If you’re looking for a family-friendly campsite in East Sussex from which to explore the county’s many charms, Park Farm Caravan & Camping might be just what you need.
Nestled in 700 acres of farmland, Park Farm Caravan & Camping near the pretty village of Bodiam makes for a restful and relaxing retreat on your camping, motorhome and caravan holidays in Sussex. Caravan Sitefinder went to meet the team behind this campsite – Richard Bailey, the site’s founder, and his daughter Lucinda Fane, the current manager – for the inside line on this popular destination.
“My father and I bought the land as part of a 120-acre plot from the brewer Guinness in 1975,” Richard recalls, revealing the site’s unusual beginnings. “The main field was originally used to house around 500 itinerant hop-pickers, living in corrugated-iron huts. The tall building that survives on the site housed the machinery, and the building that today covers the swings in our playground was a cinema! In around 1978 we were looking at ways of making some extra money and decided to try making a campsite, so we got a licence for 50 plots and I would drive around in a Land Rover with a metal tin to collect the rent.”
Lucinda takes over the story as they explain how the campsite grew into what we see today. “We expanded around five or six years ago and increased the licence to 180 pitches, plus enlarged the washblocks. We now have around 70 pitches with electrical hook-up, and 50 seasonal pitches.”
Something that keeps visitors returning to Park Farm Caravan & Camping is its relaxed informality. “We don’t want to go too far down the ‘smart’ route,” explains Richard. “Our target is families and a large proportion of our visitors are in tents – their expectations are lower than the ‘Caravan Club crowd’, and they love it here. We have lots of people who have been coming for 20 years or more. At one point we had a lot of large groups partying into the night, but now we have a security firm that comes in at around 10.30pm and stays until 2am. It helps people to feel safe.
“I think that the freedom is a big part of the appeal here at Park Farm,” he continues, “and the ability to have campfires. Most of our visitors come from an urban environment, and the idea of sitting around a fire roasting marshmallows is quite a romantic one.”
I think that the freedom is a big part of the appeal here at Park Farm
As is kite-flying, although last year the campsite had to spend £25,000 moving overhead power lines so visitors could fly their kites in safety. “People think that we’re making piles of money, but they don’t realise that it takes a lot of investment,” Richard tells us. “We’re now looking at putting in solar hot-water heating to make sure we don’t run out during the morning rush. But it
“It’s fun, too,” adds Lucinda. “And it’s great for the local community – 70% of the local pub’s business over the summer is our campers!”
Park Farm is open every year from 1 April until 31 October, so what happens to the campsite off-season? “In the winter, the site reverts to sheep and we securely store the caravans for the seasonal pitches in our barns – they usually return to the same pitches at the start of the new season, unless they agree to swap,” says Lucinda.
And it’s the amount of return business the Richard is most proud of – it’s a testament to the quality and desirability of the campsite. “We still have people visiting who stayed here in the Guinness days,” he says. “We have one lady who was actually born here in one of the huts. The staff are loyal, too: the people who have started an on-site café here this year used to be our caretakers!”
Charming for its friendliness and simplicity, this much loved campsite is in a perfect location for exploring both countryside and coast. So next time you’re searching for somewhere to pitch your caravan, motorhome or tent in East Sussex, why not give family-friendly Park Farm a go.
Park Farm Caravan and Camping,