On day two we were moving on to Dorset and the day would become known as the Day Of The Three Beaches. In a journey that took a little while longer than I might’ve hoped on such a beautiful, hot, sunny day, we headed back up the five to Honiton and across into Dorset at Weymouth. A picnic n the car whilst travelling keeping those hungry boys happy along the way.
I’ve visited Weymouth a couple of times as a boy and still have cousins in the area I believe, but it’s less familiar than other places we went on the trip. Nonetheless, we found a fabulous spot on a pebbly beach by an outcrop of rock with the tide high enough to make jumping in an option that we simply weren’t going to resist and we had a lovely hour and a half there before tracking on…
Beach two was the beautiful soft sand of Swanage. Approached past stunning Corfe Castle and somehow avoiding any troublesome traffic caused by Camp Bestival fest, the journey here was easy although finding a parking space was not! Still it was more than worth it for the hour we spent soaking up the afternoon sun and swimming in the colder than expected English Channel. What a difference that Gulf Stream makes to the Irish Sea that we’ve become accustomed to on the Welsh Coast!
After Swanage and a frustrating wait at, admittedly, the wrong time of day, we were on the chain ferry across to what will always hold a magical spell for me and now, maybe, my boys. I’m talking, of course, about Sandbanks Beach in Poole. It was around 6pm by now and the barbecues were firing up in the designated areas but for us it was all about that luxurious soft sand. I’m sure there are other beaches in Britain with similar but, for me, it is Sandbanks that beats them all. Of course, we swam here too in the warmth of the early evening and then got changed by our car with a smirking audience in the bar we were parked by and, after buying a postcard for mum we headed off in search of a home for the night…
Now this was where our adventure got a little real because DaddyP had not done his research properly. Glorious area that it is and a holidaymakers paradise, Bournemouth and Poole are not overly prepared for the canvas lovers amongst us! Now that I’ve looked into it properly, I could drive straight up to a couple of suitable sites around the outskirts of the area but on that night we did not have a plan and, though I headed for Ringwood where I knew I’d camped with Princess & Junior and their mum many years before, we found ourselves in the New Forest getting hungry and worried as the evening began to rapidly draw in around us.
You can imagine our relief when the brown signs we’d been following for what seemed like forever eventually led us to Red Shoot Campsite which prides itself on being family friendly and wins awards for the same. We pulled in just after ten to nine to find the office closed for the day. After several attempts on the bell provided and with some help from the kind folk at the pub next door we finally got the attention of the boss to be told that they don’t allow pitching after 9pm which, by now, it was. Two hungry kids aged 6 & 9 + a fraught daddy were turned away and sent back out into the heart of the New Forest with directions to a Forestry Commission site. Rules is rules as they say and you’ve got to look after all of your guests not just the one muppet who rocks up at closing time, but I’ll not be voting for them in any family friendly polls anytime soon that’s for sure!
Fortunately, the gentleman on duty at Ocknell campsite, a Forestry run site close to the A31 was more forgiving. He acknowledged that he wasn’t supposed to allow pitching after dark, which it now was, but booked us in for the night regardless and we were pitched and cooking pasta within half an hour. This was a fabulous site, a toilet block and a camping supplies store being the only things distracting you from being deep in the forest. Wild horses came sniffing around your tent at night and the lack of light pollution meant a glorious view of the stars overhead as another packed day drew to a close.
The food and a bit of silliness in the form of a movie on the iPad helped to calm everyone’s nerves and bring us all back down after another busy day and we slept well once more, waking later thanks to the peacefulness of the site and setting, ready for day three of our trip to remember.