The Rolling Downs: all the benefits of camping, none of the drawbacks
We took ourselves off for a one-night break ‘glamping’ at The Rolling Downs shepherds’ huts, a perfect escape from the city to spend some quality time with the family.
Kids love camping. Even my eldest daughter realises it’s something special and she’s only 3 ¾. I’m not entirely sure how that is, as after years of holidays in hotels, friends’ spare rooms, apartments and villas and festival camping trips which leave a permanent stain on the memory, how could I even show I love camping? There’s no running water, no toilet, it’s cold and wet, even in summertime.
Enter stage left, The Rolling Downs, two elegant, wooden shepherds’ huts refurbished to a high standard. A couple of years ago, we tried out some yurts and yes while others were freezing in their two man tents, we were relaxing in ours wearing t-shirts sweltering from the heat of the wood burner, there was still no toilet and no running water. For a similar price point these huts offer superior accommodation including a toilet plus hot and cold running water and a shower amongst their many features. Imagine an experience where you are in a quiet corner of Sussex, on the Bentley Wildfowl and Motor Museum estate near Halland but cooking your evening meal in a small kitchen smarter than you’re own at home.
We arrived early on a warm and dusky Sunday, parked up and headed to explore the Bentley estate before we could check into the huts. For £26.00 you get a family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) which is valid for your entire stay at The Rolling Downs. There’s a brilliant children’s play area, miniature railway, motor museum, a wildfowl nature reserve and vast amounts of grounds and woodland to explore. My two girls couldn’t quite believe the open walkthrough the reserve being able to get so close to the birds. Plus it was a great learning experience on how to behave around wildlife and understand their habits. We got to see some rare and interesting varieties of wildfowl in a charming environment.
We stayed in the larger hut, which has a super comfy double bed, a bunk bed neatly nestled above the foot of that bed and a small bench that converts into another sleeping place. Ideal if you have small children. The second hut has two bunks suitable for older children or adults and can only booked when using the large hut. My eldest couldn’t get enough of her ‘high bed’ (the name she gave to the bunk) and sat up there reading & playing almost preferring that to being out in the sunshine. The whole hut is designed to maximise the use of the space for comfort. They’ve also made so much effort in the furnishing, everything modern, clean and bright, sourced from places such as The White Company and Marks and Spencers.
The best thing about this form of camping is you don’t need to pack hoards of equipment, which when you’ve got small pre-schoolers, is practical. The kitchen had everything we needed for meal preparation and storage including a fridge. The wood burner didn’t get used, as the weather was kind and we were perfectly warm enough at night but offers the possibility to stay during months where the evenings are chillier. The hut had plenty of games, books and a radio just in case you get bored. We bought some outside toys for the kids but the hut had a rounders set & skittles. Once we were settled, we laid a picnic blank on the grass outside and relaxed while the kids ran/ crawled around exploring.
Luckily it was warm enough to eat outside for all our meals at the picnic table. I don’t think my eldest could quite believe she was having breakfast outside in her pyjamas. The next minute, she’s hopping on down to the tree swing or chasing butterflies.
By the time it came to leave, we were seriously relaxed but I would most certainly suggest a longer stay to really benefit from the location. The huts are perfectly situated for those wanting to experience the best of East Sussex without the hustle and bustle of Brighton. The city is 25 minutes away in the car plus Uckfield is a little over 5 minutes drive away with good parking and plenty of places to stock up on supplies. Flicking through the visitors book, they’ve had plenty of happy customers who’ve gone on excursions to Eastbourne, Lewes, Glyndebourne and places I’d never thought of going on my doorstep.
We left suitably impressed, even my 15 year old niece who came with us expressed an emotion. To be quite honest, I was sold when I saw the cafetiere and ground coffee. It suited all of us to have all the benefits of camping with none of the drawbacks!
Note to reader: Thanks to The Rolling Downs who hosted our stay and Bentley who kindly allowed us access to the park. However, the views are all my own.