Slough Lane, Horton, Wimborne, Dorset BH21 7JL
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.
The Owner Says
Not long enough.......
Stayed with friends for a few nights at Riversidelakes for the first time this week. What an amazing place! Allocated a group of pitches and shown around. The helpful leaflet provided on arrival details what is and isn't 'expected' of campers - but this makes for a more relaxed time. Very friendly and helpful owners and a great touch is each pitch having a brazier which was lovely to sit round at night toasting marshmallows. A bag of wood for £6 did an evening. It's very well spaced out and thought out. The communal fridges and freezers are such a bonus and the very clean loos and showers were great. It was a perfect escape from reality! With Morrisons just down the road as well as a well-stocked camping shop, we spent a few days doing very little other than sit escaping the world in this rather perfect setting. We'll be back, that's for sure.
We just returned from a 6 night stay at Riverside Lakes, I never normally leave reviews but felt compelled to do so to share with other campers what a lovely place it is. The owners are among some of the loveliest people I have met & the campsite has a great atmosphere , a very friendly and happy place. The owners have some cheeky pigs & chickens which our little girl loved to visit. The owners came round in an evening handing out free glow sticks which is great idea ! There's an area with communal fridge, freezer and microwave which was useful too. They've managed to keep the site very natural by letting the grass grow and cutting paths and clearings among it - a great idea. My only pointer would be the showers could be cleaner but it didn't spoil our holiday. I would love to go back!
Na héél lang zoeken op allerlei sites vonden we Riversidelakes, dat aan al onze verwachtingen heeft voldaan: mooie ruime plaatsen, prima sanitair, een prachtige omgeving, rust en uitzicht, vuurtjes in vuurkorven en hout dat op je kampeerplek wordt gebracht, ganzen, eenden, een fazant, nestelende goudhaantjes, genieten dus. Maar vooral: nooit eerder zulke vriendelijke en gastvrije eigenaars meegemaakt! Maggie, Nigel en hun zoon Chris doen er alles aan om van je verblijf een succes te maken. We waren er vanaf eind april een kleine twee weken en de eerste week was het ook voor Dorset abnormaal koud en de verwarming in onze Eriba ging kapot, maar Nigel probeerde het te repareren en zorgde voor een ander kacheltje toen dat niet lukte. We werden naar Druscilla's pub gehaald of gebracht, geen moeite te veel. Onze kleinkinderen en hun ouders waren welkom en mochten de biggetjes en de kippen aaien. Gelukkig werd het de tweede week lekker weer en ondanks de kou in de eerste week hebben we een heerlijke tijd gehad. Wij komen terug!
This site is just wonderful. It is perfect for getting away and enjoying the outdoors. The family owners are really nice and look after you, plus they let the children in with the pigs and hens. They gave all the children glow sticks in the evennings too. Everyone was very respectful so the nights were nice and quiet and only friendly chatter throughout the day.
The site itself is beautiful with pitches set far apart in the grasses, woods or lakes. Star gazing at night around our own fire was great (and made the cold September night enjoyable).
The toilet block is perfectly adequate and it's nice to have the washing up sinks inside. There is a fridge and freezer for campers to use and even a bathroom (with an actual bath) for those with little ones.
I usually like to try new places each time I go away but I think I'll be going to Riversidelakes!
Possibly the Best Site in UK
An excellent time spent here recently unfortunately only one night but the site was great, the facilities were great and as for the owners, Mum Dad and Son they were fantastic. It seemed that they only were concerned that you had a great time. And we did. Thank you We shall be back.
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Just a fantastic place to stay. The owners could not have been more helpful and Terry the warden was superb. This place is one we will be returning to again and again.
never written a review before, until now. this place was so great that i felt compelled to share it with everyone. my partner, son, dog and i have just got back from our weeks stay at riverside lakes and i can honestly say it is the best campsite we have ever been too.
aside from being very lucky with the weather this site has so much to offer especially this time of the year (April) being quiet we had the whole of center point to ourselves but even in the busier months there would be plenty of space between you and the neighbors. we were close to both the eco toilet, which was very well kept, and the fridge/freezer cabin with an electrical point. the shower/toilet facilities on the other side of the field where clean and modern with fast flowing hot water and free use of the hairdryers.
we pitched with a view of the lake and enjoyed walking the dog in the woodland area. dog owners are required to keep dogs on leads or tethered due to the wildlife and so not to upset other campers. our son enjoyed watching the many varieties of coy carp in the lake and going to visit the pigs and chickens. any bird enthusiasts might like to take their binoculars to get a glimps of the regular visits from the buzzards and many other beautiful feathered friends.
all this topped with a wonderful, friendly family that own the site. they made us feel very welcome and were most helpful. wood would be delivered to your tent for £5.00 a tub which lasted us for two nights and when the sun was going down the children on site would receive a glow in the dark necklaces as a little gift. there is a no car policy which i thought would be a disappointing factor but instead i found it a blessing. you can use your car to pitch and then park up on site.
we will defiantly be staying again.
thank you so much to the owners Maggy, her husband and their son Chris for a wonderful holiday.
relaxed, chilled, fantastic fire pits
Utterly beautiful site, lots of space, not too crowded, clean facilities, lots of secret areas for the children to play and this site allows fires too. Fantastic place, lovely owners.
Beautiful natural site
I visited in June 2014 with a group of friends on a girls birdwatching on holiday. We stayed in the 4-man soulpads and can highly recommend the site. Beautiful water bodies, wildflower meadows surrounding soulpads and picthes and woodland patches. We heard and saw bats flying along the route from the toilet block, along the water, to our tent. Lots of other wildlife on site. At the soulpads we had lovely facilities including a picnic bench and campite cooking equipment. The toilet, shower and washing up facilities are really nice and clean. Even recylcing points are provided at each soulpad. So much is provided and the family which run the site are so friendly and helpful. Really lovely place which I hope to return to.
Just got back from a 4-night stay in two of the 4-man soulpads at Riverside Lakes. SUCH an amazing campsite - even when it was busy, both the layout of the site, the tranquility and the amazingly friendly and accommodating staff made us feel like we were the only people there! A couple of times a day one of the staff drives past in a little golf buggy to see if you need anything, and they are just the friendliest people.
The bell tents were fantastic, all campfire cooking facilities were provided, firewood, utensils, cooking pots, picnic bench, recycling, decking area, nice hot showers, hair dryers, lovely clean toilets, secure car park.
Did I mention the pigs and chickens???!! Cuteness everywhere you look - and the wildlife was brilliant - Kingfishers, Goldfinches and lots more birds, bats, foxes, amazing wildflower meadows, woodland pools and more.
We had an amazing time - HUGE thanks to Maggie and her family who run the friendliest campsite imaginable. All in all, a blissfull camping experience in a great location for exploring Dorset and Wiltshire, from Brownsea Island to Stonehenge.
We will definitely be back!
Many happy memories
This is by far our favourite campsite, and we have been to a few!
With its car free sites, spacious plots that are not all lined up but in different grouped areas making it perfect to be on your own or if you like join in with the others campers around a communal fire pit. You also get your own brassier.
This is as close to wild camping as you can get, if you are into that kind of thing! But with nice clean toilets, lots of hot running water, family bathroom and a fantastic washing up area.
The owners are nothing but lovely, more than happy to nip up to the office for you if you need something in their golf cart! Or stay for a chat.
Every evening they come round with glow sticks for the kids, which they LOVE, thank you!
It is no wonder it is nearly always fully booked, not that it feels like it, ever, as there is so much space!
All in all we love it and I reluctantly write this review as I always want to make sure there is a plot spare for when we want to go!.... Oh well, too late.
We were made to feel most welcome early in the season as we christened our new campervan.
Our 2 daughters (4 & 2) loved being little explorers; checking out the piglets - they took a shine to the teeny one who we nicknamed "Rex"(the runt); following the freshly mowed paths and watching daddy make a fool of himself on the ropeswing; and loved getting a glow stick to welcome in the night - they tried to keep them going for days.
Thanks for letting us stay, build a fire and help us get all the family excited about what the summer has to offer in the camper... Let's hope we can find more sites like this.
Riversidelakes - great visit
Another great Cool Camping recommendation :0) Friendly, laid back welcome by the owners, efficiently done, with minimal reference to rules and 'don't do's. Cars kept out of sight and sound, long grass mowed only with pathways and pitches to make it feel private and secluded - with large spaces between small clusters of tents. Nice lakes to walk around; swim in; draw and fish at. Gorgeous pigs - friendly enough to pet :0) Open fires and a nightly visit by the owners to top up on firewood and deliver glow sticks for the children. Great advice on where to visit in the New Forest and for fossil searching beaches. Soul Pads look great, although we took our own tent we'd love to go and try them another time. Had a great stay, which is good news as we're going back again next week .........
Just returned from my first camping trip since I was a kid.
I must say that Riverside Lakes is the perfect campsite for anybody with children. Loads of space, safe and secure with no cars allowed onto the site during the day. Rope swings dotted around the place. Random animals wandering around.
Lovely to see most people having a real fire each night too-the owners deliver firewood to you for a fiver! Really sweet touch was the kids being given a glow stick every night.
The showers were always hot and clean. The freezers for your ice packs and microwave were thoughtful touches. The pitches are really spacious and well mown.
The owners were fantastic-giving advice about local places to visit, offering assistance in pitching my new tent etc. They even tolerated my daughter wandering into their office with one of their chickens tucked under her arm!
I can't recommend this campsite enough-what a gem!!
Peace at last!
We headed down to Sunny Dorset for the end of May bank holiday weekend. This was our first trip to Riverside – but definately won't be our last! The site is gorgeous. Nigel and his wife Maggie are really friendly and welcoming. Their son Chris is an assett to their business – delivering reasonably priced logs, kindling and local knowledge to our camp on a daily basis!
We were in the 'Chill Out' zone, with a clean eco toilet within striding distance of our camp. The shower block and washing-up facilities were spotless. On-site recycling is always a bonus too. There's enough space between camps so that you don't feel crammed in, far from it in fact.
We had a group of friends with us this time, but would come back again with the kids as this is a very child-friendly site. We truly relaxed over the weekend and after a hectic start to the year we finally found peace at last in this hidden treasure - lovely!
The Most Perfect Camping Experience
What a wonderful place to relax & get back to nature. I haven’t got a bad word to say about the site, it was perfect in every way from the lush meadow in which you camp to the immaculate toilet block. We went for a dip in the lake with the fish, explored the beautiful woodland and our son enjoyed the rope swing & paddling in the stream and to top it all; as evening drew in a glow stick was delivered to the tent for him along with fire wood for the brazier. We sat by the fire drinking hot chocolate & counting the stars before going to bed, the site was quiet so no problems drifting off. The owners were very friendly & helpful. I can’t recommend it enough. Need to book early though.
A really great campsite, among the best, if not the best campsite I’ve stayed at. The difference is made by the genuinely thoughtful owner/managers, who really do care that your stay is a good one. Well spaced pitches, interspersed through meadows and woodland, braziers for fires with logs at cost price with kindling, matches and firelighters all provided and delivered by golf cart (so quiet that we didn’t notice it outside the thin walls of our tent!). Perfect for families, but good for everyone else as well. Whole-heartedly recommend.
All the family absolutely loved this site. The space inbween pitches is great and the children loved all the space to run around. We went with friends and there are lots of pitched that work for groups. The facilities are hotel standard they were so big and clean. The location is great for both the new forest and the beaches of mudeford. We have booked again already for this year. Definitely give it a try
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.
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.
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.
We had a wonderful, relaxing stay at this beautiful campsite. The site is well laid out, the new facilities block is lovely and the welcome was warm and friendly. We really enjoyed cooking over an open fire all weekend and made use of the freezer for cooling our ice blocks. Part of our group stayed in one of the bell tents, Hideaway, and it was wonderful. Some of us went for a splash in the lake which was great fun and the kids thoroughly enjoyed exploring the site, glowsticks and having rides in the trolleys which are for transporting your luggage. A long weekend passed without wanting to leave the site and we were sad to say goodbye. We will definitely be back!
We loved this campsite! It’s a beautiful site, there’s just the right number of pitches - not too crowded - and they’re spread over the site which means you don’t feel cramped. There’s meadows of flowers and long grass, lakes, little islands, winding paths through the woods, geese, baby geese...well, you get the picture. There’s even some posh bell tents you can hire - we weren’t that posh unfortunately, but our friends were and the tent was AMAZING. You’re allowed to have camp fires and the wood is delivered to your pitch once you’ve bought it. Plus, the owners were super friendly and helpful - Nigel was delivering glowsticks for the children along with the logs while we were there. Really, really lovely.