Parts & Accessories

Pedals and Ponies

24th November 2021 | Andy Torbet and Bex Biggins
We’d discussed heading to a National Park in 2021 as one of our family adventures. Our first plan was to head up to my home stomping ground in the Cairngorms for a few weeks during the summer. However, work and the continued COVID restrictions on movement ruined that grand idea and left us with the October school holidays as our only window. But those holidays are only a single week-long, and the road trip to North Scotland and back would leave us little time to enjoy the National Park. So, we decided to re-locate a little nearer home and make the best use of the autumnal time of year.
Our Adamo parked up at the Camping and Caravanning Club’s Holmsley Campsite.

The New Forest has been a haven for wildlife and a destination for tourists for centuries, but it was only designated a National Park in 2005. In fact, it has received some form of management and protection since it was declared a Royal Forest in the 11th Century. Resting against England’s South coast means its weather was going to be a little milder than that we’d encounter in the Highlands. The autumn colours would be in full force across The Forest, and there was plenty of wide-open space for the kids to roam.

 

I’ve learned over the years not to get too organised with family holidays. To try not to pack too much in or arrange activities for the kids every morning and afternoon. They tend to be most content on the beach, in a pool or riding their bikes, and they’d happily do the same things twice a day every day. So, apart from a visit to the Caving and Climbing Experience in Bournemouth, we spent our time investigating the landscapes of the country’s largest unenclosed area of forest, heathland, and pasture.

 

The majority of The Forest is level, and any hills are short and gentle, making it the perfect place to take young children for walks and cycling. Our youngest used the trip to master riding his bike solo and would be out on the large grassy area next to our Adamo in his Pyjamas, warming up before breakfast. We spent the week at the Camping and Caravanning Club’s Holmsley Campsite. The site is a converted World War Two airfield, and the taxiways and plane parking areas are still evident. This history creates large spaces and safe lanes for the boys to practice their riding. The other advantage of this site was the numerous gates and stiles around the perimeter that led to the network of tracks and paths that cross this corner of the National Park. Meaning we could head out, twice a day, by foot or pedal and explore new parts of The Forest.

Both of the boys loved riding their bikes in The Forest

One spectacle, one The Forest is famous for, which became ubiquitous on all our jaunts, was the famous New Forest Ponies. These equines roam free and wild around the entire National Park and inhabit every corner from the open grasslands and heath to the deepest, thickest parts of the woods. They are not truly wild and are all owned by someone from the area with a common right to graze animals on the land. Obviously, feral animals cannot be ridden, but since the boys were so taken by the ponies and the idea of riding one, we arranged for them to have their first ride at a local stable.

 

We used Combe Stables in the South-East of the Park, which provides hacks (rides out around the country lanes and bridleways) for children as young as four. The boys absolutely loved it! So much that our six-year-old now wants to learn to ride. Since Bex and myself both ride too, perhaps, for a future adventure, we’ll borrow one of Bailey’s Unicorn caravans and see if we can use it horse-drawn.

The boys enjoying their first experience riding ponies