SkoolieStays

From Firle to Beachy Head

After an incredible first season, it was time for the Skoolie to hit the road again

Last week we moved the Skoolie to our new location at Beachy Head. The sun was out and the drive over Seven Sisters, past the silvery swirls of the Cuckmere river, was stunning. As we drove through small villages, cars honked us and people waved, thrilled by the sight of an American yellow school bus on their road. We felt pretty happy. Our last Firle guest had given us a 5 star review, continuing our run of lovely feedback from guests,  and a news alert had popped up to tell us that not only had we featured in the i newspaper as an autumn break, we were in the Guardian travel tips for winter glamping too.  Not bad for a first season!

 

 

But what comes next?

All the fun at Firle

A fantastic first season on the farm

Skoolie with sheep
Life on Firle's busy farms was always interesting

We moved to Firle Estate, near Lewes, in June. They were keen to try glamping and we were more than happy to move into their beautiful spot (all 7000 acres of it) that spans the South Downs. We got some strange looks as we turned down the tiny lanes in our enormous yellow bus, but we are used to turning heads on the road – everywhere we go, people stop and stare!

 

We were given access to three locations across Firle and guests had access to some incredible rural locations, gorgeous sunsets and delightful walks across the Estate to reach the array of pubs, tea-rooms and farm shops that were on offer.  The glowing reviews suggest they loved it!

An amazing and unique experience. We stayed in Skoolie for two nights at the end of October and from the grown ups to the little ones we were all amazed by Skoolie’s charm and coolness. As a family we loved our time together playing American monopoly and reading books kindly provided whilst only getting distracted by the pheasants running around in the field. The location was great and was close for visits to Beachy head and Brighton. Thank you to Guy and Ruth who were helpful,good at communication and great to deal with. Would highly recommend a stay in Skoolie.
Paul Walker
Paul Walker
04/11/2021
My husband, daughter and I spent 2 nights in Skoolie during October, and it was perfect from start to finish. The bus has been designed in an incredibly clever way which makes it feel cozy and homely, while still creating enough space for each individual. Beds are gloriously comfy, shower and toilet make perfect use of the space available and are user friendly without fault. Kitchen is practical and once again showcases careful thinking and planning so that it’s small enough not to be in the way yet also accessible and useable. There was absolutely nothing lacking in this bus for our short break. The wood burner was super toasty and heats the whole bus in no time. We used the drop down balcony at the back of the bus constantly, lovely place for a brew and to read, again it’s a brilliant size to relax in comfort. Cannot fault the communication from the owners, professional yet also personal. Easy to contact, and gave clear and informative instructions. A really exceptional and special place for a break, we feel really privileged to have been able to stay here. Thank you.
Emma Paling
Emma Paling
23/10/2021
We had a great weekend in this super cool skoolie bus. Set in the South Down hills, there are plenty of walks to enjoy if you feel like it. Inside, the decor is spot on! Really well thought out with nice touches. The bed was so comfortable, the kitchen has everything you need and the little veranda is great to enjoy some evening drinks on. Loved it!!
Lorraine Salvi
Lorraine Salvi
16/10/2021
Amazing escape in this American school bus. Full of thoughtful touches and brilliantly laid out. This is a mini boutique bolt hole perfectly positioned for walks on the South Downs and close to fantastic pubs, Charleston and Lewes. The kids adored it and we loved that being off grid didn't feel like a compromise at all with solar lights & hot showers!
Shehani Fernando
Shehani Fernando
27/09/2021
Had a brilliant few nights here, the bus was super clean and tidy! Everything you’d need for a staycation, also good access to areas such as Brighton and the seven sisters. Would go again.
Natasha Pretlove
Natasha Pretlove
23/09/2021
We had a fabulous,fuss-free and comfy break. The location is great- rural but with the ability to shoot to Brighton for a city experience. The decor was excellent. Would recommend.
Laura Burgess
Laura Burgess
22/09/2021
Such a beautiful space… thoroughly recommend … and such a natural TV all around… so many pheasants …. Well needed time out ! ….
Sophie Green
Sophie Green
20/09/2021
We had a wonderful few days staying in Skoolie. The bus is beautiful and felt so relaxing to live in - and the location - and surrounding area of Firle are lovely to explore - with lots to do very locally. We would love to go back and hang out in Skoolie again!
Katherine Paine
Katherine Paine
17/09/2021
We stayed on the bus as part of one of our wedding gifts.. it was by far the best gift we received. We loved staying there. Not only is the bus amazingly well crafted, from the beautiful kitchen top to the fantastic bunk beds, the location is brilliant too. We are already planning our next visit. Thank you for such a lovely stay!
Jon Thwaites
Jon Thwaites
15/09/2021
Amazing place to stay and so many lovely details on the bus, beautifully kitted out and with stunning views of the downs. Gorgeous!
Andrea James
Andrea James
31/08/2021

Moving on to something new

 

So why have we left? Well, all good things must come to an end. Our agreement with Firle was created so that we could offer off-grid camping on unused farmland. But no corner of a farm has empty space for long. Sheep had to be moved to different fields, rams separated, crops cut, seeds sown and shooting traps set. As our booking calendar became increasingly busy, it became a complicated process trying to work out where and when we could move.  

 

We made the decision to try and find a new location. We wanted one that offered us the same level of access to the stunning South Downs, with some equally great eateries and activities on our doorstep, but that also felt off-grid. We also wanted to increase our outdoors offering to guests. At Firle we had to be mindful of crops and farm buildings . For our new location, we wanted space for kids to run around and adults to set up hammocks or sit around a firepit to toast marshmallows.  

Bringing an iconic vehicle to an iconic location

where to stay near beachy head

As soon as Visit Eastbourne showed us Black Robin Farm, we could see the potential. Our own field with views of the sea, less than a mile from the stunning white cliffs of Beachy Head and the South Downs Way, within walking distance of Eastbourne’s amenities.  It was perfect. 

 

The Visit Eastbourne team were just as excited about the idea of moving the Skoolie as us. For them, our tiny home offered tourists and residents an opportunity for high-end glamping at one of their most visited tourist destinations. It also fit their vision of an environmentally-conscious glamping solution, it’s solar panels and sheep’s wool insulation making it a year-round option for those who like to escape without abandoning all the comforts of home . Besides, they had fallen in love with the epoxy countertop and the big bug-eye mirrors by then!  

 

We are already live on the Visit Eastbourne site and will soon be coming out in their accommodation brochure for 2022.  

From one location to....almost nowhere

Skoolie tow
The Skoolie makes a graceful exit from the muddy field

The day came for the big move and we turned on the engine. As the revs turned over, we surveyed the first obstacle – getting out of the field. Firle had received an obscene amount of rain over the past few weeks and our spot, at the bottom corner of a field, had been getting boggier and boggier. Normally, wellies suffice to get you through a muddy field, but you can’t put those on a 14-ton vehicle.  

 

As soon as we tried to manoeuvre out of the field, we found our wheels spinning. Disaster. Or it could have been. Luckily for us, the farmer is lovely and sent one of his boys down with a tractor to tow us out the field. Problem averted! 

But first a little pit stop....

Applying Lanoguard rust treatment
Applying Lanoguard rust treatment

During the initial build, our friends at Lanoguard had sponsored the application of their chemical-free rust treatment, derived from lanolin, to the bottom of the bus. Knowing we were off to the salty sea air of Beachy Head, they offered to reapply, suggesting we park up at Newhaven Beach so they could film it for their social media.

 

A stop-over by the beach? Who could resist!

 

After cleaning the underbody of the bus at a local garage (it was pretty muddy!), we parked up at the beach in time for sunset. It was lovely down by the water, listening to waves lap beside us. It reminded me of the times we parked on the beach in Texas at Padre Island. Sigh.

To the distant cliffs!

View of skoolie and cliffs
The Skoolie with the cliffs at Birling Gap behind us

The drive to Eastbourne was the furthest we would had driven the bus ourselves since it arrived. Each bus is built to different specs – some are good for the mountains, others are better for the cities. Our Florida bus was one that stopped and started a lot – i.e. it didn’t get up much speed. There also aren’t many hills in that part of Florida. We could see the cliffs looming over Seven Sisters. How would it fare?

 

Thankfully, it was fine. It chugged slowly up the hills and descended gracefully! We made it to Eastbourne’s heritage coast, via the single file bridge at Cuckmere Valley, and one of the most beautiful views over the snaking Cuckmere river. We had no trouble with the field, not a bog in sight – I guess when you are a the top of a cliff then the water runs down!

Safely in our new home

View from skoolie beachy head
Sucking up the solar at Beachy Head

We are now happily parked up in our field at Black Robin Farm, the deck down for sunset drinks and morning coffees. It really is a beautiful spot and we feel very lucky to have access to such a stunning part of the South Downs. 

Tempted by your own Skoolie Stay? Get in touch and we can get you booked up!