The Best Wild Camping Spots near the South Downs

The South Downs are a range of chalk hills boasting stunning views. From the Itchen Valley of Hampshire in the west, spreading to the east at Beachy Head in Eastbourne, there's over 260 square miles of beauty to explore.

Devil's Dyke National Trust Car Park

Devil's Dyke Rd, Brighton, BN1 8YJ

Park up for the night at the far end of the car park, with a sweeping view of the South Downs, and an assortment of other campervans for company. From here you can enjoy Downland walks, explore the old ruined fort, glimpse the sea and watch Brighton light up at dusk. You could even book a meal in the Devil’s Dyke pub. The car park is pay-and-display (free for NT members). If the weather is fine, this is a fine place to watch the sunset.

Pyecombe BP Service Station

Pyecombe, West Sussex, BN45 7FJ

Fill up with fuel, use the free cash point, shop in the garage's Simply M&S store and drive a few hundred yards northwards on the slip road parallel to the A23, and park up for the night beside the road, with the lorries and other campervans. Yards away is The Plough, a fantastic pub serving reasonably priced food and takeaways. Free night stop.  

Bury Hill lay-by with a view

One of the most scenic drives along the South Downs is the B2139 from the A29 towards Amberley. If you stop in the lay-by almost at the top of Bury Hill for the night, you’ll have spectacular views. Don't forget to visit Whiteways Country Park Cafe and picnic area on the A29/A284 for breakfast! (Free car park, open 8am-6pm.)


Left: Ashdown Forest, East Sussex
Above: St Ives campsite

South Downs Way Firle Beacon Car Park

Lewes, BN8 6LR

“Our first wild camping spot when we got the campervan was Firle Beacon. We had no problems at all. Panoramic views of the sea and the Downs. This grass and gravel car park is a popular but unofficial overnight stop for campervans. There are no facilities and the car park is a bit bumpy in places.”  Carol and Ken, NV200 CamperCar owners.

Ashdown Forest

“There are official campsites but  also 40 car parks in Ashdown Forest. Some people do stay overnight in their campervans, tucked out of sight, because the car parks are officially closed after midnight.” Angela

For Ashdown Forest campsites see www.ashdownforest.com.

St Ives Farm Campsite

Butcherfield Lane, Hartfield, West Sussex, TN7 4JX

Campfires permitted in existing firepits and there's chopped wood for sale. There are fishing lakes and 3 camping fields, with a shower block, washing up facilities and extra portakabin toilets. Winnie the Pooh fans will love exploring Hartfield (plenty of pubs), and Pooh Sticks Bridge. 

£10 per night (adult); £5 per night (child).

 

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Kate Taylor

Job: Journalist and Writer

A travel expert and a passionate writer with a creative spark, Kate has specialised in writing about campervans since 2008. Kate has worked for magazines such as Motor Caravan, Caravan, Practical Caravan and Practical Motorhome.