The Ergohacks Verdict

Ashurst is a small village in Hampshire. Gateway to the New Forest, a sign said as we entered. We drove down a tree lined street, past three pubs, copious bus stops and many pedestrian and cyclists crowding the pavements on both sides of the road. The campsite was just outside the village, nestled between a railway line and the A35 to Lyndhurst. We queued at check-in next to a sign that said ‘Campsite FULL’, but we’d booked and paid, so the sign wasn’t a problem for us. Or so we thought until they couldn’t find our booking. Not their fault, but ours, it turned out. We pulled up our booking reference and realised we’d booked the wrong night.

I apologised, blushing and stuttering. Usually, we’re pretty well organized. The Ranger took this in his stride and as we asked if it’d be okay if we pulled over to the side to see where to go from here, he disappeared inside to the computer. We madly started searching for New Forest campsites with any availability, but it was 4 o’clock on a summery Saturday afternoon in July, the whole world was camping in the New Forest tonight. As Cass asked with a wobbly lip, ‘Does this mean no camping? We’re just going home?’ the Ranger returned. With a parking badge and a smile.

He listed off the campsite regulations – pitch where you like, leave plenty of space between tents, be quiet after 10 p.m., raise fires and cooking off the leaf matted forest floor and don’t feed the ponies or any other animals. Sheepishly, I thanked him and we set off to find a quiet spot in a full camp site. It wasn’t difficult. The campsite was spacious with some sunny pitches around the facility block, but just as many shady pitches inside woodland. We found a great spot, pitched the tent and then went for a walk. There’s no campsite boundary – just stroll off into the New Forest. How fabulous.

Cass rated it as her top choice, above the ‘but-I-like-when-they-have-a-playground-and-a-pool’ favourites and we found it absolutely idyllic. We drove by car, but the train station is just down the road, so is a bus stop and many campers were arriving on foot or bicycle. It was a peaceful night with a full moon shining. The amenities were clean and well lit, but in our pocket of the forest, it was dark and peaceful. Soft birdsong woke us and a gentle sunrise found us outside, brewing coffee and making tea. We spent a lazy morning at the campsite and watched wild ponies attempting to steal food out of half-pitched tents and car boots. As we packed up, none of us wanted to leave. We love trying new things and seeing new places, but we’ve already booked another stay at Ashurst in August, for longer this time. This is the perfect place to enjoy all the New Forest has to offer. Highly recommended.

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Book a pitch with Camping in the Forest  

Price: ± £17.50 – £30 per night for a standard pitch depending on low/high season
Included: Free access to showers, toilet block and washing up facilities

About

“Breaking off from the usual mould of camping, Camping in the Forest stems from an ambition of the Camping and Caravanning Club to find an exciting outlet for its bolder ideas. In 2006 we joined up with the Forestry Commission, whose aim was to allow the public to stay in its forests overnight. As a result, four of the UK’s ancient forests became even more accessible, the public could enjoy them as holiday destinations, and camping had an exciting new addition. Now with 16 campsites to its name, Camping in the Forest aims to deliver as much value to the camping community as possible.”*

Design

Ashurst campsite has 280 pitches, but feels much smaller because of the woodland that weaves through the pitches. From our pitch, we could only see a handful of tents peaking through the leaves. It’s a pitch anywhere site, but even if you arrive later in the day, it’s not a case of being stuck with the last (worst) pitch. As the site covers such a large area, there’s always plenty of choice places to pitch, however the boundary spots with an unrestricted view is the most popular (as are the sunny pitches next to the loos). For one of these coveted spots, arrive early.

Facilities

  • Toilet block with flushing toilets, hot showers and washbasins
  • A family shower room
  • Drinking water taps distributed around the site
  • Hardstanding & grass non-electric hook-up pitches
  • Chemical disposal point
  • Dishwashing and laundry facilities
  • Electric razor sockets
  • Battery charging

Specification

Season: April – September
Access: Highly accessible with level areas and adapted accessible facilities with level access.
Accommodation: Tents, Motorhomes, Jumbo tents, touring caravans and trailer tents welcome.
Location: Ashurst Campsite, New Forest, Lyndhurst Road, Ashurst, SO40 7AR
Secure on-line booking: Yes
Check-in: 1 pm
Check-out: Noon
Timed restrictions: The campsite gates are locked for the night and reopen at 07:30 am
Public transport access: Excellent railway and bus connections
Parking: Free parking next to pitch
Nearby: New Forest, Beaulieu Motoring Museum, Exbury Gardens, New Forest Wildlife Park, Lymington Sea Water Swimming Baths, Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary, Blackwater Arboretum,

Special considerations
No dogs allowed.

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 We based our Ergohacks Verdict on one night’s stay during July 2017. This article was first published on 13 July 2017.