If you fancy getting back to basics and “roughing it” in a tent (albeit with an airbed underneath your sleeping bag to ensure a more comfortable night’s sleep!) then you can do no wrong by choosing to pitch up in the New Forest. There’s an abundance of accommodation on offer, including plenty of campsites, and while many of us appreciate our creature comforts, camping is a whole lot cheaper and perfect for the budget conscious traveller!
Camping doesn’t necessarily have to mean peeing into a hole in the ground and showering in rain water either, as most campsites these days have well-kept toilet and shower facilities. Our chosen campsite was an adults-only place called Back of Beyond, ideal for those who want to hear the pleasant singing of the birds in the trees instead of the whining of other people’s children. Despite children not being welcome guests at our chosen campsite, the activities available in the New Forest are suitable for anyone and everyone. From rest and relaxation, to horse riding, cycling, fishing and nature spotting – there’s something for everyone!
It may sound obvious, but nature is all around you here and this is no more apparent than in the free-roaming ponies and cattle grazing the land, something the New Forest is quite famous for. Great care must be taken around these creatures, make sure that you admire them from a safe distance as these animals are wild and could seriously hurt you if feeling threatened. At the same time, caution must be taken when driving around the area as you could equally seriously injure or kill a pony or cow if it is standing in or crossing over the road, as they so frequently do.
Note: It is an offense to feed the ponies and cattle. It is also an offense to fail to report being involved in a traffic collision with said animals.
One of the most popular activities in the New Forest is cycling. You can bring your own bikes or hire some locally, and off you go! There are many cycling routes to choose from, but if you’re like me and haven’t ridden in a while and don’t feel too safe dodging cars, pedestrians and ponies, then an ideal place to have a bike ride would be at one of the country parks. We stopped off at Moors Valley Country Park where it will cost you around £5.40 per adult to hire a bike for an hour and a half. The downside to Moors Valley Country Park is that you have to pay quite a lot to park your vehicle there but there’s plenty more to do on site such as Go Ape, golf, and even Segway riding, to make the most of your day.
Another place worthy of note would be Lyndhurst, the capital of the New Forest, although we found the traffic getting in and out of the village to be pretty horrendous so instead chose to stop for an ice-cream and spend the morning at the village of Burley where there are pubs, cycle facilities and gift shops, as well as Witchcraft shops celebrating a former Burley resident who was a well-known white witch.
Then, why not pack a picnic and head on over to Bolderwood, where you can savour a pleasant lunch among the tall trees. There are even specially designed picnic tables available which are designed for disposable barbecues to be stood on if you fancied a barbecue lunch – just remember to follow the barbecue code displayed on site. Here you may also enjoy the deer viewing platform from where you can admire the fallow deer that inhabit Bolderwood – some binoculars or a camera with a large zoom lense would be ideal here if you have them.
So, if you’re feeling inspired then what are you waiting for? Pack up, pitch up and just pray that the unpredictable British weather brings you some sunshine!