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Tent camping in the grounds of a New Forest manor with heaps of family-friendly activities to boot

Owned by the Girlguiding since 1922, Foxlease, a white-walled Georgian manor on the edge of Lyndhurst town, has clearly reaped the benefits of the sixth law of Girlguiding: ‘to respect all living things and take care of the world around you’. Beyond the house, lawns merge gradually into great oak, ash and birch trees and wildlife sings its constant song, from birds nesting in the woods to the rustling of squirrels, darting from trees to undergrowth. It’s the same as it ever has been since the home was first built in this central New Forest setting. And it’s the ideal scene for a campsite.

Today, you needn’t be a fully signed up Guide to pitch your tent in Foxlease’s sweeping 65-acre grounds. The estate, with various different camping meadows, welcomes families from far and wide, too, opening up, not just its tent-only campsite, but also its range of on-site activities (extra charges apply), from high-rope climbing and zip-lining, to canoeing, kayaking and archery. In fact, while the meadows remain a rustic, back-to-nature haven – camping pitches are undesignated so you can pitch where you please and campfires are permitted – this isn’t a campsite that’s short of facilities. There’s a fully licensed bar, a partially-covered swimming pool and a basketball court for use, plus, of course, there are the endless walking trails of the Foxlease grounds, with geo-caching markers dotted around so you can practice your orienteering.

While the campsite is ensconced in the very heart of the national park, it only takes around 10 minutes to walk into the centre of Lyndhurst, the New Forest’s largest town and home to the main visitor centre. The town offers rainy-day cafés and hideouts, as well as bike shops, where you can pick up a set of wheels and head out in search of New Forest ponies. There’s a vast network of car-free trails in the national park and, with a picnic packed, a bike is often the wisest way to explore as a family. After all, any good Guide knows the second law is to use your time and ability wisely. Spending a while cycling in the outdoors should definitely be high on that list. And a few days camping at Foxlease? That’s certainly time well spent.

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Not quite ready for young children

We booked here but ended up not staying. There were young children in our group and, although the facilities may be adequate for brownie and guide camps, the shower and toilet cubicles in sheds are not suitable for families. It may be worth the owners having a look at what other family campsites offer in this area, as I gather the site is new to family camping. They also need to bear in mind that family tents are much bigger than Guide tents when allocating space. If a swimming pool is advertised, it should be clear what this is and, that you can actually book this. They did not have adequately qualified staff to offer this which we did not find out until after booking. That said, the staff were amazingly helpful and understanding throughout the booking process and as soon as we raised concerns. They are a credit to the facility. A bit of an upgrade and this could be really good.
Sep 4, 2018 by Mumof2

Basic but peaceful

Short walk into lovely town. Nice quiet grounds and great access to new forest. Showers and toilets very basic and no onsite shop/washing up facilities. Worked fine for what we needed. We didn’t book any activities and pool not open so can’t comment on that aspect.
Sep 1, 2018 by Katie

Not at all like the pictures

I am somewhat confused by other reviewers here. We were a large group and booked into the Bridges field. Upon booking, this was the only option and I assume the only field available to the public. It is a tiny field with some sheds scattered around the edge with one shower/toilet block. No real view. Goodness knows how you could get 40 tents on this field. This is the 5th campsite I have stayed in this summer and it certainly was not what I was expecting, given the 2 lovely photos on the coolcamping website. There was no way I was going to spend a weekend in that field and asked to be moved. To their credit, they immediately moved us to where the guides stay and it was a dramatic improvement, albeit right next to a very noisy road which was not conducive to a good sleep. We had a private shelter with our own toilets and showers which was good and made a real difference.They checked on us the next day to make sure we were happy with everything and we were. It's a shame because the photos look idyllic but if you are staying in the Bridges field you will be hugely disappointed. There is not even a standpipe and this site lacks some basic amenities. I give Bridges 1 star, but the overall site 3 stars. £10 per child for a night is also too expensive for what you get. If this is the only field available, which it seems according to the website, then coolcamping needs to remove these photos and show pictures of Bridges campsite, as this is false advertising. Unfortunately, despite the lovely, helpful employees, I would not stay here again, but would look at other campsites near this truly beautiful location.
Aug 13, 2018 by stevo3130

Spacious and safe

We loved the space and it felt a very safe place for the kids to wander. Campers were spread out meaning we didn’t feel too close to anyone else and not restricting the size of tent is a big bonus. The facilities were good and the kids enjoyed the activities we booked. The location is fantastic, a short walk into bothLyndhurst and the forest. The big downside, and for us it is quite a big one is no washing up facilities. Having to try and fill a small collapsible washing up bowl from a shower is not great and the water was not warm enough to properly clean greasy fry up fans. If they sort that then it would be 5 stars and we would definitely go back. As it is 4 stars, a good holiday but we won’t return.
Aug 11, 2018 by Andy

Urban forest experience

We loved the spacious site which felt safe for the kids to roam. The kids liked the games (chess etc), basketball court and playground. We also pre booked some activities which we thoroughly enjoyed. Unfortunately the swimming pool opened for one hour on one occasion in 5 days which was a real shame, as it is a good facility particularly in the heat wave. The provision of picnic tables and wooden sheds with table and chairs for campers is a real bonus. Town is 10 minwalk with a co-op and lots of eateries, shops etc. There were fridge/freezers on the site for campers.
Jul 26, 2018 by Rjnthon

Expansive grounds with access directly to forest

On the upside - A great location, good for kids with bikes, safe, friendly and spacious with access to fishing and fire friendly. It's also easy to walk into Lyndhurst. On the downside the bridges campsite has no washing up area so had to fill a washing up bowl from the shower as the taps on the toilet sinks were impossibly angled. The activities and on site shop seem a bit hit and miss for individual families, it seems to work better for the larger groups they get.
Jun 18, 2018 by IanS

Amazing couple of weekends

Just returned from our second weekend camping here. Truly beautiful grounds, in a beautiful area of the country. We wanted somewhere that made us feel like we were in the middle of nowhere with a possible escape to civilisation if the weather turned bad. The walking, cycling and local amenities are all within grasp yet, with a clear sky you can see the night sky as though you were in the middle of a desert. The showers and the toilets are functional. Though it would be nice to have a larger sink or hot water output for doing the washing up with. Already planning our next stay.
May 8, 2018 by BenS
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