Call of the wild…

Call of the wild...

What sparked the idea for setting up your Caracol Camping venture?

I’ve always had a great love of nature and enjoy the outdoors lifestyle and fortunately my husband Ade shares this passion too. So, after many years of talking about it we decided to take the plunge and make our dream a reality.

What was the timescale on the project?

Originally we thought this would happen later in life when we’d both given up work and bought a suitable piece of land. But when the pandemic hit I took voluntary redundancy from my job and put the wheels in motion to see if I could make it happen sooner than originally thought. And so the idea of creating a unique and special place that guests could share our love of the outdoors was born!

people running in a field


How did it all come about?

We are avid watchers of Countryfile and there are always a lot of conversations about farm diversification. With this idea in mind I approached the local National Farmers Union newsletter and asked to place an ad, asking if anyone was keen to have a conversation about setting up a glamping business.

So which local farmer agreed to help you out?

To our delight Michael Bourne from New Park Farm and Groombridge Farmshop got in touch to say that he might be interested. We met straight away to discuss our ideas and how we could move this forward. Michael explained he had a fallow three-acre asparagus field in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that we could set up in. It was absolutely perfect for the style of relaxed yet luxury campsite we wanted to create.

How long did it take to get the relevant planning permission?

It took 18 months to get through planning but we did it without any objections from the local community, and are delighted to be able to offer our idea of glamping to people in this stunning part of the world.


Lounge area

You had to meet a lot of environmental criteria, can you tell us about this?

Our decision to create a wildflower meadow ticked a lot of boxes as did the planting of local cobnut trees. We have also put up bird and bat boxes to encourage nature to the field. Our ecology report also noted that there were badger sets situated in the woods, so our tents are set the required distance away from these so as not to disturb them.

It’s very much a glamp site as opposed to a camp site with lots of bespoke furniture. Was it part of your vision to have a unique feel?

Yes. Key to our set up and build was to upcycle and re-use wherever possible. We were fortunate to find scaffold boards which we made into benches and bedside tables as well as packing wood that we sanded and used to refit the established barn on site. A lot of the furniture has been sourced from local charity shops and online social groups.



When did Caracol officially launch and what’s its USP?

We opened the site in mid-June and will be open until the weather breaks in the autumn. With stunning views over the Sussex countryside, we’re located in a wild meadow field on a working farm so guests can enjoy local produce that is grown just metres away from the site. The site is also a safe place for guests to bring children and allow them to enjoy playing in the field and an opportunity to break away from technology. We have also created separate areas to relax in the form of the cosy barn and our stretch tent- both fabulous areas to enjoy and be comfortable in all weathers.



Landscape images Camping

How did you choose the name for your business?

We wanted a name that was memorable and that had meaning to us. We enjoyed a holiday to Belize once and explored Caracol which is a large ancient Maya archaeological site. After further exploration we discovered the name means ‘spiral’ shape which is similar to a bell tent, hence the decision to use this as the name for our site. The team at Big Orange Media did a fantastic job of bringing this vision to life with our brand design.

Tell us about your affiliation with Groombridge Farmshop?

It’s wonderful to be partnered with the team there as they are an incredible support to us. The collaboration also offers a unique opportunity for our guests as they can pre-order hampers from the team there and enjoy all of the incredible local produce that they offer. Hampers will be delivered directly to the tents and guests can enjoy a short walk to enjoy exploring the plethora of goods that they offer.

What other key things can people do and see without having to jump in a car while staying at Caracol?

In addition to enjoying a wide variety of walks directly from the site, there is the Spa Valley Railway where guests can get a train to the High Rocks or intoTunbridge Wells. We also have a fabulous range of pubs that can be reached on foot including The Hare in Langton Green, The Junction and The Crown in Groombridge and a slightly further afield but still walkable are the gorgeous villages of Fordcombe and Penshurst.


Glamping Bed

How has your first season gone so far?

We have had a very positive reaction from our initial guests – everyone loves the cosy, carpeted tents, and have said how comfortable the beds are! The field is a very peaceful place for rest and relaxation, with beautiful sunsets and night skies.

We also have brand new showers too and so are keen to spread the word both locally and further afield in order to offer like-minded people a truly magical stay at Caracol.




Prices start from £85 per tent, per night for a mid-week stay and £95 per tent, per night at the weekend

Insta @caracol_camp

Facebook @caracolcamping



Photos © Hannah Robertson

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