In the warm south-west breeze, the New Forest is swaying, welcoming campers with its open branches. For centuries it’s been used to purge the rush and hum of urban life – and we reckon you should take a trip yourself, with family, friends or your partner, as the opportunity comes into view…
There are over 570km² of woodland to explore, not to mention some fabulous local activities. Two of our campsites in particular – Ocknell and Longbeech – are close to the core of the New Forest, with lots to do and see in the vicinity.
At first, you’ll be weaving through the New Forest roads, marvelling at the scenery. But as the yews, hollies and redwoods press around you, you’ll come to the middle of the A31, the wood’s main route. That’s where – on a slight northern turn – Longbeech and Ocknell are located. Drive in, be greeted by site staff and choose your pitch.
Soon enough, you’ll have shaken off those car ride cobwebs, and be seeking some adrenaline for the rest of the day. So take a stroll around the immediate area, getting your bearings and whatnot, before heading on the A31 once more – this time, to Paultons Family Theme Park. It’s around a 20-minute drive from either campsite.
Kids will love it for the swings, candyfloss and Peppa Pig rides. Adults, meanwhile, have some ace rollercoasters to test out, as well as penguins, shows and a 4D cinema. We’d advise arriving at the theme park no later than midday, as the park closes at 4.30 or 5pm, depending on the date.
When you’ve had your fill, another appetite will be growling – namely, the one in your belly. On your way back, stop off at the village of Cadnam, which boasts a handful of lovely eateries. The finest might be The White Hart, a gastro pub serving classic dishes with local ingredients from the New Forest. You can pull up a stool by the fire afterwards, and quench your thirst with a selection of cask ales. The perfect end to your first day, don’t you think?
Day two is all about making the most of every second you have. Cook up one of our easy breakfast recipes, get everyone together, and prepare for some unforgettable creature spotting.
We have two choices here: you can either head north-east to the edge of the wood, for the Forest Falconry Centre, or go south where the famous Deer Sanctuary is tended by an on-site keeper.
The Falconry Centre is around 5 miles away – a short 15-minute drive away by car. The deer grounds, however, are even closer, if you’d prefer to walk the distance. In any case, you’re in for an unforgettable experience, as it’s invigorating to feel the weight of a bird of prey resting on your arm, or to see animals grazing in the long grass.
After you’ve gawped at the magnificence of these creatures, drive a few more miles to the Blackwater Arboretum. Basically a trail stretching from Blackwater to Brock Hill, with various other routes tailing off, it’s a perfect dose of calm, letting you stroll under some of the oldest Douglas fir trees in the UK. The ground is low and even; there aren’t many stiles to hop over either, making it a great activity for all ages and abilities.
What next, you ask? Hit Lyndhurst Road for half an hour, and throw yourself into the Burley Village Witch Tour! Think of it as a stimulating quest to find what made this community so tied to magic and monsters… You get a leaflet, and a bunch of clues, but the rest is up to you. It’ll take around two hours to complete, just in time for a high-class dinner at the nearby Burley Manor.
Once you’ve re-fuelled from the activities, it’ll be time to head back to camp. Rest up, and save strength for the last slice of New Forest treats.
On your last day we recommend you embark on a slow, steady amble through the deepest parts of the New Forest. Pick your way through Brockenhurst, stopping here and there for a bite to eat. Stay on a southern course till you emerge at the port town of Lymington.
The St. Barbe Museum & Art Gallery is a short distance from the town’s sporting field. There you’ll learn about smugglers, the Victorian railway, and maritime painting, all of which are pinned on its coastal heritage. If the weathers good take a walk on the beach around Highcliffe and Barton-On-Sea to stretch those legs before the journey back home.
Got a little time left on the clock? Stop off at Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum as you head out of Lymington; it’s only around 20 minutes from the town. There are dozens of classic bikes to gawp at; Sammy himself, a former racing champion, might give you a demonstration on the race track if you’re lucky. Just don’t get any ideas for the drive!
And that, as they say, is that! Follow this itinerary, and you’ll be chugging home with a trunk full of memories, fresh from the gorgeous New Forest. Feeling excited? Book your place at Ocknell or Longbeech campsite to get the dates you want today.
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