Enjoying the New Forest
The campsite is in the New Forest National Park although the very immediate surrounding land is Shirley Farm. Just up the hill of Braggers Lane, you are up on the plateau where the Forest starts proper. You can walk for miles (see some route cards of ours), you could get to Burley 3 miles away and hire bikes, you can geocache, play wide games, discover nature, photograph the ponies and cattle. There are many activities and events going on across the forest too. To get about, map OL22 covers this area.
Enjoying the South Coast
The campsite is just 5 miles from the nearest beach. Park up at Highcliffe Castle and drop down the cliff to the long beach. Further west is Avon Beach with a lifeguard in summer, from where you can stroll up to Mudeford Quay and try crabbing. From the Quay you can get the ferry boat across to Hengistbury Head, a great beach and spectacular nature reserve on the spit. From the top of the spit, you can look out across Christchurch Harbour where you can do water sports. If you look west you can see Old Harry Rocks and the start of the Jurassic Coast; iconic Durdle Door, incredible Lulworth Cover, interesting days out in Swanage.
Or you could work east and down another spit to Hurst Castle where it feels you can almost touch the Isle of Wight. The castle is fascinating to explore and the trek down to it on the high spit is quite a different experience.
Enjoying our Scouting Heritage
Most scouts around the world know how Lord Baden-Powell ran his first scout camp on Brownsea Island in 1907. It is considered the birthplace of scouting as using what he learnt on this trial camp, Baden-Powell wrote Scouting for Boys and the Scout Movement began. 1st Christchurch troop was one of the first 100 troops and so our district has a proud and long heritage.
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Brownsea Island is not only a iconic place for scouts to visit, it’s also a great place as it’s a small island in the second largest natural harbour in the world. There are no cars, very few inhabitants and plenty of wildlife. The views can be stunning and there are plenty of opportunities to do scouting related activities on a full day visit.
The Island now belongs to the National Trust so there is an entrance fee. It’s worth considering group membership if you have a large group. The island is not open in the winter months so check their website .
You will need to get over to the island and although sea scouts might be able to plan this somehow (probably not!), most of us take one of the ferries. Half-hourly ferry services operate from 10am from Poole Quay and others run from Sandbanks peninsula. Sandbanks is a much shorter ferry ride but getting there on a busy summer’s day can be a huge challenge as there is nowhere to park and it is full of tourists and beach-goers. But that can be part of the adventure! If you choose to go from Poole Quay, look out for BP’s statue. On the Quay you could try pickled cockles to end your day!
Two Riversmeet Leisure Complex; Visitors to the campsite can enjoy great discounts on the public prices at 2RM. Just 6 miles away, you could be doing golf, swimming, football, zorbing or old school sports day.
Snowtrax Outdoor Activity Centre; Activities include Ringos and ski-bobs, skiing and snow-boarding.
Land and Wave; based at Swanage which is a bigger day trip but here you can do kayaking in Swanage Bay, coasteering, even paddle boarding.
Places to visit
Christchurch – try walking from the castle ruins (bet you can’t climb up there!), alongside the River Avon, past the Anglo-Saxon mill to the quay on the River Stour. You can play on the grass of the Quomps, the playground or the water feature. Then take a boat ride down to Mudeford Quay or Hengistbury Head. On the way back home, walk past the Priory and down the cobbles to the High Street.
Bournemouth – Bournemouth has seven miles of golden sands and sparkling sea. There are plenty of spots with lifeguards so you can enjoy a good ol’ day at the seaside. You could walk the pier, visit the Aquarium, go up in the balloon in the gardens. If the weather isn’t so good, there’s laserquest, cinemas and ten-pin bowling.
Poole – It boasts the biggest natural harbour in the UK and the town has a historical but ultra-modern quay. Walk to the end and visit the fabulous lifeboat museum in an old boat shed, then on through the boat yard to Baiter. A huge grassy area begs to be played on as you peer out across the harbour. Find the subway and you can walk into Poole Park. Plenty of activities here; fun train, boating, crazy golf, ice-skating in the winter months. And run the gauntlet of feeding the crazy geese! Walk back through the town centre and down the historic high street back to the Quay, perhaps visiting the museum on your way.
Burley – Depicts everything you would expect from a traditional, New Forest village. Quaint thatched cottages, ponies and cattle roaming the roads, sometimes you even see the pigs. Grab an ice-cream, visit the witch shops if you dare, wander the beech woods which are spectacular in autumn.
Further east, consider Lyndhurst, the capital of the New Forest and Lymington, a great sailing centre.