We’ve always believed this is one of the top campsites in the UK, but this utter gem has just been getting better and better since our last visit. The owners Maggie and Nigel are as affable as they are creative, and they don’t do anything by halves. At the beginning of summer 2010, the couple and their two sons took on this 15-acre site, along with the resident Chinese geese, duck, swan, cat, chickens – and an entire season’s bookings. Since then, both their business and their animal farm have been booming.The wild flowers and rope-tyre swings have been swaying, new little piglets grunting and, most importantly of all, the punters are smiling.
The low-key signposting (if you hit Drusilla’s Inn you’ve gone too far) does little to hint at the magic that lies ahead, where the pitches are spacious and the atmosphere is almost other- worldly, despite its convenient location not far from the M27. Once you’re in, park up and head for reception,where you’ll probably meet Maggie. The camping area comprises 12 acres of dreamy natural meadow and woodland, with three lakes enclosed by circumferential paths and thick shrubbery.All the pitches are accessible by car so you can drive and unload before parking in the car parks. Mown pathways separate the clusters of pitches and the long, wild grasses create walls in between, so that all that sedentary campers can see of their neighbours is the smoke rising from their braziers. At dusk the overall vista resembles the basecamp of an intrepid expedition into the wild unknown.There’s a stillness in the air. This is total enchantment.
Groups (quiet ones) really do love it here, booking out entire pitch clusters. Each cluster bears its own helpful name. So you can choose your spot according to your needs – great lake views, proximity to the facilities, sheltered woodland, treelined and ridgeway pitches, and isolated individual hideaways – you choose.
The facilities are top-notch: a new shower room has been upgraded so the water is always hot and there’s a sheltered area for recycling with plug points.The area beyond is full of great pubs and restaurants, though you’ll need a car or a taxi to sample the fish and chips or the Chinese and Italian establishments at Verwood; failing that you can just dial for a takeaway – many leaflets can be found on site.The narrow country lane outside of the campsite isn’t ideal for young children to walk or cycle along, but just a few miles up the road is the fabulous Moors Country Valley Park, which has cycle paths, tree-top walkways and scavenger hunt trails.A sandpit play area for the very young and a larger adventure park for older kids are the cherries on top. It’s expensive to park there but a lot of the areas are free – which is always a bonus. Take a packed lunch to enjoy in the picnic area before jumping on a steam train for a ride through the woods.
Alternatively, you can just stay put on the site: many families bring bicycles so their charges can tear along the kale and woodland paths. If they’re not doing that they’re climbing trees, playing on swings or watching their dads fish.As for everyone else, well, they’re just kicking back and enjoying the magic of the place.
1 of 1 readers found this review useful.
1 of 1 readers found this review useful.
1 of 1 readers found this review useful.
What a great campsite! There are so many options for camping. We stayed in our campervan in the lower field with electric hookup. The big field is perfect for watching the sunset from the comfort of your tent. There are also big bell tents to hire with their own fire pit and benches.
It's great to be able to have an open fire to sit around. The owners drive round with bags of logs (£4 each) in the evening and supply fire lighters and matches.
Lots of stuff to do in the area and the Jurassic Coast isn't far away.
Class campsite and really great owners. Oh and Sharon drives round in her ice cream van if you fancy one. Total bonus.
1 of 1 readers found this review useful.
Ah what a lovely campsite! We stayed for a weekend and had such a relaxing time, we felt like we had been away for longer. When we arrived the owners told us that the pitch we had booked was amongst a couple of tents with lots of children, and us being a young couple, they thought we would want a pitch a little quieter. So the owner took us round of his buggy and showed us all the alternative pitches which was great! So we ended up choosing one of the 'isolation' areas, which was absolutely lovely! Very clean facilities, and beautiful setting! The only negative thing we can say is that, depending on the direction the wind is blowing, there is a little noise from the road, but very minimal! We will visit again!
What an amazing site this is ! The owners are so friendly and really cant do enough for you! The site is quiet with good facilities and you have so much space ! We stayed here in July and were amazed by the pigs, chickens and ducks..when we came back in September the place had got better! Fantastic clean facilities! Great location and if you are brave enough to walk to Drusillas Inn for dinner you might just get a life back ! Cannto wait to come back next year !
What can I say - FANTASTIC. Our 6 year old just said "Can we stay forever". This is a brilliant camp site which I think is particularly great for families. There are a relatively small number of pitches for the size of the site and they are really spread out - this means there is loads of space all around you with brilliant meadows. You may think that the car free site mayeb a bit weird - but it is perfect - we could let our son run around all day without any concerns. The braziers / fires by the tents make evenings dreamy and the glow sticks handed out for the kids every night again make for the perfect holiday. The facilities are top notch. The owners are great and can't do enough to make you welcome, a warm smile and always helpful. Would highly recommend anyone goes to this site - we will definately be returning.
Just returned from a wonderful weekend at Riversidelakes, I can't recommend it enough and staying there for a weekend isn't enough! Although both of us have been camping before it was our first camping trip on our own, inevitably we had troubles putting the tent up but had offers from fellow campers and one of the campsite owners (Nigel?) to help which was really nice and shows you what kind of friendly, relaxed atmosphere there is here. Nights are perfect for lying back and star gazing with a beer or two and the campfire going, on the Saturday night there was even a mini gig going on over at the communal campfire which was nice to hear from where we were but we were too relaxed to move!! Of course in keeping with no noise after 11pm rule it ended around that time so everyone could get a good night sleep. It's a perfect location, near to New Forest and Bournemouth. We only had time to visit New Forest, we parked the car at Ringwood long stay (bargain for £5 a day) and caught the hop on hop off bus from there which was perfect when you only have one day and want to get around as much as possible. Stopped off at Lyndhurst for a walk into the forest and Burley for a pub lunch and watching the horses stop traffic! Anyway, not to digress from the beautiful campsite, in the evening when we arrived back from New Forest we had a little explore around the site and was amazed! Aside from the pretty heather covering the main site if you have a wander around the lakes you'll find all sorts of little bridges and woods and more lakes, there's a couple of rope swings lying around, I can see why it's so popular with families with kids, they would have a field day here! In fact I wish we could have had more time to have a day on the campsite, possibly fishing by the lake. Of course I can tell you all this and you can think it sounds nice but it's only when you go yourself you feel what a lovely, friendly, relaxed atmosphere there is. Toilets are clean, I didn't use the shower but they looked clean and the other half was impressed with his shower! There's a few soul pad bell tents tucked in secluded spots around the back in the woods, which look lovely, one even had fairy lights ahh! The owners couldn't have been more accommodating, especially when Maggie found room for us to stay in our pitch an extra night which we decided a couple of days after booking. The site is well signposted off the main road, you do have to go down a narrow, bumpy country lane, well pretty much a dirt track but as long as you go slowly you'll be fine, we even were with a front splitter on the car!
We had such a nice time here that instead of staying in a log cabin for our 30th next year we want to come here instead, there are some perfect pitches for groups right at the back, so if you want to stay up chatting with a beer, they seem perfect.
The only thing I would say that is the slightest negative is we noticed that the nearest pub wasn't right out of the campsite like this website review says, it's probably about a five minute drive, this would probably only be about a 10-15 minute walk at a guess but might be a little unsafe after dark to walk that far down a country lane! Not much can be helped about that though and it's certainly not a slight on the site, you are provided with local information when you arrive which even includes a take away and taxi list so there's always other alternatives. Apart from that this website review is spot on, Riversidelakes is everything it says and more and we can't wait to go back again!
We have stayed at this wonderful site twice this year, once with a large group of friends and once on our own. Both stays have been great and favourite moments include chilling back in the evening, watching the smoke from the fire pits and braziers drifting up through the long grasses across the site; the children leaping into the swimming lake; the creation of 'Narnia' in the woods by our 8 year old and her friends; and Maggie and Nigel's incredible hospitality. The facilities are excellent and it is one of those palces where they really seem to have thought of everything. We will definately be back!
We have just returned from a one night stay in a six man Soul Pad at Riverside Lakes. From the moment we arrived in bright sunshine to when we left in slightly drizzly rain, everything was perfect. The owners and their family could not have been more helpful, from ferrying luggage and excited teenagers to our car free pitch to providing dry logs, firelighters and matches (£4 a big bucket). Our Hideaway tent was great. Set back from the path but with a big enough area around it to provide a volleyball pitch and plenty of sunbathing space. Wonderfully clean queue-free shower block. There was really no need to bring any equipment at all - a real bonus for a short camping trip. The picnic style table, extremely comfortable mattresses (we all slept until 9am - unheard of in past camping experiences), bottled water, lanterns with night lights and the most user friendly cooking appliance we have ever come across. The paella pan cooked bacon and seven fried eggs all at the same time! Shift breakfasts are a thing of the past here! Four teenagers all braved the lake to swim and embraced camping here as definitely "cool".
A big thank you to everyone at Riverside Lakes for making our short stay really memorable. We will return soon.
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Mudeford Beach HutsThe Spit, Mudeford, Dorset BH23 9ND
It’s one thing being near the beach, but it’s quite another being actually on it. Get your tan on and chill on the deck of your modest beach hut!
Stonehenge CampsiteBerwick St James, Wiltshire SP3 4TQ
Rural, friendly camping and if you're planning on seeing Stonehenge, it's the perfect place to reside.
Downshay FarmHaycrafts Lane, Swanage, Dorset BH19 3EB
Fantastic, spacious countryside spot accessible by a steam train running to the coast.
Burnbake CampsiteRempstone, Corfe Castle, Wareham, Dorset BH20 5JH
Seriously chilled out vibes here in this woodland wonderland of a campsite.
California CottagePriests Way, Swanage, Dorset BH19 2RS
Glampers beware, this is rugged, rustic and back to basic camping at it's finest.
Parish LanternRomsey Road, Whiteparish, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP5 2SA
Love beer gardens? Love Camping? Well then pitch your tent up here in the middle of this radical site and live in a beer garden! Make sure you pitch up before the pint though!
Harman’s Cross Camping ParkHaycrafts Lane, Swanage, Dorset. BH19 3EB
Verdant green, lush pasture with steam trains chuffing by.
Tom’s Field (Hampshire)Godshill Pottery, The Ridge, Fordingbridge, Hampshire New Forest SP6 2LN
Sometimes you just can’t fight your destiny; this is the campsite formerly known as farmland where the owners caved in to campers constant requests and now, for 28 days a year, this field gets to fulfil its wonderful campsite potential
Adult £10 high season/£8 low season; child £7/£6, under-5s free. Soul Pad bell tent £40–£90 per night. Riversidelakes is a Camping and Caravanning Club Certified site so annual membership is required if you stay outside August – join on arrival.
Campfires in firepits or borrowed braziers. Logs are £5 a bag, which includes matches, firelighters and kindling (delivered to your tent). There are 55 pitches, no minimum stay, in different areas, and room for 5 campervans or caravans with hook-ups. Areas include: Viewpoint, which allows parents to keep an eye on toddlers as they run up and down the meadow; Isolation spots suit single bookings and are nearest to the showers; Chill Out is in the furthest corner. Three woodland pitches offer protection from the elements among the trees: Overview looks out across the middle lake and suits small tents; and at the top the Treeline and Ridgeway clusters have views of the site and also share an eco-loo. The new shower block has 8 showers supplied with renewable energy, loos, hairdryers, a family bath and baby-changing facilities. There are 3 washing-up sinks, a freezer and microwave. New Soul Pad bell tents come with camp kitchens, mattresses, wooden decking outside and a bench table. A communal area, 2 washing-up sinks, and an electric powerpoint faces a huge firepit that groups can use. Recycling bins include a swap shop, where you leave/pick up anything that campers might use. Experienced anglers can acquire an Environment Agency rod licence to fish in the lakes (from the post office, 1 day £3.75; 8 day £10). Two tyre swings; ice packs are available.
If you want to do more than just kick back by the lakes, the historic market town of Wimborne Minster has a farmers’ market on Fridays and flea market on Saturdays. The town also boasts a remarkable, originally Norman minster church of St Cuthberga, with a rare chained library. The Moors Valley Country Park (01425 470721) is down the road, and has picnic areas, cycling tracks, forest walks with wooden climbing structures, golf, croquet and high-wire tree-climbing. One of England’s most magnificent country mansions, Kingston Lacy, is just outside Wimborne Minster to the north-west (01202 883402), plus there’s the Iron Age fort of Badbury Rings, in what feels like a very wild and remote spot a mile or so further north. In the opposite direction, the relatively urban vibe of Bournemouth and its lovely beaches are just a 20-minute drive away.
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Pretty Drusilla’s Inn (01258 840297) is a right turn out of the campsite and serves a whole range of pub grub including Sunday roasts, cider-roasted hams and kids’ meals. Friday morning is market day at Wimborne Minster – great for campfire supplies. Wimborne pubs are much of a muchness, but you could try the White Hart (01202 886050), right in the heart of town, which does decent pub grub and has a small beer garden. The Long Crichel Bakery Café (01258 830852) is perhaps the best place for lunch, with lots of choice based on its own beautiful bread and delicious savoury pastries.
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Tents, campervans, caravans, dogs, groups (not young or noisy ones) – yes.