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Camping as it should be in the heart of the South Downs.

If ever there was a campsite run by campers for campers, it’s Woodfire Camping in West Sussex. Opening for the first time in 2018, this brand new spot in the heart of the South Downs is the brainchild of hosts Stella and Griff. Drawing on a lifetime’s worth of camping experience around the UK and the wider world, this couple know what ingredients go in to making a truly cracking campsite. As Stella explains, “we've both camped all our lives, in orange canvas tents in the 70s and 80's; in a cosy two-man round Europe when we were younger and then every summer in a family tent since we've had children. Hopefully our experience will show in the way we've planned our campsite”.

Woodfire Camping is a throwback to camping from the good old days. This refreshingly understated spot is all about traditional tent camping with nature providing the entertainment – there’s not a hard-standing, electric hook-up, clubhouse or satellite TV in sight. And, as the name suggests, campfires are positively encouraged!

The spacious buttercup-dotted meadow hosts just 30 tents, with a crowd-pleasing pitch-where-you-like policy meaning guests a free to find a spot that suits on the grass. For those lazy bones who can’t be doing with the pegs and poles themselves, a handful of pre-erected tents are available to rent, including some cool retro models equipped with comfy vintage furnishings.

Despite its off-grid nature, the site doesn’t lack for the bare necessities. A pair of showers dispense instant hot water – although in keeping  with the site’s green credentials, these are only available at peak hours in the morning and evening to help conserve water – and loos are of the compost variety. Power-wise nothing is wired in, either, though the camp kitchen supplies enough juice to charge your phone. The lack of synthetic light at this designated Dark Sky Peserve ensures some of the best stargazing in the south-east.

There’s even a few luxury touches on offer like a resident masseuse offering half-hour pampering sessions. And, influenced by their stays at Italian agriturismos, Stella and Griff also offer a range of home-cooked breakfasts and dinners – from huevos rancheros to delicious stews with gremolata and flatbreads – all cooked over the campfire. 

It’s often said that a campsite is only as good as its setting and Woodfire ticks more than a few boxes in the location stakes. The campsite is located on Westerlands, a 1,000 acre stud farm regarded as one of England’s most scenic – it’s forest-fringed fields filled with horses, Dexter cattle and Suffolk sheep. The site neighbours the Goodwood Estate while there’s an abundance of chocolate-box market towns nearby like Arundel, Bosham, Petersfield and Petworth, and Bosham. Best of all, there’s peerless access to the South Downs Way – literally take the track out the gate and follow your nose.

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The campsite owner says

Woodfire Camping is in a very special spot, with stunning views of the South Downs and surrounding countryside.

We have hot showers, campfires and wood-fired cooking, with pre-erected tents available for hire. The track leading directly off the campsite leads up on to the 90-mile-long South Downs Way, with more fantastic views in all directions, some as far as the sea.

There are four great local pubs within walking distance, with good food and beer gardens, and ancient market towns, castles, stately homes and sandy beaches all just a short drive away.

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