We’ve been camping and touring in our sensational south for many years. Here’s a little insight into where we’ve parked our home-from-homes.
Longbeech, New Forest National Park, Hampshire
There are no facilities – but it’s tranquillity is the main part of it’s appeal. Pitch up carefully and you needn’t know anyone else is on the site. It’s just you, grand ancient beechwoods, an abundance of rich green ferns and an iconic New Forest pony or two.
There’s direct access from the site to beautiful heathland and forest walks, as well as the New Forest cycle route. A short cycle ride takes you to Fritham village with its thatched cottages, lake and resident ducks or to the deer sanctuary at Bolderwood where a herd of fallow deer perfect the forest scene.
Tranquil site: perfect for couples or when you want to get away from the real world
Warner Farm at Bunn Leisure, Selsey, West Sussex
Warner Farm is a stone’s throw from the beach at Selsey in West Sussex. Rarely does a touring park have access to the level of facilities, kid’s clubs, activities and free evening entertainment that is on offer at Warner Farm, part of Bunn Leisure.
There’s a mile of beach, takeaways, restaurants, a funfair, go-karts, football pitches and a bar with spectacular views of the Solent, plus a gym and impressive pool complex complete with slides and flumes.
If you’re a fan of evening entertainment, the Bunn Leisure line-up costs just under £2 million per year – and is totally free to any guest whether they’re staying in a luxury cottage or a two-man tent. That makes it great value for camping, caravanning or a break in your motorhome. It also makes it a great option for teenagers who can be hard to please on a traditional family holiday.
This is a very large holiday complex which gets busy and lively in the summer months – pick the time and the facilities which suit you and it has all the ingredients of a great break.
A lively site, most suitable for families looking for evening entertainment and lots of things on park.
Wooda Farm, Bude, North Cornwall
Large well-kept pitches have lovely views of Bude Bay or the surrounding countryside and the facilities are excellent. There’s a bar, a cocktail loft (yes really) and a takeaway.
The beaches of the region are second to none in the UK, and a break in the warmer months has to include lots of beach visits, fishing, body-boarding or surfing.
The area is rich in things to see and do, there’s walking, cycling, horseriding and an outing in the car makes venturing into both Devon and Cornwall simple. Visits nearby include the likes of the legendary village of Tintagel, home to King Arthur, and to the picturesque harbours of Boscastle and Port Isaac (aka Portwenn of Doc Martin fame). Classic west country.
Perfect for: exploring both Devon and Cornwall, beaches, families, couples and dog-friendly outings.
Aldridge Hill, Brockenhurst, Hampshire
For those who can visit in quieter times, and for families with young children, Aldridge Hill near Brockenhurst in The New Forest is a dream. This is a Camping in the Forest site, affiliated with the Forestry Commission.
Looking out over heathlands, a pitch on the edge of the site makes you feel like you’re alone in the Forest, perfect for couples. New Forest ponies graze across the pitches, mist often rolls in on a warm summer’s evening, and herds of deer amongst the heather is a regular sight.
But the site also has a small bubbling shallow stream where camping families gather with children to paddle, swim, fish and splash. Barbecues and picnics. These are the memories which make family holidays so special.
Over bank holidays the site is rammed and attracts groups of families and friends staying together which can make it boisteroius. There are no shower or toilet facilities and the site is only open for short spells in peak time. In 2018 it opens on 24 May – 4 June and then reopens on 21 June – 3 September.
That said, it’s definitely worth squeezing in a visit if you can.
Ideal for: young families, couples, dog-friendly, making memories.
Steeple Leaze, Purbeck, Dorset
Go back to basics at the wonderful Steeple Leaze camp site deep in the rolling patchwork fields of the Purbeck countryside and close to the coast.
There’s a very relaxed approach at Steeple Leaze – turn up, pitch your tent, and sooner or later the farmer will drive by on his quad bike to take payment and offer logs for your open fire.
Perfect for families, children can roam to their hearts’ content, playing in the woods and racing across the open fields of this working farm with its 3,000 sheep and 300 cows. There are also six working dogs with brilliant names like Roy, Doug and Piglet!
Facilities are kept very basic to add to the back to nature feel, and include two toilet blocks with cold water hand basins, three free hot water showers and water taps in the top fields.
The farm is a perfect base to explore stunning countryside – from a day trip to the beautiful arched shoreline of Lulworth Cove to a walk up through the woods to the coastal path, with its spectacular views. Or just stay on site, lie on the grass next to your fire, and gaze up at a vast sky filled with stars. Perfect!
Back to basics: perfect for families who love the great outdoors, beachgoers and the dog-friendly.
Bath Marina, Bath, Avon
If you’re looking for a site which combines a city break with some countryside thrown in, then Bath Marina is an excellent option.
Right next to the River Avon and just two miles from the centre of Bath, the site is wooded and pretty but has a functional flavour with hardstanding pitches and a clean shower block which is accessed work with a code.
But a gateway from the site onto the river pathway takes you to a different world, with water, hedgerows, narrow boats and wildlife. The towpath makes it perfect for cycling or walking and in just a few minutes you arrive at The Boathouse, with it’s waterside garden and ice cold ciders making for an idyllic way to spend a sunny evening.
Alongside the site is a lovely children’s play area and just over the road is a park-and-ride into the beautiful and historic city of Bath with its heritage, arts and shopping.
Lovely for: couples, walking, cycling and a relaxed city break.
Highlands End, Eype, Dorset
Touring at Highlands End is a delight for anyone who loves the great outdoors. Perched on a headland on the Jurassic coast, it has excellent facilities, spotlessly clean shower blocks, a large pool complex and a restaurant and bar.
A walk down the headland takes you to the beach, across to the quaint fishing village of West Bay or to the hamlet of Golden Cap and The Anchor Inn. This is Broadchurch heartland and has all the delights of the region right on the doorstep. Coastal walks, fossil hunting, crabbing, fishing, walking and spectacular food and drink, a foodie’s delight.
Probably best suited for caravans and motorhomes, partly because of the risk of strong winds on the top of the headland and partly because the amenity blocks are quite a walk. But if you’re happy to brave the weather, then you will be monumentally rewarded with awe-inspiring views over Dorset headlands.
See also: Family and dog-friendly break in Dorset
An ideal site for: Motorhomes and caravans, couples, families and foodies.
Swanage Coastal Park, Swanage, Dorset
Nestled into the hills above Swanage with awe-inspiring views across the UNESCO World Heritage Jurassic Coast, Swanage Coastal Park is an ideal base for families and couples.
Serviced camping pitches are set on a level grass terrain and are ideal for either tents or small campervans although caravans aren’t allowed.
There are miles of coastal paths to explore, as well as Corfe Castle, the Swanage Steam Railway, Durlston Country Park, and the ‘Enid Blyton world’ of the Purbecks and Studland. This is a site where exploring outdoors reigns, but The Tank Museum and Monkey World are both just a short drive away, as are Poole, Sandbanks and Bournemouth, via the chain-link Sandbanks ferry.
Swanage, with its town centre and old pier is just a 15 minute stroll away, with sea views, shops, pubs, bars and restaurants.
A great site for: tents, campervans, families and couples who love the great outdoors.
Click here to view locations of the sites we’ve featured.
This is a blog we will keep coming back to so keep an eye out for updates and do let us know if you have any special sites we can feature.