Beach campsites in Friston Forest with campfires

A sweeping beech-studded woodland within the South Downs makes for a blissful south coast escape.

96% (312 reviews)
96% (312 reviews)

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Beach campsites in Friston Forest with campfires guide


Protected as part of southeast England’s South Downs National Park, Friston Forest sits just inland from the unbelievably beautiful white-chalk Seven Sisters cliffs and picturesque Cuckmere Haven beach in East Sussex. A handful of well-marked hiking, cycling, mountain biking, and horse riding trails meander off into the beech trees, while scenic picnic and barbecue areas as well as charming pubs can be found in the villages of Friston and East Dean. For campers, family-owned farms, thrilling clifftop sites, and the grounds of graceful country manors offer idyllic pitch-up spots, while water sports abound all along the nearby coast.

Where to go

Seven Sisters Country Park

One of coastal England’s most superbly scenic stretches, this 280-hectare park ripples across the Cuckmere River valley, chalk grasslands, and the undulating, salt-white Seven Sisters cliffs, west of Eastbourne. A challenging branch of the South Downs Way tracks up and down along the clifftops, with dazzling views across the channel.

South Downs National Park

Beyond the Seven Sisters area, the South Downs roll northwest all the way to Winchester, taking in chalk-dusted hills, gorgeously green landscapes, lively market towns, and, of course, superb country pubs. Adventurous souls can go hiking, cycling, horse riding, and even paragliding, while campsites, glamping pods, and caravan spots pop up everywhere from riverside farms to cliffview coastal parks.

High Weald AONB

England’s fourth-largest AONB packs in 580 square miles of Sussex, Kent, and Surrey countryside sprinkled with ancient castles, gardens, and mansions. Go kayaking across lakes, hike along the escarpment, explore the sprawling heaths, and try paddleboarding or sailing with a wealth of delightful glamping, camping, and caravanning sites to pick from along the way.

Kent Downs

Inland from Kent’s chalk-dusted coastline (where dynamic towns such as Folkestone, Margate, Deal, and Whitstable await), the Kent Downs AONB delivers almost 350 square miles of centuries-old beech woodlands, scenic farmscapes, and windswept scarps. It’s a wonderfully refreshing natural space for hiking, horse riding, and cycling with view-splayed trails including the long-distance North Downs Way. This also makes it a popular on-the-doorstep escape from London, so you’ll want to book that secluded pop-up farm campsite well ahead.

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