On Thursday evening, at the end of an afternoon of rain, we wove our way across West Sussex to the Knepp Estate, at the invitation of our friends Charlie Burrell and Isabella Tree.
The occasion was a party for the launch of Isabella’s new book ‘Wilding’ in which she charts the story of how Knepp became one of the most important and interesting environmental projects in the UK today. The event was being thrown at their magnificent, award-winning glamping site: Knepp Safaris.
We wrote about the Knepp camping enterprise when it was launched in 2014, but had never seen it up close and personal, so we made sure we had a really good look around whilst we were there!
The Book Launch Party
The camp site is entered through a dramatic archway of antlers! Dotted around the rest of the site are other naturalistic arty pieces.
Despite the weather there was a great party atmosphere helped along with complementary cocktails.
The BBQ crew serving Knepp burgers provided pugnacious humour…
…whilst a lively band pumped out familiar pop numbers with a steel drum twist.
Here is Isabella Tree (right) signing books prior to her talk.
A tour of the glampsite
This is camping at its best. Dotted across the site are beautiful little shepherd’s huts and stately yurts, each with its own unique character, porch, picnic table area and BBQ. Some are situated in the woods, others in wildflower meadows; The newest tent, we were informed, is up a tree! That we wanted to see.
Fortunately, it had been arranged that there were no campers on the night of the party, so we could all have a good nose around. Considering the weather and the failing light of gloaming I managed to get some half-decent pics.
Shepherd’s hut ‘Tamworth’
All of the huts are decked out with comfortable beds, chairs, wood burners and coffee pots. Click on this panoramic view to see the interior of ‘Tamworth’ in all its glory! (BTW The panoramic pics are worth clicking on to view the enlarged version)
Shepherd’s hut #2 ‘Longhorn’
Another Shepherds hut which like all the accommodation here comes with all mod-cons. Set amongst wild flowers at the edge of the wood, this one is named after the famous Sussex longhorn cattle that roam the marshes at Knepp, creating habitats and biodiversity as well as providing the best meat on the planet.
This compact bijou is Tardis-like: On the inside they have managed to fit there is a double bed, sofa, wood burner, cloths trunk, lantern and two chairs!
Shepherd’s hut #3 ‘Exmoor’
Named after the ponies that roam wild across the estate, this hut is tucked out of the way in the copse. A perfect get away for a writer?
If you prefer a traditional canvas experience there are also luxury tents like this one. Here’s me standing on the decking that cleverly keeps the tent off the cold ground.
The New Tree Yurt ‘Tawny Owl’
Visitors were keen to check out the latest addition to Knepp Safari accomodation.
Here’s the view from the tree-top platform: the perfect location for someone seeking their higher nature, perhaps?
The ‘Bathenon’: bathing area
Knepp camping provides everything you need for make your sojourn into the wilderness as comfortable as possible:
The shop has everything you need to make your stay easy and memorable: firewood, breakfast baskets, BBQ meats, hot and cold drinks, a social area, toilets and showers…
Knepp Safaris have won multiple awards for their Safaris and Glamping, and quite rightly so.
The whole story of Knepp is one of transformation. Before 2000 the estate was a conventional farm – based around intesive agriculture – which almost never turned a profit.
What Charlie and Isabella have achieved in just under two decades is not only one of the largest rewilding projects in the UK, but also a profitable estate. Gone are the farm machinery and mono-culture wheat fields. In its place wildlife has returned with extraordinary rapidity attracting scientists and environmentalists from all over the world, and winning praise from English Nature who see it as an example of the way forwards for conservation in the UK.
Isabella’s book charts the fascinating story of how the farm was turned around, how nature returned and how semi-wild herds of farm animals, including pigs, cattle, deer and ponies, have recreated something of the ancient ecosystems of Britain.
Find out more…
You can experience the wonder of Knepp through Isbella’s new book, by visiting Knepp for a Safari or a short camping break. Or you can get hold of some of their meat which is just extraordinary.
- The Book: Wilding – The Return of Nature to a British Farm, by Isabella Tree
- Knepp Safaris and Camping
- Knepp Wild Range Meats
- Knepp Rewilding Project
Rewilding Knepp Video