It’s raining and we’re hoping this isn’t a sign for the holiday. Got Daisy all packed up and set off for our first site of the holiday. During the drive the rain went from heavy to light then back again which left us wondering if we’d made the right decision in find a sight that wasn’t even a minute away from the river Axe. This is the same river that burst its banks so dramatically at the end of our Dorset holiday last year.
The rain had stopped by the time we arrived so Nik and I went for a walk. The idea was to follow the footpath along the river and circle back to the site. Somewhere along the route we lost the part of the path that crossed the river and circled around and ended up following it into Colyton. As often happens with us, this ended up being a happy accident as Colyton is the last stop for the Seaton Tramway and the station is very pretty with a large gift shop and Buffet. Nik managed to get some lovely photos, which was an unexpected bonus. After feeling very happy with ourselves we walk back along the road to our site and got absolutely drenched, tch. It spent the rest of the evening raining which gave us a little concern about how easy it was going to be to get out of our field in the morning, which was unnecessary, as we had no trouble at all.
Monday we took the girls to Bridport for a spot of retail therapy. It’s the price we must pay for dragging them around the countryside the rest of the time. The weather stayed dry for us so we managed a nice relaxed wonder around the town. Our favourite shops are second hand bookshops and Charity shops as we are all avid book readers. So imagine our joy when we discovered that Bridport is packed with both. By the time we’d finished, between us we had gained 12 more books. Happy Days!
West Bay is just down the road, so that’s where we went for the afternoon. As the weather was threatening rain we didn’t force the girls to come exploring with us so Katie wisely spent the afternoon tucked up in Daisy reading. Marisa on the other hand surprised us by joining in. (We were surprised because she has no love of beaches and less for the ones with pebbles. West Bay was both). She probably tagged along because part of Broadchurch was filmed there. I wouldn’t call the harbour pretty but it was a nice walk with lots to see, the view of the cliffs being the best view. The beach is made up of small pebbles, so quite hard work to walk on but Marisa wanted some pictures for her portfolio so was up for a wonder with us. We walked as far as the caravan park at the far end of the first cliff which is quite a long way on pebbles and the air was very hot and humid so not overly comfortable. Marisa wasn’t keen on walking back the same way, so it was up and over. Oh My God! I have an extreme and very unreasonable fear of heights. (ok, not heights, the fear is of falling from the heights). The footpath travels near to the edge of this cliff. There is plenty of space in the other direction, but it is fenced off for a golf course. This meant that I spent the entire walk hugging the fence and trying not to look to my left. Marisa didn’t enjoy the walk too much either as she also doesn’t enjoy walking up hills. Nik on the other hand was bounding along with a big grin on his face looking over the edge when ever possible. We made it back in one piece though.
Visited Weymouth on Tuesday. Parking near to the seaside was impossible in Daisy so we headed towards the park and ride, but before we got there we discovered Ludmore Country Park. Plenty of parking there big enough for our baby. We then walked into the town center. Weymouth is big, rather a few too many shops for Nik and myself, and if the girls are honest I think there were a few too many for them also. By the time we’d finished they didn’t seem to have the same energy they usually have going through the shops. Did it cure them of their need for shopping? I wish! It was a very hot day so after the shopping we were all in need of an ice cream to cool us down, which we ate whilst watching a good old fashioned Punch and Judy show on the beach. That evening during our evening walk around a field of wheat we disturbed a deer, which went bounding off across the field away from us. We weren’t expecting it so missed getting the photo but it did put a smile on our faces, so all good.
We had a lovely relaxed day out at Christchurch on Wednesday which very nearly didn’t happen, as every car park we went to had height barriers effectively shutting out all motor homes. It was pure luck that after searching for nearly an hour around the outskirts of town we found 4 spaces set aside for high top vehicles. We got the impression that Christchurch doesn’t like motorhomes, which is a shame because it’s a lovely town with old ruins and parks and a lovely walk down by the estuary. We wonder how many tourist they miss going through their shops because of lack of decent parking. Saw another deer on our evening walk. We’ve started to expect it now and will be judging the success of our evening walks by whether we see one or not.
Woke up Thursday morning to glorious sunshine so we set off for Lymington. Again parking for motor homes was limited so we had a bit of an ordeal parking. However it was worth it as we had a lovely morning wondering around the town and down to the harbour. It was very pretty in the old part of town. Treated the girls to a pasty for lunch before heading off in search of Hurst Castle. As we arrived after lunch on such a sunny day the parking was all gone so we ended up parking on Cliff Road. Knew the girls wouldn’t want to join us in our adventure so parking so far away wasn’t a problem for us. It was a nice steady walk down to the beach, the sea looked a bit rough and the day was a bit hazy so although we could see across to The Isle of White and The Needles, Nik was unable to get a good clear picture from where we were. As you can imagine he spent a great deal of time pining after the lighthouse and the photo he couldn’t get from our current location. We walked the spit to the castle with the view of the sea to the right of us, and the salt marsh on the left. By the time we got there the view had become less hazy and Nik managed to get some fantastic photos. We didn’t go into the castle as the girls weren’t with us and we felt it was something they would enjoy seeing, so that’s earmarked for another holiday. By the time we got back to the girls we were nicely shattered and very satisfied with our day.
We booked a site for three nights at Burley Street as Katie has said a few times that she’d like to visit the New Forest, so we thought we’d make it a worth while visit and stay somewhere on the very edge of the forest. So Friday before heading of to our new site we decided to start the day with a visit to Brockenhurst and somehow managed to drive right through it before we’d realised we were there so ended up in Lyndhurst instead. For some reason I’d always thought that Lyndhurst was a big town so I was very surprised that it was actually just a one street tourist destination. The main roads run through the town, which makes it very busy. We investigated in and bought an ordinance survey map while we were there so we were set for wondering around without getting too lost. We had no real plans for the afternoon so set off for our site after lunch knowing we had lots of adventuring to do.
The approach to our new home for the next few days was up a gravel track with many big potholes that had to be carefully navigated. Unfortunately Nik couldn’t go around one of them and the bumping loosened one of Daisies wires, unknown by us at the time. We couldn’t see from the gate which way we needed to drive, so we parked up outside to go check it out. Daisy is a bit big to be going the wrong direction to have to turn around in tight spots if we don’t have to. Sorted where we were going and went to start the engine and you guessed it, she wouldn’t start. We knew it had to be a loose connection from all the bouncing, so up goes the bonnet, all wires were checked, still no joy. So we had to ring the RAC. It’s quite frustrating to reach our goal and be stuck outside the gates. While we waited two New Forest ponies paid us a visit, one bold fellow had his head stuck in the door the whole time, on two or three occasions he even lifted his feet to try and get in. Marisa was in her element and spent the whole time in the doorway playing with him.
It took the RAC man all of two minutes to find the loose wire, which Nik found a little embarrassing being a man and all.
Once we were all parked up and the girls were happily reading Nik and I decided to go for a little explore. It was almost 4pm and Katie likes to have dinner by 5.30pm on the dot, so we promised we would be back in plenty of time to get dinner on the table. I can’t think why, knowing what we’re like, she didn’t look convinced. Nik and I started out walking along the edge of the heath by our site when we found a footpath that led into Burley, which we had driven through to get to Burley Street and Marisa had said she wanted to visit as there were ponies wondering the street, stopping traffic and she thought it would be good for her photography portfolio. So naturally we felt it was our duty to follow the path and see how long it would take us to get there.
It did turn out to be the scenic route with lots of stops to take photos along the way. We reached Burley at 5.30pm, oops! So we had a quick scout round to make sure it was worth coming back before walking back the direct route. We managed to get back in 20 minutes and that was with the odd distraction. Luckily tea only took 20 minutes to cook.
Katie, Nik and I went for a walk after tea. Marisa opted out in favour of a shower. It was getting quite late by then and the sun was starting to go down so the light across the heath was stunning. We managed to see two deer, one of which Katie managed to get some good video footage of. Back at Daisy we sat for ages watching some rather large bats flying overhead which was fantastic. It was too dark to photograph them but hey ho.
Saturday we woke up to lovely sunny day again so I took the opportunity to get some washing done, as we were all getting a bit light on pants and socks. Typical that by the time I’d finished the sun had hidden itself behind the clouds. It was still lovely and warm though so after having a spot of lunch we took a wonder into Burley. Nik and Marisa were anticipating lots of ponies standing around getting in the way of traffic again, but alas no! They had obviously done all of their shopping yesterday. Burley is a very small village, mainly filled with tourist type shops, which was perfect for us. The village has one claim to fame and that is a white witch that used to live there until the villagers chased her off, so there were several witch themed shops there, my personal favourites so I was happy to wonder through them all. When we’d had enough we walked back the scenic route as the sun had come out again. Cooking a roast tonight so starting nice and early, so as not to get my legs slapped for being late again, and we want to have a nice long walk across the heath and through the woods before we loose the light. Woodland is Marisa favourite place to walk so both girls joined us tonight. We found the ponies on our walk so Nik, Marisa and Katie were happily trying to get photos of them when one of them took a close interest in Nik and steamed up his lens before running off, hahaha.
Sunday we woke up to rain and I had left the socks out to catch the morning sun. They’re wetter now than when I put them out, tch. After looking through leaflets we decided to visit Fordingbridge as it looked like it had something to offer all of us. The sun came out by the time we got there, unfortunately because it was Sunday all the shops where shut and the river wasn’t that easy to walk along, so we were somewhat disappointed. After a quick rethink we went to Bolderwood instead. We knew we wouldn’t be disappointed with this decision as it is woodland with many walks and a viewing area for Deer. We had a lovely afternoon wondering in the sunny woods watching butterflies and all manner of other creatures going about their daily business. Visited the viewing platform for the deer, which was spectacular, lots of deer, many with antlers all just there waiting to be photographed and filmed.
All pooped out after our lovely day of walking we got back to Daisy ready to go back to our site for tea but Daisy had other plans. She wouldn’t start again. This time it was a bit more serious and probably what caused her problems on Friday. The RAC were useless and to make matters worse just abandoned us in the car park with the advise to call a mobile mechanic, something we couldn’t do without a directory which we didn’t have access to as our phones had limited connectivity in the forest. Luckily Nik managed to get hold of his Mum on my phone and she managed to find us help. Thank you mum xxx. Unfortunately by the time we’d achieved all of this he wasn’t able to get to us before the morning. So we were stuck in the car park at Bolderwood over night. We informed the rangers as we didn’t want to get a fine for being there all night, had a late tea and settled down for what should have been a very quiet night in the wood. Unfortunately the local boy racers like this car park as its gravel and in the middle of nowhere. We weren’t expecting this as the ranger Nik spoke to said the gates to the car park would be locked at dusk. They weren’t! Hey Ho.
The mechanic got to us just after 8am Monday morning and got us started again within minutes. We were advised however not to turn the ignition off again until we got to the garage or our site as the stop solenoid had given up the will to live. He sent us to a place in New Milton to get a new one (which was £13) and showed Nik how to change it, even offered to do it for us if we had any trouble. He also said the garage just round the corner from our site was a good one so we could ask them too. He only charged us £20 to come out to us and it probably cost him more in petrol to get to us. Great Bloke! Would recommend him to anyone. Unfortunately Nik didn’t have the tools to change the part himself so he wondered down to the garage thinking it would be quicker than calling our guy out again, as we knew he had jobs on all day. We had to wait until after 1pm for him to be free and it took him 5 minutes to refit the new part at the charge of £40. Turned out to be a rather expensive day out.
By the time we’d got Daisy sorted there wasn’t much day left and we have a site booked in Hythe for two nights, so we decided to stock up for a few days then slowly make our way there.
OMG! What can I say about this site? To get to the field we had to drive through what was once a farmyard, but is now a big old untidy scrap yard. First impressions weren’t good. The field we were staying in was fine, nice view and peaceful if you discount the owner. The man was a seriously strange and filled Nik’s ears for ages moaning about another camper and such. Nik seriously considered finding another site for the next night, as he wasn’t sure if he could face another minute in the man’s company. We did stick it out the next night, but we will never be going there again.
Tuesday, we decided to go to Beaulieu village, as we’d driven through it yesterday and it looked very photogenic. When we got there the tide was out and the picture Nik had envisioned wasn’t possible without the water, so we decided to take a trip to Brokenhurst first, being as we’d managed to miss it a few days before. That done we headed back toward Beaulieu. As we didn’t see much in the way of parking as we drove through we decided to park at Hatchet Pond had lunch then walk in. The pond is a lovely spot for picnics or a walk. While we were there swans, ducks, cows, ponies and donkeys with their fowls, so cute, visited it. We weren’t expecting to see wild donkeys’ wondering the New Forest so that was a bonus. The footpath from the pond to Beaulieu is well signposted through fields that avoid the busy road as much as possible. It only took us about ½ hour to get there. Unfortunately by the time we got there the tide had come in but the sun had gone away and the village just isn’t as spectacular on an overcast day. We had a lovely afternoon there despite the lack of sun and returned to our site with much trepidation. Fortunately the owner was busy cutting down trees when we got back, much to Nik’s relief.
Wednesday was time to leave the New Forest and explore elsewhere. The day is dull but still warm and Ringwood was our destination as it was market day and we thought it would be fun. What we hadn’t considered was the parking on market day in the middle of August. After nearly an hour of searching all around the town we gave up and decided to go to Wimbourne. Somehow we managed to miss our turning and ended up in Ferndown. This turned out to be another of those happy accidents as the town was just an ordinary non-tourist town with no thrills. Not big, but big enough for us. We had a wonderful relaxed time wondering around this quiet little town before heading off to our site for the night.
Thursday the weather is still dull and we were all a little slow getting going this morning. All feeling a bit tired. Had a late breakfast and popped back to Ferndown to restock before heading off to Shaftsbury. The drive turned out to be a lot longer than we had anticipated. It was worth it though as the town is made up of old picturesque buildings begging to be photographed. At one end of the town is a little walkway/promenade in front of the Abbey that over looks a spectacular view across the countryside. The girls are both feeling a bit under the weather today so we decided to leave a visit to the Abbey for another trip. Both the girls enjoy looking around Abbeys and Cathedrals but were both feeling so off colour that they lacked the enthusiasm.
We were staying the night on Chettle Estate, originally meant as a stop over on our way to were ever we decided to go next, but when we got there the girls were both looking very poorly, so we decided to stay two nights and call Friday a day of rest. After feeding the girls and making sure they were happy, Nik and I went for an explore. Chettle village is also part of the estate and very oldie worldie. We walked down into the village past Chettle House, the church and ye old duck pond. Whilst we walked we found it very easy to imagine what
the estate must have been like to live in before roads were paved. The middle of the village is an old tree with signs nailed to it’s trunk and the village shop, also the post office, is a wooden hut that boasts prize winning cakes and beer on Sundays. Everyone who lives on the estate works for it or has family that works on it. And the whole village is surrounded by fields of crops or animals. Very picturesque and peaceful. It was lovely and warm and the sun was still out so Nik and I found it very easy to relax and get carried away with our walk. We were gone a good few hours making it back just before it went completely dark. That night we went to sleep to the sound of a Tawny Owl and a fox calling. Very lovely sound to go to sleep too.
Friday we woke up to heavy rain, so Nik and I stayed in bed for as long as we could stand, giving the girls a bit of a lay in, before getting up to creep around as quietly as we could. Nik bought a new tap/shower head and spent ages fitting it yesterday only to discover this morning that he had forgotten to check both ends were tightly screwed on. 10.30 and the girls are still asleep. Katie looked as though she had flue last night, so hopefully the rest will do her good.
We started our rest day by walking down into the village again as Nik wanted to get a photo of Chettle House from across a field with cows in and the light was in the wrong place last evening. Whilst down there we had a wonder through the village shop and were pleasantly surprised to find it was very well stocked. We then moseyed on back to Daisy to check on our invalids and have some lunch before setting off on our afternoons adventure. The girls find it very amusing that when we call a rest day Nik and I go for long walks.
We followed a bridle path at the entrance to our site, which led up through cornfields. Some of which had already been harvested, some had bails of hay in them and others were still growing. The sun had made an appearance before we set of on our first walk and was now lighting up the fields making the crops and bails lovely and golden. Nik was in his element. As we followed that path around the edge of our third field we discovered evidence that deer like to play in these fields as corn had been flattened down. The fields in this area seemed to stretch on forever, giving us a wonderful view. We followed the bridle path through a small woodland into moor cornfields with spectacular views. We must have spent a good hour in this field alone, as there was so much to see/photograph. It was in this field that a red ant decided to take a chunk out of my backside, through my trousers, no less! Cheeky bugger. (I know, it’s always me). Stung for blooming ages. Our walk took us around the edge of two more fields and on to a Byway that is only a track that leads back towards Chettle. At a fork in the path we turned left along the Jubilee walk which took us through moor woodland and around the edge of 3 moor fields before coming out by the church in the village. It was a smashing afternoon and we thoroughly enjoyed our walk. We arrived back shattered but completely happy and just in time to be nagged about tea. Katie is feeling better!
Whilst I cooked tea Nik discovered that during our walk a button on one of his cameras had caught on something, changing the settings and ruining some of his pictures, so after tea we set off to do the first half of our walk again as some of the photos were too good to not retake. This time while we were walking we saw a beautiful fox running across a field and two deer standing in the middle of cornfield with just the very tops of their heads and ears visible. It was so cute, and amazing how long they can stand still for. One did eventually bound off across the field, which was also super cool to watch. We walked back taking the right hand fork in the road this time, which took us through woodland and came out at the far end of our site. Taking about quarter of the time it had taken us in the afternoon. A bit of luck really as it was nearly dark by the time we got back, and my feet were starting ache. We went to sleep to the owl and fox again.
Of all the sites we’ve stayed on over the years, I have decided Chettle Estate is my favourite, without a doubt. There is absolutely nothing there but fields and footpaths, leaving you nothing to do but explore. And I love it! Nik does too.
Saturday is windy and overcast which doesn’t mean much as almost everyday has stared this way. Makes it easier to say goodbye to Chettle though. Off to Trowbridge. Hopefully the sun will make an appearance by the time we get there, which could be midnight the speed the girls are going.
The site we are staying in is beside Wilts & Berks Canal, which is why we picked it, so we got up early on Sunday and went for a walk along the canal. Not a bad little canal, shame we didn’t have longer to stay and explore it, but we’ve a date with Bradford on Avon today.
Bradford on Avon is a very pretty town with lots of old buildings and streets for us to gaze at and photograph, not to mention the river that runs through the bottom of the town which is very pretty. We did notice that the main business of the town seems to be eateries. If you’re into the café culture this is definitely the place for you. We had a thoroughly enjoyable time wondering through the town gazing at the buildings and window shopping on a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon.
Spending the night at Cheddar so once we were ready we wondered back to Daisy along the tow path and headed off. Surprisingly the shops in Cheddar where still open when we arrived, so as a bonus feature we went for a late afternoon wonder through the shops. Always a favourite for all of us.
As we were staying in Cheddar for the night Nik and I couldn’t miss an opportunity to walk to the top of the gauge, so after tea off we went. We walked to the top following footpaths from the site. This walk is all up hill and it took us just over an hour. Now we know from experience that hills aren’t my best feature so walking up hill for an hour was quite an achievement for me. I will admit that as we neared the top my legs started to give up the will and I had to stop and give them a good talking to. The pain was worth it. The view from the top is a not to be missed view of the Somerset Levels. You can see Glastonbury Tor on a clear day and we had a nice clear evening. There is a massive water reservoir, which you can see clearly from the top, which makes a stunning view. After resting for a few minutes to take in the view we followed the footpath along the top of the gorge to Jacob’s Ladder passing a flock of iron aged sheep on the way, and back down into the town. It was a lovely way to spend the evening.
Monday. Our Last day! As we are so close to Glastonbury we couldn’t possibly pass up a chance to spend the day here. It is one of our favourite towns to visit. As the girls still weren’t 100% and we’d been to the top of the Tor before we decided not to torture them today and just wonder through the town. If you have never experienced Glastonbury it will be difficult to understand the pull of the town, but the sights, sounds and smells you will not experience all in the same place or the same way anywhere else. And every visit is different. It was a most perfect way to finish our holiday