Ideas for camping holidays in Hampshire
- Credit: Archant
Pitch up, get off-grid and enjoy the peace and quiet; We explore Hampshire camping holidays
In a life filled with smartphones, endless to-do-lists and frenetic schedules, the therapeutic qualities of camping should not be underestimated. Pitching up in the middle of nature, sleeping under a sky full of stars and waking up to the sound of bird song can do wonders for a stressed out soul. And for the kids it's a taste of fresh air and freedom; a chance to climb trees, build dens and collect and examine a multitude of bugs (and life experiences).
So it's no surprise that campsite bookings are on the up. According to figures from Visit Britain, there were 15.2 million domestic overnight trips that involved camping or caravanning in 2017; the majority of which were Brits heading to the countryside in search of some elusive calm.
But what is it that today's campers are looking for? Outdoor accommodation specialist, Pitchup.com, which has over 3,000 bookable camping, glamping and caravan sites in the UK and Europe, has always found that basic tent pitches attract the highest number of searches - proving that the trusty tent is still a popular choice. However, over the last year, searches for touring caravans and motorhome pitches grew 25% quicker. Data from the European Caravan Federation backs this up with 54% growth in UK motorhome registrations between 2009 and 2016.
Glamping (posh camping) is also highly desirable - with searches for lodges, cabins, pods or huts growing faster than any other type of search on Pitchup. Camping and luxury haven't always gone hand-in-hand, but fixed accommodation has enjoyed tremendous innovation in recent years, with central heating, double glazing and even hot tubs now commonplace. Forget your standard two-man tent; luxury campers want the glamour of safari tents and yurts adorned with sheepskin rugs, fairy lights and a wood-burning stove.
On a local level, Pitchup's most popular campsites in the county are all, unsurprisingly, in and around the New Forest - these include: Avon Tyrrell Outdoor Activity Centre - a peaceful site surrounded by lakes in Bransgore; Hill Cottage Farm Touring Caravan Park - a 40-acre site on the Hampshire/Dorset border in Alderholt; two Fordingbridge sites - Sandy Balls Holiday Village and Folds Farm Camping and Lytton Lawn Touring Park in Milford on Sea.
Whilst there's a sentimental nostalgia about family camping, Two Hoots Campsite in Bighton near Alresford, is strictly for grown-ups. Owners Caz and Dave Parham decided to opt for an adults-only site for just six couples (plus five pitches for caravans and motorhomes), for many reasons, explains Caz: "we wanted to fit nicely within our surroundings, keeping it as natural as possible, so as not to spoil the countryside and be thoughtful to our neighbours.
"We were the first in Hampshire to have the Eco Pods and are so glad we did, but the two Shepherds huts have the best vantage point as they have more inside. All our units have heating, lighting, TV/DVD player and a small porch way with bistro table and chairs. One pod even has a toilet and washroom. The Shepherds huts have extras including a toilet and washroom, kitchenette, cosy log burner and a full size private veranda directly facing the open views, what more could anyone want.
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"We wanted to offer something different from the norm and this place is nestled in the beautiful Hampshire countryside, with amazing starlit skies and very little traffic noise or light pollution. We are surrounded by woodland too so great for walks - we get carpets of bluebells and spring lambs in the field next to the Shepherds hut paddock. Not forgetting the distant hoots from the steam railway at the bottom of our lane."
With the beautiful Georgian town of Alresford, a short drive away, guests can still enjoy boutique shops, riverside walks and amazing eateries such as: Pulpo Negro Tapas restaurant. "Two Hoots lends itself nicely for a romantic getaway, great for those looking to escape the larger more populated sites and just relax, unwind, switch off recharge and leave totally refreshed," says Caz.
Caz explains that many guests return time and time again - from school teachers to city-dwellers.
"Some come with big telescopes and love the dark sky, whilst others come because of the wildlife and many are walkers and cyclists. We welcome everyone from honeymooners to pensioners!
"For us, this is not about cramming hordes of people in to make money, it's about giving something to those that want to escape and have some quality together alone time and switch off from the bonkers world we all live in. It's about experiences, people, friends and family, giving, sharing and most of all fun and laughter!"
Another new breed of laid back weekend getaway is Secret Camping Weekend (SCW). "We takeover private campsites across the UK and provide organised experiences and workshops during the day, with fun themed entertainment at night - even the odd party!" explains Organiser, Richard Holt.
"At SCW HQ we wanted to redefine the way people enjoy camping", continues Richard, "we wanted to position our secret getaways somewhere between traditional camping and festivals, but with the main objective of delivering old fashioned fun for everyone. Our experiences include: group yoga, outdoor campfire cooking lessons, cocktail making classes, organised nature walks and photography workshops, trips to local beauty spots, an outdoor cinema, mountain bike hire, sea kayaking, street food market, sports day games, acoustic music sets and themed evening entertainment."
Whilst Secret Camping weekend has not yet made it to Hampshire, Richard advises: "we absolutely intend on doing so! We're quite selective with the sites we choose though, so it's just about making sure we find the right spot." Keep an eye on the website for updates.
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