Great places for family breaks in Sussex
- Credit: PGL Adventure Holidays
Why leave Sussex this summer? These destinations are perfect for a fun-filled family break, finds Jenny Mark-Bell
Molly Dishwasher, Frant
These two shepherd’s huts are set on a stud farm at the edge of the quintessential Sussex village of Frant. Up to four people can stay in these magical Wealden surroundings on the Kent/Sussex border, where children can run free and build dens, feed the farm animals and collect their own eggs for breakfast. There are rope swings and a zip wire in the woods, so they’ll never run out of things to do.
Mobile phone coverage is patchy, which just adds to the sense of splendid isolation, making this a true escape.
Each of the shepherd’s huts – Molly Dishwasher and Skylark – comes equipped with everything you could possibly need for a short break. A wood-burning stove keeps campers toasty while the owners will happily provide barbecue boxes if you want to cook outside. Breakfast (cooked or continental) is delivered to your door and comes charmingly presented in a dainty basket.
Reluctant campers will be grateful for the separate kitchen/bathroom facilities, located in self-contained buildings around five minutes walk from each hut.
The local area has much to offer holiday-makers, with the marvellous Scotney Castle within a short drive. Bewl Water offers a host of water sports and there’s good boutique shopping and dining in Royal Tunbridge Wells. Sissinghurst, with its beautiful house and gardens planted by Vita Sackville-West, is a half hour drive away.
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If you don’t fancy going further afield, Frant has much to offer, including The George Inn which serves delicious hearty food and has a large beer garden, and the well-regarded Abergavenny Arms. World-famous musicians perform at the village church, St Alban’s as part of Frant Music Festival (www.frantmusic.org.uk).
On the outskirts of the beautiful and historic town of Arundel, Billycan is a well-equipped site with 12 tents – a mixture of yurts, bell tents and scout tents, all of which can sleep a family of four – or in some cases five – comfortably. All tents come equipped with beds and furniture but you have to bring your own bedding.
This is a quiet site, catering for a maximum of 58 people at any one time, but on Friday nights the owners cook up a camp stew followed by hot chocolate around the campfire. On Saturday mornings campers receive a breakfast camper with local organic produce and Arundel Brewery will deliver local ales to your tent door.
At other times it’s self-catering on the barbecues provided. There is a dining shelter, washing-up area and separate loo and shower facilities on site.
There is plenty to do in Arundel, ranging from family dining at The Loft in Sparks Yard, a good range of restaurants and pubs, and of course the fairy-tale castle and its grounds.
At the campsite art classes, face-painting and adult workshops are available on request and forest schools run during the school holidays.
Wowo, Sheffield Park, Uckfield
This popular large (150-acre) site on Wapsbourne Farm caters firmly for families. A host of activities are on offer, from bushcraft to fairy-tracking, and it is located in beautiful Sussex countryside.
Local attractions include the National Trust house and gardens at Sheffield Park, searching for Winnie-the-Pooh and friends in Ashdown Forest and the charming Bluebell Railway.
The portmanteau word ‘glamping’ has been bandied about a lot in recent years but it is certainly on offer at WoWo. Choose between yurts, shepherd’s huts and bell tents, or just pitch your own.
Leave the iPad at home: children will love exploring the six areas of the campsite. Campfires are encouraged in the pits provided and campers can buy a range of food to cook over the fire in the on-site shop.
Musicians can apply for free camping in return for sharing their skills around the campfire.
Adrenaline-filled adventures (Words by Harry Maddock)
Watersports, West Wittering
For accommodation The Beach House on Rockwood Road is well worth a visit. To feel more at home with nature, look at Nunnington Farm Camp Site. Families are catered for at Wicks Farm Holiday Park.
For seasoned pros and watersport rookies, West Wittering is a great place to hit the waves. 2XS at West Wittering have been running courses for more than two decades, specialising in windsurfing, kite surfing, surfing and stand up paddle boarding.
Climbing up the walls, Tilgate Park, Crawley
For places to stay near Tilgate Park try Barrington Lodge. Or a short drive away in Ifield Green is the Da Vinci Guest House. Tilgate Park is one of Sussex’s most popular tourist attractions. It has a nature centre which is home to a variety of animals. There are lakes for fishing and boating and a golf centre. K2 Crawley is a hub of all things leisure with rock climbing, swimming and courts. Anyone who fancies monkeying around will get quite a rush at Go Ape.
Horse riding, Ashdown Forest
The local tourist board has a fantastic list of places for visitors to stay, including Beechwood Bed and Breakfast and the Wild Boar Wood Campsite.
Or for something really different, why not rent The Lodge at Spring Farm Alpacas?
Ashdown Forest Riding Centre, located in the heart of this beautiful Sussex heathland offers some fantastic lessons with a qualified instructor whatever the ability or age. Small group sessions are available.
Into the woods, Wilderness Wood, Hadlow Down
This family-run woodland park in the High Weald is home to a number of small enterprises including a Forest School offering activities for children and adults and a café to refuel.
There is also the chance to hire a space in the woods for a BBQ or to camp out under the stars.
A yurt and tents are also available for hire.