St Ives Farm

UK England South East England East Sussex Crowborough

  • Campfires allowed
Secluded, lakeside, countryside setting with the added bonus of campfires. Come during the week and have the place to yourselves.
‘Three Cheers for Pooh! (For who?) For Pooh! (Why, what did he do?) I thought you knew…’ Of the many things that the great Winnie the Pooh did and didn’t do, the most significant, as far as this little corner of East Sussex goes, is that he chose to spend his entire fictional life around the unassuming Surrey village of Hartfield. What’s not known is if he ever chose to stay at St Ives Farm, a quiet, idyllic countryside campsite just outside Hartfield, the village where A. A. Milne penned these famous stories. Hartfield, a one-street hamlet with a tiny village green and ivy-covered pubs, is the centre of Pooh Country. The old sweetshop where Christopher Robin used to buy ‘bulls eyes’ survives to this day, re-named as Pooh Corner and now does a roaring trade in cream teas, pots of honey and general ‘Pooh-phernalia’. You can also pick up a map that will direct you to all the haunts frequented by the loveable yellow bear himself, including 100 Acre Wood, Galleon’s Leap and Poohsticks Bridge. If you can bear to drag yourself away from all this nostalgic childishness, St Ives Farm is to be found just a five-minute drive north of Hartfield. After following signs for St Ives Tea Rooms, you’ll need to take a last-minute diversion across a farmer’s field and circumnavigate some long-stay caravans before finding the small camping area, offering about 20 tent pitches beside a picturesque fishing lake and surrounded by arable farmland. Be warned, with a limited number of spaces, it’s usually booked out by regulars at weekends, so a midweek break may be the only realistic option in summer. Being so far from the road, St Ives has an unusually peaceful ambience, an atmosphere enhanced by the fact that campfires are allowed and which scent the air with the fragrant smoke of sizzling sausages and melting marshmallows. The only activity on-site is coarse fishing for carp and perch in the well-stocked pond. However, the St Ives Tea Rooms at the farm next door seems to have an impregnable power over visitors to this place, who gravitate helplessly towards the flowerfilled tea gardens for scones and jam at least once in their trip. So, it’s three cheers for Pooh and for St Ives Farm, too. (Why, what did they do?) I thought you knew…

Details

Facilities

Other than making campfires, the only other conventional onsite activity is fishing. The lake is stocked with carp and perch and costs £5/£9 per day for children/adults. Almost onsite is the adjacent tea garden, which serves tasty cream teas and light lunch snacks against an Ashdown Forest backdrop. The basic facilities suit this rustic place; just three chemical loos and six showers.

Suitable For

Dogs are welcome, and are free to frolic in their very own designated dogwalking area.

Nearby

Do as Pooh would do – eat honey, play Pooh Sticks and wander around in the woods. In Hartfield, the old sweetshop where Christopher Robin used to buy bulls’ eyes survives to this day, re-named Pooh Corner and now doing a roaring trade in cream teas, pots of honey and general Pooh-phernalia. If you’re not too Pooh-ped after all that, then you can go walking with llamas (no, really) at the Ashdown Forest Llama Park (01825 712040) in Forest Row. One llama each is £30; 2 people sharing a llama is £50. Bizarre, but true.

Food & Drink

For top-notch food, with an emphasis on locally sourced, seasonal produce head for The Hatch Inn (01342 822363) at Colemans Hatch. It’s a quaint little country pub on the edge of Ashdown Forest, a 50-minute walk or 10-minute drive from St Ives Farm and handy for Poohsticks Bridge. French and traditional British influences feature on a changing, innovative menu served in a snug restaurant or in the beer garden. The ivy-covered Anchor Inn (01892 770424) in Hartfield is a 15th-century free house with an unusual, old-fashioned, flowerfilled veranda, as well as a pleasant beer garden and a selection of local ales.

Opening Times

April – late October.

Family Friendly

The lake is not fenced and there are campfires everywhere. So the kids will love it, but protective parents may not.

Location

Contact St Ives Farm, Butcherfield Lane, Hartfield, East Sussex TN7 4JX

Show Map

Getting There

Follow the A22 southbound through South Godstone. Shortly after Brindley Heath, take a left onto the B2029 (Ray Lane) towards Lingfield. The road turns into the B2028 (Race Course Road). Turn right when you reach Dormans Road, which eventually becomes Hollow Lane and then meets the A264. Turn left onto the A264 for 1.4 miles then turn right onto Cansiron Lane, which turns slightly left, becoming Butcherfield Lane. The campsite is a little further on the right and is clearly signed.

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