What makes Britain special? It’s a question that crosses lips more than you might realise, but we always point to the New Forest – and its wide, historic splendour – as a poster-child for what’s worth retreating to.
Anyone seeking a break from the city will have a great time at our Holmsley Campsite. Hunkered in the South West of the wood, it’s ripe for a family getaway: there’s much to see, do, and savour, from herds of wild ponies to a fab range of venue visits for kids and couples.
Planning your trip to the New Forest this year? Strap on that shoulder pack, but don’t worry about the itinerary; we’ve got that covered! Here’s our three-day plan…
After driving down to Holmsley campsite via the Forest roadways, it’s likely that you’ll want a few minutes to spread yourself out on the grass, and have a cold drink or two with a partner or child-in-arm!
Before too much of the afternoon slips by, head east and make a stop at Brockenhurst. This is one of the quaint, iconic villages in the heart of the New Forest which is well worth a visit. From Brockenhurst, carry on to the Beaulieu River at the far end of the wood, where it borders Southampton. You can send your children or other half off in a canoe to burn off any remaining energy just before the sun sinks to the hills.
When you’re back at camp, gather everyone and strike for the Carpenter’s Arms pub in Christchurch. Here you’ll find a plush seat to rest on, and a menu boasting the finest lamb cutlets and apple pudding. Get your fill of food and local ales before sauntering to the tent once more, aching with a sense of achievement!
This time, you have the whole morning at your disposal… Wake your group early, for an invigorating march up to Highcliff Castle. It’s a relic of our past that must be seen to be believed: you’ll be able to stroll around the topiary garden, weaving in and out of the beautiful grounds before the main doors. Tours are open till 4 o’clock on a Saturday, so there’s no rush to have a nose about, but we suggest beating the weekend crowds if you can.
The castle is within shouting distance of the coast; you and the kids will be gasping for a swim if the weather’s scorching, and there’s all the reason in the world to lie back on the sand to share a thermos flask as the clouds scud by. Avon Beach is the first you’ll come across, but the neighbouring Hengistbury Beach is another hotspot. It’ll sandwich you between views of Christchurch Harbour and the Isle of Wight, which shimmers ahead like a mighty stone.
Grab an ice cream, some chips, or a round of lemonade at one of the many seaside bars. Then move north and cross the River Stour, where you’ll rock up to the Red House Museum, one of the greatest standing marvels of 19th century British architecture.
At this point, the light will be dimming again. We reckon it’s the perfect period to hit the campsite once more, huddling around toasted kebab sticks and sweeties. Holmsley has a lot of fields to explore; a storytelling session with a torch, while the stars burn overhead, sounds like an incredible end to your second day.
Before you say ‘goodbye’ to the New Forest, make day three one to remember. Today’s destination is a 20-minute drive – it’s the fabled Clay Studio, which can teach your kids how to paint, model a decorative pot and craft some treasures for the journey home!
There’s a café for adults, if you aren’t too keen on messy fingers. Chill there for two hours, and do a rain check. If the weather’s playing nice you can go to the Christchurch Castle & Norman House. When the sun’s hitting the brickwork, it’s a sight to cherish – the structure dates back to the 1100s, a symbol of the New Forest’s kudos with wannabe time-travellers and historians.
Then, if you have time, have a walk through Christchurch itself. Admire the parks and sailing masts, and spend half an hour or so in the Bournemouth Aviation Museum, for a slice of history to take away.
And so, with the curtain almost drawing on your trip, you’ll be ready to trundle on up the A338. It’ll take you along the westward flank of the Forest; enticingly, there’s an awesome gastro pub called The Bat & Ball en route. You’ll find it at Breamore: there are classics like chicken and leek pie to gorge on, as well as Bakewell tarts and butcher’s meat chosen specially from local farms.
How’s that for a recreational escape? Your rural holiday, whether with friends, a loved one or a pack of smiling kids, won’t let you down now that our itinerary is yours to draw on…
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