“ Address: Lyndhurst Road / Brockenhurst Hampshire / SO42 7QH / England „
Hollands Wood is really for animal lovers ! Ponies, cows, dogs and the odd deer roam around the campsite and get very intimate! I visited this lovely site with my family and we all really enjoyed ourselves. We loved it so much that we took a group of camping friends with us the next time - which proved to be a bit of a mistake, as most of them had a deeply rooted fear of all things 4 legged and spent the whole time cowering in their tents!
Hollands Wood is situated in the heart of the New Forest, a short walk from Brockenhurst. It is within easy reach of London, but although the roads are good, they are often very congested in the sumer months, and the journey takes much longer.
The site itself is one of the largest we have been to, with 600 pitches, but although it is big, it is strung out along the (quiet) road, and laid out in such a way that you feel as if you are in a much smaller campsite. The site is divided into small fields surrounded by a low fence, each with a toilet block attached, giving it the intimate atmosphere of many small campsites. The fields are small clearings in the forest, hidden amongst hundreds of Oak trees, and waking up to the early morning mist hanging low in the trees is a real treat.
The one thing that makes this site unusual is that ponies and cows wander freely in and out of the tents. This adds a lot of excitement to the stay, and we spent most of our first trip trying to stroke the adorable foals and taking many, many photos. As I mentioned earlier, our friends are not animal lovers, and were very scared to wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of loud footsteps and even louder farting! Yes, it was the ponies raiding our rubbish bins - easily driven off with a shout, but I can understand that this can be a bit offputting for some. There are lots of warnings around the site not to leave foodstuff in your tent. The ponies have no rules and have been known to rip the tent with their teeth to get the food. You just have to be sensible and make sure all food is in tins or boxes or kept in your car. We never left rubbish out at night again!
The pitches are all basic - with no electric hook-ups, but the toilet blocks are clean and have ample facilities and we found the whole site extremely well kept. It is a Silver David Bellamy Conservation Award winner, and David himself is said to have described it as one of his 'paradise parks'. There are separate camping areas for dog owners, and the toilet blocks have dog showers. The staff are extremely friendly and helpful - the reception provides frozen ice blocks for your cool box and other basics. Pitches are not numbered and you have to drive around until you find an area that suits your tastes. This proved to be a slight problem when we arrived with a group of 5 tents, but we eventually found a field that could accomodate all of us.
Things to Do
The main attraction of this site is the woods - it is for people who love the outdoors, walking and cycling and exploring nature. Forest Rangers provide a timetable of activities for adults and children that help you to get the most out of your surroundings. These include survival skills (including den buiding and orienteering, a wildlife safari to meet the animals of the forest, and craft activities for children. The rangers can even be hired out so that you an have your own family ranger for the day. I really recommend making use of the ranger activites as it will change your whole approach to the forest and really make you aware of the wonders of nature.
There are many walking and cycle paths that lead directly off the site into the new forest, so that you can do a huge circular walk without seeming to leave the campsite. One of our nicest walks was from our tent, through the woods to the lovely village of Beaulieu and back again.
There is a huge heathland which adjoins the campsite and gives families the opportunity to play bigger ball games and to fly kites. On the other side of the heathland is a typical New Forest stream, where children paddle and play, often sharing the water with the ponies.
My family really enjoy back to basics camping, and love campsites that make you feel close to nature. This campsite has it all for us, and we made many like minded friends there. If you are looking for a luxury campsite with a pool and holiday camp entertainment, then this is not for you - but if you love nature and simplicity, then get on down there !