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Surely even the most determined of sofa-huggers will find something to tickle their fancy at this action-packed Shorefield Holidays park in Hampshire…and if not, you have our full permission to send them home.
It’s all quite effortless too: as the name might hint, St Leonard’s Oakdene Forest Park has a forest backdrop – the Avon – and there are 55 acres of parkland to potter around; the bike and cycle trails from the park lead directly into the forest for access to nature reserves, country parks and the land of the Forestry Commission. (The park is more than half a mile from the nearest road, so safe for kids to run about.)
If even forest walks seem too much hassle to a complaining family member, shove them in the direction of all the on-site activities that come included in the pitch fee: the fully-equipped gym* might be too much, but the sauna, steam room and flumes of the indoor pool should get them up and about.
Naturally they’ll need a rest after all that sauna-going: they can take their pick from the Blues Bar, Colour Café or the Oak Suite… and if they’re feeling up for it they might then want to join in the regular Oak Suite entertainment and activities laid on by the Oakdene team, such as cinema nights, quizzes and parties.
Food of all sorts, as well as takeaway, is laid on at the licensed Oak Suite, and there’s a fully-stocked supermarket on site too with off-licence – everything here has been thoroughly thought of, shorely…
*Please note there is a £2 induction fee for the gym; usage is free thereafter.
Tourist board rating
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Leisure on site
Bar or club house
Indoor swimming pool
Outdoor swimming pool
Amenities on site
Car parking by site/unit
Ice pack freezing
Parent & baby washroom
Pick-up from public transport
Single-sex groups welcome
Student groups welcome
Commercial vehicles allowed
Electric car charging point(s)
Gas cylinders available
Dog walk nearby
Large (51-200 sites)
Cycle hire nearby
Horse riding nearby
Leisure/theme park nearby
- Coach stations
Meeting House Lane
— 6.2 kilometres
6.2 kilometres Bournemouth University — 8.1 kilometres
8.1 kilometres Bournemouth Station — 9.4 kilometres
- Train stations
Pokesdown Rail Station
— 9.2 kilometres
9.2 kilometres Bournemouth Rail Station — 9.3 kilometres
9.3 kilometres Christchurch Rail Station — 9.7 kilometres
- Ferry ports
Tuckton Tea Gardens Ferry Landing
— 10.3 kilometres
10.3 kilometres Christchurch Quay Ferry Landing — 10.6 kilometres
10.6 kilometres Wick Christchurch Ferry Landing — 10.7 kilometres
Bournemouth International Airport
— 4.2 kilometres
4.2 kilometres Southampton Airport — 38.4 kilometres
Take the A31 westbound from Ringwood. After three miles and two roundabouts, Oakdene is signposted on the left just past St Leonards hospital. Reception is at the end of the drive on the right.
The sandy beaches of Bournemouth are only nine miles from Oakdene Forest Park: add the ones at neighbouring Poole and Christchurch and you’ll keep the kids happy for the whole hol, especially when you throw in the fossil-hunting of the Jurassic Coast and the Adventure Wonderland Theme Park.
Start off at the Bournemouth Eye to see the town from heady heights; once nerves have recovered, totter off to the seven miles of award-winning Bournemouth beaches and the newly refurbished pier with kids’ rides and boat trips along the Dorset coast. To get about on land, take the Land Train along the pier to Poole – with a stop-off on the way at Alum Chine for the acclaimed Tropical Gardens and the pirate-themed playground.
Poole’s gorgeous natural harbour is the biggest in Europe, and a harbour cruise from Poole Quay might make you think you’re in the Med (the multi-million pound houses of the Sandbanks peninsula might give this impression too). There are boat trips from the harbour to the National Trust’s Brownsea Island, home of increasingly rare red squirrels and described by Bill Oddie as ‘the best place for seeing wildlife in Dorset’.
Go east from Bournemouth and Poole to reach Christchurch and another lovely natural harbour, then Portsmouth and the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard with historic ships including HMS Victory. West leads to the seaside towns of Weymouth and Swanage, famed for watersports and more miles of sandy golden beaches. Boat trips and sea fishing trips can be picked up anywhere along this stretch of coast; if you want to keep it simple and/or cheap, give the kids a line and bucket and let them crab off Bournemouth Pier.
Back in Hampshire, the New Forest wood be wrong to miss, and we suspect this won’t be an option once small people in your party discover it’s the location of Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park. The popular Beaulieu Motor Museum and Village, voted the best large visitor attraction 2013 by VisitEngland, is in the heart of the New Forest and also has Beaulieu Abbey and Palace House and Gardens on site.
- Adventure Wonderland (4.2 kilometres)
- The Bournemouth Balloon (10.1 kilometres)
- Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum (10.4 kilometres)
- Kingston Lacy (12.2 kilometres)
- White Mill (14.2 kilometres)
Find local routes on the National Cycle Network - over 12,000 miles of cycling routes.
- Does Oakdene Forest Park have a swimming pool? Yes View all features
- Is Oakdene Forest Park dog friendly? Yes View all features
- What attractions are near Oakdene Forest Park? The sandy beaches of Bournemouth are only nine miles from Oakdene Forest Park: add the ones at neighbouring Poole and Christchurch and you’ll keep the kids happy for the whole hol, especially … Read more