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The Rolling Downs

UK England South East England East Sussex

  • Children’s playground
  • Campfires allowed
  • Good walks nearby
Lovingly restored shepherd’s huts in the grounds of Sussex' famous Bentley Estate

Since it's inception a few years ago, The Rolling Downs in East Sussex has fast become the region's worst kept secret. Lovingly crafted and hidden away in a quiet nook on the renowned Bentley Estate, this pair of homely shepherd's huts seems to have something for everyone. For couples, the cosy, secluded feel of it all provides an obvious romance, with access to endless country walks and stop-offs in the cute tea rooms on the estate. For families, meanwhile, there's the fun of staying in the shepherd's huts themselves, paired with making your way across the meadows to the Bentley Wildfowl & Motor Museum and riding on the estate's miniature steam railway.

Despite the attractions on the doorstep, however, this no commercial 'add-on' but a thoroughly sympathetic stay that lets you really tuck yourself away in the countryside. The two shepherd huts, coloured in soothing egg-shell tones of white and sky blue, are plotted amongst a spacious patch of Sussex meadow and are a real labour of love for the glampsite owners, Brett and Clare Young. Both the main family hut and the more recently built younger sibling are mini masterpieces of ergonomic, eco-friendly design. Unlike some shepherd huts, whose compact dimensions and stuffiness can be a little on the oppressive side, the light décor coupled with the cosy textiles and compact wood burning stove give the accommodation a perfect balance of airiness and comfort. Power, from the huts' little wind-turbine, too, means this is a truly eco-friendly affair.

The innate tranquillity of the place is something that Brett and Clare work hard to preserve, so much so that the smaller of the two huts can only be booked as additional accommodation to the larger one (on account of the shared facilities). Consequently, this makes them ideal for parents with young children. The kids will love telling stories by lantern light in the dinky adjacent hut, while mum and dad have the double bed and bathroom to themselves next door.

From the huts it's a relatively easy walk over to the motor museum. It's just one proverbial feather in the 60-acre estate's cap. The place is also home to 1,000 birds (130 species from around the world), including a breed called the Wandering Whistling duck; a craft barn for kids; a superb tearooms and a miniature steam train that even the most grown up of grown ups will want to take a ride on. For those seeking to make the most of tranquility, meanwhile, a walk around the estate grounds peeping in on the Palladian mansion is just as enticing, along with a trip to the cobbled streets of nearby Lewes (15 minutes away).

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2 shepherd's huts. The main one has a king-size bed, 2 young children’s bunks (5ft long; all bedding, linen, towels and hot water bottles provided), a wood burner (logs available to buy), a small kitchen area (with 2-ring gas hob, fridge and all essential kitchenwares), a table with seating for 4 and also a shower, toilet and hand basin. Lighting comes courtesy of a wind turbine and solar panel and there are board games and books for rainy days. The second, smaller shepherd’s hut can only be booked as additional accommodation alongside its bigger brother. Inside there are 2 bunk beds for the kids. There’s also plenty of shelving and a little wicker chair to warm yourself by the safe-to-use wood-burner. Outside, there's a fire pit, a picnic bench and a swing.

Suitable For

Glamping only. Pets not permitted.


Being situated in a quiet corner of the Bentley Estate, there are plenty of fun things to do just a short wander from the shepherd hut steps. The ancient Glyndebourne Wood surrounding the site offers some amazing nature trails with robins, woodpeckers, pheasants and deer to spot. In spring, the forest floor is a sea of vibrant bluebells. Look out for the Iron Age huts reconstructed using timber from the surrounding trees. The Bentley Wildfowl and Motor Museum offers a great day out offers an eclectic mix of classic motors and 130 species of colourful wildfowl from around the world. The estate's exotic gardens are beautiful and there is an array of enchanting living willow pathways, tunnels and domes to explore. There's also an adventure playground and miniature steam railway for the kids. Roughly 8 miles away lies the historic town of Lewes with notable landmarks including Lewes Castle (01273 486290) and Anne of Cleve's House. There are also a large range of shops and eateries. Nearby Charleston Farmhouse (01323 811626) was the onetime home of the Bloomsbury group and is definitely worth a visit for its unique Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell decorated interior. There are many animal-themed attractions locally for children including Drusillas Park (01323 874100), Middle Farm (01323 811411), Bluebell Railway (01825 720800) and a number of National Trust places of interest including Sheffield Park (01825 790231), Wakehurst Place (01444 894066) and Standen (01342 323029). The bustling bohemia of Brighton is also around 20 miles away.

Food & Drink

The on-site tea rooms and café at Bentley is open daily from 10.30am. Elsewhere, head to Lewes for real foodie treats. It's home to Harveys Brewery, who have a shop on Cliffe High Street where you can buy its entire range of ales, and also the original branch of Bill's (now a well known chain), which is open "breakfast to bedtime", serving home-cooked fare such as fish pie and BBQ pork ribs. Cross the river for an incredible range of tasty options in the Riverside Building. It's home to everything from Terrys the fishmongers, which sells catches from nearby Newhaven and Eastbourne, to David Links butchers, which specialises in free range meat.

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Add Your Review

Rated ★★★★★ over 3 reviews


Lovely huts in beautiful location

We had a fantastic weekend staying at The Rolling Downs. Really comfortable and well-equipped huts - perfect place to explore the beautiful Sussex countryside and coast. We loved stoking up the fire pit and cooking under the stars. I would highly recommend this to everyone wanting a short break from the daily routine. Thanks for having us to stay.
Jul 21, 2018 by Thomas Barton

The Rolling Downs - full of heavenly delights

We had a wonderful and relaxing stay at The Rolling Downs. The huts are so cute and cosy. It really is like being a child again and playing house. Everything is a shrunk down version of itself, except the huge king sized bed. There is even a log burner to keep you warm and snuggly on those cold evenings. The location of Bentley is lovely. It's nice and peaceful, a real 'get away from it all' holiday. There is till plenty to d, either at Bentley or further afield into the historic and beautiful town of Lewes. We are National Trust members, so there were lots of places to visit in East Sussex, from Nymans gardens to Virginia Woolf's house in Rodmell. I would definitely recommend staying here for a more quirky but relaxing holiday.
Jan 19, 2018 by Rebecca

Countryside retreat

It was our first time staying in a shepherds hut and it won't be our last. The huts were cute & cosy and had everything you needed for a short break. We will definitely be going back!

Apr 1, 2016 by Mafram

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