Sometimes on Fresh Air Fix, I come across places to stay that are just a little bit special. Places that are a bit different, and enhance your connection with the great outdoors in some way (yes I’m getting a bit hippy now…).
I want to share my discoveries with you and find out about the people who run them, so this is my new ‘places we love’ section. Feel free to share your UK accommodation discoveries as well, whether it’s a campsite, farm, tipi, eco barn… you get the idea! Just let me know what you think is so special about it, I’ll do the research, and you will be credited as one of my FAF spies!
So first off, FAF wants to stay at… Hidden Spring Vineyard (and campsite).
Wine buffs and foodies take note. On David and Tamzin Whittingham’s smallholding in East Sussex, they not only grow three types of wine on their 3 acres of vines, but also produce organic ciders and juice from their apple and pear orchards. “We had never intended to have a vineyard” says Tamzin when I ask her what led them to run an English vineyard. “We were actually looking for a smallholding/ small farm with holiday cottages, or space to put yurts on – and in Devon. We kind of got a little lost on the way!”
When they found Hidden Spring, they decided to combine the wine and cider production with a small campsite and yurts, and enlisted the help of local winemaker Roy Cook from Seddlescombe Organic vineyard near Eastbourne, to lend a hand. “Roy has been incredibly kind with his advice and patience, and must take a large amount of the credit for what we produce.
The grape varieties they grow are mainly Germanic which are more suited to the English climate, but the production process is not without its problems. “Certainly there is an interest in English wines, the problem for us is less the climate than the cost of producing the wine” adds Tamzin. “We have produced a white wine over three seasons that has been very popular, the rose slightly less so, and the red has now matured and again sells well but we have only managed to produce the red one year.”
Despite the unpredictability of the wine business, David and Tamzin have plenty to keep them busy, including a productive vegetable garden, sheep, ducks, chickens, a pony, two dogs, a kitten and two small children!
The campsite they have created is relaxed and family friendly, and campers can pick a spot overlooking either the vineyards or the orchards. Enjoy one of their wines whilst listening to the crackle of a campfire (fire rings are provided with the camping pitches), or for something a bit more elaborate, try one of the two furnished, family-size yurts with double beds and wood burners, a tipi or even a geodesic dome! Pitches start from £12 per night and yurts from £50 per night. More information and rates can be found at www.hiddenspring.co.uk (01435 812640).