C is for Christchurch: From the New Forest to the sunny south coast
What the kids enjoyed:
The beach in Mudeford, the treasure hunt in the Cathedral, the walk along the river to feed the ducks, staying in the woods and seeing the otters in the New Forest Wildlife Park.
Christchurch is on the South Coast of England wedged firmly between some gorgeous beaches and the multi-coloured spectacle that is the New Forest. If you’re looking for a weekend to get outdoors and enjoy nature – this is a great place to do it.
How long will we need?:
We managed to have a laid back time here over a weekend and found that was plenty of time. If you plan on taking in Peppa Pig World in Paulton’s Park (which we had already visited on a separate occasion and would highly recommend) then you may want a longer time to enjoy the sights.
We went in Mid-November. The down side is that it was absolutely freezing but nothing a good set of thermals can’t conquer, what we did get on the plus side is to see the New Forest in all it’s Autumnal golden shine which is magical. I imagine that in the summer, the beaches would come into their own but as they were a lot quieter, we got a calmer experience.
What to expect:
Christchurch is an unassuming town in itself but it’s magnificent cathedral and location beside the sea and the forest makes it an ideal exploring base with plenty of outdoors fun to be had. We chose to stay in the Forest rather than in the town itself which at that time of year was breath-taking.
The roads to the south coast can get pretty jammed in the summer, but as we were travelling down in Mid-November, the drive was a dream. As we didn’t have light on our side, we hunkered down into our log cabin for the night listening to all the noises of the forest.
We were up early so we piled into the car and headed to Mudeford Quay. We’d been recommended to visit here by a friend and it didn’t disappoint. The vistas stretching out to the sea were stunning and you could see the famous Needles in the background (much more difficult to catch them on camera though!)
We strolled along the coast from Mudeford, (the kids insisted on walking on top of the sea wall) down to Avon Beach which was very picturesque. A beautiful beach with the most gorgeous pastel coloured sea huts lined up along the front. They are most exclusive and people rent them out on an annual basis. We played on the beach although it was too cold to take a dip (or we weren’t brave enough!) The kids practised their rock climbing though and we managed an ice-cream and to buy some artwork from a local artist who had a hut on the beach.
We reluctantly left the beach to head into Christchurch itself. The grand and imposing Priory is so close to the centre of the town it seemed rude not to make it our first stop. We were welcomed very warmly when we came in the magnificent entrance by some volunteers who guided us towards a treasure hunt for the kids. It was a little difficult for our children and was probably more suitable for children a little older. They did however feel all official with a clip board and pen to mark things off. One of the volunteers gave us a bit of a helping hand by guiding us around the priory and it’s dramatic architecture to aid the investigation. We finished up by visiting the gift shop and lighting a candle.
The town itself was a bustling place with lots of options to eat which we did quickly, eager to explore the rest that the town had to offer. The thing with Christchurch is you don’t have to walk far, there is a little ruin of a castle at the top of a small hill which the kids had fun counting the steps up to and a game of hide and seek on the top.
We descended the hill and started walking down ‘Lover’s Walk’ which takes you through the heart of the town to the Quay via a tree lined canal that is simply gorgeous. The trees were putting on their most dazzling autumnal display and the ducks came and said hello to us which delighted the kids no-end. By the end of the stroll, the rain came in droves, not the light hearted type that we could prance around in puddles like Peppa but the type that hurt and soaked you to the core within seconds. After hiding out in a small quayside café to consume more ice-cream whilst the storm passed we had to admit defeat and take the kids to an indoor play centre to burn off some leftover energy before bed. Handily, there was huge place near just on the outskirts of town which did the trick.
We were up brisk and early in the morning and we started the cold day off on the small kids park on-site to let Daddy have a snooze. The log cabins are great but Austin didn’t have the best sleep and the paper thin walls kept him up all night. There were stables close to the boundary of where we stayed and the kids were kept amused by watching them after a small jaunt around the forest to take in the golden leaves.
Once we got to the time of day most people would consider it normal to wake up, we packed up our things and left our accommodation for a drive through the New Forest. It was enchanting and we even got to see the famous wild horses which was amazing!
Our drive took us to the New Forest Wildlife Park. They have a number of conservation projects which aim to rehabilitate injured and orphaned otters, owls and deer along with many other animals. The park was great, with a guided walkway to take you around the animals where there were loads of otters – watching them be fed was a treat and Millie was asking loads of questions. They have some big native animals too like the wildcat which intrigued the kids too. They had a brilliant play area and a butterfly house all in all, a great few hours.
Where to stay:
Air BnB came to our rescue again, this time in the form of a log cabin settled in the heart of the New Forest in an activity centre called Avon Tyrell. The place is great with a kids park, lake and mountain biking tracks. They also run events here that you can sign up for.
Our C finds. As this weekend was part of our A-Z adventures, Millie was on the lookout for everything that started with a C and she found a few!
So all in all, another wonderful weekend on our A-Z journey which was perfectly placed in Autumn….. now onto D – where do you think we should go?