Hop Pickers Wood
Hop Pickers Campsite, Quarry Farm, Bodiam, East Sussex TN32 5RA
A secret, shady glade near an old castle may sound like the stuff of fairy tales, but Hop Pickers Wood Campsite is no fantasy. Newly opened for summer 2012, it’s a tiny little grassy clearing of just ten pitches, surrounded by trees, wildlife and the soundtrack of British farmland in summertime.
Due to it’s size and the fact that the owners want to keep it relatively secret and exclusive, campers need to book ahead rather than just turn up. You also won’t know the exact location until you make a reservation, but let’s just say it’s not far from Bodiam Castle in East Sussex, hidden about half a mile down a private track.
You’ll probably be greeted and guided in by friendly owner Anna Eastwood, who also runs the adjacent Original Hut Company. After parking your car (quite possibly next to a tractor, as this is very much a working farm), you’ll need to walk your gear down to the clearing, but it’s literally only 10-20 metres to the pitches, so no great hardship.
The facilities are in keeping with this low-impact place; the eco loos, hot showers and washing up facilities are housed in a discreet Shepherd’s Hut. There’s also a handy sheltered area with an open fire which makes it ideal for communal gatherings – in fact, the whole site is perfect to hire out for groups of families or groups looking for some privacy and seclusion. The ‘whole site’ rates are very reasonable for such a lovely little place in such a good location.
The Owner Says
***NEW FOR 2014... RENT-A-TENT!!!***
Love the idea of camping, but don’t want the hassle of putting up the tent?! Nowhere to store a tent in your car, or don’t want to waste any valuable food and drink space on camping gear?!
No problems, leave that all to us!
We have 6 of our beautiful bell tents available for hire, that will be all set up and waiting for you on your arrival in one of our picturesque campsites. Our campsites offer wash huts with 2 loos and 2 piping hot showers, private fire pit per pitch and a covered seating area in case of any changes in the Great British weather!
Each Bell tent is 5m and can accommodate up to 4-5 Adults in a single tent, maybe 6 at a push for families traveling with children. The tents are pre erected for you and fully equipped with everything but bedding and a gas stove. These can be purchased from our shop though! It's comfortable hassle free camping, Simples!!!
We love camping and have developed Hop Pickers to tick every box that we would like to see in a campsite. The site is quiet, off grid and of minimal environmantal impact. Campfires are positively encoraged (but only within clearly marked fiepits). tiny, within this tiny non commercial site each pitch has space around. It is possible to see you children anywhere within the confines of the site which allows the mthe freedom to explore any you the knowledge that they are safe. We never allow a group to take more that 5 pitches so the site shouldn't ever be over run with one party. The loos and showers are attractive and the showers piping hot. The wash facilites are regualy cleaned. We love the restored hop Pickers cook house. This offers campers a communal covered area with a huge fireplace to sit and dry out in the warm should the Great British Summer let you down. This has proved to be a great space for families and friends to get together in the evenings even if the weather isn't perfect (and has been the birth place of the odd hangover!!).
There is loads to do in the Local area with the Historic towns of Rye, Battle, Hastings and Tenterden all within 10 miles. There are loads of Gardens and woodlands to visit, National Trust and English Heritage Sites. Locally there are great Beaches, proper old fashioned sea side fun. As well as fantastic Local Gastro experiences.
The site is on our family run farm, there are 200 acres of grass land and orchards to explore. The River Rother flows through the bottom of the farm and can be fished during the season for a variety of course fish. The Kent and East Sussex Steam Railway runs into the farm enabling guest to catch a steam train to Tenterden for Lunch. Or hop on a boat trip down the river from the castle to the next pub.
We are very happy to accommodate groups on a sperate site on the farm. This offers the same wash facilities and a covered communal area, but is removed from Hop pickers Wood
Sadly our last visit..
We returned yesterday (2 days early) from our third and probably last visit to this site. Since we stumbled across this lovely site in 2013 its been our firm favourite but, unfortunately, this trip has put us off completely. Our first night was fine but, after a lovely day at camber, our second night was just awful. We ended up hemmed in ( literally feet away ) from a large group with four pitches . Part of the group had set up in the afternoon but the rest arrived at 9.15pm and proceeded to spend the next couple of hours setting up their camp with absolutely no thought for anyone else trying to have a peaceful evening or our two young children trying to sleep. We thought things would quieten once the tents were up, how wrong we were - 1.30am they finally decided they'd drunk enough and made enough noise and went to bed! We had such an awful night we decided to pack up and leave (something we have never done in all our years of camping) as we had no doubt that last night would be equally as bad, if not worse! We had always had the impression that large groups were separated from small ones to stop people feeling overtaken and that people were asked to quieten things down by 10pm!! Sadly it seems that the ethos has changed and large groups will be accommodated to the detriment of small ones. Really sad as the site is lovely, the owners always helpful, the views beautiful and the whole area has so much to see and do :(
Comment from the campsite owner:
Thank you very much for taking the time to review, I’m so sorry that on this occasion you didn’t have an enjoyable trip, I wish you could have found it within you to let me know the problem at the time as I could have addressed it with the other guests. As you know we implement a quiet policy across the whole site which is well flagged on our website, by email from the point of making an enquiry and again throughout the booking process. It is very much within our ethos, so I would have been very comfortable to speak to them regarding a noise complaint.
It has always been our policy that we are happy to allow a single group to occupy up to five pitches on the site. Beyond this we discuss accommodating larger groups on one of our exclusive hire sites.
Camping is a lovely relaxed way for families to enjoy spending time together as you know, you were traveling with another family yourselves over the Bank Holiday weekend. The group in question did not raise any alarm bells for me. They were a group of four families each with children. I don’t accept bookings for 4 pitches if they are an adult only party and potentially rowdy. You must understand it is incredibly difficult for me to tell from an email enquiry how people are likely to behave on the site.
In terms of arriving at 9.15 pm I can understand that this is not desirable. However given the volume of traffic on a Friday night this is something that we encounter most weekends. We have to accept if we are going to accept bookings from people who have had to work go to on Friday and then get on the road. We do run the campsite as a business and within that we need to be accommodating to a range of different needs from different guests.
We hope that maybe we will see you again one day as you are exactly the type of guest we hope to encourage to the site. I apologise that in this occasion the cohort of guests on site didn’t gel as well as happily it normally does.
A very special place
Tucked in between an old railway line and a river and fields, this magic spot is totally hidden from any public roads.
We were told tents had to be a certain size, but the pitches were huge and we easily fitted our little and larger tents on our site... They are not marked.
There are some pre erected bell tents for hire too.
The loos are not of the modern flush variety, which was a problem for my daughter, but they didn't smell and the rest of us didn't mind. Showers were great, with huge shower heads and the facilities were in cute little shepards huts.
In our field there was a mini wood for the kids to play in and the wonderful Bodium castle is a walk along the river away. Camber sands is also not too far to visit.
Unfortunately, the wood we got was quite wet so perhaps bring/buy your own, but that's my only negative.
We did try to go back again one bank holiday, but it was understandably full.
Lovely site, and look out for the entrance of what looks like an industrial park, to find the site. Don't worry, it's not surrounded by factories, just a tricky access to find if you don't expect that.
would highly recommend
This is the first campsite I booked completely the opposite of what we had previously used. We loved it!!
I can't stress how much this takes you back to nature, the raised levels make it private for your camping party but the woods you camp in are fab, it is like you are freestyle camping. I loved that you could have a campfire and everything felt so relaxed no air pollution so stargazed everynight.
Yes the toilets are eco but hey we are in the middle of nowhere i wasn't looking for a shower block, we brought airspray and took that in with us when we went but it was clean all of the time. My kids were 7 and 11 and a year later are still talking about this site and we have stayed at many since and recommend this site to everyone.
This by far has been our favourite on this whole site so far!!
Five of us (all adults) camped at Hop Pickers Farm in June and had the most amazing time ever. It was 100% perfect and we could not find fault with anything.....except we had to call Anna for directions once we got close but not one of our five phones had a signal, so I suggest you keep an eye on your phone and call sooner rather than later. In saying that, we just had to drive back the road a little to pick up a signal.
Thank you very much for a great camping experience.
New annual camping site!
Slightly late in posting my review but we spent the last weekend in June at this site. This is the 2nd year we've been to the farm and we will certainly be making it a regular occurrence. Just as background, we're a group of 4 dads with 4 boys all around 3.5yrs old and last year was our first foray into camping which was such a success (well most of us managed to get our boys to sleep at a reasonable hour!). We stayed on the upper site (the dell) last year and this really was idyllic & picturesque but this year we were at the "overflow" site down by the river which is slightly more open but has more room for the kids to explore and kept themselves occupied. Both have virtually identical facilities which are wonderful and really make the difference to your stay. It may seem rather rudimentary having a compost toilet (yes it can smell a little in warm weather so you just need to open the window) but the toilet/shower/washing block are all perfectly kept and have lovely hot water whether that's for washing or a shower. The overflow is a little easier to walk to the castle inn, Bodiam castle and the steam station which are all definitely worth a visit. Other nice points are each pitch has an open fire and there is plenty of wood available to buy. Anna is lovely and always helpful. Not sure what else to add but would certainly recommend to anyone.
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Perfect family camping
We stayed at Hop Pickers during the last weekend of May, and it is one of the best campsites I've stayed at. There are two main camping areas, a terraced one nestling in a dell at the top of a small hill, and another with very large pitches spread out by the river. We opted for the dell, which we loved. My daughters quickly made friends with the other children, and the lack of cars within the campsite proper meant they had total freedom to run around, climb trees, and hide in the woods etc. it was absolutely blissful to come out of London and just let them go free range for a few days. Others have commented about the long-drop loos. To be honest, the only day they smelled of anything other than disinfectant was the Thursday when we arrived, so they are clearly emptied and cleaned regularly. More of an issue was the slightly temperamental boiler for the showers, but a bit of basic tlc soon had it running. Oh and did I mention that they are the cutest facilities ever? the Castle pub (next to NT Bodiam Castle), has decent beer, a large garden, and very decent pub grub, and is only a 20 min walk away along the river. All in all, a great experience, and we can't wait to go back.
This is the loveliest site with the friendliest owners and nicest facilites that i have ever visited. The location is wonderful with a beautiful walk along the river to Bodiam castle. Our children were free to safely run and play and relished the independance it offered. There are a few different camping areas within the farm. Each are lovely and have have clean, comfortable facilities. The campsite quietens down between 8 and 10pm and after that there is just the sound of the campfires crackling and aduls quietly chattin. Its not the place for large rowdy groups! There is nothing bad to say about Hop Pickers Wood - its perfect.
Just what the doctor ordered!
As a group of friends, we go away camping somewhere different every year for the end of May bank holiday. This is our 7th year away, and we chose Hop Pickers Wood. We weren't disappointed! We were in the 'overflow' field - with about 15 or so tents (there were 3 tents in our party). So, quite a few people about, but it didn't feel crowded, and I never had to queue for the toilets! Loos and showers were cleaned daily, so all up to the standard we'd expect. Anna and Nick were helpful, friendly, and left us to our own devices - apart from when we had some dinner to share with them!! We always go for a camp site where we can have a fire, and the fire pits here worked a treat - they were half of an old oil drum - recycling at it's best! Logs and kindling were available at a reasonable price. We 'cheated' and had Sunday breakfast at the local pub, The Castle, less than 10 minutes walk away - and it was worth it! We'll be recommending this site to our friends - hope you enjoy it too! Donna
Just back from a weekend at Hop Pickers. It's unlike any other site I've been to, absolutely delightful and certainly exceeded our expectations!
Hidden in a little wooded glade, there are a handful of pitches, each on a different level, with its own fire pit nearby. The layout gives privacy and the feeling of seclusion and there is also a communal fire pit and dining area with a wood burner for anyone preferring to socialise.
The showers were great - piping hot, and the toilets are long drop but every effort has been made to make them as fragrant and pleasant as possible.
There's zero light pollution so great for star gazers but do make sure to pack a torch!
The food and service in the Castle pub was fantastic. It was fully booked but they just managed to squeeze us in, so we'll be making a reservation to be on the safe side next time!
All in all a great little site, and we'll definitely be back and inviting our friends to join us.
First Time Camper Hooked
I have always avoided camping at any cost, like my home comforts too much but after recently spending a couple of nights here I'm hooked. Fabulous setting, everything you could need and most important for me being so fussy about facilities, the loos were fine they are a long drop but well presented and regularly checked and emptied.
Nice campsite but the toilets ruined our stay
We have just returned to from this campsite after a four day stay. The site is lovely and well sheltered. However, our stay was ruined by the toilet situation. They have a long-drop which smelt terribly by the last day of our stay. The site was at full capacity and the toilets were not cleared out during our stay. We were not alone in our views on this site - such a shame.
Response from campsite owner:
Hi Vix – thanks for your feedback. The loos are a constant problem for us. We have very strict planning guidance which prevents us putting in conventional loos. It also prevents us from being able to excavate to build a compost loo which would have sufficient capacity for the number of bottoms, as we would have to have above ground tanks which would need to be very high off the ground. There is also the problem of getting everyone to use the loo correctly. We have had comments from other campers that they prefer our system to composting loos they have used previously. With composting there is the additional problem of removing and storing the waste as it is not safe to bury for 6 months – so we would potentially have tanks all around the farm of waste waiting to be safe enough to bury. The sitting waste can also attract flies and vermin.
When we started with the huts we did use loos with the waste pan in but this also proved to be problematic. If the solid waste does not slide down into the pan of its own accord, people often leave it as a gift for the next user. If this is added to, a pyramid effect forms which also proved to be very unpopular with our guests.
The long drop is a long way from being perfect and sadly when the weather is very warm it does smell (as does any none flushing loo). We have invested in a slurry tanker to enable us to empty the loos ourselves much more regularly as we are no longer reliant on contractors to come in and perform the task for us as they have proved to be unreliable at this busy time of year. We found it difficult to get them to arrive when the service most needed performing. Hopefully this investment will improve the situation.
We are always on the lookout for better systems, we have come across a solar powered compost loo which separates liquid and solid waste (hopefully preventing fermentation and, in turn, the smell), then with the help of the solar powered fan dries the latter (ingenious!). However, this is horrifically expensive and the manufacturers are not sure at this stage whether it can cope with a capacity of more than 4 users. I'm sorry not to be in a position to offer you a more positive answer but, fingers crossed, we can come up with a better solution.
In the mean time I can only offer my apologies for any discomfort caused, and reassure future users that with the new tanker we are now able to empty the tanks more frequently!
Hop Pickers' Wood
We really enjoyed ourselves here for a couple of nights away. It was perfect for a group of three 12-year-old friends, one of whom had never been camping before, to live wild for a bit, away from roads, with water, a fire to build, room to play and with mum in a nearby nook in the woods (think Ewok village - the pitches are all on different levels with tiny solar lights between) reading a book or watching the amazing variety of wildlife. No need for a car with Carole's taxi from Etchingham via the shop. And either steam train or bus to take you out for the day. Glorious.
Hop Pickers Wood
The other half and I were lucky enough to stay here last weekend, (17/18 May) for what ended to being up being an amazing little getaway. Essentially on a trial run with new gear and first camping trip together, this could've been a disaster. However, being greeted by the lovely site owner Anna, we found Hop Pickers Wood to be an enchanting, beautiful retreat away from our busy lives at home. The site was clean, scattered with bluebells and subtly made convenient touches such as tiny solar panelled lighting across the pitches that guided our way to the Shepherds hut which houses some very pretty toilets and showers that were nicer than my own! Bodiam Castle and surrounding towns of Tenterden and Rye are a must. We will be back. Thank you Anna and Nick x
Hop Pickers Wood
We had this campsite to ourselves for a couple of nights, it's probably the nicest campsite i have come across in England. We camped amongst the primroses and bluebells and had clear moonless skies to watch the stars around the fire. It's a short walk along the river to the steam train station and the castle, and a short drive to the farm shop. Ticks all the right boxes for me.
NB, You could backpack this with a taxi from the station if you pick up food on the way or eat out in the village, otherwise it's a couple of miles to the shop. Plenty of firewood at the campsite for a small charge.
Just back from a brilliant night at Hop Pickers. Slightly reluctant to review as would secretly like to keep it just that - a secret. Peaceful, private and scenic with great facilities that encourage the occupants of the 10 pitches to socialise. An open sided shed with brick fireplace and long dining table for wet weather, very cool loos and showers and views and walks to occupy campers until it’s time to gather around the campfire and turn on the fairy lights. As all 10 pitches can be booked at once, it would make a very cool destination for a group of families and friends. Have rebooked for later in the month. Hooray.