Is there a more perfect way to enjoy your weekend than sleeping under a vast starry sky? Anything more delightful than going for hikes and bike rides, spotting deer and red squirrels? More tranquil than tottering along gushing streams as you enjoy pony trekking in the New Forest? No, there simply isn’t! As one of the biggest remaining tracts of unenclosed pasture land, heathland and forest in Southern England, the New Forest is a delight waiting for you to explore. It spreads across southwest Hampshire and southeast Wiltshire, and has been a royal forest since William the Conqueror featured it in the Domesday Book. Why should your next camping trip should be to the New Forest? Read on to find out!
#1 Pony Trekking
One of the best ways to emerge yourself in the natural beauty of the National Park is through pony trekking through the New Forest. This allows you to take routes deeper than any other form of transport, and see more than you could’ve on foot due to the increased pace. With over 3,000 New Forest Ponies roaming the stunning landscapes and numerous centres to choose from, organising your trekking trip will be easy. So go and pick up the bridles, decide to map a route or let yourself be surprised, and go explore this magical part of the country.
Here are some of the riding centres in the New Forest to get you started:
#2 Walking Routes
Exploring the various New Forest walking routes could easily fill an entire week of your holiday. They span the entire national park and allow you to immerse yourself in both the dense woodlands as well as the adorable villages dotted around. We’ve managed to choose two of our favourites, to provide you with a long distance and short stroll option.
The Avon Valley Path route is a great 34 miles in total, taking you from Salisbury to Christchurch on the South Coast. Your journey begins at the magnificent cathedral in Salisbury (which you should definitely explore first) and then heads south towards Downton. You travel through Woodgreen and Godshill before reaching the lovely Hampshire town of Fordingbridge. This is a great place to stop for a bite to eat or even rest and continue the next morning. The following section takes you along the River Avon to Ibsley, passing through the Blashford Lakes, where you’ll probably spot some wildlife! Finally, you proceed to follow the river into Christchurch, where you’ll finish at Christchurch Harbour and Priory. A long journey, but a great one!
A far shorter walk is the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary route, a 1 mile stroll around the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary. Here you’ll find a huge herd of fallow deer, which you can observe from the viewing platform overlooking the meadow where the deer congregate. The deer fed daily by the Forestry Commission keeper, ensuring a large number of them in the early afternoon. Once you’ve had enough time with Bambi and her crew, you can enjoy one of the other graded walks starting here. We recommend the Lyndhurst Circular Walk, which takes you past the Knightwood Oak - the largest oak tree in the New Forest and oldest at over 500 years old!
More details on the New Forest walking routes.
#3 Red Shoot Camping Park
Looking for family friend camping in the New Forest? Then look no further than Red Shoot Camping Park. This family run park aims to create the perfect getaway for other families. In the midst of the magnificent forest, you’ll certainly appreciate their modern and clean facilities. This also allows families to enjoy rustic camping without the few disadvantages usually present - like being unable to shower for a week! Situated behind the charming Red Shoot Inn, a delicious pint or roast dinner is never out of reach. Other facilities on site include a shop and bakery, a children’s play area, laundry room and disabled access facilities. They are also proud to be the David Bellamy Gold Conversation Award, Trip Advisor Award for Excellence 2014-2018 and the Gold Loo of the Year Award! They are certainly a delightful reason to pack up the car and head over to the New Forest! Did we mention that they’re dog-friendly as well as child-friendly?
Prices range from €18-30 for a pitch/night, dependent on the season and whether it is the weekend!
#4 New Forest Lavender Farm
A visit to the New Forest Lavender Farm ensures a tranquil and sweet smelling afternoon for the whole family. You can enjoy a stroll through their gardens, with the delicious scent of lavender filling your nose throughout. Even your dog is welcome in the garden, as long as they’re kept on a lead! At the Lavender Nursery green thumbs can purchase additions for your own garden from an immense variety of lavenders, perennials, herbs, roses and grasses. If the weather turns grey, as is custom in this rainy country, you can take shelter in the Tearoom. Their menu is entirely homemade, based only on available produce and local ingredients. Be sure to try their scones, which are wildly scrumptious and will have you picking up a few more for the drive home!
There is a reason why Brockenhurst was voted ‘Britain’s Most Beautiful Place to Live’ by Leaders Estate Agent, as this is a village that you simply must visit. It is surrounded by the enchanting New Forest and Lymington River, and their backyard is filled with ponies, deer, donkeys and cows. It had the largest population of any village in the New Forest, and dates back to the Saxons. We believe every family camping trip to the New Forest should involve at least a day trip to Brockenhurst.
Here are a few of the things to do there:
Bike the Brockenhurst to Rhinefield 8 mile cycle route, along the Rhinefield Drive. You can rent a bicycle at Cyclexperience, located at the railway station car park, which will also offer a variety of cycle route suggestions suitable for various cycling abilities.
A truly delicious walking route, perhaps the tastiest in all of Southern England. The South Taste Trail is a 7 mile route snaking around a variety of pubs and tea rooms, as well as the New Forest Cider shop!
Pop by one of the many independent shops on Brookley Road (the Brockenhurst High Street). There are numerous shops here, selling everything from groceries to souvenirs to antiques!
Visit one or two of the village churches. The most popular ones are the Church of St Saviour and the Church of St Nicholas. The latter is the only remaining church in New Forest mentioned in the Domesday Book, and is actually the oldest church in the New Forest.
Your family camping trip to the New Forest now awaits you! You can make it as busy as you want it to be, and make the most of constantly breathing in the beautiful fresh air, a true escape from everyday stress and bustle. Now you just need to organise a motorhome to travel there and pitch in, which Goboony can help you with! As a motorhome rental platform, we’ll get you in touch with a private owner for a reliable, safe and fun trip. Need a way to keep the kids entertained while camping? Read how in this blog of camping activities for kids!