we started, they reviewed us back in our early days and most probably you used their booking system when you booked your stay here.
So armed with their Instagram log ins, I sat down and thought how best to tell our story. In marketing terms we have lots of “content” and lots of lovely photos. But we wanted to show it as it is. So we whipped out the camera, combed our hair (still no hair appointments freed up yet after Lockdown) and did a lot of takes in the meadow.
I pitied the lovely camper snoozing on his pitch as Tim did 10 takes, all identical, with each one faster to try and cram the required points into his 15 second clips. It was a comedy act of suddenly talking very fast for the last 5 seconds.
We featured an intro by Tim, explaining our story and how we transformed an old run down garden nursery into the Secret Campsite. This entailed renovating old buildings, planting a lot of trees to provide natural screening for campers and a wonderful wildlife habitat. And what we think “real camping with nature” actually is.
Our Secret Shelters
Then we ran some video interviews with Jason Thawley. He has designed all our Secret Shelters including The Tree Tent, The Gridshell and the Okra . We also featured a sneak peek of his new ” Okra dining pod” .This is aimed at the hospitality sector for socially distanced outdoor dining opportunities.
Secret Wildlife Festival
Tim introduced the Secret Wildlife Festival, our annual fundraising festival run in conjunction with The Sussex Wildlife Trust – sadly cancelled for 2020 but it will resurface for 2021. The Festival is a wonderful way to reconnect with Nature and Wildlife, the schedule is put together by the hugely informative Michael Blencowe and his colleagues at Sussex Wildlife Trust.
The COVID clean!
We filmed the COVID clean. This takes place 5 x per day, involving bleach solution, multiple buckets, gloves, and face masks. This is in addition to the normal daily deep clean. It’s really not very interesting to watch but filmed in Slo-Mo makes it visually far more amusing! Our last newsletter relayed our COVID policy which prompted lots of relieved comments so we understand how important this is.
We featured lots of wildlife photos, including butterflies, moths and grass snakes. We were delighted to welcome people from the Sussex Butterfly Society here last weekend. Colin took a beautiful photo of one of the many Marbled Whites who spend the summer here.
Finally, we turned our attention to arguably the best part of any camping trip, the BBQ and campfires. Tim’s a dab hand at lighting campers fires, secretly, we do have a blowtorch here too, when all else fails.
We loved the opportunity to introduce The Secret Campsite to a new audience over at Cool Camping. We had the occasional technical drama which hopefully passed by unnoticed!
Well that is a great start to the 2020 camping season! We featured in “50 Great Staycations” in this weekends edition of The Times.
UK best places
The article outlined the pick of the best places for escaping the hordes within the UK. It featured beautiful sleepy Cornish towns, pine plantations in Northumberland, and lovely nature reserves in Suffolk.
East Sussex scored twice with the rather cool Belle Tout lighthouse set in beautiful Birling Gap and also with The Secret Campsite! There are a hatful of inspiring places to stay and some amazing places to visit around the area so we were surprised that East Sussex only had 2 entries!
See the full article here The paywall will preclude you reading it all for free but I have faithfully reproduced the article here. (Copyright The Times Newspapers)
Such a great start to the rather disrupted camping season! Thank you for including us.
I only found out on Monday morning when Katherine in the office asked me about Giant Crested Newts. She’d read it in The Sunday Telegraphs “20 best campsites near a pub” feature. But best of all, The Secret Campsite had been picked as one of them. Better still, we were the first one listed…..hooray
We had been visited a few weeks before by deputy editor Olivia Walmsley. Olivia was researching an article for the Sunday Telegraph about great campistes near pubs. She wanted to write about the camping and then pay a visit to a couple of local pubs for some food and refreshment.
Sunday Telegraphs pubs and camping article
The camping part
The Gridshell was free for Olivia and Jonny’s first night. But, being full up, we then had to move them onto a camping pitch on the bank for Saturday night. This worked really well and it sounds like they enjoyed cooking over the campfire and an amazing dawn chorus. What a great way to start a Sunday morning, despite a drop of rain.
We’re really lucky with the pubs near to the campsite as they offer a diverse range of prices, locations and food.
The Royal Oak played host to Olivia and Jonny’s Saturday lunch. After this they headed off for some wild swimming at Barcombe Mills, before heading back to the campsite for another campfire by their Bell tent.
We really enjoy these 2 local pubs and lots of campers sing the praises of them both. But there are even more places within a short walk or a 10 minute drive. Here are a few more that are also worth trying out.
The Half Moon at Plumpton is at the foot of the South Downs and make a great base to start a walk up onto the beautiful open chalk downland and the South Downs way
The Rainbow is a mile and half away and has a carvery, so its a safe pub for a meal on a Sunday evening. Many local pubs kitchens are closed after lunch on Sundays so campers could go hungry!
The Griffing Inn is super expensive but provides an amazing dining experience, so if you’re feeling flush its worth the extra few miles drive, but best book a taxi home and increase the mortgage in advance.
Finally if you’re feeling energetic why not get some rowing in and retire for a long luch afterwards at the Anchor Inn at Barcombe Mills
It’s great when independent writers and the public recognise what we are doing and the space we are trying to create, and when its combined with a great pub serving good honest food it’s a winning combination.
Why we are different to most campsites
We set the Secret Campsite up in 2012 to provide an uncompromised space where wildlife could flourish. It also had to be a space where campers could escape their busy technology filled lives. But, we also needed to earn an income.
So far it’s proved to be very rewarding and successful on both fronts. We’ll never be rich but, we have an amazing space here. Something, surprises me almost every day. This morning it was seeing the hornets that have moved into the sparrow hotels now that the chicks have fledged. Glad they chose their bedrooms.
Olivia’s article is one of a number of features we’ve had written about us. We’ve even won a few awards as well. In 2016 we were awarded a community hero award for our work with animals. In 2013 we were voted one of the Guardians top 10 campsites in the UK.
So we think we’re doing something right. The reviews we get on Cool Camping and Trip advisor seem to back this up…. most of the time.
By the way, Giant Crested Newts was a typo. We’ve got Great Crested Newts here and we are really proud of them. They are increasingly rare.
Yesterday evening we were invited along to the BBC Radio Sussex and Surrey Community Hero Awards at the Crown Plaza hotel near Gatwick.
We had been nominated in the animal welfare section. Listeners of the two BBC Local radio stations, which are broadcast throughout Surrey and Sussex, nominated businesses and individuals they thought were doing great work and we were being nominated for our work with wildlife.
Imagine our surprise when we won. If you want to read more have a look at the link to the awards
How true this was. It was flipping freezing in Sussex on Tuesday night, but ‘Cold Places to stay’ is much less enticing. Either way, have a read of the article and if it sounds about right we’d love to see you come camping here either in your own tent, or up the tree in our fantastic Tree Tent.
The RSPB announced the winner of their photography competition and the prize is a camping trip to The Secret Campsite where we look forward to meeting them all and seeing what images they can capture of the wildlife that we have around the campsite. There were over 70 entries.
There were four categories in the competition, Landscapes, Wildlife, Urban Wildlife and Families Enjoying the South Downs.
The competition, which was launched in October and ran until 28 February, aimed to celebrate the landscape of the South Downs with its range of habitats, stunning views and abundant wildlife.
Chris Mole, winner in the landscapes section, took an atmospheric shot of the fields above Plumpton and Neil Hulme was first in the wildlife section with a beautifully detailed shot of a Duke of Burgundy butterfly at North Marden.
Mark Jones’s shot of a fox and a dog meeting at Tilmore Brook was first in the urban wildlife category, and Rebecca Berry won the Families Enjoying the South Downs section with a picture of a youngster jumping against a background of colourful hang gliders. I’d love to post all of the winning pictures but sadly i can’t seem to re size them to fit the web site
The winners were presented with their prizes on Saturday 22 March at the RSPB’s Pulborough Brooks nature reserve. The public will be able to view the images in the reserves tea room from Sunday 23 March onwards.
Here is a full list of the three winners in each section:
1st place: Rape Fields above Plumpton by Chris Mole
2nd place: First Light, Chanctonbury Ring by Martin Birchall
3rd place: Deep and Crisp and Even by Sue Povey
1st place: Duke of Burgundy Butterfly at North Marden by Neil Hulme
2nd place: Brimstone at Kithurst Hill by Julie Redford
3rd place: Mating Chalkhill Blue Butterflies, Cissbury Ring by Kenneth Turner
1st place: Fox Encounter, Tilmore Brook, Petersfield by Mark Jones
2nd place: Wheel of Life by Rich Howorth
3rd place: Treecreeper in Petersfield Garden by Judith Jones
Families Enjoying the South Downs:
1st place: The Leap! by Rebecca Berry
2nd place: Running on the Downs by Chris Mole
3rd place: South Downs Way – descending from Beacon Hill near Harting Down by Mark Jones