Nestled among the trees is a place to be off grid, with an ever present smell of embers from the fire warming the water for a bath. It’s just a short drive from Brighton and the perfect place to reset, even just for a night.
The term micro-holiday is fairly new but it’s certainly not a new thing to take a night out here and there in a new town or city. What I love though is the concept of taking the faff of actually getting somewhere away and enjoying all the benefits of escaping day to day life while being able to fit it in into a tight schedule. I’ve spoken about weekends camping locally for this reason but camping comes with it’s own organisation - making sure you have all you need to cook and wash in any scenario. Sure you could book a hotel or AirBNB but its the feeling of being in the true outdoors that does it for me. So when I recently discovered Canopy & Stars it was a lightbulb moment for me - you can find a local a cabin, yurt or something of the like, throw a jumper or two in a bag and pick up food and drinks supplies en route. Sure, it’s a bit poodle glampy but when you’re burning out and need a break who cares?!
I had happened upon Walk Wood Wagon though work recently and I was enchanted by it. With no wifi and a beautiful Swedish outdoor bath to sit and drink bubbles it makes for a perfect getaway for a night I knew I had to come back with Simon and Monty and experience the wagon as a staying visitor, not least because the weeks prior to the stay were swallowed by a house move and stressful deadlines for us both. We opted to arrive at the wagon on a Sunday night of a busy social weekend and both take a 3/4 day off on the Monday - this way we didn’t have to lose our admin day (a lite version of an admin day happened when we got home around 4pm) and we got to enjoy a mini break. It really reminded us what’s important in life and we came back feeling connected and refreshed.
For disclosure - I knew the wagon would be perfect for this blog and with that in mind arranged a stay in exchange for some photos so this was a gifted stay.
Walk Wood Wagon sits in 14 acres of ground within an area of National Outstanding Beauty. It’s just a 25 minute drive from Brighton (in good traffic) and 50 mins or so from South London - north of Lewes near North Chailey. All full location details will be released if you book the wagon.
The wagon is equipped with pretty much all you need apart from food which can be stored in the supplied coolbox. Plentiful wood, kindling and matches are also supplied. There’s a powerful camping stove and enough crockery and cutlery for two. There’s a flushing loo, towels and of course the incredible bath.
In walking distance is the beautiful Sheffield Park, The Bluebell Railway and this walk through Sheffield Forest. It’s also a very short drive to one of Monty’s favourite walks on Ashdown Forest. Absolutely don’t miss the garden of curiosities and wine cellar to the left as you come into the driveway of Sheffield Park - it’s an absolute gem and the chap running it is extremely knowledgeable about his dusty bottles of wine - be sure to take cash though!
Things to do
As well as all the above I recommend just relaxing at the wagon - it’s totally off grid and you need to give yourself time to enjoy the beautiful Swedish outdoor bath (which is most definitely not for a labrador who has been digging in an old cow trough). It takes a while to heat up so recommended to get the fire started early! Knock about the wood, read a book, light some fires, cook some food on the included gas hob and generally enjoy being off your phone.
How to book/the cost
You can either go to Canopy & Stars and book there or go direct to the website. At the time of writing this a nights stay at the wagon was around £170.
In the days running up to our stay at the wagon we were both stretched with work and house renovations so while I would have loved to have made it to a farm shop for some earthy produce to stay in the woods we had to make a stealthy pit stop at M&S Food and do a grab and pay! So we ended up getting creative with what we could. In the end it all worked out beautifully and we had two lovely meals in the wagon.
We started with a few cans of Good Things Brewing Co Pale Ale to mark our arrival at the wagon. This ale is definitely a favourite of ours with their off grid, sustainable brewery - achieved by using raw ingredients and recycling and reusing (everything from water to grain)
Dinner was cooked while we waited for the Swedish bath to warm up - it was a simple dish but definitely hit the spot. I decided on the classic heritage tomato, mozzarella and olive oil salad (seasoned with salt and pepper) to accompany mushroom and truffle ravioli dressed with simple greek basil and olive oil, then dusted with parmesan.
Breakfast was crispy sourdough warmed on the stove using a buttered frying pan, topped with smoked salmon and loaded with Simon’s amazing scrambled eggs. I’ve never managed to get my eggs as good as his but the deal is to heat butter to a high temperature in frying pan or large saucepan, whisk some eggs in a bowl, drop into the hot pan, immediately turn the heat down and then carefully fold with a spatula until cooked through.
Formally Emma Gutteridge