Kitts Camp

UK England South East England West Sussex Haywards Heath

  • Campfires allowed
  • Dogs welcome
  • Groups welcome
  • Short walk to pub
  • Good walks nearby
Back to basics, camping au naturel. Ditch the iPod speakers and lace up your walking boots.

James, the manager of both the local affiliated gastropub, the Sloop, and Kitts Cottage campsite, is a wry chap; he looks as if he might have been a highwayman or pirate in a former life, so we’re not sure whether or not to believe him when he points to the campsite’s eastern treeline and says there’s a ghost of a lady who sometimes walks through there from the woods. Certainly it’s an atmospheric spot, and on creepy nights, as the north wind wraps its teeth around your guy pegs and whistles at your door, you might wish that we’d never mentioned it. To be honest, though, there’s nothing faintly spectral about Kitts Cottage – indeed the story (coupled with James himself) just adds to the site’s charm.

Sandwiched between Lewes and Haywards Heath, the 18-acre site takes its name from a house that used to stand here hundreds of years ago. There are no style awards or glamping brownie points being won here. Kitts is all about bowling up with your tent and doing all the hard stuff like pitching up and cracking open your cool box, as well as stoking the flames on one of the many designated firepits. Essentially it’s a huge meadow bookended on two sides by alluringly ancient woods and bordered by sheep-grazing fields; there’s an area for families shaded by mature oaks, a section for groups further away, and the remainder is left for couples and singles.The eastern treeline is always kept free and uninterrupted for aesthetic purposes – an arboreal canvas that might have come from the brush of John Constable.

James runs it this way to keep things in balance, just like the unspoken eco-agreement with the nearby forest critters. Your side of the bargain is not to gather logs, or any kindling whatsoever – it’s provided to you on arrival. And, in return, the creatures leave you alone. Fires are positively encouraged, though, as part of the site’s back-to-basics ethos.

The site sits on a slight elevation, giving great views from the top of the hill. Gazing across the woolly backs of sheep and rusted ploughs, you have to pinch yourself when you remember you’re less than an hour from London. The surrounding woodlands are criss-crossed with public footpaths, one of which leads directly to the much-celebrated Bluebell Railway, which provides a journey into yesteryear with a fully working steam railway system. With its old-fashioned stations peppered with nostalgic signs, octogenarian conductors, and steam billowing from Thomas the Tank Engine funnels, it’s a delight for even the weariest cynics. The footpaths from the site are perfect for getting back to nature and, if you don’t fancy walking, then bring your bike to explore the woody glades, sunburned fields and pretty hamlets.

The local Cuckoo Trail is a cyclist’s paradise – 11 miles of disused railway track, choking on wildlife and woodland as it meanders gently through quiet hamlets, monuments, and the best of Sussex countryside. It starts in Polegate and zigzags through Hailsham, Horam and Heathfield. There are plenty of places en route to stop for a cheeky cool pint or a snack, as well as various sculptures in wood and steel to look out for. In May, keep an eye out for the Orange-tip butterfly, and orchids growing near the path.



Campfires are positively encouraged in the firepits. Pick up all your wood and kindling on arrival, then James will direct you to an appropriate pitch, with  families in one general area,  while quiet couples and adult groups each have a corner too. Although Kitts is acutely eco-conscious, there are proper flushing loos and showers housed in a rustic field barn (separate sides for boys and girls). There’s also a new covered dishwashing area to replace the old alfresco facilities, which comes equipped with sinks, draining boards and hot and cold water. There are no rubbish disposal facilities on site, so campers are requested to take all their rubbish with them (there are recycling facilities nearby).

Suitable For

Tents, well-behaved dogs (on leads), groups, all folk really.  We welcome VW-sized campervans, but we do not have access for Caravans or Motorhomes.


 Just 30 minutes’ walk from Kitts, the Bluebell Railway (01825 720800) is a heritage steam railway running between Sheffield Park and Kingscote, and a real journey back through time. The old boys that operate it are charming and take you back to another era as they doff their caps, wrinkle their leathery faces, and guide you on to the glorious old carriages, with smoke billowing from the funnels as if you were off to Hogwarts School. Bring on the lemonade and slamming doors, the cucumber sandwiches, and the Famous Five – this is a rare and evocative slice of olde England. There’s plenty to do if you’re looking for organised activities: Sheffield Park and Garden (01825 790231) features 18th-century ornamental gardens laid out by Capability Brown, bursting with azaleas, rhododendrons, monkey trees, and views to set the soul alight – plus soothing lakes and a nice little tea room to quieten the groaning belly. A little under half-an-hour away lies the Ashdown Forest (01342 823583). It’s great for exploring on 2 wheels along the Forest Way cycle route and you can hire a bike from Deers Leap Bikes (01342 325858) for £20 per day. The Weir Wood Reservoir is an excellent spot for walking, taking a boat out or doing some trout fishing.

Food & Drink

Apart from campfire food cooked by yourself you can enjoy warming fare at your local taverns – the Sloop Inn (01444 831219), a welcoming gastropub with organic meats from local butchers, seasonal produce, and prices to match the affable atmosphere. A beautiful 30 minute walk in the other direction leads to The Farmers; great food, a friendly atmosphere with a huge play area that will keep the kids occupied for hours. Nearby, too, at the end of Ketches Lane on the A275, is Trading Boundaries (01825 790200) – a group of wonderful shops containing treasures from around the world, grouped around an old house and courtyard. The café there sells light lunches all day, and there’s a lovely garden in which to sit and eat on a warm day. These places can be reached by public footpaths and the campsite actually has access to 3 separate footpaths that meet in Long Kitts and can take you to the south, west and east.


April–late October.

The Owner Says

We  are a rural campsite in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), with a campfire on every spacious pitch and lots of room to play games and have fun.  At the confluence of two long distant footpaths, we are just 8 minutes walk from a lovely country pub. We are a family site with separate, adult-freindly areas, with flushing loos and hot showers in our well-appointed field barn. 


Contact Kitts Camp, Freshfield Place Farm, Sloop Lane, Scaynes Hill, West Sussex, RH17 7NP

Show Map

Getting There

Take the A22 through East Grinstead and Forest Row, 100 metres after the Wych crossroads turn right, on to the A275 towards Lewes. When you reach the church at Danehill, turn right – following signs to Freshfield (2 miles). Stay on that road past Brickworks and a mile after that you’ll see the Sloop Inn on your left. After half a mile take the first left hand turn into Butterbox Lane.The campsite entrance is 300ish metres further on the left-hand side.


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