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.