Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Knepp Safari

West Sussex, UK. Wednesday/Friday 26/28-June-2019

We were already intending to be in the UK for the end of June and beginning of July which happened to include the weekend of Glastonbury festival. We pre-registered and then Mary forgot to go online when the tickets went on sale. By the time we realised they had sold out. Not to be put out we went glamping anyway.

We had read about Knepp through an article in the papers and were intrigued enough to pre-order Wilding: The return of nature to a British farm which turned out to be a fascinating read. Then our friends Grant and Helen went glamping there and highly recommended it. So Glastonbury Plan B was a couple of days walking in the West Sussex countryside.

Charlie Burrell inherited the Knepp Estate and was unable to make it commercially viable using intensive agricultural techniques. In the end he sold off the cattle and the equipment and let nature take its course. Assisted by gradually releasing various larger mammals: Longhorn cattle, Tamworth pigs and various species of deer. The end result is a huge explosion of the entire food chain from fungi, insects, butterflies, birds and small mammals. Many previously not seen species appeared or returned. Read more on their Rewilding site.

They make their money from, amongst other things, selling prime organic beef, hosting events and eco-tourism (glamping, camping and wildlife safaris). Unfortunately the butterfly safari was the only one scheduled during our stay and was booked out so we made our own entertainment by going on various walks using the map that Knepp provided. Our tip for anyone thinking of going would be: plan well ahead around the availability of safaris.

Entrance to the campsite made out of old antlers.

Main building incorporating farm shop, showers, and do-it-yourself porterage using wheel barrows to carry your luggage to the huts.

This was my first experience of glamping. The shepherd's hut that we booked turned out to be more like a cross between a shed and a tin hut. Bijoux and compact it certainly was. The bed extended the width of one end of the hut, at the other end space for a small stove and a couple of chairs.

The "bedroom".

The "living room".

Catering was in a communal glamping kitchen where our fellow glampers would meet whilst making their morning tea and coffee and having breakfast.

The recycling bins had rocks on them to keep out the overly bold squirrels.

There was a shower block if the weather was bad but we took advantage of the good weather to use the outdoor bath and showers. Open to the sky but the water was plenty hot enough.

The first day immediately we dumped our stuff we went for a walk and saw Longhorn cattle, one of the ponds, an eel trap, and a small herd of deer. Our route took us past the ruins of the old Knepp castle, the current castle, a well preserved windmill and down some lovely country lanes. There is the River Adur and a couple of large ponds to add to the variety of habitats.

An excellent supper and great service in the nearby Crown pub at Dial Post.

Longhorn Cattle.


The ruins.

Close up of the ruins.

Hammer Pond.

Eel trap.

The next day we did a morning walk to a local pub for lunch. I got to see the third category of the large mammals, the pig!

We also saw bonkers amounts of butterflies: loads of Meadow Browns, some Red Admirals, Painted Ladies, Commas and Marbled Whites.

After lunch at the George and Dragon at Shipley it was a leisurely loop back for a bit of a siesta.

Mill pond.


Supper was estate-produced venison sausages and lovely, fresh veg from the Sussex Produce Company barbecued on a grill made out of an old Tractor wheel.

A great couple of days adventure. As they say in the reviews, "We will be back".

No comments: