When planning an escape from work or city living, you want a serene setting for your adventure into pastures new. The New Forest is a lovely place to recoup with the family, with plenty of idyllic spots where you can pitch up and wind down in the peaceful surroundings of the woodland.
As you’re scoping it out, our Aldridge Hill campsite might be the best base for doing and seeing everything you’re desperate for. Situated close to Brockenhurst, under the shade of the trees, this naturalistic campsite has a myriad of pleasures in store, if you know where to look…
So, let us knit a plan of action together for three unforgettable days!
Day 1 – Exploring flora and fine eating
Aldridge Hill stands in the southern half of the New Forest, a short distance from Brockenhurst village. Most of our campers choose it for the trickling delights of Blackwater Stream and Ober Water, which means the first hour or so can be spent getting your bearings, from the riverbank to Whitefield Moor close by. Set a picnic up, tuck in, and refresh yourself after the drive.
Then it’s time to strap on those walking boots – this site is at the cusp of several trails that weave across the heath, groves and grassland. You can take the Red Ober Water route (lasting a couple of miles) from the Whitefield Moor car park, following the signs as you go. Alternatively, bike enthusiasts may want to cross two and a half miles east to Balmer Lawn, where the Short Standing Hat trail – 8-16km long, depending on how far you go – is a cyclist’s dream.
You can head the other way, of course, up to Rhinefield Ornamental Drive. A 10-minute car ride will take you to some of the tallest, oldest trees in the Forest, where you can follow a level path to the Blackwater Arboretum. Here, you’ll see more unique tree types gathered from around the world. Make a gentle tour of the area before giving into dinnertime at last…
For food, check out The Snakecatcher in Brockenhurst: a gastro pub with a difference, as you can cook meats yourself with a hot rocks grill at the table! Enjoy locally sourced grub with a wash of ale or wine to lubricate your return to Aldridge Hill, where you can bed down with a warm belly.
Day 2 – Birds, beaches and man-made beauty
For your second day, try to stir from your sleeping bag early to make the most of the morning. Once you’ve fuelled up and gathered the troops, hop in the car again and motor to Crow Lane. That’s where Liberty’s Owl, Raptor & Reptile Centre is situated, after a half hour’s journey beneath the leaves.
It’s fun for all ages, since you’ll be eye-to-eye with owls, eagles, vultures and a host of critters that’ve been rescued or conserved by forest initiatives. Take snacks, since you can recline on the benches by the café, and soak in all the sights around you.
From there, get back on the same road, heading over to Bransgore, a tiny community at the Forest’s edge. Stop off and browse the market stalls or keep going, all the way to Highcliffe Castle, one of the most impressive pieces of Roman architecture in Great Britain. The main tours close at 4pm (or thereabouts), but you can wander the gardens, and the incredible topiary, until evening. However, we’re adding this as a two-hour slice of your itinerary – the whole drive, from Liberty’s Centre to Highcliffe, is only 20 minutes.
So, where to next? Assuming the weather is up to snuff, carry on down to Highcliffe Beach. There are high, bright stretches of ancient rock to explore, as well as water sports if the season is right. Pubs and coffee shops look out to the ocean, where you might just be able to catch a glimpse of the Isle of Wight if the skies are clear!
Book ahead for a seat at The Paddle, a little further on Lymington Road. It’s open till 10pm Thursday-Saturday, and the mouth-watering menu speaks for how busy it can be. Get your fill before gearing onto the A35, arriving at Aldridge Hill once more for stories by the campfire.
Day 3 – A final dab of wildness
After you’ve gathered everything up, and trussed your tent in the boot, embrace those final hours in the New Forest with an active pursuit or two. A horse or pony ride at the Brockenhurst Stables is a popular choice, as the area is renowned for wild equestrian herds. Kids can get a taster session, or you may ride as a group, clopping along the fields as you take in the views.
As noon arrives, you might be keen for a spot of golf – the New Forest Club is perfect for a swing and a stroll. It’s right above Lyndhurst, from where you can reach the Wildlife Park in ten minutes or less. If you have time to visit the park, prepare to be holding your jaw with one hand, ensuring it doesn’t fall at the sight of bison, red deer and otters roaming across the gorgeous grounds.
Now you’ll be nearing the end of your trip… A final treat might be a quick jaunt to Southampton, nosing around its eateries, high street and cultural delights. It’s a mere seven miles from where you’ll be, so there isn’t a big detour, especially since you’ll be on the road home soon, running over a hundred great memories…
So there you have it: a three-day plan that will live long in the storybook as the New Forest fades in the distance. We hope you’re feeling inspired for an escape – book a place at our Aldridge Hill campsite to start planning your great getaway today.
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