Canopy & Stars Collective // Knepp Wildland Safari

This week I got to spend 2 days in Sussex at Knepp Wildland Safaris courtesy of Canopy and Stars as a new member of their outdoor collective. 

My camping trips tend to be a lot quieter, a lot rougher and a lot higher...camping proper with none of the glamp! But I'm certainly no stranger to C&S hideaways, having opted to stay in several of their places since 2011, when what I really  fancy is the outdoors with a bit of luxury. Certainly, having a few creature comforts is something I can't resist when I have lots of thinking work to do, and I find that my stays with C&S have always been inspiring because of that. So I was thrilled to start working with them this week !

Having previously stayed in a yurt and a boatshed, I asked if i could be planted in a shepherd's hut for my stay, and I was happy to discover on my arrival that I was to be installed in the Longhorn Hut (after the cattle roaming on site), complete with log stove, comfy double bed and lots of lamps, cushions and rugs to make the whole thing impossible to leave. 

But as with all my outdoor wanderings (shack, tent or cabin) the real highlight for me is what's going on outside and I was thrilled to learn that Knepp Wildland is a major low-land rewilding project here in the UK, where thousands of hectares are returning to the wild under the leaves and feet of many now-very-rare flora and fauna. Along with red, roe and fallow deer roaming amongst the abundant Sallow willow, they've also brought back Longhorn Cattle and Tamworth pigs as proxies for auroch and wildboar. They've reintroduced meanders back into the river system, watched water violet flourish and now boast the UK's most significant populations of the extremely rare Turtle Dove, Purple Emperor Butterfly (their logo!) and Nightingales. 

A safari round the southern end of the site (with their lovely in-house ecologist Penny) takes you to the nearest you'll get to the African Savannah in the UK, and from tree platforms you can watch water birds amongst the reeds and red kites over head. 

Back on site, the camping options range from huts through yurts to a giant tipi with an equally giant tree bed and there are many hot (and quirky) outdoor showers, toilet stops and open air, fairy-lit, antler-covered cooking areas. The food on site is all locally sourced and if you're that way inclined you can eat venison and tamworth pig from the estate itself. The staff are interested and inspiring through their commitment to the project and it's all just a bit of a dream really!

I feel very lucky to have seen Knepp and have a whole raft of ideas forming on how the site could be used for mindful outdoor therapeutic retreats, but that's a whole story for another day. In the meantime, get yourself to Knepp if you're interested in this new world of rewilding 'conservation' - it won't disappoint! You can book your stay through C&S here!