What better (or more insane?) way to start our summer holidays of camping, than to pick a site with no facilities aside from drinking water and chemical toilet disposal point?
And to top it, invite a friend with her 3 kids who is “not into camping” and loves her 1-2 showers a day.
Two big concerns pop into mind- how will we smell after a couple of days? How will we cope with the chemical loos, and, importantly, the emptying of these?
Well, I went with it anyway. Aldridge Hill was booked.
New Forest here comes Campy and family:
Getting to the site already held excitement as we wove around ponies walking on the road with Campy. The animals weren’t phased, the kids were excited, but I was slightly apprehensive, my mind still pondering on my two big concerns.
Arriving, the office was unmanned and a large sign told us to pitch up a minimum 6m from another unit and come back to check in between 4 and 6 pm. I chose a spot under the trees, close to the entrance. My friend arrived shortly after and we set about pitching our Coleman tent for her and her brood, then sorting out Campy- legs down, our Outdoor revolution awning on and the kettle going. We built a little encampment with our windbreaker.
The kids? I lost sight of them within minutes of them being let out of the car. They were at the stream not even 50m away. Within no time at all they were reengineering the stream bed to divert water into their newly built canals. The water was between ankle and knee deep. Even our littlest ones were happily playing in there; remote parenting worked.
As soon as the tent was pitched, Campy was set up, I felt hot; the muggy weather hit me. I desperately wanted a shower! Not a chance, unless I snuck into one of the posher caravans or motorhomes on site. A wet hand towel, soap and deodorant had to do. It was surprisingly refreshing.
Concern #1 conquered: flannel shower is the answer.
As the kids got bored of their engineering project, we set off for a little wander around the site: the stream changed characteristics as it wove through bushes , then clearings and past some big trees, with intricate root systems. All creating different little play areas. We discovered a couple of rope swings too.
The kids excitement was only topped when they realised it wasn’t quite bedtime after our late dinner, but we were still to rustle up some heat and toast marshmallows. Our brood were like little hamsters, gathering up stocks for winter, when they got their hands on the bag of marshmallows. It was empty in no time. We ended up with some very sticky children, as they mastered the art of getting the fluffy marshmallows just droopy enough, without letting them drop onto the embers, or their laps.
Slowly we got our combined brood of six children- aged 2- 8 years old- to bed; half in Campy, half in the tent. My friend and I stayed for another hour or so, sipping wine by candle light and glancing up at the stars in the balmy hot night.
Our lot even “slept in”. It was 8 o’clock when we woke and gathered around the camping table.
We briefly discussed with my friend about the plans for the day. I suggested the lazy option of going nowhere, but letting the kids run wild. It was accepted.
What followed was a fantastic day of chilling in the sun and shade of trees, soaking our feet in the stream, while the children had an absolute ball. Their lips often purple from the chilly water, but smiling from ear to ear.
In the afternoon we even managed to get our toddlers to nap and I popped into Brockenhurst for an additional supply of sausages for a BBQ dinner.
A cheap nylon hammock I’ve had for a couple of years, but hadn’t found trees to use it with, finally made its debut.
It provided endless entertainment for the children; they read in it, entertained the toddlers, fought over who sits where, how much to swing it, but more than anything we heard lots of giggles from it. Thank goodness I’ve been carrying it in my car for about 2 years now.
We ended our evening with a BBQ and some more marshmallows. To my despair, I realised how little gin I had stashed in Campy: only enough for a 3 glasses! And then one of our toddlers even managed to kick one glass over. What a waste! 😀 Note to self: restock drinks stash in Campy.
And days can carry on like this at this Aldridge Hill: no need to go anywhere, just let the kids enjoy the surroundings, make friends, explore nature. Adults can get a moment to chill, just glimpse up from a good book every now and again to check on the offspring.
When a herd of cattle or horses come through the site everyone grabs a camera. It never gets old!
If the weather is not as kind to soak in the sun and splash about as it was for our stay, go for a walk or cycling.
The only drawback to this site, in my opinion, is the lack of toilets. You have to bring your own chemical loo. I was apprehensive about this, but my friend even more so. At least I’d seen a portapotti before, even if I hadn’t used one. In Campy only number ones were allowed so far and Dadonthebrink did all the emptying. Campy’s tank was slightly smaller and more used, so decided to empty it on the 2nd evening. Lucky I did, as it wouldn’t have held an extra night’s worth. The emptying went sort of ok; I survived to tell the tale.
I went with my friend and her daughter next day to do her portapotti. We made a right mess of that: I threw up, we spilt some contents. We were in fits of laughter mixed with sobs at our misadventure.
I dreaded doing the tank from Campy next day on my own , but actually I did fine. I learnt to angle it right, hold my breath and not look at what flows out and the Thetford system, with its fold-out sprout, is so much nicer than the Sanipottie.
Concern #2 conquered… sort of. Well, enough to say I’d go back any day to this site.
The Aldridge Hill campsite is rather special! We met a lot of other campers who come here year after year. One lady with her 3 boys said she had been coming here for 37 years, all her life, and was so happy to see her boys now enjoying what she loved in her childhood. It really is that kind of place where very special memories are made.
If you have any sort of inkling of getting away from it all, I would wholeheartedly recommend this site, especially to families.
Don’t let the lack of facilities put you off: a little shit and dirt doesn’t hurt! At least this is the physical stuff, that can be washed away. And I promise the site will help you forget about all other shit and dirt in life, at least for little while… just don’t forget to charge your mobile and put it in airplane mode so the juice just lasts for the camera on it to capture the magical moments.
Do you have any special campsites you love and want to keep going back to?
Aldridge Hill campsite is part of the Camping in the Forest chain of sites- owned by the Forestry Commission, but managed by the Camping and Caravan club.
Our stay for 3 nights cost £51.45, which may seem a lot for a sight with such spartan conditions. I find it worth every penny for such amazing surroundings. The site is well maintained, there are ample chemical toilet emptying points and more drinking water points.
The staff are friendly and helpful. There is a little book swap at the reception, you can buy tea, coffee, ice creams and have your battery charged. They even have WiFi at the reception, just a charitable donation asked for it.