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Woolsbridge Manor Farm Caravan Park, Winborne

We had planned an ‘activity weekend’ for the end of the school summer holiday as it was our son’s 7th birthday and he loves outdoor activities, so were heading to the western edge of the New Forest with a shortlist of 3 campsites to visit and fun plans for both Saturday and Sunday mornings.

We left Reading around lunchtime on the Friday and headed South-West at a very leisurely pace, stopping for lunch in the near Lyndhurst and arrived at the first campsite around 3pm.

Woolsbridge Manor Farm Caravan Park was our first choice being closest to Moors Valley Country Park where we had booked a Junior Go-Ape adventure the following morning, and just 20-30 mins from Mudeford Quay where we would need to be early Sunday morning.

Young’un up a tree!

It was the last weekend of the school summer holiday so would likely be busy, which is why we had some backup sites to visit if needed, but thankfully they could squeeze us in and we were very happy they could.

Woolsbridge Manor Farm is a well maintained, fairly structured site with a well equipped shower/toilet block, small site shop, lots of water points and a decent children’s play area. Better still, there are several cycle tracks accessed from gates at the rear of the site that lead to Moors Valley Country Park were there is plenty to do and see, especially if you have young’uns with you.

They also have a mobile fish and chip van that visits on a Friday which made an easy job of our evening meal. We sorted Tallulah out on her pitch and unhooked the bikes to explore, getting back in plenty of time for fish and chips and an early night ready for Saturdays activities.

We were up early on Saturday and after a hearty breakfast we headed off on our bikes once again, this time with a packed lunch and lots of snack and drink provisions for a busy day. After a long ride around the tracks at Moors Valley, we stopped for a well earned lunch before locking up our bikes and pulling on some tree climbing kit for the Junior Go-Ape adventure.

There are plenty of Go-Ape sites around the UK, but only a few with a Junior Go-Ape course that allows children as young as 6 to participate (you need to be at least 10 to enjoy a ‘regular’ Go-Ape adventure) and Moors Valley Go-Ape is one of these.

Moors Valley Railway

After an hour or two of monkeying about in the trees, we were back on our bikes exploring more of Moors Valley along one of several cycle routes and found ourselves at the Moors Valley Railway – Britain’s longest narrow gauge railway – and went for a ride.

That was more than enough exercise and excitement for one day so we took a more leisurely ride back to the campsite, fired up the BBQ and settled down with an ice-cold drink.

The next morning we were up early, packed and ready to leave by 9am on the short trip to Mudeford Quay to take part in our next adventure, a 3 hour kayaking tour of the bay and Christchurch harbour booked with Shoresports.

We arrived in plenty of time to put the kettle on and tuck into bacon and egg sandwiches prepared the night before, then squeezed into some wetsuits – part of the Shoresports package – and listened to the safety briefing before setting off across the bay in kayaks.

Image courtesy of Shoresports

It took a little less than an hour to cross the bay and join the deeper channel heading into Christchurch harbour, but the deeper water and outgoing tide made the next part much harder so it took another hour to get to the mouth of the river Avon.

A quick loop around a section of the river, including a tricky crossing of the current where the river splits, led us into a much easier return journey and we were back on Mudeford Quay a little over 3 hours after we left, exhausted but also very pleased with our exploits and ready for a BIG lunch and the journey back to Reading.

We had a great, fun packed weekend, especially our young’un and it only took a few days for our soar arms to recover. We’ll definitely be doing it again!

Dubs in the Forest, New Park Manor, Hampshire

Dubs in the Forest was the first VW event we were due to attend this year, an event organised by the New Forest Dub Club and held in at the New Forest Showground at New Park near Brockenhurst.

We made good time heading South, arriving at the site at around 6pm and found ourselves a quiet corner suitable for us and the two other Brazilian campers who would arrive a little later.

Preparing supper in the sun!

Despite the wet weather that had been forecast – we’d dodged a few showers on the way – the evening turned out to be dry and bright although the clear sky did mean we were in for a chilly night. The other campers arrived and the field slowly filled, and we sat around a picnic table chatting and enjoying the sounds from the entertainment marque at the other end of the field.

Saturday morning started well with our normal breakfast and tidy up routine, but rain soon arrived so we donned our waterproofs and went off to investigate the trade stands and displays.

Dubs in the Forest is a relatively small show, although it gets bigger each year, so there were only a few trade stands to look at. That said, there was a good selection and several we’d not seen before, so great to have a good look at everything they offered.

There were a few displays and activities organised, and although the weather was trying hard to interrupt things, everything went as planned and those who braved the conditions (including us!) enjoyed them.

We treated ourselves to fresh baked pizza for lunch, thanks to the Great British Pizza Company then headed back to our campers to catch up with a few other Brazilian camper owners who had come along as day visitors for a visit.

The weather continued to worsen into the evening, but there was a great band playing in the entertainment marque and a supply of good beer from the bar so everyone continued to have a good time.

Packing up in the rain

On Sunday morning it was obvious just how much rain had fallen over night and several of the campers (mostly T4 and T5s!) struggled to get out of the field. A few needed ‘extra’ help and one or two needed to be pulled out with a 4×4. I’m pleased to say that all the Brazilian campers made it out of the field without any problem although they would all need a good clean to remove splattered mud!

Once packed up we joined the cruise through the New Forest to Lepe beach, the route had to be altered due to local flooding and only half of the car park at Lepe was available for the same reason, but lots of people stopped to look at the convoy and once again everyone had a great time.

Looking forward to Dubs in the Forest 2013 and hoping for better weather!

The Inside Park, Blandford Forum, Dorset


Loaded & Ready

Although we’ve been out and about in Tallulah already this year this was the first opportunity we’ve had to go camping. We had plans to meet up with some friends on the Devon/Somerset border but as it was the Easter weekend we decided to take our time and break up the journey with an overnight stop in Dorset, on the western edge of the New Forest.

We left around midday heading almost directly South-West via Andover and Salisbury, at a very leisurely pace and arrived at the camp site in a little over 2 hours. We had chosen the The Inside Park due to it’s open woodland location and large adventure playground, ideal for our 6yo son, and it didn’t disappoint!

Adventure time!

The site is set well back from the main road along a narrow tree lined lane, within the gently undulating grounds of the former 18C Down House Estate with around 120 pitches, most with EHU. The reception, toilet and washing block is all housed within the former stables, along with a games room containing pool and table tennis tables and the surrounding grounds are very well maintained.

We hadn’t booked in advance – which might be an issue in peak season – so we were allocated a pitch with EHU roughly in the centre of the camping field and set about levelling and plugging in. The large adventure playground entertained our 6yo for ages, returning to us only when hungry. We then cycled 2 different mountain bike trails (maps and trail guides provided at reception) and properly wore him out so we would all have a great nights sleep.

Tallulah's new friend Thomas

Other features:

  • Well maintained toilet, shower and washing up facilities.
  • Indoor games room with pool and table tennis tables and table football.
  • Picnic benches, free to use and relocate next to your pitch.
  • On site shop well equipped with all the normal ‘essentials’.
  • ‘Late arrivals’ area so the remainder of the site remains undisturbed after 10pm.
  • Take away menus available at reception for the local delicacies of Blandford Forum!

If you are looking for a relaxed, child friendly site on the western edge of the New Forest then I can highly recommend The Inside Park, just minutes from Blandford Forum.