A rural bolthole, our private meadow offers easy access to the stunning South Downs Way as well as the cultural highlights and heritage of Brighton, Arundel and Amberly.
Skoolie Stays is based at Thakeham, West Sussex.
Our private site in West Sussex is nestled just below the South Downs National Park, in a secluded spot surrounded by lush green fields, ancient woodland and rolling hills. It is the perfect space for a unique, off-grid experience.
Whether you choose to hike or bike in the South Downs, picnic at the National Trust’s Warren Hill Park, tour Arundel Castle or meander through the copse to visit the 16th-century pub in nearby Thakeham village, there is plenty to keep you busy.
There is of course plenty of reasons to do none of that. This is your chance to switch off and immerse yourself in nature for a few days. String up a hammock and watch the kids play in the trees, watch the sun rise and set from the private deck or just settle in and have a nap in front of the flames of the log burner.
Extending for 87 miles from Winchester in the West to Beachy Head at it’s eastern end, the South Downs is a range of hills of outstanding natural beauty. Every year, thousands walk or bike the entire South Downs Way, following the crest of the rolling hills. Many more walk sections of this great walk at their leisure, using public transport to return them to their start point.
“The Downs… too much for one pair of eyes, enough to float a whole population in happiness, if only they would look”
– Virginia Woolf, diaries
Walkers can also choose to walk east towards Chanctonbury Ring, an Iron Age hillfort that was later used as a Roman religious site, or west towards Amberley and its 900-year-old castle. Whichever way you go, if the weather is in your favour you will have fabulous views of the Adur Valley.
You’re in the country. First thought: food and drink!
For those that want a lovely British pub, you will be pleased to hear that you are spoilt for choice.
The closest pub, The White Lion, is approximately one mile away and can be reached by foot. For those on the hunt for a heritage pub, look no further – this cosy spot was an original coaching inn, built in the 16th century. Thankfully the menu has moved on to a more modern fare with locally sourced, seasonal food, fantastic wines and usually a few real ales on tap. In summer you can enjoy the South facing patio and gardens, in winter the fireplaces!
A little further away, in the village of Storrington (2 miles from the bus) has a selection of bars and restaurants. The Moon is our preferred pub – it serves a great burger!
A little further away in Amberley (6 miles), there are a couple of great options. A favourite of ours is The Sportsman, with its lovely conservatory overlooking the stunning Amberley Wildbrooks Nature Reserve. We also love The Black Horse, which is beautifully decorated with amazing fireplaces and a view into the kitchen, so you can see the Head Chef cooking up your dinner.
The White Hart at Stopham Bridge (6 miles), and the Black Rabbit in Arundel (14 miles) are also great options. Both are incredibly picturesque and sit alongside the river, with delicious menus.
Not everyone wants to eat out, so the Skoolie Stays bus is fully-equipped for happy cooks to create their own culinary delights. The Village Larder (3 miles away) is full of tasty farm shop and deli treats, while Storrington has more mainstream supermarkets.
And what to drink? Beer lovers can choose from a host of local producers. We love the award-winning Arundel Brewery and local legends Greyhound Brewery Wine lovers have several great vineyards close-by with award winning wines from locals vintners such as Wiston Estate or Kinsbrook Vineyard. We can even organise a selection of wines and beers to be ready for you in your fridge to enjoy on arrival. Cheers!
The great outdoors is a happy place for adventurous kiddos and we have a few books and games hidden under the diner chairs that will help you make the most of your time. But if you want more, more, more, fear not….
Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre is a 36-acre open-air site dedicated to the industrial heritage of the southeast. Little kids will love taking a ride around the Museum on the narrow gauge railway and historic bus and big kids (oh alright, parents!) will find the old vehicles and traditional work of the woodturners, wheelwrights and blacksmiths, fascinating.
Arundel offers lots of opportunities for family fun. Arundel Castle is situated in magnificent grounds overlooking the River Arun. It runs a busy calendar of events that will appeal to the whole family. If meandering around Arundel’s quirky shops and pubs is more your thing, this treasure trail around the city should keep the children engaged. There’s also the Arundel Wetland Centre, which showcases wetlands habitats for wildlife and wildfowl from around the world and has all sorts of wildlife-themed activities for young people.
For older kids, there is also the opportunity to visit Brighton or Worthing (only 30 minutes by car).
Arundel Castle is not the only local highlight. West Sussex is steeped in history and heritage. Roman villas, ruined Tudor Mansions, stately homes with beautiful gardens – you can take your pick!
If you’ve got some energy to burn, keep it simple and get on your bikes and hit the trails all over the South Downs. Or take to the air, with the local flyers. Nearby paragliding experts Airsports Paragliding and, closer to Lewes and Eastbourne, Fly Sussex, can take you up to catch a thermal and see this beautiful area from the skies.