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We think buckets and spades should be packed on each and every holiday in a lifetime, even those in the middle of forests or hiking up mountains. But there are definitely times when the bucket and spade needs to be firmly at the top of the holiday packing list, with even a spare set – or two – brought along.
Holidays in Dorset fall into this category. And particularly holidays on the Dorset coast, with views over Christchurch harbour and the Channel to the Isle of Wight, and with a mere promenade separating your smart holiday caravan from the beach. Bring the buckets and spades – and spares – along to the small and friendly Sandhills Holiday Park at Christchurch, set on the seafront and near the seaside towns of Bournemouth and Poole.
The park is set in the grounds of an eighteenth century manor house and has caravans on different price tariffs and in different sizes, sleeping from four to eight people. All caravans come with kitted-out kitchens, TV and entertainment passes, and include gas and electricity in the price. There’s a launderette on site available to use for a small charge, and a shopping kiosk selling essentials.
As a Park Holidays site, Sandhills has endless entertainment on offer including kids’ clubs, an amusement arcade and an adventure playground; there’s also a gym, sauna, spa bath and heated outdoor pool open in the summer season. For winding down and filling up, the family bar has Sky TV and free wifi, and there’s a café with takeaway on site – sit on the sun terrace with a bite and a sup to take in the views across the Solent to The Needles. Or take a stroll to one of the three pubs within a mile of Sandhills – for the freshest vittles, there’s fishing and crabbing on Mudeford Quay.
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Many sites set a maximum occupancy of 6/8 people per pitch, so try breaking your booking down into smaller groups to generate more results. For example, if you’re a group of 10, enter 5 people in your initial search and then book 2 pitches.
However, where the pitch or accommodation occupancy allows it, you can make a booking for up to 30 adults and 30 children in one booking.
To book multiple pitches or accommodation, use the 'Special requests' box on the booking page to ask to be sited together. Complete the booking form for the first booking (you can add a password and save your card so that we remember your details). Then click "Make another booking like this" at the top of the confirmation page to make the next booking.
Large groups: check the listing page for any group restrictions set out in the terms and section titled ‘Please note’.
Large tents/caravans: check the restrictions on unit dimensions to ensure your unit is suitable for the space you will be provided with.
Leisure on site
Bar or club house
Indoor swimming pool
Outdoor swimming pool
Amenities on site
Ice pack freezing
Parent & baby washroom
Pick-up from public transport
Gas cylinders available
Commercial vehicles allowed
Dogs allowed all year
Horse riding nearby
Single-sex groups welcome
Student groups welcome
Public transport nearby
Medium (26-50 pitches)
- Coach stations
Christchurch Coach Stop
— 2.1 miles
2.1 miles Highcliffe (Christchurch): Lymington Rd Coach Stop — 2.2 miles
2.2 miles New Milton: Bus Lay by — 4.1 miles
- Train stations
Hinton Admiral Rail Station
— 2.1 miles
2.1 miles Christchurch Rail Station — 2.1 miles
2.1 miles Pokesdown Rail Station — 3.8 miles
- Ferry ports
Mudeford Quay Ferry Landing
— 0.2 miles
0.2 miles Hengistbury Head Ferry Landing — 0.4 miles
0.4 miles Wick Christchurch Ferry Landing — 1.8 miles
Bournemouth International Airport
— 5.4 miles
5.4 miles Southampton Airport — 22.7 miles
Follow the M27 and continue forward onto the A31, entering Poulner Hill. At the Ashley Heath junction branch left, then at Ashley Heath Roundabout take the 1st exit onto the A338. Branch left, then merge onto an unnamed road (signposted Hurn). At the T-junction, turn left onto Hurn Road B3073, entering Christchurch. At the roundabout take the 2nd exit onto Hurn Road - B3073. At the next roundabout take the 1st exit onto Fairmile Road - B3073. At the Fairmile roundabout take the 2nd exit onto Fairmile Road - B3073. At the Fountain roundabout take the 1st exit onto Christchurch bypass - A35. At the next roundabout take the 3rd exit onto Purewell Cross Road - B3059. At Purewell roundabout take the 1st exit onto Somerford Road - B3059. Turn right onto Sandown Road, then continue forward onto Mudeford Lane and turn left onto Mudeford. Go past Anchor Close on your right. Sandhills is the next on the right.
Stroll along the beach to the Victorian Highcliffe Castle a mile and a half along the sand for sightseeing and scones, or along the promenade to Mudeford Quay at the mouth of Christchurch Harbour to book a mackerel fishing trip or speedboat cruise; the Quay is well known for its sailing, windsurfing and dinghy championships and is the home of Highcliffe Sailing Club.
The east side of Christchurch Harbour, Stanpit Marsh, is a Local Nature Reserve and the surrounding area will have ornithologists a-flutter: there have been over 320 bird species spotted in these parts, including sand martins nesting in the cliffs at nearby Hengistbury Head, part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest. In town, there’s a heady mixture of listed buildings, tasty restaurants and ye olde pubs to explore as well as regular music and food fairs and festivals throughout the year.
There are other day – or two-day – trips to be had in nearby Bournemouth, the happiest town in the UK according to a 2007 survey: the Bournemouth Aviation Museum has plenty of exhibits to goggle at and there’s a four-day air show in the town each summer. Elsewhere there’s the Grade I listed St Peter’s Church – with the grave of Frankenstein writer Mary Shelley, the award-winning public park Central Gardens, and the chance to spot harried-looking politicians at their annual conferences at the Bournemouth International Centre. Not your thing? The BIC has plays and concerts throughout the year too.
Ten miles inland from Bournemouth is the Moors Valley Country Park and Forest with a steam railway, walks, bike rides, and swinging through the trees at Go Ape! – although you’ll probably pass the theme park Adventure Wonderland en route for a several-hour delay. Or pootle coastwards to Poole for sparkling clean beaches and ferry services to France; the National Trust Corfe Castle is easily reached inland from here, or if you still want buckets and spades the resort of Swanage Beach is just along the coast.
- Highcliffe Castle (1.5 miles)
- Adventure Wonderland (5.7 miles)
- Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum (5.8 miles)
- The Needles Old Battery and New Battery (8.4 miles)
- Brownsea Island (9.9 miles)
Find local routes on the National Cycle Network - over 12,000 miles of cycling routes.