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Ashurst Caravan Park and Campsite, Lyndhurst Road, Ashurst, Hampshire
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Ashurst Caravan Park and Campsite, Lyndhurst Road, Ashurst, Hampshire
New Forest Ponies can be traced back as far as 1016. Renowned for their friendliness, they don't restrict themselves to their own company. So when you're settling down to drink your hot cocoa under the myriad stars at Ashurst, you'll probably hear something munching close by; it's not a warthog or slavering beast watching you from the treeline, it's one of those gregarious gee-gees come to say hello.

Founded by William the Conqueror as a hunting ground, the New Forest offers some of the most picturesque woodland scenery in the UK - be it on a frosty morning when the vermilion heather is flecked with ice; autumn, when the leaves are a riot of coppery golds; or the full bloom of spring and summer, when the trees burst with foliage.

Ashurst's 55 acres lie at the heart of this wilderness, a vast 280-pitch site of centuries-old oaks and beech providing shade and atmosphere. Don't expect many mod cons beyond a shower and loo block; it's a site that's aiming for a small carbon footprint. Nature is your playground here - explore endless dark woods, play hide-and-seek, and, of course, mingle with the friendly equine neighbours.

COOL FACTOR The god of the forest must live here.

WHO'S IN? Tents, campervans, caravans, groups (minimal noise from 10pm, though) - yes. Dogs - no.

ON SITE Loads of space, with around 280 pitches. Central shower and loo block (hot showers, sinks, space for baby-changing) and helpful staff at reception. There are some caravans, but not many. No campfires.

OFF SITE Ashurst is close to a range of things to do from wolf-watching at the New Forest Wildlife Park (02380 292408; www.newforestwildlifepark.co.uk) to teddy bears' picnics, deer-watching, and rambles with rangers - see www.forestry.gov.uk for info. Great biking around here, too.

FOOD AND DRINK The Happy Cheese (02380 293929) is an easy walk away: a nice place with decent pub grub, ales, and snooker table. Or head to Lyndhurst's Herb Pot Bistro (02380 293996) for a more comprehensive menu.

GETTING THERE Take the A31 heading west, then the A337 to Lyndhurst, turning left at the roundabout on to the A35 that becomes Lyndhurst Road. Ashurst is on your right.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT Ashurst station is just round the corner from the campsite.

OPEN Easter-late September.

THE DAMAGE Tent & 2 adults £10-£21; child £2.25-£4.25.

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