Gooseberry Field Campsite

UK England South East England Kent Ashford

  • Campfires allowed
  • Groups welcome
  • Hot Tubs
  • Short walk to pub
  • Good walks nearby
Luxury glamping accommodation in an old Kentish orchard
Having left Shoreditch and their city jobs three years ago, John and Kerstin describe themselves as, “aging post-punk hippies”, but, while Gooseberry Field may be so laid back it’s almost horizontal, you don’t have to be a seasoned Glastonbury goer to appreciate what the couple offer here. Set in the grassy meadow remains of what was once an ancient apple orchard, Gooseberry Field Camping is the realisation of their long-term, city dreams – to head out into the countryside, enjoy the most local of local produce and chill out beneath the stars beside a roaring campfire.

A convenient 15-minute drive or taxi from Ashford International Station (or an hour and 20 minutes from London); this is a campsite in the heartland of Kent that still boasts easy connections to highfalutin life in central London. No matter where you’re coming from, though, Gooseberry Field offers a true escape into rural seclusion. Comprised of five lovingly furnished bell tents, a tipi and a vintage 70’s caravan, it’s a place that very much appeals to all tastes and budgets. Those with their own bell tents are also welcome and, if you fancy the glamping style but don’t want every trimming, you can even rent a bell tent without the interior furnishings.

Whatever you choose, comforts at Gooseberry Field extend far beyond a well-made bed. Spread around a five acre field, the campsite drops down a grassy tier to where a raised, south-facing terrace provides space to kick back in the sun or enjoy the sparkly night sky. Most dawdling at this spot is done while someone stokes the wood-fired hot tub a short walk away. There’s no denying it’s one of the site’s quirky treasures, a real luxury for any camping holiday.

In keeping with the ‘Good Life’ aspirations of anyone moving out of London, there’s an element of renewed agricultural activity here. Pigs provide sausages and bacon for breakfasts, chickens provide eggs, a small veg patch bursts with seasonal produce and, beside the terrace, a herb garden means you can garnish your barbequed meat with freshly picked rosemary. The ancient orchard origins are also being restored. Though almost all of the original apple trees are gone, the few remaining provide ample produce for homemade cider each autumn and John and Kerstin have now planted a further 150 trees along with, of course, a cluster of gooseberry bushes that give the site its name.

It’s no surprise, then, that cooking is a fairly central part of life here and not the usual hindrance to a rural camping trip. Nice touches like cool boxes and Dutch ovens at every pitch mean you’re well facilitated to tackle recipes over the campfire, while on the terrace a large wood fired oven is perfect for cooking pizzas or slow roasting dishes overnight. There's also a charcoal bbq and a superb hot smoker, available for all to use.

Beyond the campsite the quaint little village Pluckley has a resistance against commercialisation that suits its name, with a tiny grocery store and a proper independent butcher, plus there’s a handy farm shop to finish of the job. With all that on the doorstep you could easily stay the weekend and never need the car!

Details

Facilities

All luxury glamping pitches feature deck chairs, a picnic table and a firepit with BBQ cooking plate and a Dutch oven. Gas camping cookers are available on request. All cooking supplies are provided (cutlery, crockery etc) and each pitch has a coolbox. Glamping accommodation features a double futon bed and two single futons (bedding and linen included). Tents are dressed with tea light chandeliers or fairy lights, lanterns, cushions, throws and blankets, board games and two bedside tables. The ‘Just a Tent’ pitches come with a firepit and a couple of lanterns. Bell Tent owners can reserve a firepit. There are no electrical hook-ups but on the terrace there is a waterproof area with outdoor electricity sockets to charge ipads, phones and so on. The terrace is also home to a wood-fired brick oven, a smoker, and a charcoal fired BBQ for use by all. There is a lovely wood-fired hot tub. A large freezer is available in the workshop for people to cool their cooling packs. There are 2 spacious showers, 1 flushing toilet and 1 eco toilet. Outside there is a drinking water tap and two sinks with hot and cold water for doing the dishes.

Suitable For

Glampers only, with room for bell tent owners to pitch their own. Groups and exclusive hire welcome. Campervanners can sometimes sneak in if you're lucky! Dogs, caravans, motorhomes – no.

Nearby

The village of Pluckley is a small, traditional spot with a post-office and grocery store, a butcher, a church, a school and a decent pub – The Black Horse. Wander the 15 minutes into its centre and discover it’s charming cottages with the typical round-arched Pluckley windows, which are supposed to bring good luck, though perhaps aren't working given the place's status as 'the most haunted village in England'. Take advantage of the many local footpaths by joining the surrounding trails, with a particularly easily accessible footpath just around the corner of the camping field. Another great spot to explore on foot is the ancient Dering Woods, covering 308 acres and riddled with easy ambling routes.

Food & Drink

A breakfast hamper with locally produced organic products can be added to the booking. Hampers includes, bacon, sausages, half a dozen eggs, a loaf of bread, jam, two pints of milk, a bottle of apple juice, coffee and tea. The campsite also has a great farm shop a couple of minutes walk away – Pluckley Farm Shop (01233 840400) – which sells a wide range of excellent locally-sourced food. Bread tends to run out quick in the morning but the campsite can reserve you some, so be sure to ask! Pubwise the Rose and Crown (01233 840048) is a couple of minutes drive or a 25 minute walk and serves excellent food, while the Dering Arms (01233 840371) is a lovely gastro pub with some fine wines. There's also a post office, butcher and grocery store in Pluckley centre (about a 15 minute walk) and opposite is another pub with great comfort food, The Black Horse (01233 841948).

Opening Times

End of April – mid September. Opened from Friday until Tuesday, Midweeks available upon request.

The Owner Says

Having lived and worked in the city for 20 years we know how important your down time is. At Gooseberry field we want you to arrive and feel immediately relaxed and able to de-stress. 

Our focus is on traditional camping and cooking, working with nature rather than fighting against it. We use traditional canvas bell tents for our accommodation and provide bbq and cooking facilities at each pitch, fuelled with oak logs from our local forest. Its great to see our visitors unwinding around their open fires with a slow cook casserole simmering away in the dutch oven.

On our terrace is a large wood fired oven and separate bbq, which provides a nice focus area for evening cooking if you prefer to meet and mingle with other guests, rather than staying at your own tent. We have had some fabulous pizza nights through the summer where families have all shared ingredients, toppings and conversation.

We have a wood fired hot tub which is lit every weekend. Its the perfect place from which to watch the sunset after the kids are in bed, with a glass of wine or beer in hand. 

Our showers are clean and light with lots of space in them with plenty of room to hang clothes and towels. We want you to have room to get your young kids in with you.

We try to provide everything you will need during your stay for one fixed price, without any hidden extra costs. For our glamping customers all linen is provided, along with the use of all the cooking facilities; the wood fired oven, fire pits, all pots, pans, crockery, and dutch ovens. Use of the hot tub is included, so is your first basket of logs , with kindling and fire lighters.

Gooseberry field is a working small-holding, and as such we invite you to share our seasonal produce as it becomes ready for harvest throughout the summer months. Our fresh available ingredients range from strawberries and seasonal veg through to eggs from our chickens, depending upon the time of your visit.  We also have our own Gooseberry field produce available to purchase, such as apple juice from our orchard, pork sausages from our pigs and a selection of jams , chutneys and preserved foods.

We welcome both families with children and couples looking for a spot of quality time.

See you in the summer!

John and Kerstin

Accommodation

6 luxury 5 meter bell tents, furnished included bedding and each with their own theme, included picnic table, fire pit bbq and a couple of deck chairs. 2 very spacious additional pitches available for pitching your own bell tent or retro campervan. Use of hot tub & wood fired oven is included for all. 

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Location

Contact Gooseberry Field Campsite, Thorne House, Smarden Road, Pluckley, Kent TN27 0RE

Show Map

Getting There

When on the M20 take exit 8 towards Lenham, A20. Stay on the A20 until you arrive in Charing and turn right towards Pluckley, Station Road. Follow the road and drive through Pluckley Village, after you have driven down the hil it's possible to turn right towards Headcorn but stay on Smarden Road towards Smarden. After a few 100 meters you will find a sign on your right hand side with Gooseberry Field Campsite. If you have arrived at Pluckley Farm Shop you have driven to far!

The closest station is Pluckley Station, which is only a few minutes driving or a 20 minute walk from our campsite. Other stations are Charing Station (5 minutes drive) and Ashford International (15 minutes). When possible the campsite is happy to arrange pick up services from Pluckley Station, please let them know well in advance if this is required.

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