Merley Court Touring Park8.0
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It’s not as common these days to delve around Dorset by horse-drawn gypsy wagon a la Famous Five (boo), but if you’re one of those fortunate souls with your own tourer or motorhome, you’ll surely like Merley.
Spiffing facilities at Merley Court Touring Park include award-winning pitches and an outdoor pool open in summer, a bar and family room serving up lashings of drinks and meals, a shop, a games room and a children’s play park. Want more? Guests can also use the facilities at Merley Court’s sister site Oakdene seven miles away along the A31, with over 20 on-site activities including a gym (a small charge applies), sauna, steam room and indoor pool. I say.
The park is set in 15 acres of sheltered grassland and woodland, two miles from the market town of Wimborne and a quick drive from the sands of Poole and Bournemouth. It has direct access to the waymarked Castleman Trailway for 16.5 miles of not too strenuous cycling, walking and horse-riding; you can pedal your way to Poole from here or amble along by the riverside.
All pitches at Merley Court are generously sized, individually numbered and well-drained, with both grass and hardstanding pitches available. Not (yet) got your own tourer or motorhome? Tents are welcome at Merley too. Jolly good.
We insist you make room in the itinerary for a trip or two to Wimborne for its minster and its indoor market, the biggest undercover market in the south of England: it has a huge flea market and car boot every Saturday, fresh local produce including meat, cheese and fish, antiques, jewellery and vintage gear to rummage through… start saving up. Nearby Dorchester and Swanage markets are worth a punt too, and we won’t even get started on the shopping available in Bournemouth and Poole…
Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch are the main day trips for visitors to this part of Dorset, with Portsmouth further along the coast to the east and Weymouth and the Isle of Portland easily reachable to the west. All have miles of award-winning beaches, a myriad of museums, theatres and restaurants, boat trips, sea fishing and watersports for all sorts of landlubber and seafarer holidaymakers; combine both with a comb around the Jurassic Coast to see what fossils you can find (even if it’s an unidentifiable shard of bone, be sure and tell the kids it’s from a T-Rex).
If you’re more of a sea dog than an urbanite, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is first class for a gander around historic ships and pretending you’re Horatio (or maybe that’s just us). The National Museum of the Royal Navy is here too and there are several other attractions on offer including the Mary Rose, harbour tours by boat and Action Stations with simulators, tech experiments and a giant climbing tower; one ticket covers all dockyard attractions and is valid for a year.
A harbour cruise from Poole, the biggest natural harbour in Europe, should also be firmly added to the diary – look out for the Very Posh houses of the Sandbanks peninsula if you feel like gnashing your teeth in envy (it has the fourth highest land value in the world and the moniker of Britain's Palm Beach).
Land fans are loaded with options in the area: try exploring and pony-trekking in the New Forest (the main visitor centre at Lyndhurst has info on this and heaps more foresty things to see and do); golfing at Dudsbury or making your way around the several National Trust properties in Dorset including Brownsea Island, one of the best wildlife-watching spots in the south-west. For a rainy day at Poole, the Tower Park Leisure Complex has a water park, cinemas, bowling and an award-winning soft play centre.
And, as the kids will remind you even if we don’t, Peppa Pig World is in the vicinity too, along with other famed kid-friendly attractions like Monkey World at Wareham, the theme park Adventure Wonderland at Christchurch, the formidable Tank Museum at Bovington and swinging about at Go Ape! in the Moors Valley Country Park.
Water quality at nearby bathing waters
|Poole Harbour Rockley Sands
|Poole Harbour Lake
|Poole Branksome Chine
|Bournemouth Alum Chine
|Poole Canford Cliffs Chine
|Handsome opened-up townhouse, contemporary décor throughout but bar area more traditional with Jacobean panelling and log fire, squashy sofas and butcher's block with daily papers, Badger beers, enjoyable bistro-style food in spreading dining areas divided by standing timbers, modern furniture on wood-strip floors, framed Penguin book covers and lots of dog latin mottoes, friendly staff; teak tables and chairs on terrace||Olive Branch
|Handsome spacious townhouse, contemporary décor, good lighting, friendly staff, quite a choice of drinks, and enjoyable bistro-type food Opened-up inside and extended, this is a handsome old town house with contemporary décor and a relaxed but civilised atmosphere. At the street end of the building is the bar which has some fine Jacobean panelling and handsome plasterwork, squishy sofas and leather stools around low tables beside the log fire, high chunky tables with matching stools and bar chairs, and a butcher's block with daily newspapers. Badger Best, Hopping Hare and Tanglefoot are on handpump alongside a good choice of wines by the glass; friendly, helpful service. The spreading dining room (with plenty of modern grey paintwork) is carefully divided into separate areas by partitions and standing timbers and has heavy trusses in the high-pitched roof, light brown leather or attractively cushioned wooden high-backed dining chairs around a mix of tables on the wood-strip floor, a||Green Man
|Simple old-fashioned place run by same family for three generations and part of Kingston Lacy estate (NT); two tiny bars with coal-effect gas fire, handful of tables and seats on lino floor, some under narrow wooden stairs up to games room (darts and board games), local photographs and notices on painted panelling, two real ales (usually Fullers London Pride), local cider and bottled beers, lunchtime bar snacks; quiet background music, no credit cards, outside lavatories; children (away from bar) and dogs welcome, heated verandah with fairy lights and grapevine, sheltered gravel terrace, grassy area with climbing frame||Vine
|15th-c pub with bar and four dining rooms, low ceilings, eclectic mix of furniture on flagstones or parquet flooring, large central open fire, good choice of beers tapped from cooled casks, well liked reasonably priced food from open kitchen, friendly helpful staff; stuffed fish and a mummified cat (to ward off evil spirits); background and occasional live music; children and dogs welcome, big waterside garden with terrace, open all day||Coventry Arms
|Welcoming part-thatched, part-tiled family-managed 17th-c pub, enjoyable food and well kept Badger ales, low-beamed main bar, open fire in brick inglenook, attractive oak panelling, carpeted restaurant; background music; children and dogs welcome, tethering for horses, seats out at front and in pleasant enclosed lawn behind with terrace, open all day in summer||Barley Mow
- Kingston Lacy House and Gardens (2.8 miles)
- Adventure Wonderland (6.3 miles)
- The Bournemouth Balloon (6.7 miles)
- Kingston Lacy (2.6 miles)
- White Mill (3.5 miles)
Find local routes on the National Cycle Network - over 12,000 miles of cycling routes.
- Pamphill - Eye Bridge - Lambs Green - Wimborne (1.9 miles)
- Holt Heath - Horton Tower - Holt Heath (4.1 miles)
- Pamphill - Eye Bridge - Lambs Green - Wimborne (1.9 miles)
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86% would recommend this site to a friend.
80% would stay here again.
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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
Tents for hire
Gas cylinders available
Touring and motorhomes
Drainage hook-up points for tourers
Electrical hook-up points for tourers
Fully serviced pitches
Motorhome service point
Tourer storage facilities
Water hook-up points for tourersMax. motorhome length: 8.0 metres
Commercial vehicles allowed
Dogs allowed all year
Cycle hire nearby
Horse riding nearby
Indoor pool nearby
Leisure/theme park nearby
Outdoor pool nearby
Single-sex groups welcome
Student groups welcome
Nearby farmers' market
Public transport nearby
Large (51-200 pitches)
Jumbo tent pitches
Ordnance Survey maps (GB and Northern Ireland only) are available at lower levels via the drop-down menu.
- Coach stations
Parkstone: Ashley Road Coach Stop — 4.4mi
4.4mi Poole: Dolphin Centre Bus Station — 4.6mi
4.6mi Bournemouth Uni.: Talbot Campus Coach Stop — 4.8mi
- Train stations
Hamworthy Rail Station — 4.3mi
4.3mi Poole Rail Station — 4.5mi
4.5mi Parkstone (Dorset) Rail Station — 4.6mi
- Ferry ports
Poole Quay Ferry Landing — 5.0mi
5.0mi Poole Ferry Terminal — 5.2mi
5.2mi Brownsea Island Ferry Landing — 6.7mi
Bournemouth International Airport — 6.9mi
6.9mi Southampton Airport — 29.8mi
The site is clearly signed at junction of A31 and A3349 roads (roundabout) on the Wimborne bypass.
Permitted arrival/departure time
|Camping and touring|
|Arrive:||noon –||9 p.m.|
Please note, reception closes at 5pm, however our warden will be able to check you in up until 9pm. Strictly no arrivals after 9pm.
When booking via Pitchup.com you are covered under the cancellation protection scheme (usually £2.50 per night) which is designed to protect you and your family if you have to cancel your holiday. Cover is provided to relieve you of the responsibility for payment of your balance of hire if you have to cancel for the following reasons:
- Accident or illness of you or any member of your party included on your booking
- Death or disablement of you or any member of your party or a close relative
- Jury or witness service (in a court of law)
Please note that the cancellation protection scheme does not cover holidays that have to be cancelled for any other reason (curtailment) or curtailed once you have arrived.
Should an unforeseen event occur and you wish to claim under the cancellation protection scheme, you must first contact the holiday park's central reservations team by phone and confirm this in writing, signed by the party leader. If you have to cancel your holiday for medical reasons they require written confirmation from a medical practitioner. The refund (if applicable) will be calculated as detailed below from the date of receipt of your cancellation letter. You will then be sent written details of the charges.
- Up to 12 weeks before your holiday start date: 100% of the balance (excluding the cancellation protection scheme premium)
- 4-12 weeks before your holiday start date: refund of the balance of hire if received, provided the company is able to re-let the holiday (excluding the cancellation protection scheme premium)
- 1-4 weeks before your holiday start date: refund of your balance minus the cancellation protection scheme premium
- 7 days or less before your holiday start date: refund of 50% of the balance (less cancellation scheme) due to the short notice. However the amount of refund may be increased if the park are able to relet.
If you need to cancel or amend your booking, please give as much notice as possible so that someone else has the chance to book. You may wish to buy holiday insurance for cancellations and for your property/injury whilst away.
Please note that your deposit is paid to Pitchup.com and is non-refundable.
Payment of balance
Payment on arrival.
Balance cannot be paid on arrival. There is a 1.5% handling fee if paying the balance by credit card. No fee for debit cards.
Payment methods accepted on the parkMaestro
Terms and conditionsSite booking terms and conditions
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It's now possible to make group bookings on Pitchup.com for up to 30 adults and 30 children.
As long as the 'one unit per pitch' rule is not highlighted on the pitch type information (please check this before completing your booking), you will be able to pitch your tents together on one booking.
If you are not satisfied with the results generated, try breaking your booking down for more options. For example, if you're a group of 10, enter five people for your initial search and book two pitches. Use the 'Special requests' box on the booking page to ask to be sited together when booking multiple pitches or accommodation units: the campsite or park will try to grant your request.
Before booking, please check the listing page for any group restrictions. These normally appear in a section titled 'Please note'. Please also check the restrictions on unit dimensions to ensure your unit - especially for a large party - is suitable for the space you will be provided with.