Back in May this year we spent a few days at one of the Forestry Commission’s Campsites in the New Forest, Hollands Wood. (Our review from that time can be seen here.) We had such a good time that we returned there last week for another break.
We had a great time despite some torrential downpours. Nice to confirm that our Vango Orchy 500 is definitely waterproof! Luckily it mostly rained when we weren’t doing anything but relaxing and the Orchy is big enough for all three of us to comfortably chill out in the porch.
(Photo by Neville Fenn.)
This time around we splashed out £15 on a Forest Holidays Card, which entitles the holder to £3.50 off camping per night and additional discounts on activities. Totally worth it as it saved us a couple of quid this time around and I’m sure we’ll use the Forestry Commission campsites again this year.
One thing worth mentioning is that, at Hollands Wood, they close the furthest toilet/shower block when there aren’t enough campers there to make it worth keeping it open…in the staff’s opinion. This was fine for us as we were told as we arrived that it would be closing that day. Not so good for people who were already pitched right up the other end of the campsite.I felt there there were plenty of campers there during our stay to justify having it open. At times it felt very crowded round our ‘middle’ block.
This time we made the mistake of not pitching on a tents-only part of the campsite. At the time we wanted to avoid picking the same place as last time, how can you find a better spot if you always pitch in the same place right? We unfortunately chose a spot that was close to one of the main roads through the campsite. This not only meant we had cars driving past often but also people walking by which upset our Dogface quite a bit. In addition we were pretty close to the shower/toilet block. This meant that we had a lot of people pitching and parking nearby. The busier it got the more crowded our little spot became.
The other downside of pitching on a non tents-only plot is that the ground was compressed from vehicles and so was rock hard. This meant that even with our comfy self-inflating mattresses we were waking up with aches and pains in the mornings. Next time we’ll sacrifice a quick walk to the loo for peace and quiet and softer ground.
Despite our bad pitch choice, we had a fab time. Brockenhurst is within walking distance and we highly recommend the butcher’s sausages (basil and tomato with pork are the best!) and the baker’s jam doughnuts. There’s also a small Tesco there for the essentials (red wine). We cooked on disposable BBQs and our Primus ETA Express stove. We don’t bother taking the old camping stove anymore, just the Primus. It’s perfect for hot drinks, porridge, and risotto.
My new Mountain Equipment Xero 550 sleeping bag is heavenly! Using it in the field it was the snuggliest most comfortable thing I’ve ever had ever. I didn’t overheat in it like I would in my old Blacks bag and when it got chilly and the stars came out it kept me warm as toast. I am pretty cold blooded so your average camper may find it way too hot but for me it was absolutely ideal… when I could get Dogface out of it.
The walks through the forest out of the North end of the campsite are beautiful. Reception sells milk and loans out freezer packs to keep your cold box cold so we even had cups of tea and milky coffees. Luxury. Looking forward to our next trip to the New Forest when we may give Hollands Wood’s sister campsite, Roundhill, a try.