Camping in South Downs – Wild Camping Tips & Campsites

South Downs is one of the most stunning national parks in all of England, with its high chalk cliffs resembling Cliffs of Moher, wonderful sea air, and lengthy walking routes. Other than its natural beauties, South Downs is well-known for its historical importance and cultural heritage. This area is beloved by outdoors enthusiasts, and that’s why we highly recommend camping in South Downs!

In this post, we will share the best time to go camping here, some excellent camping spots, and how wild camping works here. Without further ado, let’s begin!

Best Time For Camping In South Downs

South Downs National Park is located in the southeastern part of England, close to its coastline. This part of England is well-known for much more sun than the hinterlands of England, but don’t forget – you’re still in England!

The ideal months for camping in South Downs would be from March to June and in September. In the spring period, the temperatures are mild, there is medium rainfall, and fewer crowds to worry about. Early autumn has less rain and crowds and very similar temperatures.

If looking for a bit warmer weather, July and August are okay months, but keep in mind that they get quite a bit more rain than May and June, as well as more crowds. Still, the sunny days can be pretty epic!

Avoid camping in South Downs in late autumn and winter altogether. This is the time of the year when the infamously harsh English weather kicks in. Also, most of the campsites close down during this period.

Best Camping Sites In South Downs

South Downs is one of the most popular hiking and walking spots in England due to its slew of picturesque sights. Thankfully, many official camping sites here are quite affordable and are a great way to experience this national park!

Here is the map of the best campsites in South Downs!

Let’s see what campsites South Downs has to offer, shall we?

1) Graffham Camping & Caravanning Club

This peaceful campsite is located deep in the South Downs, near the historic Petworth. It is certainly the best campsite in South Downs if you require peace that rivals the wild camping experience.

It includes all the facilities you need, such as:

  • Toilet and showers,
  • Electricity and gas
  • Free WiFi

The parcel prices start from £7.35, but you can check more on the prices over here.

2) Holden Farm Camping

If you are looking for some of the best campsites for stargazing in South Downs, the Holden Farm Camping is an ideal choice. This family-friendly campsite is surrounded by farmland, providing an authentic atmosphere.

It includes facilities such as:

  • Toilets and showers
  • BBQ equipment
  • Electricity

For prices, check out their official site.

3) South Downs Eco Lodge

This peaceful campsite is fully enclosed by woodland, providing natural shelter and privacy for your camp.

It has got:

  • Toilets and showers
  • Electricity
  • Cafe
  • Gift shop
  • BBQ equipment

The prices of this campsite are pretty affordable too, starting from £13 per person.

4) Manor Farm

Just 100 meters off the main trail is this lovely family-run campsite. It is very close to the small village of Cocking, to which it provides a breathtaking panoramic view.

From the facilities, there is:

  • Toilet and a shower
  • Shop and bar in the nearby village of Cocking

The prices for the Manor Farm campsite start from £10 per person.

5) Morn Hill Caravan and Motorhome

This campsite is located just outside Winchester, a town at the northwestern entrance to the South Downs. It is divided into two main areas and segmented by trees to provide privacy.

Morn Hill Caravan and Motorhome is full of facilities, including:

  • Toilet and a shower room
  • Electricity, gas, water
  • Laundry and dishwashing,
  • WiFi
  • BBQ equipment

Check the prices for this campsite over here.

Is Wild Camping In South Downs Legal?

is wild camping in south downs legal?

Wild camping in the UK is forbidden by law in England and Wales, but it’s not controlled in Scotland. As South Downs is located in the southeastern part of England, the restrictions for wild camping apply in this beautiful national park.

From an official perspective, wild camping in England is forbidden on private land without permission from the landowner. Being that South Downs is mainly composed of private farmland, wild camping there is essentially forbidden. But, as in most other countries in Europe, there is a catch.

You can virtually wild camp legally in South Downs if you manage to get permission to camp from the landowner. Regardless of that, many hikers attracted to the beauty of South Downs decide to wild camp here without asking for permission. Most of them don’t get caught because they stick to some commonalities, which we will break down in the next section.

Tips & Gear For Wild Camping In South Downs

Wild camping tips

If you want to avoid getting caught by the authorities while wild camping in South Downs, you should be wary of a few things.

First of all, choose a discreet place for your campsite. Stray away from the main trails and settlements. You don’t want many hikers to see you wild camping, as there are numerous official campsites scattered around the national park.

To avoid unnecessary attention, ensure that you set up your tent at dusk. Dismantle it as soon as dawn breaks.

Last but not least, make sure that you leave no garbage behind you. After all, you want to respect the wonderful nature and show a good example for other wild campers.

What gear should you prepare for wild camping in South Downs?

Southeastern England sees much more sun than the rest of the country. Still, it can rain a lot there. Make sure to prepare ahead with a lightweight, water-resistant tent fit for backpacking.

We’ve got you covered with our list of best tents for heavy rain!

As South Downs is mainly a hiking area, a thermal yet light sleeping bag will be the best choice for you. Make sure to one-up the water resistance with water-resistant clothes too!

Lastly, get a portable cooker if you want to cook fresh coffee, tea, or a meal to keep you full. Campfires are a no-no in South Downs. They can easily give away your wild camping spot, and you don’t want too much attention while indulging in illegal activities!

P.s. if you don’t have a cooking equipment, here is a nice list of no-cooking camping meals.

Summing Up

South Downs is truly a special place, and camping in this wonderful national park only elevates its special status. While there are plenty of official campsites scattered about, it is possible to wild camp here, even though it’s technically illegal.

But, if you prepare and behave accordingly, you should be safe while enjoying South Downs!

In case you’re looking for more camping spots around the world, we’ve covered these so far:

About Antonio

I’m Antonio, a passionate traveler, and outdoor lover who’s running this website. I started this site to share my passion for camping, traveling, and bikepacking.

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