Despite its name, the wooded parkland of the New Forest is a very old and well-established area of natural beauty. It has been a popular place to live, work and relax for hundreds of years. The Forest was first proclaimed a Royal Forest in about 1079 by William the Conqueror. It was, however, only given “National Park” status in 2005 covering an area of 218 square miles.
We often travel down to the New Forest and Bournemouth for a weekend as it’s only a couple of hours in the campervan. My favorite campsite is Setthorn because it’s inside the wood so you get a full New Forest experience.
How to get there
The New Forest is about 60 or 70 miles drive down the M3/M27 from the South West of London. However, it’s the A31 that takes most of the traffic across the Forest, so it can get quite congested. We often take a small road towards Minstead. This route avoids Lyndhurst, which is a lovely market town, but can get very busy. The road snakes down through almost single file roads with donkey’s and cows wandering freely. It passes through quaint country cottages and local pubs, driving through Emery Down until you reach the A35 at the Swan Pub at the heart of the Forest.
Where to stay
There are lots of laybys and carparks along the road, however, wild camping is illegal in the New Forest. There are lots of campsites in the New Forest, and several pubs that will let you park a campervan overnight if you are eating in the pub. The Red Shoot Camping Park is worth booking in to, especially as the food at The Red Shoot Inn is top notch! If you do want to find a pub to free camp, have a look at the Park4Night website. Ones that we are aware of are, The Filly Inn, The Crown Stirrup, and the New Forest Inn.
What to see/do when you are there
The villages of Lyndhurst, Brockenhurst, and Christchurch are nice to visit and easily accessible. As well as the wonderful beaches of Mudeford and Bournemouth. Personally I think they are some of the best beaches in the country. If its not beach weather and you fancy a driving slightly further afield, its worth going to Corfe Castle. The castle was established by William the Conqueror around 1066. Although it was partially destroyed in the English Civil War, the ruins give a real sence of its former glory. While you are in that part of the world go and see Durdle Door, part of our Jurassic Coast. You may have seen it on TV, or on the countryfile calender, but its somethig else in the flesh. Because The New Forest and the surrounding area is such a beautiful place it’s a very popular part of the world. Especially in mid-summer. so its worth booking ahead.