Fordingbridge visitor information is our nearest town (about six minutes by car) on the River Avon, where there is a variety of independent shops, a supermarket, a petrol station, a number of pubs and several restaurants. Our nearest swimming pool is at the Sandy Balls Holiday Centre just the other side of Fordingbridge and is open to non-visitors. Bicycle hire is also available at Sandy Balls to non-residents of the park.
The New Forest is an area of about 150 square miles of open heathland and peaceful woods with deer and wild ponies, cattle and donkeys, and an excellent place for walks and picnics. One of the best ways to see the area is on horseback or cycling. The New Forest Heritage Centre at Lyndhurst is informative and interesting describing the history and wildlife of the forest.
Salisbury is just under twenty minutes drive away and is a wonderful medieval city with its spectacular cathedral. This impressive and elegant building is a masterpiece of early English Gothic architecture. Among the many other attractions in the Cathedral Close are Mompesson House (a National Trust property with delightful garden) and Salisbury Museum (a good guide to local history with some impressive exhibits). The city is also home to the nearest theatre (Salisbury Playhouse), and the nearest cinema. Salisbury offers a wide selection of shops, pubs and restaurants to cater for most tastes. Market days are on Tuesday and Saturday.
Ancient Sites and Archaeology
This area is steeped in ancient history, both Dorset and Wiltshire have a plethora of archaeological sites of interest.
Old Sarum is an Iron-Age fort and the site of the original Salisbury Cathedral.
Dorset is dotted with hillforts, many of them owned by the National Trust and free to visit, except for parking. Dogs are usually allowed on leads, but do check first as they are frequently grazed by sheep.
The ancient capital of England. Wilton House, home of the Earl of Pembroke, is a fascinating and beautiful property, and only 20 minutes away. The house and grounds have been used as film sets for ‘Sense and Sensibility’ and ‘Mrs Brown’. There are beautiful walks beside the River Nadder and a large adventure playground. Whilst in Wilton visit the famous Carpet Factory, a shopping village including factory outlets and Italianate church.
A thriving local market town (market day on Wednesday) and with the local leisure centre. Close by is the Liberty's Owl Raptor and Reptile Centre. The centre offers flying displays, group visits, specialised day visits and offers limited kennelling facilities if you have a dog with you.
Damerham, Martin and Whitsbury are within easy reach with their charming village pubs and churches with interesting houses and walks in the region. Martin Down (nature reserve) is a picturesque area of downland. Cranborne - Has several excellent restaurants with Cranborne gardens and garden centre, and is the seat of the Salisbury family.
Breamore House overlooking the Avon valley was completed in 1583, and is home to a fine collection of 17th and 18th Century paintings, period furniture and tapestries. The area around the house has been used for film sets including the recent adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Woodlanders’ and for ‘The Children of the New Forest’. The Countryside Museum enables visitors of all ages to have a fascinating insight into the history of village life in the area. Children will particularly like the Great British Maze and adventure playground. There is also a Saxon Church in the village.
Towns and Cities
Bournemouth - Miles of sandy beaches, Bournemouth International Centre, shops, pier and gardens.
Christchurch - Ancient harbour, priory church, miles of sandy and shingle beaches. Hengistbury Head, overlooking Christchurch harbour and the south coast, is an area of natural beauty and a nature reserve.
Gardens and Historic Houses
Mottisfont Abbey - house and gardens with great historic interest. Exhibitions are also a feature.
Athelhampton House- at Puddletown near Dorchester.
Heale Gardens - Historic house where King Charles II took refuge in 1651. Eighty acres of riverside gardens and beautiful surrounding landscapes. There is also a garden centre and shop.
Furzey Gardens - not just a lovely garden, but a social enterprise, supporting local charity Minstead Trust’s work with adults with learning disabilities.
Exbury Gardens - a wonderful garden, especially in the spring and autumn, a steam railway. Dog friendly.
Middle-Wallop - Museum of Army Flying.
Dorset Heavy Horse Farm Park - heavy horses and farm animals, vintage displays and activities for children.
Monkey World - rescue and rehabilitation centre for chimps, gibbons, orang-utans and other apes.
Moors Valley Country Park - woodland and moorland walks, a play trail, a steam railway, refreshments - perfect for the family and the dog.
Blashford Nature Reserve - just one of the various nature reserves in the region. Visit the Dorset Wildlife Trust, Hampshire Wildlife Trust and Wiltshire Wildlife Trust Wildlife Trust websites for more locations.
Dorset is famed for it's ancient and beautiful coastline where a wealth of beaches, coves and villages await. Fossil finding is a rewarding adventure for kids and adults alike and there a lots of museums and visitor centres dotted through the towns and villages.